First of all, thank you so much EVERYONE for the prayers and kind words. It was great to hear advice from those who've walked this path before. Something about camaraderie helps you recognize you aren't the only one and can get through this just as everyone else has before.
Secondly, since many of you are on the edge of your seats wondering how today went, here's a recap.
i got to MDO at the normal time for workers to come in for their shifts. There's an early drop-off for workers' kids, and they are all in this one room together with a few workers while the rest of us get our rooms ready for kiddos. Since it was my first day and i had to meet with the director about all the new employee stuff, it went by so fast. i met the director, still holding Caroline, in her office, and she promptly took me to show me around and drop off Caroline. The director showed me where Caroline's room was and i put her bag with all her neatly labeled items in an open crib and followed the director next door to the drop off room. Caroline's teachers weren't in there, but a very friendly older woman was who was holding crying toddlers. She greeted me and i introduced Caroline. And then i had to leave. There was no ceremony to it. i didn't even get a chance to talk to her teachers and let them know what she likes, or doesn't like, or may need help with, or even get reassurance that they will take care of my baby. (i did get that later, so no worries.) The director was standing in the doorway waiting for me to follow, the nice older woman was smiling at me but with her hands full of two crying children. The other worker was organizing bags or writing notes or watching other children, i don't really remember. So, i sat Caroline down on the floor and followed the director out the door.
And she was perfectly fine.
If you've met Caroline in the real world (as opposed to the blog world), you know she's a very observant, chill baby. So true to form, Caroline sat on the mat in the middle of the classroom and watched the older toddlers walk around and play with toys. She was quiet, but not upset.
And i conquered my first walk away.
The rest of the day went great for Caroline too. Her eating schedule was a little thrown off, with all the excitement of being around other babies, but she did great. When i came mid-day to nurse her, she had just woken up from her nap in the swing and was acting as if life was just normal. (Did i mention she took two 40 minute naps for these workers? i must learn their secret...maybe it's the swing.) i actually saw her fall asleep in the hallway during a buggy ride, and her teacher and i laughed about how she was practically falling over she was so tired (she wasn't actually falling over because she was securely strapped in, but you know what i mean). One time i walked past her room to go to the workers' restroom and i heard that horrible screaming/crying that no mother likes to hear (or anyone else probably for that matter). i was convinced it sounded like the two times i've heard Caroline cry like that, so i thought, "Oh no, she's losing it. And i'm not going to be able to do anything because i have to go back to my class." i was distraught. So i walked slowly up to her classroom door and peaked my head around to check. And i saw Caroline happily playing in an exersaucer/jumper thing, her mouth all open in excitement as she pawed at the toys surrounding her. i had to duck away quickly before she saw me and i walked away so happy it wasn't her crying.
i found out later she did cry some when one of the other babies near her cried. She can be very sensitive about that. However, it seems like it was a great day for her. She was a little messy when i picked her up, her clothes showing evidence of previous spit-ups, and i found some dried carrots in her nose later when we got home. Yet she seemed so happy and excited to see all the other kids running around. i think she really enjoyed it.
And when we got home, she played and smiled and laughed with her daddy and me as we enjoyed a cozy evening in on this rainy night.
i'm not naive enough to believe that she will never have her moments, that there won't be a day in the future where i drop her off and she cries, or where i hear her crying in her room and have to trust the wonderful workers taking care of her and let her be. But it makes it all a little easier to take knowing she (and i) can get through it just fine the first time out of the gate.