As soon as she walked in, Henry freaked out; he realized I was leaving. I could hear his screams all the way to the elevator as I left -- the first time -- with Hudson.
Upon my return, Henry was thrilled. But then I left a second time, for real.
The look of betrayal on his little face was almost more than I could bear. Even though I knew he would be fine in five minutes, I wanted to tear off my work clothing and cuddle him on the couch all morning.
An uncomfortable, itchy layer of mom-guilt slithered under my skin as I went down to the car.
I texted the babysitter a couple hours later. He'd calmed down immediately, she said, and they played all morning and were heading out for a walk. I breathed a sigh of relief.
This evening when I returned, I secretly watched him for a few moments as he laughed and played and jumped up and down on the babysitter's lap. Happy as a clam.
It was uncharacteristically difficult to put him to sleep tonight. I heard him cry and cry for me; I watched him on the monitor bounce up and down with despair.
Finally I went into the nursery. There were real tears running down his round, red cheeks. He reached up for me. I picked him up and sat in the nursing chair, holding him and rocking rhythmically in the dark. He rested his cheek on mine and his breathing slowed as the last sniffles abated; yet he squeezed me still.
I inhaled his warm scent and felt the intoxicating burst of oxytocin -- the wonder hormone of love and bonding -- wash over me. It was better than chocolate.