"So how is it going back to work?"
That is a question I hear a lot of now.
The answer is: Really Tough.
I am coming to the end of my second week back. I made the decision to work four longer days in the office so that i could have a whole day at home with Maggie. (This also means we only have to arrange for childcare four days a week as well). So far, I feel like this is working out pretty well. I don't feel like I am at the office that much longer than I was pre-Maggie (which is true). Previously, I would stay at the office until I got my work done so my end of the day time varied. Now - I am itching to get out of here starting at about 2 PM. By the grace of God, I make it to 5 PM where I practically sprint to my car and speed home.
But let's back up to Day 1. I thought the first day was going to be awful. The day before we were taking down our Christmas tree and I was taking down a "dad" ornament I (er...St. Nick) got Nate. I said, jokingly at first, "Thanks for getting me a "mom" ornament (because he didn't). Mid-sentence I broke down. Sobbing. So of course Nate felt awful and proclaimed he was going to go out and get me a mom ornament. While I realized that I did sort of care that he didn't get me an ornament, the larger issue was that I was sad about going back to work. I think I broke down a few more times that day. [And after calling four Hallmarks, he found a 2010 mom ornament. And it was 50% off.]
Morning came. 5:30 AM. A full 2 to 2 1/2 hours earlier than I had been getting up all maternity leave. I showered, dressed and got Maggie up at 6:15 to eat. She gave me a look like, "What is up? Why are YOU waking ME up? Isn't it the other way around?!". She ate like a champ and then promptly went back to sleep and I got in my car and headed to the office. I have been pumping right away when I get to the office for two reasons: 1) Milk supply is greatest in the morning and 2) no one else is here. (I have an office with a door but I still like the fact that no one is here to interrupt me). I had lots of phone calls and emails from friends and family wishing me luck (THANK YOU!).
When my co-workers arrived, it was sort of fun to be back. Everyone wanted to stop by and chat. I had been checking/cleaning out my work email throughout my maternity leave so there wasn't too much to do there. The morning flew by. At 2 PM, time stopped. My boss looked in my office around 4 and asked how I was doing. I told her, "I miss smelling Maggie". (Moms out there tell me this is normal - I think I am addicted to smelling my child). She told me to go home. Pre-Maggie I would have said, "Oh I have work to do". That day I said, "OK see you tomorrow" and bolted.
I only called home one time the first day and Maggie was doing great.
Then Day 2 hit.
Oh Day 2. Forever burned in my memory as the day shit hit the fan. I got cocky and wore mascara on day 2. I woke Maggie up and she was all smiley and giggling and I thought, "Ugh. I don't want to go to work. I want to stay home and watch you smile and giggle at me!". I drove to work and hooked up the pump. While I was checking emails, I forgot about monitoring the pump and one of the bottles overfilled and spilled breastmilk all over my dry-clean only skirt. UGH. I switched out the bottles and it literally happened a second time. I started crying. I wanted to call my mom but she was on the west coast and I didn't want to wake her up. I opened my email and an email from CD sent my tears into full out hysterical sobs. So I called her. I don't think i really spoke for the first couple of seconds because I was crying so hard. Thankfully she talked me off the ledge. Apparently this was normal. I cleaned myself up, wiped all that mascara off my face, took a deep breath and resumed working.
My boss got to work and popped in my office and said, "How was it seeing Maggie last night." OH BOY. Let the waterworks start again. Then my friend HC, whose daughter was born 6 days after Maggie and who also went back to work the same day I did, called to check up on me. We both starting bawling during that conversation.
Somehow I made it through Day 2. I came home smelling like breastmilk to a very smiley baby.
Day 3 was presenting a new challenge. On the road pumping. One of the studies I work on requires interviews at different time periods with older adults. Of course right when I return to work the 6-month post intervention interviews start. So on Day 3 I made sure I had 8 AA batteries for the battery pack and headed to the parish church for interviews. My boss, ever so supportive, told me to ask for a room so I wouldn't have to pump in my car (that came on day 4). The church admin assistant was wonderful. She set me up in a room in the church basement (hey! better than my car) and was so nice. "My daughter had a baby last year and went through this too", she said. So there I sat...pumping away in a church basement.
Day 4 - I was pumping away in the parking lot of a nursing home listening to Terri Gross interview Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter. I rewarded myself with Chick-fil-A since I was in Racine (the ONLY Chick-fil-A in the state).
And that was that. My first week was over. I won't lie - there were more tears on Days 3 and 4, but I survived. I then got to spend 4 days with Maggie. (Friday was my day off for Week 1 and Monday was my day off for this week, week 2).
Week two has been going much better. I don't think I have cried this week. Even when I was pumping in a Walmart parking lot yesterday...in a gold Pontiac grand Am and a wool hat. I feel like I have gotten more into a routine with things, although dinner is still a struggle. I was telling my friend HC during a nightly whine session that nights are my bad time. Mornings- I have down. Nights are tough. Prior to going back to work, I was emailing with my friend MB (who is also a new mom) and she commented that at night she feels like she is pulled in 1000 directions. This is no joke. I walk in the door and all I want to do is cuddle Maggie. But I can't turn off the voice in my head that is saying "You have to wash the bottles and the pump parts, make tomorrow's bottles, make your lunch for tomorrow, make dinner, do some laundry, change Maggie's diaper..." And hobbies? When was I going to run? I had new running shoes still in their box for over a MONTH. I would never let brand new running shoes sit in a box for a day, let alone a month. When was I going to read? When was I going to sew? Knit? Do anything I wanted to do? As my mom said, "Welcome to martyrdom". She was joking...right?
After spending the first week feeling sorry for myself on the couch at night after Maggie was in bed (and watching every single episode of Modern Family Season 1, which BTW, is a fabulous show), I decided this week that mom was not going to equal martyr ALL THE TIME in my world if I could help it. Sure I would not have free reign to do whatever i wanted whenever I wanted but I know lots of moms that still have hobbies. And work. As my friend BLK said, "Millions of moms work outside the home everyday. If they can do it, we can too." I thought of a quote from Nora Ephron that OldMDGirl posted on her blog a while back:
This is the season when a clutch of successful women -- who have it all -- give speeches to women like you and say, to be perfectly honest, you can't have it all. Maybe young women don't wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don't be frightened: you can always change your mind.
And so this week, I thought to myself. Do I want to spend every night pitying myself on the couch in front of the tv or do I want to use those 2-3 hours and actually do something I like? So last night, I took those new Asics Gel Kayanos (side note: love having an Asics rep in the fam for supreme discounted awesome running shoes!) out of their box, found my YMCA card and went to the gym after I got Maggie to bed. I ran 3.6 miles and felt awesome. I got home from the gym and cracked open my book. And I went to bed at the same time I was going to bed last week. Yesterday was a good day.
I am sure there will be bad days along with the good days and I'm sure I'll whine and cry a bit more but it was nice to show myself that I didn't have to be a martyr all of the time. Stay tuned...