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Thoughts on Returning to Work

We’re back from warm and sunny Florida. While the break from this endless winter was restorative, I was a little sad to see that my dreams of all the snow melting in my absence did not come true. In fact, we have another storm in the forecast for tomorrow. 10 – 12 new inches of the white stuff — this has got be a bad joke.

Evan & A_sanibelDreaming of sun and sand

Anyway, I’m sure you don’t need a detailed recap of my vacation. Although I did want to talk about the plane ride (we survived!), vacationing with a 2-month old (is not really a vacation, but you know…), and some amazing WARM runs, that’s not what’s on my mind today. Instead I can’t stop thinking about the huge change in routine that is going to happen next week. My return to work.

At the moment, I’m going on almost 30 hours solo with a sick baby. By the time Evan gets home tonight, I’ll have “worked” an almost 40-hour shift without relief. I’m exhausted from waking up multiple times with a congested baby, and she’s (understandably) a little grumpy about not being able to breathe. This parenting thing is, by far, the hardest “job” I’ve ever had.

And yet, all I can think about right now is the fact that next week at this time, I won’t be able to sit here and snuggle with her all day. I won’t get to be there when she wakes up from a nap with some of her biggest smiles. I won’t be the one comforting her when she’s upset or over-tired. Or the one who gets to tell Evan about all the things she did that day — things that are really only exciting to new parents. Someone else will get to take her through her daily routine while I sit in my office, missing her.

Red Sox babyAmelia “caught” her first baseball (okay so the awesome guy we sat next to caught it and gave it to her, but she was clearly super excited about it.

I don’t want to comment on what is better — being a working mom or staying at home with your kids. I know both options have value, and every family needs to decide what is right for them. Right now, it makes the most sense for our little family if I work. And really — I worked hard for my job. Putting time and money into a graduate degree, helping create a project that I believe in and work that I’m excited about. I’m finally at a really good spot in my career, something I’ve worked toward for a long time. When I was pregnant, it was so easy to think about coming back. I had no doubts that I’d return to work after Amelia was born. I could balance it all, I was sure. Plus, March seemed so far away.

But now that she’s here, things are a lot more complicated. And I have feelings. So many feelings. I always knew it would be an adjustment, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be. Even though I know  that in terms of a daycare situation, I have it pretty good. I work at a small hospital with an on-site daycare. Even though I have a horribly long commute (something we’re working on), I get to bring her to work with me and visit her during the day. I’m in an office with other women who are so excited about the baby and want to hang out with her at lunch. I realize that’s a luxury most working moms don’t have. And I should consider myself lucky because of it.

Still – the feelings at this point are almost overwhelming. Guilt, worry, sadness. Stress about how I’m going to manage it all. Regret that I can’t stay home.

I don’t have any real point to this post. Except to complain about my first world problems, I suppose. I know that either choice involves sacrifice — and sacrifice is just something you need to get used to when you choose to have children. I’m lucky that I get to make that choice.

And who knows…maybe I’ll come back in a few months and tell you how much I love working. How incredibly thankful I am for the opportunity to use my brain in a field I’m passionate about while also being a mom to the cutest little human I’ve ever seen.

Amelia readingWe take our reading very seriously

But for now, the anticipation is awful. I’ve heard that’s actually the worst part. Please tell me that’s true. And that I don’t sound like a completely entitled idiot for complaining about all these things (though maybe I do, a little. It’s okay if you rolled your eyes at me while reading this…I can only imagine how I must sound).

Meanwhile, I plan to accomplish nothing this week besides enjoy my last few days of around-the-clock baby-time.

38 Responses to Thoughts on Returning to Work

  1. It’s hard but oh so worth it. And the fact that you’ll be able to pop by to see little Millie any time you miss her will be worth it. I love love love working and I love love love being a mom. You’ll surprise yourself with how amazing you’ll become with time. You’ll feel like a superhero, and truthfully, you are!

    I wrote this on my blog a few months after I went back to work and it still resonates, A LOT.

    For me, in the situation I’m currently in, I want to work but that doesn’t make me love my son any less. I am beyond obsessed with him and think about him all day long everyday. I have an album for every month of his life with an average of 300 pictures in each one. I look at those photos several times a day.

    But, I just often wonder about how busy I USED to think I was. I didn’t know busy until now. One of my best friends Stephanie (80miles2brewster.blogspot.com) wrote this post on her blog and I couldn’t agree more.

    “the new normal is so much harder than the old normal. what did we use to do with all our time?! how did i not always have a clean house, dinner on the table and perfectly defined abs?! now i have someone else to get dressed and fed in the morning. a dryer full of clean clothes to fold that are not mine. an extra 20 tiny little nails to trim. milk to thaw. bottles to wash, sterilize and fill 5 nights a week. bath time. story time. play time. lots of play time.
    last week dane was in a talent show at his day care. there were “performances” by each age group and all the parents were invited. there was food, refreshments and a band playing (i laughed to myself about the band who landed a gig playing at a day care center). i looked around the playground and said out loud, “ALL of these parents work”. there was probably a hundred moms there who ALL juggle work and kids. it was good for me to see because i have spent all this time feeling bad for myself.. like what i was doing was so extraordinary. this is the norm. it finally sunk in that this is just the new normal.”

    What I’m doing everyday, what other working mothers are doing everyday, is just the new normal. I can’t imagine the old normal anymore and honestly I wouldn’t want to. Because this new normal is so worth it.

    So my LBC, you are going to do GREAT! xoxo
    Lizzy´s last post ..The Holidays

    • I know I said this already but I wanted to say again – thank you so much for sharing this. I love what your friend said about it being the new normal. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me all the time next week xoxo

  2. When I returned to work after my daughter was born, the stress of not knowing how it would all work really was worse than the actual return. It’s all kinds of hard, for all the reasons you mentioned. But eventually it just becomes the new normal. And you will love being able to see her at lunchtime. With our first, daycare was at my husband’s work and he would always visit with him. It made it easier on all of us.

    For little Amelia’s breathing/cold issues, try rubbing a little eucalyptus oil onto her feet and chest. We’ve been doing it with my daughter, who suffers from terrible allergies, since she was pretty young and it helps immensely. We will often put a drop in the humidifier at night as well.
    Steph @ Steph Runs On´s last post ..Five For Friday

  3. The first day going back is the hardest. I dreaded it from our one week doctor visit as I knew I had to go back at the 6 week mark. I cried so much, I cried when I left him (even though it was just my mom that day looking after him), I cried at on the drive to work (which was only 5 minutes), I cried when I made my cup of coffee at work, and then cried when I got to go home for lunch (which I know a lot of people don’t get to do), and before pregnancy I really wasn’t a crier! Just like anything, it will get easier and it becomes your new norm.
    Jade´s last post ..Starting the Week Anew?

  4. Just want to say that I know the coming weeks will not be easy, but you will do great! And we’re hear for support when you need it, even if it’s just to vent. It’s true that we all need to make the best choice for our own family. You are an asset to your family and your workplace and you will
    continue to be that even during this adjustment period! xo

  5. Or maybe you’ll be back in a few months saying “screw it. I’m not working.” Whatever your choice, you can always change things up. Life is about adjustment and adaptability. It’s all going to be good :)

    I quit working for pay after having my first kid…but I was also contending with a whole lot of stepkids. I’ve never looked back. Haven’t had a paycheck in 15 years (unless you count my $25 blogher check last fall

    • Haha! Very true. I’ve just got to take it one day at a time. And you’re right – it doesn’t have to be permanent if it ends up not working.

      Good thing that I also have that “huge” Blogher check to fall back on if things don’t work out 😉

  6. I don’t think you’ve ever gone into detail about what it is you do for a living. I know this a running blog, but I do enjoy those snapshots into people’s lives. Also, what did you earn your degrees in? Just curious if you’ve ever shared that on the blog or if you would considering doing a post about it!
    Elise @ Expeditions of Elise´s last post ..A Weekend at Home

    • I actually don’t think I’ve talked much about my current job on the blog! I have a master’s degree in public health. I’m currently working for a small hospital as the wellness program director. So I do some internal employee wellness stuff, but the main part of my job is to coordinate a community health project focused on healthy eating and active living. The project is in the beginning stages right now, but I may post more about it once it’s up and running.

  7. The first day back was the worst for me. (besides the anticipation) After that each day got easier. Do I still wish I could stay at home-YEP! But it’s not doable. My 3 are in school now and each child was just as hard to put it in the hands of someone else everyday. It is easier if you are in a job you love and they are with people you trust.

  8. Yes, it’s going to suck — but yes, it’s going to get better. Just have low expectations at first. It takes some time to adjust to a new routine, to getting to know the daycare workers, to figuring out when to pump (if you’re continuing BFing), and oh, actually remembering how to use your brain for work. I’m at the point where it’s not SO hard to come to work anymore, but every few weeks I think “I wish I could still be at home with E.” (note that I did not say “at home with E, L and B.” Lol.) And really – there is still nothing better than seeing that little, excited to see me, smiling face at the end of each day :)

    It’s awesome that you have in-office daycare!! Half the battle is being comfortable about where she is and what she’s doing all day.

    I wish you luck and will be thinking of you next week.
    Michelle´s last post ..What To Buy New Parents

    • Thanks Michelle! I plan to continue BFing. Hopefully I’ll be able to go down and nurse her sometimes during the day, which will make it easier. But since I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to do that every time, I’ll have to figure out the pumping situation (not looking forward to that). I remember you wrote a post on this after you went back to work this time, right? I’ll have to go back and read it!

      And yes — figuring out how to use my brain again and form sentences that don’t include baby talk will be another battle. 😉

  9. I have guilt too but mine is sort of the opposite. I feel guilty about wanting to go back to work. Of course, I still have another month before I go and he has to go to daycare, so I could change my tune.
    Lee´s last post ..Date Night

  10. Aww I’m sorry! I know this has got to be hard and I am sure I will feel the same way one of these days. I think once you get back into the routine you will feel much better! I know it’s hard though – Thinking of you and your precious family! Glad you enjoyed your vacation to FL!
    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun´s last post ..4 Liberal Personal Running Goals

  11. I just want to hug you! …but that’d probably be a little creepy 😉

    As a stay at home mom myself, I can’t tell you what it feels like to go back to work, but I can tell you that mommy guilt is alive and well in both the working, part time working, and stay at home crowd. It’s in different forms (guilty that you aren’t at home for working moms and guilty that sometimes you WISH you weren’t at home for stay at home moms) but I knowing that you are doing what is best for your family at a given time is all that really matters.

    And I’m so glad you have a more optimal situation and can see your sweet girl while at work- that’s pretty great!

    So, long and rambling comment aside, I hope you are right that the anticipation is the worst part, but know that all moms can relate to the guilt. We really need to stop trying to be everything to everyone and give ourselves a break 😉
    Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life)´s last post ..Weekly Meal Plan (in Pictures!)

    • Thank you Brittany – for the virtual hug and the nice comment! And I’m sure this won’t be the last time I feel guilt over something as a mom…

  12. Hang in there, Being either a SAHM and WAHM are tough. I went back to teaching after 3 months of maternity leave and in December we moved crossed country and I’m staying at home. There are pros and cons to both and the first few days back are tough but it does get easier. I think as a teacher I have good hours and vacation days. It’s nice to leave early abut then I always had to bring work home because I wanted to spend 3 hours with him before he went to bed. That’s awesome that you have on site daycare. That would make nursing so much easier.

    • Thanks Angie – I know there would be challenges either way. And as much as I want to stay home right now, I think I’d miss working a little bit (we’ll see if that changes once I’m actually back!).

      I am super thankful for the daycare situation – it’ll definitely eliminate some of the BFing challenges.

  13. The moment you place her in another’s arms and head to your office will hurt your heart in a way I can not explain. And those first week’s back will be a difficult adjustment at home as well. Staying home and working are equally difficult but you will find a balance and an adjustment that will be easier to bear with time and you will all benefit from it. Remember as the sadness hit’s you that you will be able to experience immense joy when you see her again at the end of the day.
    Jamie´s last post ..Coming Soon to: The Palace of Auburn Hills March 19-21, 2014

  14. I had a huge adjustment returning to work and ended up changing my mind and staying home with my little guy. Now, I am looking for work again. With time, you will figure out what is best for YOU.
    Jenn@Mark My Miles!´s last post ..SMART running goals + Winner

  15. I can only imagine what you’re going through. I went back FT temporarily but Wyatt was older and I was telecommuting and he was with a nanny. So I have nooooo idea how hard this will be for you.

    BUT I have guilt too. I want to work FT. Honestly I think I’d personally be such a better mom if I had a job I loved and got a break from him.

    Hugs! Being a mommy is so hard! <3
    Jen´s last post ..Pregnancy update: week 34

    • I hope you’re able to find something at some point. It’s so tough, no matter what your situation is. And I can see what you mean about wanting to work. As much as I want to stay home, I think there’s a big part of me that would miss working. I do love public health and I’d be sad if I were no longer able to contribute to the field in some way. I just need to keep reminding myself of this during those first few weeks as I get used to the adjustment.

  16. Hang in there! The anticipation/dread of going back to work is painful. It’s like someone has cut off your arm in the beginning BUT it gets better. My son, Evan is 10 and my daughter, Lindsay is 7. I still miss them a lot especially on days when they have things at school and I can’t go. The summers are tough. Everyone gets used to it. My kids are with their grandparents after school. It’s nice for all to have such a close relationship but I still miss them. I wish you tons of luck!

  17. I think the fact that I was going to have to leave him came when I visited my work’s on-site daycare – there of course are more babies than there are workers so there would be no one holding him at times. For some reason that was hard to process – and he wasn’t even born yet. I kept saying I didn’t get my masters degree to stay at home- but now I see why it’s tempting. I have excellent benefits and a higher earning potential than my spouse so I really do have to keep my job.

    Now I’ve got 2 months left and although I probably won’t be quite so sleep deprived, the thought of going back to my 12 hour days (10 at work and then a commute that keeps me gone from 6:15 am-6:30pm), seems very daunting. I already told my boss don’t expect me to be very productive my first few weeks back as ill be stalking the daycare center.

    • Ugh…yes. Exactly the things that make it tough for me. Even though I KNOW she’ll be fine if she’s not held all the time, it’s still hard to think about. Plus the long days (I will also be gone for about 12 hours – 9 hour workday + almost 3 hours of commuting). The only thing that makes it easier is knowing she’ll be coming to work with me. I also plan on stalking the daycare center as much as possible during those first weeks! Enjoy the last couple months of your leave – it goes by way too fast!

  18. Growing up, my father worked in a hospital that had on-site daycare and kindergarten. I was there from the time I was 1 until I was 6. It allowed my parents to go back to work and feel like they still had access to me. My dad would often come visit and bring me to his office to have lunch together or we would stay at the daycare and eat together. It’s one of my fondest memories that I still cherish today at 26 years old. I think you’re making a great choice. I can only imagine how hard it is to leave her now, but it’s whats right for you and your family. It’s so nice that you can see her during the day.
    Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian´s last post ..ClassPass Launches in Boston

  19. It’s hard. It gets easy, but it’s hard. It’s a major change in routine, and I can finally understand how easy it is to NOT go back to work. It would be easy to just …not.

    I’m happy to report that now that I’m back, it’s fine. It really is. I have days where it makes me sad that I’m no longer the expert on All Things My Daughter, but you can’t have everything, right? She seems no worse the wear for my being gone, and I feel like I get mom time and me time (if you would like to consider “work” “me time”.)

    But you’re right. The anticipation is the worst. It only gets better.
    LizScott´s last post ..Random Thoughts About the Most Recent Breastfeeding Kerfuffle

  20. Saying prayers for you! I know it’s so hard, I’ve held many a hand at school because 95% of the moms return to work after 8-12 weeks. You will be great and she will be great! Xoxo
    Kristin miller´s last post ..Week 26 Update

  21. I worked full time after my first and second were born and then I’ve been home since my third was born. Definite pros and cons for both sides. When I first started staying home full time, I cried every day because I hated it so much and couldn’t wait to get back to my old job. It’s been 6 years now and I can’t even imagine going back to that job! I’m a certified personal trainer now, so I feel like I really do have the best of both worlds. I’m a few weeks away from delivering baby #4, I feel like the world’s craziest person lol.
    Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily´s last post ..34 Weeks

  22. I just skimmed the previous comments so forgive me if I missed info or repeat what’s already been said…but you can totally do this! I had a lot of guilt when I first went back to work, but as we got into our new routine and got used to it that guilt started to ease. It helped that AJ was happy to go to the sitter’s and happy when I picked him up…and now he greets me in the evenings with the biggest two toothed smiles that make busting my butt all day at work totally worth it :) If you haven’t yet and have the opportunity before you go back to work, I highly recommend taking a couple of “dry run” days to help you get used to the routine of getting baby and her stuff ready and getting out the door on time plus it can help baby to acclimate to the new surroundings. I felt a lot better about going back to work after AJ’s two dry run half days because after that I knew he’d take a bottle and nap for the babysitter and that took a lot of weight off my shoulders!
    Lori´s last post ..Back at it…again

  23. i’m so behind on reading…you may already be back? i have friends that do both- and both have positives and negatives- some say they spend more “quality” time with their kids than they did when they stayed at home. Some love it…i think it depends on the personality. Either way-good luck!
    elizabeth´s last post ..Hills, Nashville, and Fat Tuesday

  24. Oh, it is hard. :( My best advice is to be gentle with yourself. Bring something of hers with you, maybe a pair of socks? Put them in your purse. Use her lotion for your hands (smell memory) and visit her when you can (you are so right, that is an awesome luxury!) Remind yourself that being able to build relationships with other caregivers besides you and you DH is a GIFT you are giving her.

    Being away makes the time you are together with your family that much sweeter.

    Remember it is okay and pretty darn awesome to be passionate about your work AND being the best mom you can be.

    But most of all be gentle with yourself because it’s going to take some time to be confident in the above statement.

    I’ve got two sons (2 years and 4 months)…being a working Mom and passionate about my work makes me a BETTER mom. But it took a while to figure that whole thing out. I was jealous of SAHM’s I know until I realized my happy doesn’t look like their happy. And that’s more than okay. It’s perfect.

    Good luck and seriously visit her as much as you can. She is absolutely adorable!

  25. Oh my, that reading picture is awesome. Glad to see you are raising her as a sox fan from the start!
    EB @ Running on E´s last post ..Catching up and Racing news!

  26. I am a new blog reader, and a fellow Vermont dweller. :)

    You will absolutely be able to be a full time mom and work outside the home. I have two children, and although I loved my maternity leave (particularly with my son because I knew he was my last baby), working makes me a better mom. I have “kid” downtime when I’m at work. I am intellectually stimulated, work at a job I enjoy and when I come home, we are all happy to be back together. Sure, it’s hard in the beginning when you don’t want to leave a snuggly baby, but it does get easier, especially when they are off to school.

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