Well, the day finally came. The day I had long both dreaded and dreamed of off and on for the 4 months I was home. Maternity leave was equal parts all happiness and all exhaustion! Caring for a new, tiny human being is hard work!!! Literally the hardest work I’ve ever and will ever do. So when they say maternity leave is no vacation, well it’s the truth.
As my maternity leave came to an end, I dreaded the first day I would have to say goodbye to Avery as I left for the morning. I knew that was going to be the hardest thing in the world and it was. I cried the entire way to work and then had 2-3 moments of tears throughout the day- the first one being when I walked into the office and was greeted with welcome back balloons, a welcome back cake, and my favorite iced chai tea waiting for me. I work for the absolute best office and have the best coworkers in the world- I seriously wish it wasn’t so good because it would have made the decision to be a stay at home mom soooo easy for me.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, my husband and I discussed the idea of me staying home and it was something I always said I’d “think about when the time comes.” It was such a “thing” that people in my office were literally making bets as to whether or not I’d come back. (You’re welcome to all the people who thought I’d be back!!!)
As my maternity leave came to an end I did seriously consider staying home with Avery. There’s nothing in the world I love more than being her mom and there’s no place in the entire world I’d rather be than be with her. BUT being who I am- someone who has to feel productive and feel like their “good” at something- I knew I had to go back to work. First of all, I LOVE my job and the doctor I work for. I know how rare that is and how lucky I am to have that, so I didn’t feel ready to give that up. Throughout my maternity leave, I also had some of those hard days where I felt like nothing I did was right, I couldn’t soothe Avery no matter what I did- and that shit was heavy on my mental health. It impacted how I felt the entire day and was something that I couldn’t shake- even after having soothed her (however many hours later). I know this might come off cocky, but I know I’m good at my job and that’s part of why I enjoy it so much. I knew for my own mental health, going to work was going to be something that made me a better mother and wife- because it makes me a better me.
So, I went back to work and I won’t lie- that first week was rough. It was hard leaving every morning (still is) but the look and cuddles I get when I come home at the end of the day make me feel sooo much better and that’s what I remind myself of every time I have to leave. How happy she’s going to be when I come home!
I consider myself very lucky to be in the situation I’m in- for 2 reasons. One, because of the pandemic, my husband is working strictly from home, so he’s been able to watch Avery while I’m at work. And honestly, this is probably the only reason me going back to work actually works. If we had to put Avery in a daycare or in the care of a babysitter (someone not family), I would absolutely not have gone back to work. No judgement on those who do, I just would not have chosen that for my family. Because I know she’s with dad, I don’t worry while I’m at work because I know he’s going to take care of her. Also- I get tons of videos and photos throughout the day that definitely helps me get through!!
The second, I have a job that is willing to work with me and understands the life change and transition I’m going through. On Tuesdays I leave work at 3 pm and Fridays I leave at lunch for the day to come home and be with Avery. I expect it to stay this way for the first couple months back and we’ll see if I want to take on more as Avery gets older. But I feel very grateful to have a job that wants to make sure I’m happy and comfortable!
I’ve had a few people ask me why I chose to go back to work (essentially) full time instead of part-time and here’s why: I knew if I didn’t just rip the bandaid off and jump right into it, that I probably never would. I wanted to see what I could manage right off the bat and knew that scaling back (for me) was going to be easier than adding more to my plate, even as time went on. I’m glad I decided to start full-time because now I know, with the adjusted hours on Tuesdays and Fridays that I can handle it. And not only that I can handle it, but that Avery and Joey can too.
If there was any issue that first week with Avery refusing to eat or being really upset all day; I would and will rush home in a heartbeat. And if Joey was struggling and not able to balance Avery and work, I would get my ass back home too. But we’re all managing and doing just fine! Which I’m super thankful for.
I can honestly say, being back at work hasn’t been the easiest thing to do, but I know it’s the best thing for me and for my family in the long run. So far, it’s given me such a confidence boost. I feel like superwoman being able to go to work, come home and care for Avery, and then still have time for laundry/dishes and time with my husband once Avery is asleep for the night. And so far, the worst part about the whole back to work thing is pumping at work! It’s seriously the worst- more on that in a separate post because shhhaaaaahhooot, I hate it that much. But you’ve gotta do what you gotta do, ya know?
For any mommas out there dreading the whole return to work ordeal; my only advice is know that it’s going to be hard- there’s nothing worse than saying goodbye to your new baby in the morning- there’s just no way around it. But if you going back to work is a necessity for your family or just something important to you, know that in the end its going to be worth it. And well, if it’s not, after that first week back, you can at anytime choose to be a stay at home mom too (thats what I tell myself anyways).
I think in the month leading up to your return to work date, you should definitely evaluate what you want your work days to look like, if you want to start full time or ease yourself back and start off part time, start to think about who’s going to take care of your baby when you go back and start having them over to acclimate them with the baby and/or your house. I think doing these things will at least help warm yourself up to the thought of going back to work so it isn’t such a shock, because it definitely comes up fast!
My 4 months of maternity leave went by so quickly! Some people at work told me they felt like I’d been gone for years but after that first day back, it honestly felt like maybe I’d been gone a week. It’s so crazy how everything can both change and stay the same at the same time. I’m a completely different person after having become a mom, but back at work I’m still the same person just doing their job. It’s kinda comforting in a way? I will say, the walk from one side of the clinic to the other has definitely got 1000000x easier for me since losing the belly! And my doctor can actually exit an exam room without me having to stand up all the time, that’s been a nice thing to get back too (my belly had stopped me from scooting my chair in close enough for him to open the door).
All in all, I’m glad I made the decision I did to return to work and feel very blessed that it is going so well!
Since being back to work, I definitely have a whole new appreciation for working moms!