This was my first (part-time) week back in the office. I never thought I’d write that sentence because growing up I never planned on working after I had kids. My freshman year at Harvard a fellow student asked me what I wanted to be / do after college and I told him, “I want to be a stay at home mom.” I was serious, and I wanted him to know that I thought being a SAHM was an honorable life choice. Then I got pregnant and I had finally found a job I really enjoyed in an industry I loved.
— Selfies in my work bathroom throughout my pregnancy–
I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do after Gemma was born. I prayed about the decision and to my surprise I felt like I should plan on going back to work. I didn’t understand it because I believe that you can always be replaced in the office, but no one else can be your child’s mother. Right after graduating from college I nanny’ed for a few months and I could not imagine myself ever being the mom who needed a nanny. I was even a little judgey and thought moms who worked but didn’t need to had misaligned priorities.
As the end of my maternity leave got closer I felt so torn about leaving Gemma. I talked to a fellow working mom about how to look for a nanny and the reality of leaving my baby set in for the first time. I cried thinking about someone else sending me pictures of her during the day. For the last three months I was the one sending pictures of her.I felt this deep sadness rise to the surface like a big bubble through honey. I cried again the next day. I teared-up reading about daycares online and then shut my computer and ate some chocolate.
I felt social pressures in both directions as well. When speaking to my SAHM friends I’d say that I was going back but downplay my long term intentions of working. With my working mom friends I’d tell them my plan to ramp up slowly but emphasize that I missed the mental stimulation. I felt torn because I genuinely identified with both sentiments.
Throw into the mix the fact that Gemma was still flat out refusing a bottle in spite of my
best efforts and my stress levels were at an all time high before my first week back in the office.
On Monday morning I got in an Uber and my eyes started to water. Half-way to the office I realized I forgot my pump, but didn’t have time to go back for it. During the day I got constant updates about Gemma and teared up a few more times.
I self-expressed (basically hand-pumped my boob) in the lactation room into a mason jar and made it through the day.
I took my own UberX to pick Gemma up, which I never do, because I was not going to spend any more time away from my baby. Seeing Gemma after work was a huge relief. It felt like finally sitting in front of an AC unit when it’s 95 degrees and humid. I’d made it through day 1.
For my first few weeks back I am working M, Th, F. After Monday Gemma and I were able to recover. Day 2 was a little easier but still had it stresses. Day 3 was about the same, but by the end of the third day I was finding my groove again at the office.
–Selfies in my work bathroom my first day back at work–
When I came home on Friday Colin and I argued over who got to hold Gemma. Please let all of our arguments from now on be about who gets to hold the baby. I’d made it through my first (part-time) week and it felt good. You know the feeling you get when you feel like you’re in the right place at the right now? That’s the feeling I had on Friday afternoon. Sort of like being Reece Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama when she goes back to her home town. I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. I don’t have it all worked out yet, but I can tell that Gemma is going to be OK and I have that sense that she knows we love her. I don’t think the working mom thing ever gets easy, but at least I know I can do it.
I still have so many thoughts about going back to work and being a SAHM, but this is where I am right now. I would love to hear other people’s experiences and learn what was helpful as you transitioned back to work or how you knew that wasn’t the right thing for you. Of course, this whole post ignores the fact that being a stay at home mom is a privilege not everyone has.
Sending lots of love today and prepping for week 2 🙂