I’d be lying to you if I said that going back to work after having my baby was easy. It was HORRIBLE. The last couple weeks of my leave, I counted down the days until my maternity leave was over. The very last week, I cried every night while I was rocking her to sleep. I was so frustrated. Why couldn’t I just stay home? Well, that easy answer was…we don’t have the money for me to stay home! I tried thinking of every possible thing we could cut. The sacrifices we could make, but it still wouldn’t be enough.
Acceptance finally set in. I was so fortunate to have my sister-in-law who offered to keep my child for me. I didn’t have to send her to daycare like most moms, not that there is anything wrong with daycare. Part of me wished I wanted the “break” like some moms do. It would have made my life easier! I took twelve weeks of maternity leave, six weeks paid, six weeks unpaid, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am a 4th grade teacher and my students were thrilled to have me back! Their response helped ease my anxiety, even though my heart longed to be holding my sweet girl in my arms instead.
I don’t think there is much of a way to prepare yourself. You could start leaving baby periodically in increments, but the whole first day is a long one. The whole first week was a long one…ugh! Other moms told me to try and break up the calendar to look forward to the next holiday or long weekend. This does really help to get you through. The weekends are pure joy, and they will sustain you from week to week.
For me, one of the hardest things about leaving my baby was thinking of all of the first year development I might miss. What if she crawls and I’m not there? What if she takes her first steps without me? What if she says her first word and I’m not there to hear it? These thoughts about drove me crazy. It is hard to try not to think about all of the things you might miss. Eventually, you learn to put those thoughts out of your mind.
My biggest lesson would be to not be too proud to ask for help. I was fortunate, I did not suffer from postpartum blues after my baby was born. I did, however get extreme anxiety about going back to work. I cried over everything. I was a total mess and really needed to go see my family doctor. Finally, after many gentle nudges from my fabulous co-workers and friends, (mommies as well who had all been there), I got something to help ease my mind, my anxiety, and my heart. I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I had made myself and everyone else miserable. I am now more relaxed, much more at ease with the role of a working mom. Please don’t be too proud to get help if you need it!
I cherish every moment with my child. Those kisses and snuggles when I leave, and those sweet little arms that go up when I return from work to hold her. They keep me going and give me my purpose. I would still give anything to stay at home, but I now don’t dread work like I did. I depart, I teach, and I leave as soon as possible to get back to where my heart belongs. You, too can do this mama! It will be hard. There will be tears. There will be struggles, but you will figure out your groove and make the best of your situation. I promise!
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