Thursday, April 23, 2015

Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave: Mom Guilt

After a blissful four months off work after Liam was born, I went back to work on Monday.  I was off for a month before he was born due to my pregnancy being considered high risk because of my preexisting high blood pressure.  Since high school I had never gone that long without working, and I was just getting into the groove of being a stay at home mom and wife.  AND, the worst part is leaving my four month old when he is just starting to become so much more active and developing such a funny little personality.  But, alas, being an attorney, all of my years and years of schooling, taking and passing the California Bar Exam, and just plain financial necessity for our family, it was time to go back to work.  Sadly, I am one of the lucky new moms who was able to take a whole month longer than the twelve weeks, or less, that other American moms get, and for some, that time is wholly unpaid leave.  I was pretty frugal during my time off, and was able to stretch it out longer by making some smart money decisions, and because of my blood pressure, my doctor gave me longer than the standard six weeks of disability. 

Newborn Photos

During my maternity leave, the first month or so was just so hectic and sleep deprivation ruled our house.  I was just figuring out how to get my little man to sleep, eat, how to relieve his gas and what to actually do with him when he was not sleeping or eating.  We got into a groove, and our days ended up being full of cuddling, long walks, tummy time, back porch sitting, baby wearing, reading books, watching television while snuggling together and nursing, and trying to leave the house at least a few times a week.  I was so worried about letting him cry that I would often not use the restroom or do anything for myself at all unless I was certain he was asleep.  I just wanted to make sure he felt safe and secure and knew I was there for him.  Because of my [Type A, overbearing] personality, I had only been away from Liam for 1-2 hours at a time, and only two or three times total since he was born.  I just hated leaving him. 

One of many sweet naps on my chest.

Baby blues.


Growth from 1-2 months.


When I was pregnant it was an absolute that I would be returning to work.  But after having Liam, and as the weeks literally sped by, each passing week flying by faster than the last, I would start to cry any time I even began to think about having to leave him. Financially, I have to work to help support our family.  Chad and I are both attorneys, and we both have student loan debt, as well as other debt that we are working on paying off.  Without my income, we just could not make it work.  We experienced life with only one income right after we bought and moved into our home, when Chad was laid off due to his boss's inability to manage his law firm and pay his employees, and that lasted six long months.  It was stressful and a huge strain on our relationship.  So I knew that even though I want to stay home, right now it just is not feasible.  So, back to work I have gone.  

I spent a lot of time my last week home crying.  Chad took my last two days of leave off work, so we could spend time together as a family, and part of me was upset that he was impeding on my last two days alone with our boy.  But really, I was so happy that he thought of us, and wanted to spend time with us.  The best thing about my husband is that he genuinely wants to be home with Liam and me, and he was sad when he went back to work after we had him.  He does not have much experience with babies, so I have kind of taken over, since I was exclusively breast feeding until I started having to pump at work, and I have been the only one to get up at night with him (again, breast feeding), but if he could do those things, or I should say, if I let him, he would do those things that he is able to.

Liam is going to daycare full time at a pretty awesome place.  He is in the infant room with eight infants right now, and a maximum of 12.  There is a 4:1 ratio, although there is usually a 3:1 ratio of children to caregivers.  He is currently the youngest along with one other little boy who was born on the exact same day.  I have gone three days out of the last four to nurse him on my lunch break, which is also a bonus.  His daycare is pretty much mid-distance between work and home, and it only takes me about seven minutes to get there, both from home and work.  I love being so close, in case there is a problem, and it makes it so easy to head over during lunch. 

First day at Daycare.

Napped in his crib.

He looks so tired, but he played all day long!

Before starting daycare, Liam was not a fan of bottles.  He had only taken a bottle completely twice before I dropped him off on Monday.  Mom guilt was in full swing.  The "I should haves" and "Why didn't Is" were flying around in my head, and I just knew my son was going to starve, cry the whole time, refuse to nap, and be a bundle of fussiness when I picked him up after work.  When I got to his daycare at lunch that first day, one provider, Ms. Jamie, told me that he had refused his morning bottle, but he had taken two naps, and he was actually sleeping when I got there.  I hated to wake him up, but it was great to see him recognize me and nurse, since he was a starving little guy.  It was so hard to leave him after I nursed him, but I could tell he was in good hands based on all the other sweet babies in the room, who were almost all taking naps, being fed, or being rocked to sleep in their cribs.  When I picked him up that afternoon, I learned he took his afternoon bottle, reluctantly.  But, it was a start. 

On Tuesday he had no trouble at all, and took multiple naps, ate his morning and afternoon bottle, and was grinning at his providers as I picked him up to head home for the day.  Wednesday I missed nursing him at lunch to go to my office's Administrative Professional's Day lunch, and although I had to call to check on him twice, I felt good about where he was and who he was with, so I was able to enjoy myself at lunch. 

He woke up last night very congested, and I am pretty sure he has his first daycare cold.  I feel so helpless when he is snotty and sneezy and unable to blow his own nose.  The NoseFrida is my go to snot sucker.  It is not as gross as it seems, as long as I do not think about the actual boogers being sucked up and as long as I don't watch them. 

Tomorrow will complete Liam's (and my) first week of daycare.  We have his four month pediatrician appointment and shots tomorrow afternoon, so it will only be a six hour separation rather than eight (yay!), but I know he will be fussy and not feel well after getting shots.  I am thankful I will have the weekend with him to comfort him, especially since he is fighting his first real cold.  (He did have a weird respiratory infection of some sort when he was only about a month old, where he sounded really raspy, and his doctor said he could hear it in his lungs.  He had to have a nebulizer treatment and an inhaler, but that went away without any complications.  He also never had a fever, which we are so thankful for!)

It is 4:00 on Thursday, and I cannot wait to pick my boy up in an hour.  Working from 8-5 is hard, especially now that we are establishing a completely new routine from our leisurely days during maternity leave.  My current schedule, at least this week, has been getting up at 5:45 a.m., showering while Liam still sleeps, and if he wakes up, Chad watches him while I do my hair, make-up and get dressed.  The night before, I have been getting all bottles together as well as my pumping equipment, which requires hand washing each night, picking out clothes for the next day for Liam and myself.  After I get my hair and make-up done, I eat and then nurse Liam, get dressed, and we head out.  Chad gets ready for work after Liam and I leave.  I am pretty drained today, and hoping that after a couple weeks this schedule will become easier and we will figure out how to have more time together as a family in the evenings.  Another issue I am facing right now is transitioning Liam into his crib.  When he had his respiratory infection at a month or so of age, we took him out of his crib and let him sleep with us, so I could monitor his breathing.  Since then, he has slept with us, right next to me.  I know a lot of people are against co-sleeping, but we follow the strictest guidelines for co-sleeping safety, and I am a VERY light sleeper, so any little sound wakes me up - making me much more comfortable with him in our bed.  Now that I am getting up early though, and with the location of our bathroom right next to my side of the bed, it is too difficult to keep Liam asleep in the morning.  So, after he is used to daycare, the next big change for him is going to be the sleeping arrangement.  Stay posted for how that transition goes.

I hope everyone has a great Friday.  This post is a novel, so I am going to end it here!


  1. awww precious boy! i know it's so hard to leave him! and ooooh the sad lower lip shot!! that KILLS me when they make that face! he is perfect and adorable, though!! good luck with everything!

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