I have been back at work for a month now! And my bubs has been at nursery for a month now, and I believe both of us are happy and thriving!
When I first came back to work at the end of my maternity leave, I thought it would be extremely difficult and heart-rending to do this, but honestly, it hasn’t been bad at all.
On that first day, when we were getting ready in the morning. I was getting myself ready and my husband was getting baby ready – that’s our routine – I was fairly stressed out. Too many questions and doubts about if I am doing the right thing.
He had just completed two months. Do I really need to send him off? Do I really need to go back to work? All questions I had answered before, but at that moment, it just seemed like I was making a mistake and that I was being selfish!
I wanted to go back to my job; my baby probably wanted his momma to be with him. It was honestly the most heartbreaking thing to drop him off. I was crying like a baby. It felt like I was leaving a part of behind at the nursery.
Till then baby had never been apart from me for more than an hour or two, while I had to run errands, and even then, I knew he was with his father or grandparents, and as such completely safe and taken care of.
Thank God for my husband!
I knew he was emotional too. But he wiped away my tears, gave me strength and reminded me that we were doing the right thing. And we both gave bubs a kiss and left.
During the first day, I did wonder if it would be possible to smuggle him into the office. But that obviously is not a very smart thing to do now, is it?
On day 1, I went back in about three hours to check on him. I wanted to go earlier but I didn’t want to seem like a paranoid mom! There were so many thoughts floating in my head – Will he be given milk on time? Will he be given the breast milk I gave, or would they give him formula without my permission. Would they make him cry? Will they pick him up if he cries? Or leave him be? Will they take care of him?
And when I went back to check on him, I knew I was doing the right thing. He seemed happy, and well-settled. The caretakers seemed like they genuinely loved the children, and they were playing with all of them.
Personally, I was happy to be back at work too. It was some time off from baby duties, and it was a time I could dedicate to what I was good at. The first day at work was different. Lots had changed in the office while I was away, so it almost felt like a new job.
But I have always been and am grateful for the great team I have in place. They understand that I can’t be as flexible with office work as I was before; that my priorities have changed. From being a workaholic who would happily be on the clock 24/7 – now I would only be available during office hours.
The short working hours are great too. I get to leave an hour early for the first year of getting back to work. So. Yay!
It also helped that I found a comfortable place to pump – the prayer room. For me, the biggest fear about going back to work was if I would be able to continue breastfeeding. And if there were any problems with that, I might actually have accepted a pay cut and tried to do half-day shifts.
But the fact that I was able to pump enough breast milk, and build a stock to feed my baby made the whole back-to-work transition a lot smoother. And I am extremely proud to say that, till this day, I have not needed to resort to formula, and have been able to continue breastfeeding.
The only downside is that I have so much washing to do – bottles and bottles – his bottles, and those for me to pump, and the other bits and bobs.
It took us more than a week to fall into routine. Initially, I thought it would be too long a process in the morning, sterilizing his bottles, sterilizing my bottles, packing his bags, packing my bags, and getting everything together. But then after reading about it, and asking other moms, I have learnt that I don’t have to be so pedantic about the sterilizing process. And so, these days, I keep everything ready the night before.
Between my husband and I, we are a fantastic team! In the mornings, he gets bubs ready while I get ready, and he helps us into the car. In fact, I do my make-up, while husband puts him in the car seat. Once we are back, I feed baby, and husband does one round of bottle rinsing. And then looks after baby, while I put the pumped breast milk into the pouches, date them and into the freezer. The rest of our routine usually consists of eating, letting him play, kisses, cuddles, and Masterchef. By 9pm, we three are completely drained, and ready for bed.
One month on, I am happy to be back at work. Surrounded by friends and colleagues, doing a job I’ve always enjoyed, knowing full well that my baby is safe and secure, and that all his needs including the one for nurture are being met.
The few times I have been to the nursery over the past month, I have found that there is a genuine connection between the caregivers and the kids. The way they sing to them, and play with them, and most importantly, how the children are responding to them, gave me confidence, and reiterated my belief that I had taken the right step.
Thanks to technology, the nursery is able to share real time updates including images and videos, with us regularly. Usually, the moment I feel blue missing my baby, I calm myself saying there will be a picture or video sent soon! And there usually is.
Another key concern was if he would forget me because he doesn’t see me for almost eight hours. But that was unfounded. The smile that he gives me when I go to pick him up! Ah! Bless him! It truly melts my heart.
As odd as it is to say this, and as “wrong” as it sounds, the baby-free time. Even if I am drowned in deadlines and other work madness- does have its perks. And by the time I reach home – I am ready and looking forward to spending all my time with my munchkin!
Obviously, it goes without saying that I would spend all my time and take care of him even if I was with him all the time, but the little time off does make the time with him more valuable!
Of course, there are still moments of doubt, and despair. Moments where I feel I don’t belong at work. And that I should be spending my time with my baby, but then, thankfully, they pass. Juggling a job and motherhood might not be easy, but it does have its rewards, and I am unashamed and extremely proud to say that both of us – mom and baby – are happy and prospering as each day goes on!