Funny how what you believed was your career takes an immediate backseat when you have a baby.
I actually went back to work last Thursday (I’d read somewhere that if you can’t return to work part-time after maternity leave, at least make your first week back a short one). The first couple of days were a little….how can I describe it? Maybe guilt-ridden? That’s not exactly correct. I naturally felt a little anguished leaving him at daycare, and when I got to work, my Flickr photostream stayed open in one of my Firefox tabs, along with my YouTube videos of him. By the way, those online sharing sites have been way more of a boon to me than to anyone else, I think — par for the course for all my online stuff. Michael’s first day at daycare, I was so happy to pick him up and take him home. But I guess he was so stimulated from the new environment and the new people to look at, he went to bed right away, even though I had been hoping to hang out with him a little longer.
The weekdays are not so terrible. My boss was accommodating enough to give me a 9-5 schedule so that I could get out of work in time to pick up Michael from daycare, so I’ve been getting home right around 6 p.m. — even last Friday! (Although, it was Good Friday, so there were a lot of people on vacation.) Although I can’t shake the feeling that I am not getting enough time to spend with Michael, that’s not something I can do anything about right now.
Weekends are the pickle. Since I’ve been at my current job, I have worked at least one weekend day, which has been Saturday night for the past five years. (Good God, I’ve been at this job five years in September!) While I was pregnant, it was agreed upon that Michael would go with his godmother on Saturday nights, so I could continue to work that shift (I’m the only one among my coworkers willing to work the shift, so now I’m the only one who can). But Saturday was a mess — we left the house late, I couldn’t get Michael’s godmother on her cell phone, I didn’t know where she was so I could hand him off. I ended up having to take Michael with me to work for a half hour. But the worst part was having Michael’s godmother hand him off to me at the end of my shift — at 11:15 p.m.! Poor baby was passed out in his godmother’s arms until I strapped him back into his car seat, where he immediately started crying until I got driving. When we got home, I dimmed all the lights in the house and rushed him upstairs and into his bassinet. That was the worst part — getting him into bed at nearly midnight. That ain’t right for a 3 month old.
Then, there’s trying to pump at work. I’m fully committed to breastfeeding Michael exclusively for at least six months, but going back to work makes it…not easy. The lactation specialists at the hospital had told me to pump every three hours to keep my supply up, but Michael has been sleeping in pretty long stretches — four, five hours at a time at night, and sometimes during the day. Plus, when you’re working with a bunch of people who don’t have kids, don’t usually take breaks and eat lunch at their desks — they look at you funny when you have to disappear twice a day, for 20, 30 minutes at a time.
At any rate, I’m getting back into the swing of things. I actually don’t want to give up my Saturday shift — its the quietest shift, I know exactly everything that needs to be done and that’s the shift I get to speak to the fewest people — but I have asked to be considered for a Monday through Friday shift. I don’t know if I should feel bad — I requested a day shift while I was pregnant and got it, I requested 9-5 and got it — but honestly, needing Saturdays off is not for me. It is honestly for Michael, but I don’t think my coworkers get that.