16 In Motherhood

True Life: I’m a Working Mom Now

Never in my life have I ever felt like someone ripped my heart out, threw it on the ground, stomped on it, tore it apart, then tried to put the mangled pieces back as best they could.

Until this week when I started back to work.

It’s taken a few days to get this post written because every spare second I’ve had I’ve tried to spend cuddling with my sweet girl. But I wanted to share my experience with going back to work while it is so fresh on my mind.

But first, here’s Miss A on her first day of school! Eeeek! I’m confident she had the best bed head in her class.

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Ok so before we get any further, shout out to all those working moms out there who have done this before, and who work outside the home, whether by choice or necessity, so that they can afford to live and provide the lifestyle they want to for their little one(s). YOU ARE ALL AMAZING. (WAHMs are also amazing, but for the point of this post I’m focusing on working outside the home.)

My entire life I thought I’d be a stay-at-home-mom just like my mom was. I always thought that was normal and that moms who worked were weird. I thought it was so strange that some of my friends went to after school programs or summer daycare programs. I assumed it was easy to be a SAHM and didn’t understand why some moms I knew weren’t SAHMs. Why would any mom choose to work and not spend every second at home with their children? Couldn’t every mom figure out a way to afford to stay home? Weren’t all husbands willing to sacrifice and work insane hours so that their wives could stay home? What kind of terrible husband would even want their wife to work? Wouldn’t any mom be willing to eat beans and rice if it meant they could stay home? It literally never crossed my mind that I would be a working mom one day. But then we got pregnant, and things got REAL.

When it came time for us to really have the talk, I knew in my heart what the outcome would be. As much as I tried to fight it and think of some way possible to make it work and make it magically become the sensible solution, there was no way around it. I wouldn’t be staying home with Adeline. At least not right now.

And that sucked. That sucked big stinky butt. I cried and cried, and was so SO very angry at Adam. Because, surely this was his fault. It’s up to him to provide for us so that his wife could stay home with her baby after all. But that just wasn’t the case, and I was bound and determined to make sure he knew that. The reason I wouldn’t be staying home was completely his fault. At least in my head it was. Talk about a jerk-wife.

Marriage isn’t one-sided, and neither is the decision to stay home with our child. Marriage is about compromise, and our biggest compromise in our marriage so far was the decision for me to go back to work. As much as we both would love for me to stay home, it’s just not possible right now. Plain and simple. It would be too drastic of a change and we feel like me continuing to work would be best for Adeline. Adam is much more logical than I am, who would have guessed that. If it were up to me I don’t think our bills would ever get paid and we’d be livin’ on love! Probably in a van down by the river. But a really nice van…with a great view.

But a funny thing has happened along the way to being a working mom. While I’m still not 100% sold on this whole thing, and right now my heart still feels like it’s being put through a blender, I think we’re going to be ok. And by we, I mean me.

I was extremely blessed to be able to stay home with Adeline for about 12.5 weeks. I had almost 3 solid months home with her, and for that I will be eternally grateful and I will always remember that time to be the most precious time of my life. But, during that time there were definitely days where I wished I was back at work. Being around a baby all day is HARD, and not having adult interaction for hours upon hours can really ware on your mental and emotional state. I’d never experienced that before and truly think that’s one reason I held onto the Baby Blues for so long. Heck, I still feel like I have days where it comes back, but after just two days back at work, I already feel much more like myself.  I think I’ve learned that I NEED adult interaction during the day, and I NEED to be around friends and co-workers during the day that can make me laugh, and smile, and feel like Sarah again. For a few hours during the day now, I can think about the things that make ME happy, and my mind isn’t completely overwhelmed and exhausted thinking and worrying about Adeline. She is in excellent hands, and is developing and learning in ways that I probably couldn’t teach her! I’ve quickly learned that when you have a baby, you instantly become a different person, and your old self is so hard to find again. You become mommy, and that’s your new identity. I have really struggled with getting right in my head since having Adeline, and I think for at least the time being, working is going to be good for me. I’m ready to feel like myself again, and not feel guilty about it.

Of course, one day I do hope to stay home. That will always me by end-goal and my absolute biggest dream. And I will always strive for that. But if that doesn’t happen anytime soon, I will be ok. And so will Adeline. Our family will adjust, and at the end of the day as long as we’re all healthy and happy that’s all that matters. It kills me to think about not being home right now, but I have to accept it and not be angry about it.

I always feel like when someone asks a new mom if they’re planning on staying home or working, there’s a tiny bit of judgement behind it. That needs to stop! Everyone’s situation is so different. If you’re working, you’re an amazing mom. If you’re staying home, you’re an amazing mom.

Maybe she’s working because she can’t afford to stay home. Maybe she’s working because she loves her job and she genuinely wants to work. Maybe she’s working because she simply doesn’t want to stay home all day. Maybe she’s working because her mom worked and that’s all she’s ever known. Maybe she’s working because she doesn’t want to cut back to the bare minimum. Maybe she’s working because she wants her child to have extra socialization during the day. Maybe she’s working because she wants to save up enough money so that one day she can stay home with her next child. Maybe she’s working so that she’ll be able to still have extra money to put aside for her child’s future. Maybe she’s working because she’s naturally goal-oriented and enjoys feeling productive. Maybe she’s working because her family needs her to for insurance purposes. Maybe she’s working because she wants to show her child that women who work are strong, courageous, and brilliant. And maybe she’s completely heartbroken that right now she can’t stay home, and it would be completely AWFUL for you to judge her for even one second.

Whether you’re working or staying home, you are providing the best environment you can for your child. #gomoms

The First Two Days Back at Work

Day 1 – Adam kept her while I was at work, so this was a HUGE help in making the transition to daycare a bit easier. I had only ever been away from her for 4 hours, so being away all day for the first time was definitely tough. But, I felt confident knowing she was home with her dad and he could send me pictures and text updates as often as I wanted. I put up a ton of photos of Adeline, brought lots of snacks to keep at my desk, and filled up my water bottle. My coworkers are uh-mazing and welcomed me back with a super cute goodie basket, sign, and flowers. I only cried 3 times all day, which I’d count as a win! I cried on the way to work, then cried the first two times I pumped because I felt so guilty for not being there to nurse her.

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Results – They had a great day, and so did I! Adeline took all 3 of her naps, in her crib, and took all 3 of her bottles. Success! It was truly great to be back, and feel like an adult again. My heart ached all day, and my brain seriously felt like mush, but I survived. Adam got to spend some quality time with his daughter, and I got to prepare for Day 2.

Day 2 – The real test. When we dropped her off at daycare for the first time, I thought my heart was growing to break into a million pieces walking out of the room. I tried to put her down in her crib 3 times and just couldn’t. Finally I just had to set her down, kiss her head, and walk out of the room. I wouldn’t even let myself turn around for a quick glimpse. I cried on the way out, and basically sobbed all of my makeup off. But, I went and got coffee and breakfast and made myself feel better. Once I got to work, I still felt like I’d just left a PART OF MY SOUL out on the streets to fend for itself, but once I got into the groove and got my mind on other things, it got easier. Until I called daycare to check on her.

When I called daycare at lunchtime to check on her, they said she’d refused her bottle and wouldn’t eat and would just cry when they tried to feed her. I told them to call me back if they tried again and she wouldn’t take it. I never heard back, so I assumed everything was ok. I can’t even explain how broken hearted I was. I thought I was going to throw up I was so worried about her and wanted to run down there as fast as I could and rescue my sweet girl. But, I stayed strong because I knew if I did I wouldn’t come back! So, I sent Adam instead. He walked down there on his lunch break just to make sure she was ok and sure enough, THE GIRL ATE!!!!! She figured it out and took her full bottle right after I called. Adam said she was so happy when he walked in her classroom, and as soon as he picked her up to love on her for a second, she fell asleep! Poor girl, I know she was so overstimulated with new toys and new friends!

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Results – I really think it was overwhelming for Adeline. It was the first time she was around lots of babies her age, loud noises, new faces, and a new napping environment. Her teachers though said she had a pretty good day, and didn’t cry the whole day by any means! She had 4 small cat naps, and ended up taking all 3 bottles. They said she also enjoyed a bit of tummy time, go girl go!

When we got home, she was exhausted! She slept all the way home, then napped on me while I rocked her until dinner time. Then she was totally wiped during bath time, and after I nursed her she passed out hard! She slept in her crib ALL night, never making a peep. I’m thinking daycare is going to make her a sleeping champ.

All in all, the first two days were rough. My heart hurt and I felt like the worst human in the universe for leaving my baby in someone else’s care. But, we survived, and I know it’s only going to get easier. It sucks not being home with her all day, and I’ve never missed someone more in my entire life. But, for now, me working is for the best, and I have chosen to accept it, be joyful in our situation, and enjoy every second I have at home with my family!

The BIG HONEST UGLY TRUTH about going back to work? It’s miserable. Your heart will hurt in ways you never knew it could. You will feel guilty for actually enjoying being around adults again. But you can do it. You are super mom. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

How did your first few days back to work go? Any advice or encouragement is welcome! Working moms have to stick together!

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Shay @ Great Now What
    January 20, 2016 at 10:47 am

    What a great post. Not gunna lie I got teary eyed for a bit. You’re so strong and Adeline has such good role models!

  • Reply
    Sara
    January 20, 2016 at 11:04 am

    You are a good Mom!!! Hugs. I hope it gets easier.
    Sara recently posted…Day In The Life With A 4 Month OldMy Profile

  • Reply
    Heather @Fit n Cookies
    January 20, 2016 at 11:45 am

    You are such a strong mom, always remember that. I actually went back to work yesterday, and it felt good. I’m with you on feeling like your identity has turned, but getting back into the work force can be good. I had always planned to return 2 days a week, until things changed and now I’m back to subbing. I am actually trying to find a steady job, wherever it is, because I think adult interaction would be good for me, as well. I’m sure daycare will get easier. I’ve worked in daycares and have seen moms dropping off for the first time. I’m sure Adeline loved every minute of it! Plus, sleeping all night- win! Maybe I should send Annabelle there, haha! Do you and Adam work close to it? TO be honest, I never thought I’d stay home. Daycare can be so great for babies to learn and play. I’ve been thinking of you! I know just from yesterday that the time I had with Annabelle after work was even more special to me because I had been without her all day.
    Heather @Fit n Cookies recently posted…Tummy Toning after Baby {Guest Post}My Profile

  • Reply
    Lauren @ The Foodie Runner
    January 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you so much for being so open about this. I am due in July and plan to continue my coaching job while luckily is only 2-3 hours a day but when my husband and I start talking about saving for a house and starting a college fund and all the financial goals we have I sometimes feel like I may have to go back to more full time work and while that scares me I’m glad to know that while it’s tough me and my little one would be able to make it through 🙂

    You’re doing a great job! I’m in awe of you and all working moms!
    Lauren @ The Foodie Runner recently posted…Baby Floris: 13 WeeksMy Profile

  • Reply
    Amanda @ ExploringLifeAndThings
    January 20, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    I love how real you are in your experience and I appreciate reading them so much. I don’t have kids, but hopefully in a few years when I do, I’ll be able to look back and read this again. I can’t imagine going through this but it’s nice hearing real experiences and not hearing how everything is picture perfect. You rock!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    January 20, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I have never commented before and I am a relatively new reader, but i loved this. I needed this! I am just over 12 weeks pregnant, just got a big promotion, I work full time, and my husband is in school full time. I am the breadwinner. I never thought I would stay home but the person I just replaced had a baby in August, came back for a couple of months, and is now at home with her baby. Most blogs I read the mothers either stay home or quit thier jobs after baby. Shoot, I feel like everyone around me and on tv is doing the same thing and I know 100% I don’t even have the choice to consider it. It will be ok. Daycare will be scary. But thank you for your candor about this and for showing me some people really do go back to full time, away from home jobs! Good luck!!

  • Reply
    Dietitian Jess
    January 20, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Aww reading this made me want to give you a hug <3 I think every family has a different situation and no one should be judged for working or not working. I don't have a baby (yet) but my best friends that do are both awesome professional mothers that use daycare and ended up loving it. There are so many benefits and its great you are pumping and still making breastfeeding work, go you! PS totally lol'd at your thinking you would be a stay at home mom your entire life because I totally have thought all the same things… as I get closer to having children I know that some moms need to work, the end.
    Dietitian Jess recently posted…Vegetarian Shepard’s PieMy Profile

  • Reply
    Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy
    January 20, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Ahh, I want to cry for you. I do think it will get easier, though, and she will probably have less separation anxiety in life because of it! Right now I spend all day with Amelia and my husband only gets to see her for a 1/2 hour or so before she goes to bed, so a lot of times she won’t even let him put her to bed. I know we’ll probably be dealing with more separation anxiety in the future, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing!

    I know you said your goal is to stay home one day, but in the meantime, do you have the option of working part-time or working from home at all?
    Emily @ Perfection Isn’t Happy recently posted…Surviving Baby’s First ColdMy Profile

  • Reply
    Kathy
    January 21, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for being so open about such a personal decision. Theres far too much judgment that comes w motherhood (as if we didn’t put enough pressure on ourselves!). No one ever knows how hard these decisions are except the person making them.

    I had my baby this week! I’ll be a working mom in a few months also, but trying to get through the newborn days right now. Finding sleep deprivation the hardest but have fallen in love w the new baby!

  • Reply
    Nikki S
    January 21, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I went back to work full time when Willa was 4.5 months old. It completely broke my heart to leave her. I got used to dropping her off and it definitely got better. I was so busy at work that I didn’t have time to dwell on leaving her too much. But then it hit me 2 months in that I wasn’t happy. I was missing so much and felt guilty for taking time to myself. It was hard to take time away on weekends to workout or even go grocery shopping because I already missed so much. After 2 months back to work, I put in my resignation and have been home for almost 4 months now. I don’t regret it for a second. I know not everyone can make it work and it’s SO hard. But always know you’re doing the best you can. You might be able to stay home in the future!

  • Reply
    Janelle
    January 21, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Praying for you during this big and hard adjustment! You are doing an amazing job, and Adeline is blessed to have you as her mama.

    I have a 4-month old, and I really appreciate the honesty with which you wrote this post. My perspective is a bit different: I was previously working a job that I really enjoyed (in a kitchen), but it didn’t pay well, offer benefits like health care or paid maternity leave, etc., and we’d end up paying more in childcare costs than I would have made continuing my job. It’s hard to not have that time to connect with other adults, get out of the house, and do something that I enjoy, but I’m also not complaining, because I know that it’s a huge blessing to be able to stay home with my daughter right now. My husband and I recently watched the movie Unexpected, and one of the characters says that, whether you go to work or stay home, it’s a sacrifice either way; that really resonated with me. Motherhood is such a mix of beauty and joy / trials and tears!

  • Reply
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections
    January 21, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Okay lady. Amen to this whole post. You are a rockstar for being SO incredibly open about this. Thank you!!!!!!

    I am a SAHM and like you, always thought I’d be one. My mom stayed home as did my husband’s mom. That was “normal” to us. We can afford it (which has been brought up on my blog several times in a not very nice way – talk about judgement, awkward!). But now that I’ve been home almost 24/7 besides trips to the park and grocery store or whatever, I AM GOING INSANE. I am considering going back to work… The grass is always greener, right?

    My marriage has really become so different though because I feel like I do everything at home (even thought that’s not true) which doesn’t feel fair. I want to hand off the baby to my husband when he gets home and finally get “me time.” But he does too because he just worked all day! I also really hate not having human contact. Sometimes I talk to the Target clerk a little TOO long just because I want to talk to someone who can say something other than “da da.” But we also move every few years, so I’m not even sure having a job would work well for me or my kids if they are also always adjusting. It’s such a personal decision for everyone. But thankfully neither is a death sentence that you can’t change, you know?
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections recently posted…Currently // January 2016My Profile

  • Reply
    Katie @ Live Half Full
    January 23, 2016 at 12:45 am

    It will get easier!!! My week was good but felt weird. I actually did not have any issues leaving Buel at home, but I think that’s because he was with my husband and in-laws and I WFH today. We start Daycare 2/1, so we’ll see how I feel then. For now, I’m ok with that part.

    The hardest part about my return was how different I feel. I expected to feel “more like myself” and I did to some extent, but I also felt completely different. My company just moved to a huge new office, so everything was new which made it even stranger. Day by day hopefully it’ll start to feel better. I’ll write about it soon!
    Katie @ Live Half Full recently posted…My Thoughts on Fitness After Baby & Expecting More: Fourth Trimester WorkoutMy Profile

  • Reply
    Nikki @ will run for pizza
    February 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Ohmygosh I’m crying reading your post and I don’t even have kids! But you know what, IF or WHEN we have kids, I’ve ALWAYS said I was going to be a SAHM, so I KNOW I would feel exactly how you do. And I think that that is why, after my last miscarriage, I decided I didn’t want kids until I was 40. When his child support is over and we could afford for me to stay home with OUR kids…during the 3 weeks that I knew I was pregnant last time, we literally fought over that issue the WHOLE time. It was actually pretty miserable. I’m praying for you girl! God knows your heart and what’s best for you and your family. 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda
    February 10, 2016 at 11:23 am

    It is very hard. I’ve been back at work for a month and a half now and it sucks. It’s easier some day than other days, but it’s very tiring! But I do enjoy being around adults and I like job, and this is the best thing for our family right now. I do hope to be able to work part time or something later one, but it won’t work right now. You’re doing great!
    Amanda recently posted…On BreastfeedingMy Profile

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      February 17, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Yes! Some days for sure just. plain. suck. But other days I’m like, ok I can do this, it’s not so bad. One day at a time. You are doing great as well!!

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