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.
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.
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!
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.