I recently returned back to work after 14 weeks off due to the birth of my second daughter, Penny. Opinions aside about our country’s maternity leave policies, I felt very fortunate to be able to take two weeks prior and 12 weeks after the birth to spend time with my daughter and figure out this whole gig of being a mom of two. I was just starting to feel comfortable in my new role when it was time to add work back into the mix. My first day back — well it was worse than I thought it could be but much more emotionally fulfilling than I expected.
4:20 am: My alarm isn’t set to go off until 5:10; however a hungry baby trumps and iPhone ringer. Penny isn’t exactly what you would call a good sleeper-I am lucky to get a four hour stretch but those are far and few between. I pull her out of her bassinet and feed her, as she nursed I feel the lump in my throat start to grow and before I know it, I’m crying with anticipation of the day. I stared at her sweet face, worried she will wonder why I’m suddenly gone all day.
4:45 am: Penny is done nursing and I have almost 30 minutes before I have to get up. My nerves about oversleeping win out, so I get up and decide to pump since I’m not sure how my body will respond to the pump all day long and want to have as much milk as possible.
5:10 am: I hear my alarm going off just as I finished pumping. I prepared all my stuff for the day the night before so in half an hour I manage to get myself dressed, makeup on, get my oldest, Evelyn, dressed and put everything in the car.
5:45 am: My husband and I only work a few miles from each other so we carpool as often as possible, though today we decided that he would stay home with Penny since it was my first day. I kiss my husband and baby goodbye (who are cuddling in bed) and head out the door to drop off Evelyn at daycare. We asked her if she wanted to stay home with Daddy and Penny, but she wanted to hang out with her friends instead. Typical.
6:40 am: I arrive at work and have a total breakdown in my car. I’m talking a full on ugly cry and during which I’m cursing myself for wearing makeup. With Evelyn, my return to work was so easy so I wasn’t prepared at all to be sad or for it to be a struggle. I love working– truly– but this time was just so much harder. I text my husband to tell him I’m having a hard time and he reminds me I only have to get through one day-yes my first day back is on a Friday, so I immediately had two days off again. I dry my tears use some baby wipes to try and clean my face up, hold my head high and walk into the office.
7:00 am: My shift officially starts and I start to sort through the 1,000+ emails that I received while I was gone. I work for an airline and with customers so things are consistently changing and it is important to keep up to date on the latest. I also discover that some of our computer programs have denied me access due to inactivity. I distract myself by changing my desktop background so I can see my girls as often as possible.
8:45 am: I start to feel the pangs and tingles of full breasts. I take my first of three pumping breaks that I have scheduled. I find our office’s mother’s room and am pleased to see that there is a comfortable chair, full length mirror and paper towel dispenser. While pumping I facetime my husband and get a few smiles from Penny. My nerves about being able to pump were for naught, I felt very thankful that my body seemed to respond just as it did with my first (a slight oversupply). I say goodbye to my husband and start to cry, again. Feeling appreciative of the paper towels readily available.
9:15 am: I head back up to my office and all of my friends have started to arrive (I work the earliest shift). Immediately my spirits are lifted, I had missed them so much and it felt good to know they missed me. They made me laugh and eased my sadness. I’m starting to feel a whole lot better about being back at work-I hadn’t realized how much I missed being around adults in a 100% childfree environment was.
12:30 pm: After a short lunch at my desk, I finally have full access and can start to work for real. I jump right in-some things came right back to me like riding a bike, while other things I had to bug everyone around me for help. The people sitting around me are all people I personally trained when they started so I feel a bit silly, but am so appreciative of their patience when I ask a question I should know. My computer though had no problem mocking me.
2:15 pm: All of a sudden my breasts start to ache and I realize I am leaking. I completely forgot to pump and skipped a session! I gather my things and head to the mother’s room and it is occupied. I wait outside and praise myself for wearing a black shirt, you can’t start to see the liquid that has managed to go through not only my bra, but also my breast pads. When it is my turn, I set up reminders on my phone so that I will never forget again in the future.
3:32 pm: The time between my last pumping session and the end of my day went by in a blink. I see that it is time for me to go and run out of the office. I want so badly to get home and hug my girls, but I manage to get stuck in the worst traffic I have ever experienced going home. Normally leaving at 3:30 will get me home by 4:15 at the latest but I don’t get to Evelyn’s daycare until a little after 5:00.
5:20 pm: I get home to my husband cooking dinner and the baby cuddled up in her rocker. I lean over and she looks up at me and gives me the biggest grin. I immediately pick her up and don’t put her down for the rest of the night.