By Jeana Lee Tahnk
Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it ticks by so slowly and othertimes it seems to be on fast forward. That's how my maternity leave was:The first month was somewhat of a blur. I was in a sleep-deprived,post-birth haze, getting to know our baby and adjusting to life as afamily of five.
As the weeks elapsed, thoughts about returning to work naturallystarted to creep back. I was really enjoying my maternity leave andbeing at home with the baby, but at the same time I was thinking how thetransition would be when I went back to work.
I'm very lucky to work in an incredibly supportive andfamily-friendly company where I was able to re-engage part-time. Andthat helped tremendously in easing me back into a work schedule andtransitioning the baby to her new caregiver. I understand that's not anoption everyone has, but if you can go back to work on a part-timebasis, it can make the transition a lot easier.
If you are going back to work, your wardrobe is something else toconsider. My office dress code is business-casual, but finding clothesin my closet that fit my post-birth body was a challenge. I was tryingto get back to my pre-baby body, but expecting that to happen in threemonths was not realistic, especially the third time around. So for awhile, my work wardrobe consisted of a few outfits that I rotated. Thankgoodness for black slacks!
When I returned to work, I also was still nursing. Let's just saythat my pump and I became close companions. My office offers a dedicatedroom for moms, so I could pump in private without the worry of someoneaccidentally coming in. The logistics of bringing the pump every day,figuring out when to pump to keep up your milk supply and storing thebottles in the fridge are things you'll figure out as you get used toyour schedule. It may seem daunting at first, but soon it becomesroutine.
While all these things get figured out soon enough, what takeslonger is getting used to being away from your baby. It is an emotionalprocess and one you can never really plan. When I went back to workafter my first child, I couldn't sleep for the two weeks prior to hisfirst day of daycare and was a nervous wreck. By the third child, it waseasier. Of course, the emotion was still there, but I had gone throughthe process twice before.
Be kind to yourself during this time and do whatever it takes tomake the transition easier. Whether it's calling the caregiver to checkin every hour or talking to friends who have gone through the samething, you need to do what it takes to make sure everyone's needs -including your own - are met.
If you're confident in your caregiver and enjoy working, eventuallyyou'll fall into a routine and find a balance. It's a journey to getthere, but if you love your job, it's a journey worth taking.
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