I’ve been back at work for about two months now and I have to say I think that I am a better mom because of it. I’m not saying every day is a perfect work/life balance because that’s certainly not true (and I’m not convinced you can have a perfect work/life balance), but I do think that I am more present as a mom during the time I have with Connor.
But let me back up to the first couple weeks back at work. In my last post I talked about how Nate’s mom was going to do “Cissy Byrd Daycare” while I worked from home my first week back. For me, this was the perfect way to transition back to work. I was able to somewhat figure out how much milk he would need while at daycare and visit him for a few minutes when I needed to see him. I went into work a couple times that week mainly to see everyone again, but also to pump once before having to commit to it full time while at work.
Another thing that made the transition a lot easier than expected was the full support that I received from my workplace. Everyone from my direct supervisor all the way up to the c-suite level made sure that I was comfortable and made it known that if I needed anything to help with making it easier to be back at work to let them know. In addition, my workplace has a great mother’s room where new moms can pump. The room has a mini-fridge to store pumped milk (and in my case pump parts), a divider for privacy, a white noise maker, and a comfy glider next to a table where a pump or two can be stashed. Any company with 50 or more full time employees is required to have a room where new moms can pump, but I’ve found out quickly through nursing/pumping moms groups that I joined on Facebook that these rooms are not necessarily the nice set up that I have at my work. In fact, I’ve read everything from a tiny closet to the room being across the building. For moms who only get 15/20 min breaks, that’s not a reasonable setup. I’m lucky in that I have a very supportive company and can pump three times while at work. I also have flexibility because I can answer emails and work while pumping ha do-free. What annoys me about the terrible conditions that some moms face is that this should not be the case. If you are a new mom returning to work, it is already hard enough being away from your baby much less having to stress about getting enough pumping time in to provide milk for daycare bottles. I truly believe if we had a more supportive healthcare system, new moms would not be as stressed out, would be able to take care of themselves and their babies, and would be able to demonstrate that moms can be effective in the workplace. I’ll get off my soapbox now, but as you can probably tell I am pretty passionate about how awful the US healthcare system is for maternity leave and for new moms in general.
With Cissy providing full-time daycare for Connor my first week back, I quickly learned that he would eat approximately 3 times while I was working. To put it another way, he would nurse before work, need a bottle 3 times in a 12 hour period, and nurse before bedtime. Connor pretty much put himself on a schedule and would nurse/feed at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm with a middle of the night (MOTN) feeding thrown in there. Typically, babies take 1-1.5oz per hour so I gauged that he probably ate between 4 and 5oz each feeding (25-30oz). During three pumps I average between 15 and 20oz. I figured if I could pump enough to make three 5oz bottles for daycare, we would be set. Spoiler alert, this worked for us, but may not work for other moms and their babies.
Friday was an experimental half day at daycare. I also did dropoff with Grandma and the daycare teachers quickly let me know that I could call anytime that afternoon for an update. Of course I took them up on this; I made it a couple hours before calling in and they reassured me that Connor was doing well. The next week, we practiced dropping off in the mornings and Cissy would pick him up for in-home care in the afternoons. He would be exhausted having not had napped (or had very short naps) in the morning and would pretty much nap away the afternoon! His first full day of daycare was on Thursday and the plan was for Nate to take him in and I would pick up. Unfortunately, Nate caught a terrible stomach bug that week and was out of commission! So, Thursday did not go as planned. I had to do drop off, which for all you new moms out there I DO NOT recommend. I was fine dropping him off, but as soon as I started driving away I called Nate in tears and told him that he needed to tell me Connor would be OK at daycare. I definitely should have worked from home that day, as I was a mess going in to work and then felt sick to my stomach (like I was getting the bug), but it was from nerves. Connor was a champ and did amazing for his first full day at daycare. The transition is truly harder on the mom than the baby.
The pictures above are all from the daycare. We usually get daily updates complete with photos of how the day is going.
For me, the first couple weeks back to work were the toughest. I had to figure out a way to not only show that I was dedicated to coming back to work, but also be a dedicated mom to Connor. For me, I believe that I have become a better worker because I focus completely on work when I’m there and I’m also a better mother because I turn off work when I’m with him and am fully present as a mom. Of course there are always some days where I need to work in the evenings or some on the weekend, but I try to do that when he is asleep for the night or napping. I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom and I am in awe of those that can. I honestly can say that by being able to work full time has made me a better mom in that I am fully present during the time I do have with Connor.
The photos above are from Connor’s 4 and 5month photos.
My day-to-day looks something like this: wake up around 6:30/7am, if I wake up on the earlier end I try to squeeze in a workout and quick shower, prepare an instant drink for breakfast and nurse Connor around 7am, finish getting ready for work including packing a lunch, help get Connor dressed for daycare if Nate is running behind, Nate does drop off, work from about 8-4:30 (30 min pumps at 8:30, 12:30, and 4), pick up Connor by 5, playtime and walk before dinner, cook/eat dinner, then our nightly ritual of getting Connor ready for bed in his sleeper, read a book, and nurse, bedtime for Connor is around 715/730, I usually watch a show/blog/work if needed, then bedtime for me is usually by 9pm. Connor has pretty much dropped his MOTN feeding but every so often he will wake up around 3/4am and need to nurse.
Being a working mom has been tough especially since I am nursing and pumping. I would really love to be able to give Connor breastmilk up to one year. Right now is tough because we’ve not only gone from learning how to nurse as a team but now to nursing and pumping for daycare bottles. Throw in starting solids and it’s a whole new ball game! Just when you think you have it all figured out life throws you a curve ball. I have learned how to enjoy every minute that I have with Connor and to trust my gut. My instincts have not failed me yet!