Friday, September 24, 2010

The Return to Work

Exhausting. That's the best word I can use to describe my first day back at work.

I woke up extra early so I'd have time to pump before leaving. And since I had been used to sleeping in until 9 most of my maternity leave, this wasn't the easiest adjustment.

I was hoping my daughter would stay asleep but in the middle of the night, after she ate I kept her cuddling with me. So shortly after I got up, she woke up.

Normally I'd nurse her back to sleep but I guess she knew I wasn't going back to sleep either, so she wanted to stay up and play. I had my husband help with her so I could get ready. I hooked up my pump and PumpEase so I could do my makeup while I prepared some milk for the next day.

When I was done I had pumped five and a half ounces from one side (Lil' J ate from the other earlier and I was thinking I'd nurse he again before I left).

I cleaned my pump, got dressed and was ready to leave. This was the part I was dreading.

I had put her in her swing so I could finish getting ready and to my surprise she had fallen asleep. One of my friends told me this was the best way to leave. I knew this was true because had she been laughing and cooing or crying I would have bawled my entire way to work.

Instead I slightly stroked her cheek, shed one tear and kissed my husband goodbye.

On my drive to work I blared the music for two reasons. For one, I wanted to drown out my thoughts and two, I couldn't really do that with her in the back seat. It was weird not focusing on the baby mirror behind me and consoling my daughter who hates riding in the car.

When I got to work I was greeted with warm welcomes and lots of questions. Of course I had half a dozen pictures printed off to place on my desk and showed them off to my colleagues.

When other mothers asked how I was doing I surprised myself when I realized I was doing fine. Then I felt another strange hint of emotion--was that guilt? How could I be doing so well away from my daughter when I love her so much?

I tried to brush it off and made my way to the morning meeting. I didn't miss those.

I hurried out to my first interview. I was working on my segment to help find adopted families for foster children and I was introduced to a talkative and very intelligent 12-year-old.

The moment we met my mind focused on him and making it a time he'd remember. We raced go-carts and played a dozen games of ski ball before the park even opened to the public.

I was immersed in my job with no time to think about missing my daughter. But when the shoot was finished and I was invited to eat lunch with them, I politely declined so I could go home and see my baby.

It had been about five hours since I had last pumped so I was feeling a little engorged.

When I got home my husband had pizza coming out of the oven and Lil' J's smile when she saw me just melted my heart.

I had called my husband on my way home, so instead of warming another bottle for her, he let her wait to nurse. And boy was she ready. She likes to eat but there must be something different about it coming straight from the source because she didn't want to let go. I loved having her snuggled in my arms and watching her stare and smile at me as she ate as if she were saying "I missed you mommy." I enjoyed it so much, I forgot to eat. My husband packed the pizza up for me to take with me back to work.

I was surprised at how he was doing. I hate to admit it but he was showing me up. I can't remember if I had ever had a meal ready for him when he came home from work. Usually I was asking him to pick something up.

This time when I went back to work it was a little harder. My daughter was laughing and smiling when I left and I love being around her when she's in such a good mood.

After my break the day took a bad turn. I had my second interview for another story, but on the way back we were rear ended.

Neither I or my photographer were hurt, but instead of staying ahead of schedule, that and all the paperwork that comes with car accidents, set us back hours.

It did however, give me some time to catch up with my boss who praised me for breastfeeding and asked me about how I'm enjoying motherhood.

Three hours later it was finally time to head back to the station, but it was time to go home when I got there. Luckily the story I'm working on doesn't air until Sunday, but I still wanted to get something going before I left. So I took my laptop, and camera into the makeup room where there were two other breast pumps lined up next to mine.

It had been another five hours since I had last fed my daughter so while I was trying to get everything set up, things got a bit messy. Apparently my body responds really well to seeing the pump, almost as well as when my daughter cries. I felt something wet on my leg and realized I was squirting from both sides. I hurried and hooked the pump up so more precious milk wouldn’t be lost on the make up room floor (don't worry, I cleaned it up. Wouldn't want anyone to slip!).

I had no problem pumping hands free and working at the same time. The most time consuming part, I'm finding is cleaning all of the parts after pumping. At home I leave the pieces out to air-dry but I'm obviously not going to so that at work. So washing and drying all the pieces took some time.

I got another nine ounces to bring home and was more than ready to go home to my daughter.

For a moment I thought I'd bring my laptop home but I decided not to. Keep work at work. I thought.

My husband had dinner in the oven and Lil' J was happy to be back in my arms. I didn't want to set her down and she didn't want to let go.

My husband was able to workout and study while we reconnected and I was in awe of our new system.

Unlike my routine, my husband left Lil' J in her PJs all day versus dressing her up, but I didn't mention it to him. Baby steps I thought.

It was nice to put makeup on again, actually doing my hair and wearing a suit. But my feet, which had grown accustomed to flip flops over the past twelve weeks didn't appreciate squeezing back into heels. So it was great putting my feet up and snuggling with my sloberpus that night.

We all turned in early around 10pm.

Today I'm anchoring the evening shift so my schedule will be a little different but I've had the whole morning to spend with my daughter.

Tonight she'll get to watch me on TV and come visit me at the station during my dinner break.

I'm so blessed to have my husband at home with my daughter and he's doing SO much better than I imagined.

I didn't believe people when they told me I'd appreciate the time with her more, I didn't think it would be possible to appreciate it more, but I really do.

It's a lot more work now, and there's a lot of teamwork involved. I'm working hard and focusing on work when I'm away, but the moment I get home I take my daughter and don't set her down.

My husband can take that opportunity to do things he enjoys doing but it's pretty much non-stop work for the both of us.

My husband and I may be doing things a little backwards compared to most families but I'm optimistic it'll work for us.

I'm surprised how I am able to jump back into work almost without skipping a beat. I think part of that thanks to having a job I love.

I try not to wonder what I'm missing when I'm away. And I made my husband take an oath to act surprised by any new developments I may miss, as if I'm seeing the firsts right along with him.

I'm not sure how long I'll be a working mother, but for now, I confess: It's not as bad as I had feared.

Everyone who comments on this post is entered to win a CoddleLife Bottle. I'll pick a winner using on September 28th.
Swimtown Pools Winner: #33 Domestica
PumpEase Winner: #130 Lindsey