I returned to work on Tuesday. Reluctantly, of course. I was surprisingly calm about everything. Monday night was normal. I packed my pumping equipment, handbag and baby’s things on Monday throughout the day. I hadn’t used my handbag in six months. I had been rocking a nappy bag which I just chucked my wallet into. I did my ‘back to work’ manicure, which I had planned more than a month prior when I bought a polish I felt would be perfect for it. I’ll do a post on that later. At no point did I panic thinking about going back the next day. I didn’t have “Sunday night blues”. I was numb. I just felt nothing.
I have had the most amazing maternity leave this time around. It was relaxed and I got plenty of rest. PrincessIce is such a chilled baby. I had a lot of breastfeeding hurdles to overcome, but none of them required intense physical activity or anything other than patience and determination. I watched a lot of series while breastfeeding which I had to do constantly for almost 12 weeks. PrincessIce isn’t the best sleeper during the day and after her 6 weeks of constant sleeping switched to cat naps it became a little harder to nap with her. She did like to sleep “late” in the morning though. Once her brother and father left in the mornings she would have a quick feed and we would doze back off till around 9:00. It was heavenly. I bathed her in the early afternoons as not to occupy the bathroom in the evenings when everyone else needed it. Life was a peach. My maternity leave with Babyice was not as pleasant. He was a difficult baby. He cried a lot. There were also always a lot of bottles to wash and sterilize. Always something to do. My nesting kicked in after he was born so whenever he slept I was cleaning. With PrincessIce I tried to clean the kitchen on a daily basis, but other than that I slept when she slept, or rested while she slept. I’m not sure if the difference was simply their different personalities, or the fact that I was more experienced or perhaps because I was breastfeeding instead of bottle feeding. Whatever it was, I thoroughly enjoyed being at home with my baby.
I dreaded coming back to work. I was immensely saddened by the thought, but I didn’t panic. On some level I was trying to be an adult about it. No use pouting about it. Yes I complained a bit, but who wouldn’t? I know we don’t have any choice but for me to work. I know it is a fact of life and reality for most parents out there. I need to work and I need to accept that. I was at peace with the fact that I would have to return. Still very sad, but at peace. One of the things that made me so sad is the realization that I would be seeing my baby SO MUCH less. We finish work relatively early (when Rudi doesn’t work late) at 16:00 and then make our way home. If we get home at 17:00 after picking up the kids and maybe stopping at the shops, we have about 3 hours before the kids go to bed. Well, Babyice goes to bed around 20:00. PrincessIce goes to bed with us. Those 3 hours are filled with activity including bath time, supper preparations and sometimes getting things ready for the next day. That isn’t quality time. It would be even worse if we worked later. Having 3 hours a day with your children during the week should be a crime. I work weekends sometimes too. Not every weekend, but that is more time apart from them. It is one of the reasons I insist on having a domestic. When we don’t have one we spend the majority of our weekend cleaning and ironing. More time we are not spending with our kids. Life is so busy. They grow up so fast. SO FAST. Such a cliche, but it became one because it is so true! I don’t want to miss my kid’s childhood because I’m too busy cleaning. I’m already missing enough of it because I am working. I have to work to sustain them, I wouldn’t work just to keep myself occupied (at least not before they go to school). If I didn’t need the money, I wouldn’t do it.
So the day dawned and I got up at sparrow’s fart, which is my regular wake up time. Actually even earlier because I have to fit in a morning feed for PrincessIce before we leave. I get up and get myself ready, then change and feed PrincessIce while Rudi gets himself and Babyice ready. I arrived at work and saw one of our admin ladies first. I managed to bite back the tears. I almost manage to make it to my desk when I was intercepted by another colleague that thought it a good idea to give me a hug. Rookie mistake. He inadvertently turned on the waterworks. Shame. He felt so bad, but it wasn’t him. Two of my friends at work decided to make up my desk for me as a welcome back.
There was just no stopping the tears then. I was truly touched by the gesture. Especially the pictures of the kids. For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me to bring pictures of PrincessIce to work.
I felt sad and tearful the entire day. Apparently PrincessIce felt the same at the day mother. She must have really enjoyed the long weekend spending time with me or perhaps she picked up on my feelings the morning.
I found a place to express at work. It is a quiet room on a different floor in our well-being area. Unfortunately you can’t lock the door. I discussed this with the lady that runs the well-being side of things and she made a sign for me to put on the door to prevent any unexpected interruptions:
The lights in the room have a weird dimmer switch and I didn’t know how to operate it. My first express was in the near dark, but on my second time someone showed me how to operate the lights and now I don’t have to worry about where to express at work.
My team have been very gracious and have been understanding and are helping me ease back into things slowly. I was actually scheduled to work my first weekend back, but they even re-scheduled the entire weekend roster so that I don’t have to. I was so relieved that they did. Co-incidentally I was invited to attend a Huggies event on Saturday which I wouldn’t want to miss.
It’s day 3 back at work and I’ve started doing some actual work. It already feels like I never left. How sad is that? I was gone for half a year and in only 3 days it is as if that never happened.
Onwards and upwards!