Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Year of Work

This time last year I was nervously contemplating my return to work. I was worried on all kinds if levels, anxiety making me shaky and uncertain. I wasn't sure if I was physically or mentally up to going back. Bubba was still up 3-4 times a night, still on about 3 feeds a day. 
Mama Milk - at source only!
I had no idea how I would cope with expressing milk, or how bubba would take milk from a bottle seeing as he'd pretty much refused (including about 7 different types of bottle, and the same number of different scenarios, including Daddy feeding, at bedtime, or morning,or lunchtime) to have anything other than Mama milk from the source.
In terms of work, I was worried I'd missed everything that was ever important, that I'd be out of the loop professionally or socially. I'd seen a couple of friends from work a few times but there were many who I'd spent hours and hours of my life with that I never heard from in the whole 9 months. I was worried I'd been replaced, usurped and was no longer needed. This last concern was actually real as I was denied my old job back as apparently a job-sharing manager is not possible. Even if the CEO of GoldmanSachs can manage it...
Only napping in the sling or pram was another Childcare Challenge
But what I discovered was a new perspective. Less sweating of the small stuff. Nine months may have been momentous for me but it seemed like time at work had stood still and waited for my return. The same work was on my desk as before I left. My desk and chair were still there. I don't know what I expected when I went back, but it felt like I'd been away for just the time it takes to bat an eyelid.
Working at home helped with midday feeds at the outset
Getting used to my junior position was challenging, and I missed being involved in decision-making, but juggling a severe lack of sleep was a challenge that required more effort. Bubba adapted to changes in his feeding pattern and knowing that Daddy was at home for the first three months I was back was infinitely comforting. That said, expressing was horrible and I felt like I was skiving when taking a half hour break in a freezing first aid room to try and pump enough milk for bubba to have the following day. Things were definitely much easier when bubba dropped his morning feed around 14 months. Guilt though as he'd probably fed for longer first thing if I'd have stayed home.
Daddy Daycare
As it was a year ago, I look forward to my Thursdays more than most,  marking the start of four days with bubba. I am glad that I've kept my foot in the door at work, and I love the challenge of what feels like a full-time work load in half the week, especially as I can demonstrate my new found skills in multi-tasking, not sweating the small stuff, and knowing that bubba is happy with his much-loved grandparents, with Daddy, or at his (new and much improved) childminders certainly puts my mind at ease.
Loving my days with the little man himself
Sometimes being anxious and apprehensive can help you work out what's important to you, and I definitely think work saved my sanity at times when sleep-deprived days mingled and merged... and to provide some extra cash as a cushion for when, inevitably, the PC breaks, or the car, or the boiler, or all three... and I can put in my two-pennyworth to help our little family along the way...
Making time to have fun is really important, even it involves body contortion!
How did you find going back to work?  Was it easy?  Were you looking forward to it? Anyone else share their paternity leave? Would love to hear your experience...