Ok working mama, it’s almost time for you to get back. I’ve been where you are, and I wasn’t happy about it. You might not want to hear this (again) but it will be ok. It won’t feel ok for a little bit, but preparing for that first week back to work is critical.
The best way to beat working mom guilt during that first week after maternity leave is to prepare for it. Get ready to feel some of the strongest emotions of your life. I’m pretty sure it’s nature telling us that the policies are effed up. Because they are.
I don’t want to be a downer, but I want to tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t change the world sooner! One of my ulterior motives for starting this blog has been to build a platform that gives me power to influence the working mom landscape in America. It’s a big dream, but if you ain’t busy dreamin’ then get busy dyin’! (I made that seem like a quote, and hopefully it is, but that’s just how I feel.)
But back to the point. Here are some things you should expect and plan for during that first week back to work after maternity leave.
You will be sad
It ain’t right. But since you’re here, I want to know that you aren’t alone. I cried for 3 days straight as I walked out the door leaving my daughter and husband home to fend for themselves.
They weren’t doomed, but it was sad for me. I was jealous. I was angry. I was sad. It will help to know that my tears faded as soon as I made it out of our driveway. But I was still sad.
We are capable of much more than we think, thanks to those pesky emotions. Rest Assured that it’s just our body’s way of telling you what’s what. You’re sad, but you’re also strong AF. (I mean, you just had a baby.)
It will feel unnatural
Nature is funny. We have this baby and our entire life changes. Suddenly, doing things that you’ve done for years feels unnatural. Hell, washing my hands started to feel unnatural (because they were busy holding a baby).
Leaving my baby to go to a job that I didn’t love was tough. It’s hard to do anything that is less desirable than the alternative, right? That’s why I drink coffee on Saturday morning instead of running a 5k.
The fact is: it is unnatural, but you wouldn’t be in this position if you didn’t need to be. Then there’s the good news — it will start to feel luxurious.
You will feel selfish for enjoying your free time
“Embrace the suck” is my favorite army quote I learned from my husband. That is essentially their motto from basic training to retirement. It’s surprisingly reaffirming.
My basic B version of that phrase is “always look for a silver lining”. In the case of returning to work and leaving your babe, that silver lining is regaining precious free time. It. Is. Glorious.
And underappreciated. Because you’ll get hit with feelings of guilt after you enjoy 20 minutes without hearing a baby scream or freaking out because you might have just woken her.
You will get the hang of it
As you see the good and bad of everything that’s happening, you will recognize a pattern, and you will own it. This is your journey back to work, and it will become second nature to you.
It’s the reality of our time and your postpartum life.
There will be awkward (and sometimes rude) comments
Remember the strange things you heard when you were pregnant? Well get ready for a new slew of nonsense.
Here’s my favorite:
Me: (at the coffee machine)
Dude: Are you breastfeeding?
Proud Me: Yes I am!
Dude: I don’t think you’re supposed to be drinking coffee.
Coming Home never felt so good
Another bright side is you will suddenly LOVE the idea of coming home to piles of laundry and chores and dishes and hell. Everything that used to be the worst will be your dream. But only because a soft, squishy baby is yours for the cuddling 🙂
Baby will adjust quicker than you will
Everyone (including myself) worries about how the baby will adapt to life without mom. Thankfully, 3-month-olds are practically potatoes. The sweet blog, i mean bundle might just have the memory of a dog.
Sorry to say – you won’t be missed. At least not more than you miss him/her/it <3
Nothing is permanent
All the heartache and regret. All those fears of making the wrong decision and worrying that baby won’t thrive. Those feelings will fade. And so will the phases that baby is in.
As soon as you start to struggle with something, it will disappear.
Those early days change so quick. Within a week or two, every concern will fade and new ones will arise. Then you get to do it all over again!
But most importantly, your feelings will evolve and so will your situation. If you really want to leave the office – you will. If you really want your baby to do well – they will.
Every negative moment does not have to last forever.
Returning to work is hard. I won’t deny that. But hopefully you feel better about what is normal. In all honesty, you need to listen to your gut. But when you’re a new mom and don’t know the regular processes of a perfectly normal baby, you will psych yourself out. I hope this helps you cope with the first week back to work after baby, because all you have to do is keep moving, and mama, you will do just fine.