It once seemed so far away, but now it’s staring me in the face. I go back to work on Thursday. It’s Valentine’s Day and also the Trikester’s 12-week birthday. Most importantly, it’s two days before February break; I’ll work Thursday and Friday, and then I get a week of vacation (and a paycheck) – if only my real work schedule was two days on, one week off!
Even though I get to ease into life as a working mom, I’m still terrified. I don’t deal all that well with change as it is, but I’m even more pathetic when I’m sleep deprived. I’ve already got a box of tissues in my work bag to handle the tears I’m anticipating. Specifically, here’s what I’m already stressing about:
1) Making enough milk. Other than two bouts with mastitis, our breastfeeding relationship is relatively stress free; when the baby is hungry, there’s milk available. I’m not so sure it will work that way once I’m not home during the day. One issue is knowing how much expressed milk the baby will actually need. I used the Kelly Mom milk calculator to guesstimate the Trikester’s requirements, and I’m hoping it’s accurate. I’ve got three days worth of bottles stockpiled in the fridge, and a convenient place to pump at work, so there’s not a whole lot else I can do right now.
2) The baby’s well-being. Mr. Tricycle took two days off of work and will stay home with the Trikester when I go back for my mini-week. He’s super competent, but he’s never spent eight hours alone with the baby, so he’s understandably apprehensive. The biggest potential problem is soothing Little Man when he goes on a crying jag. I’ve come up with some strategies that seem to work, which I’m going to teach Mr. Tricycle, but he can’t implement the most efficient method – nursing. Then there’s the whole issue of daycare following February break, but that’s for another post.
3) Working while sleep deprived. I love my job, and I’m good at it. I have a reputation for going above and beyond, and I’m not so sure I can keep that up once I get back to school. I take a lot of pride in my work, and I’m going to be disappointed in myself if I have to drop the ball more often than before.
4) An adequate work wardrobe. I gained 38 pounds during pregnancy (and it was not because I had a big baby – I just ate too many cookies), and I still have to drop 15 pounds to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. This means the vast majority of my clothes don’t fit correctly. A large portion of my wardrobe was built around fitted button downs and tight sweaters – the scary increase from an A cup to a D cup means nothing’s buttoning and those tight sweaters are bursting at the seams. I’ve lost just enough weight that my maternity clothes are starting to look silly. That leaves me with approximately four outfits; I can either repeat the same thing every week, or look like a plump sausage. It’s a toss-up.
5) Caring for a baby after working. If you’ve never taught, you probably don’t understand how physically demanding it is. Compared to desk jobs I’ve had, teaching requires me to perform all day long. It zaps my energy and I feel drained after especially trying days. Before baby, I’d order take out and crash on the couch– now I’m going to have to come home and continue to “work.”
Of course, there are benefits to heading back to work. I’m pumped to see my friends and colleagues every day – I’ve really missed adult interaction. I’m also thinking I’ll enjoy having a little break from the baby – since giving birth, I’ve been caring for him pretty much non-stop 24/7. Even with these benefits, I’m still dreading the return. I guess I’ll find out soon enough if my fears were unfounded! Wish me luck!
What were your worries about returning to work after maternity leave? Were they unfounded?