How I Survived Returning to Work

It’s been more than two weeks since I returned to work and I’m happy to say, my brain and my heart are faring much better.

Those who follow my blog know that there were moments in the first couple of days when I didn’t think I would survive being both a mom and a career woman.  There were lots of tears and lots of anxiety.  I’m sure there will be some days that are tougher than others, but now I also know that I will make it through.  For  moms that are preparing to return to work, here are few tips that helped me get through the first couple of weeks.

1) Make sure you have childcare you can trust.  I miss my son every day but I don’t worry because I know that he is in good hands with his nanny.  I can handle missing his beautiful face but I cannot handle being away from him and worrying about his well-being.  In order to trust your childcare, if you can afford it, hire your nanny while you are still on maternity leave.  You have enough to adjust to, the last thing you need is to deal with is someone new in your life and your little one’s life as you return to work.

2) Talk to other mothers who work with you.  Tell them about your concerns and your worries.  They have been there and the fact that they are still working means they may have tips to help you through the tough days.  I would stop and talk to every mom that I see in the hallway.  I found it very comforting to know there are many others going through exactly the same thing.  Taking five minutes to talk about our children also helped me get through the days I missed him the most.

3) Talk to your spouse/partner.  Chances are if you live in the U.S. your husband/partner had to return to work mere days after your baby was born.  Daddy loves the baby as much as you do, and if he can adjust, so can you.

4) Stay in touch.  I set up a Skype account for my son and everyday I call him and either his dad or nanny picks up.  I work 11 hour days and taking 10 minutes, while I pump, out of the entire day to see my son makes all the difference.  It also helps with my milk production.  I know some parents who have a nanny cam that allows them to check in every once in a while as well.  But I personally like being able to interact with him.

5) Know yourself.  I have many friends who said to me they thought they could never be a stay-at-home mom until they actually went back to work.  For me, going back to work confirmed that I am a better mom when I work.  Instead of feeling exhausted, I feel refreshed when I see my baby.  My time with him is so precious and I enjoy every second.  But for some moms, being away only increases their anxiety.  Be honest with yourself about what’s best for you and your family. After all, if mom is not happy, no one is.

It’s only been a couple of weeks for me but things are already dramatically better than they were the first day.  Moms, do you have any tips on how you survived the return to work?

How I Survived Returning to Work

A tough first day for this mommy brain.

It was this photo that sent me over the edge to a pool of tears on the first day.

It’s over, my first week back at work is over and I’m happy to see it go.  I only worked two days, but it felt more like a month.  The amount of emotion and exhaustion I felt was just too much for two days.  Luckily, the first person I saw as I was about to enter the doors of the news center was a friend who a year ago became a mom herself.  I burst into tears the second I saw her.  She reminded me, there is no crying in baseball (news) and told me a funny story about a friend of hers who was out on a date once and her date picked her up to kiss her and she farted.  I then burst into laughter.  That worked, for a while.  I was able to keep my composure as I tried to portray myself as a capable leader in the newsroom but about seven hours later, and after my husband sent me one picture of my baby, I could no longer hold it in.  The tears came back and I couldn’t stop them.  So I ran up to my friend’s office who promised me that it would only be this bad on the first day.  Tomorrow, she said, would be much better.  She shut all the shades in her office and told me to sit there and pump while I prepared for our next show.  I did exactly that and I felt connected to my baby again.

Part of my emotion was also partly due to the fact that I barely slept a wink the night before.   It wasn’t because the baby kept waking up. It was because the baby wasn’t with me.  I thought that it would be a good idea to let him sleep in his nanny’s room for the night before my first day back at work.  Big mistake.  I ended up waking up constantly.  And my husband told me that at one point he saw and heard me crying as I slept.  So at 5 AM I went and got him back.  I don’t care if he wakes up 10 times a night, I need him with me, in my room, next to my bed, and in the early morning hours, in my arms.  That’s exactly where he was the next night.

Day two was much better.  Instead of spending the morning crying, I spent it enjoying my time with him.  Emotionally I was in a much better place.  But my brain was still half working.  When I work, I like to give my job 100% and I just didn’t feel like I could.  Luckily, I didn’t screw anything up.  But it just wasn’t what I wanted from myself.  I wish I could attribute it to mommy brain.   But now I’m reading that  having a baby actually makes you smarter, at least when it comes to matters related to your newborn. So what’s my excuse then?

A tough first day for this mommy brain.

My Baby, My Motivation.

My skin is breaking out, my stomach is in knots.  Next week I go back to work.  Yesterday I spent the morning in tears.  It’s a flood of emotions I haven’t felt since the birth of my beautiful boy.  I’m going to miss him.  I haven’t been without him for more than just a few hours.  Now I will be gone for 11 hours a day.  Leaving him in the very capable hands of his nanny makes me feel better than if I had to leave him in a daycare at such a young age.  But I’m still going to feel pangs of guilt for not being there for him all the time.

My tears are also tears of stress.  For weeks, my world has revolved around my baby, as it should.  But that also meant that I didn’t have any time to focus on what’s happening around the world, and I’m worried that I am going to return to work and fail at my job.  Someone once told me that once I had a baby, my priorities would change, that I may no longer want to advance in my career.  I disagreed with that person then, and I disagree with that person now more than ever.  Having a baby has made me want to be even more successful in my career.  The stakes are much higher now.  My son’s future depends greatly on what opportunities my husband and I can offer him.  Before, failure or even stagantion in my career was only a disappointment to myself.  Not any more.  I want him to be proud of me as I was proud of my mother and father, who worked tirelessly to make sure we had all that we needed and more.  The challenge now is how do I work to excel while not compromising my precious time with my boy.  I know it’s a balancing act that millions of women struggle with every day.

Fellow career moms, how do you do it?  How do you find the time to focus on work while also thinking about finding the time and place to pump while away from your babies?  How do you push for a promotion when that promotion may also mean less time with your little ones?  How do we find success as mothers and career women?  I still have a long road ahead of me before I can answer any of these questions.  But perhaps you already have some tips?

My Baby, My Motivation.