Going Back to Work After Baby – Kveller
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maternity leave

Going Back to Work After Baby

Well, I knew it would have to happen. I knew the date was rapidly approaching. But I didn’t expect it to feel like such a shock…

Yes, I have gone back to work. Noooooo!

While I was not working, especially in the first few weeks when Charly wasn’t doing much other than sleeping, eating, and pooping, I really couldn’t see how anyone could be a stay-at-home Mom. It seemed so boring and lackluster. But I was really being shortsighted. Now, I totally get it.

After about a month and a half, Charly started staying awake for longer spells. When she was napping, I’d fill my time with housework–washing bottles (because while I did pump for three months, she never did learn to take the breast–even though we tried SO many times… but that’s another story), doing laundry, pumping milk, and playing with the millions of photographs I’d take of her each day so I could update my daily photo blog.

In the beginning, I was lonely and listless, but after six weeks (and doctor’s clearance), I joined a local Stroller Strides class. The class met two mornings a week at local park and consisted of moms working out while pushing their babies. Afterwards, there was a playgroup for the kids (but Charly was too little for the playground and crafts). The class was great because it got me and the baby out of the house, got me moving (which I REALLY needed with all the weight I’d gained), and introduced me to a bunch of other local mothers with babies. I naturally gravitated towards the ones who had babies around the same age as Charly, and lo and behold, many of these women were also Jewish–score!

Finally, I had women to discuss feeding schedules, baby namings, teething woes, and where to find the best Hanukkah onesies! Yay! Even though I’m 33, I realized that I didn’t have many friends with babies; in fact, the only close mommy/girlfriend I had was up in San Francisco, so meeting these women was SUCH a blessing.

Once I started exercising, and realizing that it was possible to get out of the house with the baby, I started planning one thing to do per day to get me out of the house. Some days it was going over to the high school where I teach to eat lunch with some of my teacher friends, the other days it was driving to the mall to window shop, or running errands. Filling my day with something, coupled with the housework, and the task of entertaining an ever-growing baby–suddenly, I was VERY able to see how/why people stay at home and raise their kids. It’s really fulfilling in a way I never imagined. If my salary wasn’t required for us to live, I’d probably take a year or so off. Unfortunately, it is required, so back to work I go.

As a high school teacher, coming back to work at the end of November was a HUGE adjustment–not only for me, but for the students. They had started the year with a long-term substitute and had grown to know her as their teacher. Now, they had to immediately adjust to my teaching style and I had to learn 170 names. Thus far, it’s been okay–I’ve learned about half the names and they’re learning how to deal with me, but it’s been nowhere near seamless.

The other major thing to adjust to is lack of baby-time. Fortunately, we were able to find a good in-home daycare person who many of the other teachers at school have used (or still use). My husband drops her off there at 6:45 a.m. and I pick her up after school, between 3:15-3:30 p.m. I miss her all day long and when I do pick her up it’s pretty fabulous. I find that because we only have a small amount of time together, I’m trying harder to make that time meaningful. It is difficult though, because I’m pretty exhausted from working all day. Thankfully, weekends allow us to spend full days together again, and Winter Break is giving us two full weeks together. But it’s hard missing so much of her life and cramming it all in after work and weekends.

I guess this whole experience has given me new respect for all mothers–those who stay home and those who work. It’s difficult and joyous both ways, and we all do what we have to do to make it work.

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