March 4, 2012
Thoughts on being a "Working Mom".
I've been back at work for two weeks now. I chose to return 7 weeks after Elliott's birth (in order to not jeopardize loosing my clientele). I feel blessed to be self-employed, with the option of making my own hours. I decided to returned part-time, working 10-6[ish] Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Elliott is staying with my Mom until the first week in April when he will start day-care.
I had a knot in my stomach the size of Texas on my first day back at work. Not because I didn't think he was in good hands (after all, she raised me), but because I hadn't been away from him for more than a couple of hours since he was born. I made sure he had expressed breast milk divided into three bottles in the refrigerator, his miracle blanket on hand, gripe water on the counter, and extra diapers in his diaper caddy. I think I had separation anxiety worse than he did.
However, once the day got rolling, the knot disappeared and I realized how much I was going to need this time apart each week. I missed his sweet face like crazy, but it felt so nice to be dressed, out of the house, and interacting with other adults again. I had missed the opportunity to be creative and have the instant gratification a root retouch brings more than I'd realized. It was nice to know I had been missed by both my clients and my co-workers too. I was in my element again.
But, working, now that I'm a Mom, looks a little different than it did pre-baby. I take three 30 minute breaks throughout the day to pump. I've been able to use this time to call my Mom and check in on E (a luxury I won't have once he starts day-care), and scroll through photos of him on my iPhone. My pumping set-up at the salon is not ideal. The only private areas are the bathroom and the break room. I can't tie up the only bathroom for 20 minutes at a time, and with two males on our staff, the break room isn't an option either. So, pumping in the backseat of my car using a battery pack and a "hooter hider" will have to do for now.
I think the stress of pumping while a highlight is processing, and the pressure to produce enough milk for Elliott to have the next day, has made it hard for me to pump as many ounces as I would like. But, my Mommy friends have encouraged me that once I get use to being away from E and pumping on the job, my milk supply will increase. I hope they are right, because my growing boy is already demanding three 5 oz. bottles per work day, and I'm only bringing home around 8 oz. of pumped milk a day, meaning I have to stay up for one more pumping session after E goes to bed each night, and nurse him exclusively when I'm not working.
Having my Mom to take care of Elliott for my first 6 weeks back at work, has been a lifesaver. I know I would have been a mess my first day back if I would have had to drop him off at day-care. I've been able to transition into being away from Elliott slowly- to figure out our morning routine, see how he does being away from me, and discover how much milk he'll need each day, before I have to leave him with a stranger. At least when I drop him off the first day, he and I will already be use to being apart.
I feel like working part-time will be the best of both worlds for me. I get 4 days at home with my sweet boy, and right about the time I start getting stir crazy, I get 3 days out of the house to do what I love and be around some adults. Then when I start really missing my baby, it's time to be home with him again. As hard as it can be to say goodbye some mornings, I think working will help me appreciate the time I have with my son, and give me the energy and patience I need to care for him each day. Being a working mom is a lot to juggle, but I've always been an overachiever, so I'm up for the challenge!