Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Adventures in Parenting: Life as a Working Mom

I've been back to work for a few weeks now...I decided to "ease" back into things by working from home two days a week and then at the office the other three.  I'm not sure if this was for my benefit or the baby's, but I'd guess it's mutually beneficial.  Since that time, I've learned a few things:

1. "Mom Brain" is real.  One day, I left the door to the chest freezer in our garage open for about half an hour--my husband walked out there and noticed it, which is the only reason we didn't lose everything in our freezer.  Why did I do it?  Because I'd walked back inside, planning to grab the stacks of frozen breastmilk from our fridge/freezer and transfer them out to the chest freezer...but got distracted and started flipping through the sale ads on the kitchen table.  Or how about when I based part of my menu plan for the week around a head of cabbage that I only THOUGHT I bought? Or there was the day I put my pump parts (inside a sterilization bag) in the work microwave, pressed "Start", walked back to my desk...and then completely forgot about them until 7pm that night when I was home telling my husband about my day.  Then there's the time I planned to restock the diaper bag, and got distracted & instead put my son's newborn shadow box together.
To be fair, I still technically accomplished SOMETHING...

2.  Showers are GLORIOUS.  I don't think I ever fully appreciated the wonder that is the privacy of my bathroom until I had a child.  I generally wait to take a shower until The Hubs is watching the baby or I know he's sleeping (and Dad is also home).  Originally this was because I was afraid of the baby dying crying while I was showering.  Now it's for one reason:  if I know my husband is taking care of the baby, I don't have to think about the baby in the shower.  So I am 100% alone and free as a bird.  I don't have to rush through my shower---this is MY time*.  I can shampoo, wash my face, leave the conditioner in the actual amount of time it says to on the bottle, shave, use body wash AND in-shower lotion, listen to some music or an audiobook, and think about ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE BABY.  I am aware from talking with other moms that once the child is mobile, I will never be alone in the bathroom again, so I am treasuring this as long as I can.

*I also save grocery trips for when Dad is home, so that I can get some alone time shopping.  I know this won't last forever either, that some day I will have a grabby-pants little man who wants to ride in the cart and pull things off the shelves and throw temper tantrums when he can't get Fruit By The Foot.  So for now, WalMart & Aldi's, in all their infamous awfulness, are my sanctuaries.

3.  Going from "all day with the baby" to "2-3 hours with the baby" is HARD.  Lord knows every mom goes through bouts of Mom Guilt all the time, for various reasons.  This is one of them.  For the last 3 months, my day centered around the baby:  keeping him alive, keeping a routine, making sure he naps, trying to get in tummy time/play time/bath time/reading time/etc.  

Then, you go back to work.  I get up an hour before we have to leave, change him, feed him, and then pass him off to Dad while I get ready for work.  Then we have some minimal interaction during the 30 minute drive to the sitter's house via mirrors, then there's some hugs and kisses and smiles as I hand him off to our sitter...and then 8-9 hours later, there's some brief cuddle time while his sitter tells me about his day, then he's back in the carseat where he usually falls asleep on the way home...then we're home, I feed him, he sits on our laps as we eat our dinner, then he (hopefully) takes another catnap, we have about an hour of play/tummy time, and then it's bedtime.

To go from constant interaction with my son, to almost no interaction...kinda hurts.  I completely understand why some moms end up deciding not to work after the kiddo comes--not just for financial reasons.  Once I go back to the office full time, my son will be officially spending more time with someone else than he does with me.  That's a little hard to deal with.  I'm rational enough to know that eventually, that will be the case throughout his life--no different from when he goes to school in 4-5 years, or goes off to college, gets married, has a family of his own.  He was never designed to spend every waking moment with me.  But I GET the Mom Guilt of Letting Someone Else Raise Your Child.

4.  Working at home with a baby is ALSO HARD.  At this age, he's really only awake for 1.5-2 hour chunks at a time, with (hopefully) couple hour naps between.  And he's starting to be able to entertain himself for periods of time.  But working from home is essentially like juggling chainsaws.  You know what you need to accomplish in that day.  But you're really only going to be working in spurts.  Once he wakes, then he needs to be fed (15 minutes), and changed (5 minutes) and entertained for a while (20 minutes).  Then if you're lucky you can put him in a safe spot with some toys and work for 20-30 minutes.  Then he starts to fuss because he's bored, so you move him to a new activity which might buy you another 15-20 minutes.  Then it's naptime again, so you've got to get him to his favorite napping place BEFORE he gets too fussy and fights sleep.

And then there are the times that he only takes short crappy naps, and then falls asleep on you while nursing...so you just let him sleep there on your lap because working later is easier than dealing with a cranky baby (and because you like to hold him and stare at him while his tiny hand is grasping your finger, and you can't do that when you're at the office tomorrow).  And throw in trying to get a couple things done around the house (dishes, laundry, pumping)...and your day is gone before you know it and you only got half of the things that you'd wanted to do accomplished.  But hey--the baby got his naps, and that's the important part for your sanity.

It's a good thing I can do a lot of work on my phone.

5. Working at home with a baby is ALSO AWESOME.  Because when you only see him for a few hours on office days, getting to see him any time you want is so nice.  He's my worthless little office assistant.  Horrible at taking calls, returning emails, or running errands, and constantly distracting me...but doggonnit he's cute.
"Uhh, hang on...I'm gonna have to call you back.  My boss wants something."

 6.  Be prepared for long lost family members to drop in unexpectedly.  I am, of course, referring to Aunt Flo.  I, like so many women before me, was told that your cycle goes away until you stop nursing.  BULLCRAP.  Much like ye olde "you can't get pregnant while nursing", this is an urban legend/old wive's tale.  She will stop by when you least expect it, and of COURSE you don't have tampons at the house because you haven't needed them in over a year.  If you're lucky, you still have some of the ginormous pads they gave you at the hospital--if not, hopefully you also bought some incontinence pads/undies back when you were still post-partum.  So then you can put your diaper on and waddle your butt to WallyWorld, and try to remember what brand you liked pre-baby.

7. Milk Blisters, Blebs, & Plugged Ducts:  These suck.  Nuff said.  

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