Our goal is to provide information, ideas and support for working women who are also full-time mothers.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Returning From Maternity Leave

Well, my time home with baby boy is just about up. I gave birth to our second child in early March and was fortunate enough to take the full 12 weeks alloted by FMLA. When I had my daughter almost 3 years ago, I wasn't working, so I never experienced a real "maternity leave". I had been laid off a year previous to her birth and was looking for a job throughout my entire pregnancy. I got the job I currently have right after she was born, and coincidentally started that job when she was 12 weeks old. It was such a different circumstance, though. I had been out of work for so long and I needed to work. We had survived for a year without my income, but it was getting tough and my husband's employer had just changed our insurance benefit so that we were paying an outrageous amount per month just to have the insurance. So I was in the "survivor" mindset and didn't give myself much time to think about how it would be to leave her, when the time came. My first day of work was at a new job and I was nervous and excited but it also meant the first day I had to leave her in the care of someone I didn't even know. I cried the minute I got to daycare and the only thing that got me through was her parting smile--she didn't know what that meant to me, but it gave me the courage to walk out that door and start a new job. Leaving her was horrible, but just like everyone said, it did get better over time. Unfortunately, she was one of those babies that got sick from the minute she went into daycare until she was 1 year old. You name it, she had it, I think. It was a rough year for all of us. But we all made it through, and she was happy and thriving in her daycare environment. She was spoiled rotten with love by her teacher and still is to this day!

When I got pregnant with my son, I figured this time it was going to be better. I would have more relaxed time with him while on maternity leave and since I had already gone through that first time drop off with my daughter, I would be an old pro. Well, I go back to work in just over a week and let me tell you, I am not feeling anything like an old pro! I think it's actually going to be worse for me this time. My maternity leave has been wonderful--lots of relaxed days with my son, and extra time with my daughter. I kept my daughter in daycare part-time to ensure her spot would be there when I returned to work, and to maintain some of her normal routine. She is in a preschool class there now and is learning so much. I am really happy I made the decision to keep her there but knowing I am going to be missing that extra time with her makes it even harder for me to go back to work. My son is a wonderful, happy baby and I have been able to spend so much time just enjoying him. I didn't really think about going back to work until about a week ago, and it just hit me--I have to leave him with someone else all day for 5 days per week. I got nauseous and started hyperventilating. A real panic attack! I had never experienced that before. I don't know why it just hit me like that, I mean, I had done this before so I knew it was coming. And the fact is, I have to go back to work. Not just for the money and the medical benefits, but for me. I know I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, I have always known this. I enjoy working and I enjoy that professional interaction. I like contributing to my family's income and I like that I am a role model for my children,but specifically my daughter. I am not super mom by any means, but I am showing her that you can be a mom and have a career and be happy. I think this is an incredibly important life lesson for her and for me. So going back to work is necessary. I have decided that I am not going to let myself think about it until the night before I go back. Sure, I will get things prepared and make lists, etc., but I will not let myself think about how it will feel to leave him. I want to enjoy this last week with him and take in every last smile and coo. I know he will love no one else like he loves his mommy, and I am just trying to concentrate on that. Being a working mom can be tough, but in the long run, it's the best decision for me and my family. I have to believe that or I will go insane.


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