Today, I went back to work after 24 wonderful weeks of maternity leave. Before I had Andrew, I thought returning to work after a maternity leave of almost six months would be easy. It’s funny how things change once you have your baby. Even during the most challenging, tiring days, I never wished to trade them for a day in the office.
For a long time, I tried to ignore the fact that this day was coming. I loved the maternity leave bubble that I lived in with Andrew, and I never wanted it to end. Spending every second with him, seeing all the little developmental milestones, and nursing him on demand are all things I dreaded giving up.
As hard as it is to leave this magical maternity leave bubble, I will always, always be thankful for it. My leave was fully paid, which allowed me to completely focus on new motherhood, void of financial stresses.
I also know that because of this long leave, I was able to stick with breastfeeding. I can’t imagine the outcome if I had had to return to work after six or eight weeks. Sadly, this is the more standard leave time in the U.S. At six weeks, we had just learned how to breastfeed without using the nipple shield! Or, how exhausted I would be if I had had to return to work this early! Andrew still isn’t sleeping through the night but at least he’s not waking up every two hours like he did in those first six to eight weeks! For these reasons, and of course all the one-on-one time I had with Andrew, I am so thankful.
The wonderful benefits of my job don’t end with this amazing leave, however. Another perk is I get work from home (almost) every day. So, instead of day care, we have a nanny share with our friends, who also have a baby Andrew’s age. This means I still get to see Andrew during the work day. Once again, I am thankful.
While I still wish I could be a full time stay at home mom, I know that I am lucky to have the most ideal “working mom” situation. When I saw the above quote that another fashion and mom blogger, Liz Adams from Sequins & Stripes, shared a few weeks ago, it really helped me re-frame my perspective before returning to work.
Change, no matter what kind, is never easy. As I look back on becoming a mom, that major life change was not easy. It took a few weeks of readjusting, a few days of grieving my old life, and then a few more days of focusing my energy on building this new life – as a mom and a family of three. There were moments when I thought I would never shower, put on makeup, cook a homemade meal, or workout again. Yet, somehow, I figured out how to do all of those things. Not necessarily every day, as I would personally like to, but enough to help me feel like I have my life under control.
The fact that I was able to build a new life as a mom gives me hope that I can also build a new life as a working mom. I know there will be long days and I’m sure there will be a few more tears shed. However, instead of fighting the old, I’m going to focus my energy on building the new. I will always, always cherish the memories from these past 24 weeks, but I’m vowing to live in the present and start building this wonderful, new life with Andrew and Patrick.