At three months old who really wants to leave their newborn? For me and many other mums like me we’ve had to do just that. Coping with the return to work after having a baby is never easy whether they are three months or ten. In this first post of two parts, I’ll share my experience of returning to work and leaving behind my little rainbow.
I’ve been back at work for almost two months and to be honest I’m still trying to find my feet and adjust. I had been dreading my return to work because I just didn’t want to leave Mahari. At three months, she was still so tiny and we are still bonding, so the last few weeks have been a huge challenge both physically and mentally.
One of the downsides to being an expat, for me, is having shorter maternity leave than I would have at home- 50 days instead of a dreamy nine months. While I know that this is all many women are entitled to in many other countries, I still can’t help but feel like I’m really missing out. Some of my concerns with leaving her were, of course, things like issues with feeding, issues with sickness and health, missing out on bonding and play time.
Like many other mums I was faced with a choice: do I put Mahari in a nursery or get a nanny? We decided to get a nanny because I felt it would be so much safer and also comforting for Mimi to have one person look after her in our own home in an environment she’s familiar with. That decision reduced my anxiety about leaving her a lot.
I was worried that she would be very unsettled once I left, but honestly, I think it affected me more than her! The first day back I was trying to pull myself together at work and not let a million crazy scenarios and what ifs run through my head. I heard of people being really overcome by separation anxiety but thankfully it didn’t hit me that badly. By the time I got home, she was well fed and asleep. The nanny had nothing but good news to report back. It’s pretty much been like that ever since. We’ve been lucky not to have had any major meltdowns or screaming fits really, just lots of sick, exploding poos and plenty of smiles and giggles.
The challenge has not been being away from her but actually trying to balance everything when I’m home. I love having that golden hour of play with Mimi but when the workload piles up I can’t ignore it, but I also don’t want to just dump her onto Desert Dad all the time either. I promised myself I’d try and stay up later to get things done but honestly, the lack of sleep is killing me. During my first week back I quickly learnt that, at least in our house, routine and schedule are everything if I want to get things done and preserve some Mummy and Mimi time. It’s the quality time with her that certainly makes up for a heavy workload. Coming home to a beautiful baby that is now able to chatter away with me and can finally smile back when I pull funny faces and show smalls signs of affection makes it all worthwhile.
So as of right now right I’d say I’m still trying to find a good balance between work and home in addition to just adjusting to being ‘Mum’. I know eventually I’ll get into the swing of things, but it’s definitely going to take some time.
I have found a few strategies that certainly made the transition much smoother than it would have been without them and I’ll share those in my next post- Returning To Work With A Newborn Part 2.