It’s been eight weeks since I’ve carried the official title of “full-time working mom”. I’ve had to say good-bye to my baby 40 times to leave for work. Sometimes the good-byes are fast and easy. Sometimes I linger and give her about a ton of kisses on each cheek before I go. A few times I ended up crying in my car or office when I get to work; most of the time, I just quietly crying inside. Some days go by so quickly, I don’t even get to think about my baby. Sometimes I stay in a “I miss my baby and I don’t want to be here” slump all day long. Some days are harder than others and I have learned to just take it day by day.
I’ve spent approximately somewhere between 40-50 hours total within the last 2 months with bottles attached to my breasts, sucking milk out of my body. Thankfully most of those hours are in my private office. Several times I’ve pumped in meetings with my boss. I never thought I would have to do this, but yes, I have also pumped while driving due to time constraints and a mobile job. Once I even pumped in a public restroom, mind you it was extremely clean.
I hate pumping. I feel like I spend half of my work day pumping or thinking about where/when/how much I am going to pump. The amount I have been pumping have gone up and down due to how stressed, tired, dehydrated, hungry or time-limited I am. It turned out that my baby drinks WAY more milk during the day when I’m gone than I anticipated and I do not pump enough to feed her. Thank goodness I have a stock of 60+ ounces in the freezer but this also means I also have to pump several times at home and throughout the weekend. I won’t deny it–it sucks big time (pun intended).
My perfectionism and unreasonable expectations for myself creates tremendous stress for me in my work. Adding on to that, my job is relatively new for me and I am still working through the kinks of my position. I think it’s easy for me to pin my stress onto my “I miss my baby” syndrome but I can’t deny that I often feel like an emotional wreck even without being a mother. I’m composed enough of a person that it usually does not show on the outside…most of the time, that serves me well, but it also means I vent a lot of my worries to my poor husband.
It doesn’t feel right to worry about work during the precious few hours that I spend with my baby at home. I want to be 100% present with my baby when I’m at home with her. I’m having to practice my mindfulness skills CONSTANTLY.
And the sleep—let’s not even talk about the sleep! It was going well at first since we transitioned to co-sleeping. However recently, even while co-sleeping, the baby had been waking up frequently enough during the night that I wake up feeling like an insomniac zombie (thank you, four-month sleep regression!). But alas, my body and brain are adjusting to the lack of sleep and I am amazed that I am functioning as well as I am with such broken sleep.
What’s keeping me going? One, I don’t believe I should suffer any less than my husband, who works as hard as I do and misses the baby as much as I do when he’s at work. Two, I believe that I am making a positive difference in the world through my work as stressful as it is for me. Three, I have professional goals that I would like to meet within the next two years and I hope that after I meet it, I will have the freedom to work part-time. And the fourth reason I’m still a full-time working mama-and probably the most relevant reason-is that I haven’t won the lottery yet.