A Working Mom With Three – One Year Later

A year ago, I went back to work after my (final) maternity leave. E was 9 weeks old. I was tired, stressed, and SO ANGRY. I (obviously) didn’t want to go back so soon, or (at the time) at all. No matter how much self-talk I did, I didn’t want to drop my little guy off at daycare every day. Going back was harder with each kid and with E it felt like complete torture. It sucked that I only got 6 weeks off (with 60% of my pay — I took the extra 3 weeks as vacation), in fact it sucks that the US doesn’t have a maternity option. The only reason I had 6 weeks off is because recovering from childbirth is considered a disability. I’m pretty sure hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is go back to work when I (and the baby) wasn’t physically and mentally prepared.

Got to see my bub at lunch today #happy

Fake it till you make it.

My days were pretty much a blur. I can’t tell you many details except that I hated pumping, I had absolutely zero schedule, and I didn’t know how I was going to fit anything (running, reading, friend time, husband time, etc) into my life again. I was OK with that though. E was sweet, snuggly, and worth it. I preferred to spend most of my free time with him in my arms and I think he would do anything to be in my arms.

After a fussy night, E is back to his smiley self. Smiling > Shots

Who can resist this??

I was also very, very anxious. I couldn’t define what I was feeling as postpartum depression (though, I don’t doubt I was experiencing it to some small degree), but my postpartum anxiety was fierce, lifesucking, and out of control at times. Looking back, I was in a far deeper hole than I imagined. I never thought I was going do anything to harm anyone, but I constantly thought about all of the horrible things that could happen to everyone that I know. Do you know how stressful that is?

Over time, things have gotten so much better. For starters,  handling all three kids — with very, very different personalities — has gotten easier. Going into all of this, I didn’t realize that L at age 4 was going to be SO dramatic and hard to deal with (although, it was easier than when L was born and B was almost 3). At the same time, I also didn’t realize how amazing B would be with his little brother — so obviously these things balanced themselves out. I think over time the kids have realized that E is here to stay and he’s quite the little charmer. You want things? You go through E.

image

A year later things are… the way they are supposed to be. We (kinda) have a routine. I can get to work before 8:30. I’m no longer pumping. I feel like me again. I’m no longer angry. I’m still tired, but mostly because E is still waking up a few times a night (I’m still breastfeeding, so I guess I don’t mind). I don’t have to squeeze workouts in and when I do work out, I don’t feel guilty that I might be needed or missing something.

family

<3

As for work – I’m enjoying it again. You know, as much as you can enjoy work. I like getting to my office every day and I like the work I am doing. I’m busy, I feel productive, I’m constantly learning – and when I see my coworkers I’m no longer putting on a happy face. I’m genuinely happy.  I’m reminded that this is WHY I’m a working mom… I truly do love what I do — and the people I work with too!

image

Birthday lunch with some of my favorite people. I’m pretty lucky!

I’m still anxious, but it’s lessened immensely. It hits at weird times and I can now attribute it to being overtired or being overwhelmed. I still worry about things I cannot control – but if I take deep breathes and focus on the things I CAN control, it helps. But, for the record… I’ll probably have to live on Xanax when I hit menopause.

It’s amazing to me how much can change in a year. I can’t really pinpoint when these things all clicked, it wasn’t all at once and there was no real “a ha moment” — it’s just when reflecting that I’ve realized how different things are, in a good way! While a baby’s first year is the most amazing, sweetest, and snuggly year imaginable it’s also just plain hard. I’m not going to pretend subsequent years aren’t hard – in fact they are harder, just in different ways and they are FAR less hormonal.

I especially look forward to this next year with Evan. I like to think of it as the year of wonder – when kids are aware of their surrounding, are starting to communicate, and just think everything is AMAZING. I do think each year of childhood contains a little bit of this wonder – but this year between 1 and 2 is the most innocent and gratifying. It reminds you to consider the little things, to enjoy the simple moments, and to be silly — because when it comes down to it, that’s what life is all about.

Birthday lunch. Who says you have to grow up? #beergoggles

So for all of you mamas — whether you’re raising baby #1 or #10 – just remember, this too shall pass. Sometimes you just need a little reminder (or a glass of wine) that things will get back to “normal.” I also caution that if you are feeling completely out of it. See a Dr., find a therapist, or talk to your friends. There’s no shame in admitting that things aren’t perfect or that you don’t feel right. I SHOULD have been more proactive, I think I suffered a lot longer than I should have because I didn’t realize it was abnormal. It’s OKAY to ask for help — and also know, you are NEVER EVER alone.

So basically, things are better and sometimes great, but I still live by my mantra… Parenting is hard, yo.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for always keeping it so real. I look up to you as a mama … it’s like you’re my older sister (that I’ve never met) or something. Haha. I’m glad things are finally settling down and you’re feeling more like YOU again. Man oh man, that first year is hard. I can only imagine adding in working full time and raising two other children along with a newborn. It’s making me second guess my desire for more children. LOL. I know it’ll happen, but I’m kinda diggin’ life just the way it is right now! ;)
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..4th of July Camp Trip

    • says

      Aww – I am like the big sister you’ve never met. Maybe someday! Ha.

      You will never be ready for kids — but you’ll know when/if you want more. I say enjoy every minute of the life you have right now — it goes by fast and there’s just no sense is dwelling on what “could be.”

  2. says

    Yes. Thanks for posting. So true! I’m still on baby #1, obv, but we’re talking about #2. I mean, not trying, just talking. It scary to think of those first few months again, but I guess I at least know what to expect the next time around!
    Tiff recently posted..Scootin’

    • says

      It’s scary, but you will know when it feels right. I’m not saying you will feel ready though! And honestly, all of those amazing pregnancy hormones will make you forget about the crappy part about having a newborn. I still see tiny babies and I think (for a split second) “we could have another one.” And then I remember that – nope, no way man – I’m done!

  3. Lauren says

    Ugh that postpartum anxiety. I had it horribly for a good 4-5 months after my little guy was born and I’m due with #2 in December and already thinking about what I can do differently this time around to avoid it.

    • says

      It’s tough! I think I forgot about it, honestly. With my first, I didn’t have anxiety – I just had an extreme case of the baby blues (they subsided by 3 months, but it was an intense 3 months!). With my second, I definitely had anxiety — but the impact of it kinda faded away (kinda like how I feel about childbirth) and I didn’t really remember it until I was in the thick of it with E. The fact that you KNOW that it can happen will help you — and there’s no shame in talking to your Dr. about it and you options beforehand. Good luck! And congrats on baby #2 :)

  4. says

    I really loved this post Lady! So much truth. My little one will be eight months and just when I feel like, ‘hey! I got this!’, the tide changes and I am up with a screaming baby for half the night. Eight months post baby and I have yet to get back in the full swing of running. I squeeze some miles in here or there, but I am often SO exhausted from work and life demands that working out takes the back burner. So BIG props for all you do! It’s hard juggling it all. But you are right, at the end of the day snuggling a sweet babe makes it all worth it!

    • says

      No matter how many kids you have — it’s hard! In some ways, having multiple kids is easier because E is at the age where he is entertained by his brother and sister — and I kind of know what to expect.

      You will find ways to fit running back into your schedule again. With B, I didn’t really get back into working out again until he was well over a year. With each kids it’s been more of a priority so I can stay sane!

      Snuggle while you can – the days are long, but the years are so, so short!

  5. says

    I was literally THROWN in to parenting this year with a 9 and 11 yr old. Holy crap it’s hard!!! I like your mantra though and I always need to remind myself that “this to shall pass”.
    Ara recently posted..Meet Theodore

    • says

      You were thrown into parenting at SUCH a tough age!! Parents start to become so “uncool” and overbearing. I’m sure whatever you are doing is great and even if you don’t think you are making an impact – you are. And yes, I’m considering tattooing “This Too Shall Pass” on my forehead, I say it SO often. Lol.

  6. says

    Thank you so much for this post. My little guy is one year old and life is beginning to feel a bit more “normal”. I never struggled with postpartum depression but I did struggle with post partum anxiety and did reach out for help. I never thought I would hurt anyone and didn’t. My anxiety was very similar to how you describe yours, fear of bad things happening to those I love. It was causing me to panic a lot and that is stressful. Thankfully, I worked through this and am feeling so much more like my old self and relaxed! Again, thank you for sharing!!!
    Jenn@Mark My Miles! recently posted..Happy Fourth of July!

    • says

      Isn’t the anxiety just horrible and tiring? I still get panicky at odd times – and there are just certain news articles I cannot read because they are definite triggers. I’m glad you got help! It’s hard to ask for it — I’m STILL learning.

  7. Denise G. says

    I needed this post like 2 months ago, but still thank you for sharing. My little guy is 5 months (tomorrow) and I finally feel like I might be able to juggle it all a little better from here on out. Since I’ve been back to work (when baby was 13 weeks) I have worked out 0 times – my lunches used to be my running/walking/basement gym time but now I go love on my boy at daycare so those are out. And by the time I get home from our commute its time to feed him, eat our dinner, feed him again and get him down to bed. Then its laundry and washing bottles and pump parts. Pumping and bed time. I’m exhausted by the time I hit the sheets and I’ve developed a bit of a Starbucks dependency. But I just found a Mommy and Me yoga class we can do on my Mondays off and that somehow lit a fire under me to find some time. Too bad we’re topping out close to 100 degrees these days, so taking my hot-blooded ginger out in the BOB is kind of out of the question right now, but I know I’ll get back into it eventually. I did 2 planks on Sunday and my abs are so sore… its going to be a long road before I’m running halfs again, but at least I have the best running buddy ever now!

    • says

      First off, I’m super jealous of your ginger! E is definitely a strawberry blonde and the closest I’ll have to a redhead. I tried! Lol.

      Seriously, don’t stress about working out. Do it if you can and because if will make you feel good. Things WILL get easier and you will have more time after he turns one and you spend less time prepping for the next day, feeding him, and pumping (OY THE PUMPING!).

      PS – Starbucks is the BESSSST

  8. says

    I’m due with my second in September and this brought back a lot of memories from the first. For me, even though I’ll have to do the exact same thing like I did afterwards in regards to the very short mat leave, I know what to expect but that anxiety was so so so bad. Those thoughts of thinking “What if I didn’t pump enough milk” “What if he starves and I’m not there” “What if his colic is so bad the nanny does something terrible”. I hope I am better able to cope this time around but you won’t know until those post partum hormones are handed to you.
    Jade recently posted..Weeks 25-29

    • says

      I do think there’s something about KNOWING what to expect. That will make it easier — and in a lot of ways it made the 2nd and 3rd newborn stages so much more enjoyable. I had REALLY bad baby blues with my first and with #2 and #3 they were pretty minimal and I think it’s because I aware (I’m not going to pretend I didn’t cry that I wasn’t pregnant anymore, but I didn’t cry for like 3 months, lol). This time, I completely forget about the anxiety so I think it caught me off guard.

      That said – good luck with #2! Enjoy ALL of the snuggles.

  9. says

    Well said! I’m expecting #2 in November, and I imagine it will be hard in a different way. After this one, we will be done with having kids, so this is my final opportunity to enjoy having a new baby. With Squish, everything was so new and surreal that although I tried to appreciate it at the time, there was just so much I didn’t realize I would miss until it was gone. Sure, I hated the diaper blowouts (on the last clean blanket, of course) and sleepless nights and the “it’s 8pm time to get cranky!” routines, but they didn’t last forever. Nor did his first soft baby coos, falling asleep in my arms while nursing, that “baby smell”, and the millions of other little things that made it all worth it. Parenting is so hard for a million reasons, but there’s a reason why we’re so crazy that we want to do it in the first place, and (what are we thinking?!?) want to do it again!
    Emily recently posted..Still Alive!

    • says

      I don’t know if it helps you but having a 2nd (and 3rd) was actually a lot easier for me (minus the anxiety – I didn’t experience that the first time) because I knew what to expect — and my expectations were low! You will appreciate the baby phase a lot more — at least I did!

      Parenting is so hard, but I’ve never loved anyone as fiercely as I’ve loved my kids, so obviously it’s worth it! Hope all is well with your pregnancy :)

    • says

      Sorry I’m so late to this reply (stupid work blocking me from commenting! Umm, not that I blog at work :)), but thank you!

      I can only hope our policies get better. It’s something I would pay to support, especially if someday if could benefit my kids!

  10. says

    The whole mat leave is the thing I can’t wrap my head around for how different it is to Canada. Women here get 1 year off of work! It’s one of the main reason why, if I was working when I was pregnant, I would have been so happy to be living here (unfortunately for me, I was a stupid student NOT making money/spending hours at work, so I never qualified for mat leave!). I give a humungous props to you!!

    I like how real you are about this – I totally am more overwhelmed now, probably lost a little bit of sanity, and still figuring things out, but it’s ok! I have a beautiful daughter, and that’s worth it! I love that you’re finally back into what helps you!! I think ours is finally getting there; especially since we just had Tyler’s sis and her boyfriend move out of our place a few weeks ago. Them here was definitely NOT helping with me feeling normal!
    char eats greens recently posted..WIAW: three words style

    • says

      I’m sorry to reply to this reply so late (I am blocked from work now. boo!), but I would LOVE for the US to have Canada’s maternity leave policy. It’s so hard to come back in a zombie state — and it’s so hard to work with my friends who have leave their little ones at daycare so soon.

      You are never alone with feeling lost. Every time I think I know what I’m doing… I realize I don’t have a clue. People who pretend otherwise are just lying to themselves and others. I think the best thing to do is find the good and the humor in every situation and hope you are doing the best that you can!!

      I’m sure having roommates did NOT help. Even if it’s family – they are still all up in your space. Hope everything is back to normal soon.

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