These Days Are Numbered

I go back to work on Wednesday. Even writing that sentence, my heart simultaneously plummeted and soared, like when you get on an elevator that you think is going down but then the doors close and it starts going up. 

Thanks to a generous maternity leave policy and a lot of saved-up vacation days, I got to spend six full months at home with Hugo, watching him grow from a tiny inert little thing who slept all day to a solid six-month-old who babbles and chatters and lights up when I enter a room, who sits up for minutes at a time before listing suddenly sideways, who laughs uproariously at the opening bars of "Old MacDonald," but only if you do the verse about the cow. I was incredibly lucky to have that time, but now it's over and I feel sad. 

I feel sad. Are we allowed to say we feel sad, we brand-new mothers who straddle the will-I-or-won't-I line the moment we see that pink and wrinkled creature in the delivery room and then decide, ultimately, that we will? Hugo and I have spent every waking moment together in the days and months since he was born, and now we won't anymore, and I feel sad. 

I feel sad that he won't be my constant companion, my accomplice at the post office and the grocery store. I feel sad that I'll be replacing our cuddled-up feedings with a locked conference room and the sterile whine of my breast pump. I feel sad that he'll be sleepy and bathed and pajamed just as I'm getting home from work in the evenings. I feel sad that I'm just the tiniest bit excited to go back. 

(Is it awful that I'm the tiniest bit excited to go back? To have conversations with adults who aren't the long-suffering UPS man, to exercise parts of my brain that have long lain dormant, to do a job that I love? To wear clothes that are ironed and dry-clean-only, that don't have that telltale spit-up stain on the left shoulder? To spend the hourlong commute on the bus reading—luxury of all luxuries!—a book that doesn't have pictures? Oh, small pleasures, sure. Thrilling ones, even. But I'm still sad.) 

Here is what makes it all a little easier, for now at least: when I leave my baby in the mornings, I will be leaving him with his dad. A few weeks before we had Hugo, Sean's company started offering—in a rather jaw-dropping turn of events, for which we are eternally grateful—a generous paternity leave of their own, which means Sean will be able to stay at home, full-time, with Hugo for the next three months. At some point, I guess, I will have to start doing some research on daycares and nanny shares, but for now I am clinging—in denial? Definitely in denial—to the one thing that makes it all slightly more bearable. I might not be with my baby every waking second anymore, but I know he'll be in good hands, at least. The very best. 

A month or so ago, I was driving home through Golden Gate Park and this came on the radio—these days are numbered / this life absolute—and when I glanced back into the rearview mirror and caught sight of Hugo asleep in his car seat (head lolling sideways, spiky eyelashes against creamy white cheeks, hands folded heartbreakingly over his chest), it was all I could do not to pull over and weep. The thought of leaving him....well, it almost tore me in two. If you have a story about going back to work after having a baby and everything being okay in the end, now would be a really good time to tell me about it.  

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1
edj
Jan 06, 2014

Well I sort of do. I worked a 3/4 time job that could be partially done from home so he stayed with my mum one day a week except for one week a month, when I was at the office. It worked really well and now he's 18 and hairy and stinky and we're still really close and he adored my mother, who did pretty much everything I told her not to, and it all worked out in the end. Because it does. But in the meantime, it does hurt a bit.

2
Georgie
Jan 07, 2014

Hello. I went back to work last Thursday, after a whole glorious year off. So far in my minimal experience all those things that you said are great really are - I had lunch yesterday with a friend without having to apologise profusely for the mess on the floor. I have long commuting hours to read. I don't have booger trails on my trousers. I feel a bit more like me, the me I was before becoming a mama. But I already miss my boy so much - it's a constant ache gnawing at my heart. The hardest part for me is thinking that he's forgotten who I am. I am told it does definitely get easier. And think of all the fun crafty stuff they'll do at nursery/daycare, and then at school... I spent so many happy hours painting on sugar paper and scavenging conkers and learning about dinosaurs. You'll be fine. He'll be fine. Everything works out - you make it work, because you have to. Big understanding hugs.

3
jasmine
Jan 07, 2014

i dare say that anyone who really enjoys their job will look forward to going back even as they feel a little twinge of sadness that they have to leave their newborn baby at home. its a constant struggle i'm sure. have fun going back to work. and know that it will be your husband's turn.

4
Shes
Jan 07, 2014

I feel you, Holly, I really do. When my husband and I first started talking about a baby, I wanted to stay home full-time. We came to the realization that that was not do-able (at least not in the lifestyle we were expecting to have). I was very upset that I would have to go back, even though I truly do enjoy my work. It was hard for me to let go (I was home 3 months with her). I started the daycare a week early.....the first day, she stayed an hour, and I stayed with her. The second day was closer to 4 hours, and I left.....so I built up to the 8+ hours by the time I had to start work. And it was fine. I cried, but it was fine. I pumped at work for many months. She is almost 7 now, and has fond memories of her daycare teachers. I found that by getting some 'me' time in the car/at lunch, I am much more able to be present and involved in whatever she needs me for (Barbies, again!) when I am home. More patient, more kind, more loving. All good things. And it will be good for you as well. All the best to you, Sean, and Hugo.

5
Elissa
Jan 07, 2014

It gets better.
With both my kids, the anticipation of leaving them to go back to work made me cry on a daily basis leading up to the end of maternity leave. The first few days were tough, but it gradually got better and I now feel like I have the best of both worlds: work that I love and a great relationship with my kids. Any way you can arrange to work from home one day a week for the first month or two? I did that with my first (his dad was home with him during that time) and it helped to have one day a week when I got to have a little more time with him and didn't have to worry about pumping. But even if you have to be in the office full-time, you will find a rhythm and it will get easier. I also was able to shift my schedule a bit earlier, which I think works better with babies and toddlers since they go to bed so early. My advice is to take it one day at a time, plan treats for yourself at work, and know that this is a really hard thing to do. But for many of us it ends up being the best choice, both for us and for our kids. Hang in there--I'm sending all my best wishes for a smooth transition!

6
Annegirrl
Jan 07, 2014

I had a full blown panic attack in my car after my physical to confirm I could return to work the next week. It was not pretty. Then, I was a mess after leaving my first baby at the sitter's and heading off to work. I cried and cried and cried some more. The husband and I switched it up and he handled drop off at the sitter's after the first two days were so hard for me. I got to do the glorious, joyful pickup after work.

It got better. I was able to handle drop-offs after a while. I still missed her every day, but I still managed to enjoy my day at work with the people I enjoyed seeing.

Now, after another kid, drop-offs are kind of a relief. I get my time to be me and they get a great experience with wonderful people and good friends. Leaving my babies every day is just normal now. We kiss, hug, and then they run off to play or cuddle with their teacher. It's all good.

7
Katie
Jan 07, 2014

I stayed home with my first for 7 months before she started at our wonderful daycare. I nearly lost my mind when I first went back to work, but now, she is nearly 5 years old (and has a 2.5 year old sister) and I have no regrets and no doubts that it was/is right for our family. She could not be more happy and secure in our home and her school (as we call it). I love my job and need the time to myself. She loves her friends and teachers and needs the social interaction. Win win. Let yourself be sad, but know Hugo will be just fine.

8
Amanda B.
Jan 07, 2014

I went back to work when my son was 12 weeks old. I can tell you it does get better, but not right away. I expected the first day to be hard, but the second day to be a little easier, and the third even easier, and so forth until it was "OK." That did not happen.

The first day was hard, the second day was even harder. It kept getting harder for a few weeks before I felt we finally hit our stride and things leveled out. We had some struggles working out issues with the nanny, and with my son taking a bottle, and I had an enormous amount of mommy-guilt about leaving my work-at-home husband to deal with fussy baby for the morning before the nanny arrived each day at noon, while I got to sip coffee and go about the office chatting with adult co-workers. Still have that guilt, really, and I've been back at work for 4 months now.

All that is to say, don't hold yourself to an unreasonable expectation of things "getting better." It may get worse for a while, and that's okay too. Just hang in there. Clear your weekends for family snuggle time, you won't want to do anything else.

(ps - Kudos for continuing to breastfeed and pumping at work! It is tough, and remains a huge source of stress for me even though he has been a champion nurser from the start. Keeping to a pumping schedule, am I pumping enough, is he eating enough, am I offering enough solid foods, should he be sleeping through the night more? But it is so worth it to know he is getting the best I can provide.)

9
jen
Jan 07, 2014

I cried nearly every day for two solid weeks when I went back to work after three months at home with my first and then would still cry on random days, even though I LOVED his daycare provider. Mind you this was to go to a job I did not even remotely like. With my second it was much, much easier which is probably something to do with the different job and also just experience that it all ends up okay. It really does.

If I could give you one tiny bit of a$svice though, start trying to nail down daycare now if you can. Maybe it is easier to find where you are but with my second, I started looking when I was 5 months pregnant and I kid you not, I had to scramble 2 weeks before I was supposed to go back to work. I could not find any in-home providers with openings and was on the waiting list at two centers. It finally worked out but not after many, many stressful moments of "what are we going to DOOOO???" Anyway, I definitely don't want to scare you but in my personal experience it has been SO HARD to find someone I'm willing to leave my babies with all day.

10
Erica
Jan 07, 2014

When I went back to my job (one I love) after my first baby almost 5 years ago, I remember walking outside to grab lunch on the first day and smiling a HUGE smile. I realized I was alone. I was alone walking outside, without a stroller, car seat or baby. I was by myself and could go where I wanted to go and do anything. The world seemed like a very big place again.

I had another baby 2 years later and still have the same amazing job that I love.

You are going to rock this.

11
Kathleen
Jan 07, 2014

It does turn out fine. I had to go back to work only nine weeks after having my daughter, and I had to drop her at a daycare. It was super hard on me but now she's two and looooves her school and teachers and friends and talks about them all the time. Thinking of you, though!

12
Talya Kingston
Jan 07, 2014

Oh Holly! I totally feel your sadness, but it will be OK - there will be tears, but it will be OK. I left my 6 month old with her dad during the day for 3 months too & it was an incredible gift to all of us. They have a different rhythm than the two of us did, but it's unique and its all their own & they still have it 7 years later.

Best Wishes!

13
MomQueenBee
Jan 07, 2014

I was able to stay at home with Nathan until he was six months old. On my first day back at work flowers arrived with a card that read "Thanks for the taking such good care of me," signed with his name. I know my husband was trying to ease the transition but I put my head down on my desk and bawled for half an hour. And yes, we've all turned out fine.

14
Kristen
Jan 07, 2014

I went back to work after a glorious 18 months home with my daughter. My situation was different, in that I was all of a sudden getting divorced and going back to work, but back to work all the same! I can tell you honestly, that you will cry. You first day will be your worst day. But you know Hugo is in the best of hands. Of course, he will miss his Mummy, but think about how excited he will be to see you when you get home! You will love the hours you have together in the evening. And please don't get mad at yourself when he wakes up in the middle of the night and you whisper yell at him to just go to sleep. You shouldn't "be happy that you get to spend that extra time with him", you should want him to go to sleep so you can be rested and go to work and be a good employee and a good Mummy. There is so much to tell you, but really you will be just fine, you will cry, you'll miss him like crazy, but you'll be just fine. It gets a tiny bit easier each day. Good luck!

15
Cate
Jan 07, 2014

Holly, I can't say from experience that it turns out fine, but from observation of history it does. My mom-friends constantly say that having their children go to daycare gives them the opportunity to socialize with people who "speak their language" ;) It'll be sad, and great for both of you.

PS. Seriously surprised that FB doesn't have an on-site daycare for employees!

16
Kristin
Jan 07, 2014

Oh lady, take heart at what we are telling you - it all works out! I stayed home with my Matilda until October; I went back at twelve weeks on the dot. I cried a fair amount in the days leading up to the transition ("We'll never have this time agaaaain!"), and of course again when dropping her off at daycare the first day. And there's a part of me who still misses those days. But it quickly got easier. Her teachers LOVE her, and have been great about some things that we were never particularly good at (getting her on some kind of a schedule, sleeping in a crib, doing crafty little art projects, and making sure she gets lots of tummy time, among other things). And since my particular job is waaay easier than dealing with an infant all day, I am far more rested and eager to play and take walks and spend all kinds of quality time together in the evenings and on weekends. She is five months and change now, and even though she's very happy at daycare, she breaks into a huge grin when she sees me coming to pick her up at the end of the day. It's awesome.

Of course, you're in an even better position since Hugo will be at home with his Dad. I think it will be really great, not just for cementing their bond even further, but also for making you and Sean are truly equal partners in this parenting gig. My husband is a fantastic Dad, and supportive in every way - but he's never been alone with her for longer than a day, so he has fewer tricks in his 'coping with a fussy baby' toolbox than I do. It leads to resentment at times - when he feels confused and overwhelmed, and I feel like he's relying on me for the answers too often (especially since I don't usually have them either). I don't want to be the 'lead' parent, but sometimes it feels like that's the default. If he had been able to spend solo time with her, I think that particular roadblock could have been avoided. You guys are so lucky - I am very jealous!

17
Jen
Jan 07, 2014

What an awesome thing that Sean will be able to spend this time with him now. I was in a similar situation, and while it was definitely hard to leave my son and go back to work, knowing that he was with my partner made it so much easier.

One of the main things that I think sucks about maternity leave is that you go back to work just when your baby is reaching the stage of being way more interactive and interesting. I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved my son when he was a newborn, but for me, the later months when he really starting engaging with the world, becoming mobile and communicative were fantastic.

Best of luck! And you know, everyone will survive and thrive throughout this.

18
Mir
Jan 07, 2014

It will all be fine. I went back to work after both kids, then eventually stayed home again for a while, and... the very best thing you can do for your child(ren) is the thing that keeps you balanced and sane. You will feel pulled in both directions for 18 years (maybe more?) because that's the nature of parenting. And it will be fine.

19
bessie.viola
Jan 07, 2014

It will be okay. I have two (5yrs and 1yr) and it will be okay. Some days will be harder than others, but it will be okay. The key is finding a situation that works for both you and Hugo. With my first, our daycare situation wasn't ideal - and that made it excruciatingly hard, some mornings. Don't ever go against your instincts. Nothing bad happened, but now that I have an entirely different setup with my 1yr old I realize how GOOD it can be. He loves his daycare, he lights up and comes crawling at me like a crazy man when I get home... and I get to go away and use my brain and come home for snuggles.

The pumping thing though... that sucks (no pun intended). I just wrapped up bf'ing with him, and I spent a lot of hours in the "quiet room" over that year. Having an iPad with the Kindle app and lots of pictures and videos of my little guy helped.

20
Morgan
Jan 07, 2014

Hang in there, the first couple weeks are tough, but it gets better. This thought helped me: I'm showing my boy that I'm more than a mom, that moms go to work/have other things going on in their lives and it's not all about him; I'm guiding a future husband, employee, student, contributing member of society. I hope that this helps him when he discovers one of the most important lessons he needs (at least I think it's one of them): that he isn't the center of the universe (maybe mine, but not everyone's). I actually distinctly remember that lesson myself--when my former stay at home mom went back to work and it hit me that she had a life independent of my own and this led to a deeper understanding of my own sense of self...hopefully, it'll be less of a shock for him than it was for me. So, it's ok to be excited about going to work...missing him makes coming home to him even sweeter.

21
Patty
Jan 07, 2014

I went back to work 4 different times (with four different children) and we all survived. I pumped for my babies & that kept me close to them in my mind. We co-slept & that gave me the physical connection I missed during the day. This will be your new normal. Having children is a lifetime of new normals. Enjoy being back at work and taking back a piece of who you were before you became a mom♡

22
kristen
Jan 07, 2014

I think two huge pluses you have going for you are that you love your job and work somewhere awesome. I don't have either of those going for me, and I still hate every second I'm away from my now four-year-old. It did not get easier for me, but I bet it will for you. And that's wonderful about Sean's paternity leave! Best of luck with your return to the office!

23
Stephanie S
Jan 07, 2014

I think you will be surprised at the amount of "freedom" you feel upon returning to work. I was blow away by the fact that I could go to the bathroom whenever I needed to and could actually eat a meal while sitting in a chair and holding nothing. It took a while to get used to it again. That said, I missed the baby, but it honestly made the time we did spend together even that more special. Hang in there!

24
Holly
Jan 07, 2014

You will be working and hopefully too busy to be too worried! I do the part time thing because for me it's perfect- love and focus on my job when I'm there, love and focus on my kid when I'm home. And really the pumping was a pain but I must admit I didn't miss my babe too much cause I was busy working!

25
Valerie
Jan 07, 2014

I went back to work full time after three months of maternity leave and the anticipation is SO much worse than actually going back. The days leading up to heading back to work, I was a blubbering mess. But, when that morning came along, I was fine. My son and I had our special time before heading off to work, nursing and you'll probably find that no matter what time Hugo last eats before you get home in the evening, he will always want to nurse as soon as you get home. It's a nice way to reconnect after a long day apart. And, you're lucky that Sean will be able to text you photos and updates all throughout the day! Hang in there, momma!

26
Kate
Jan 07, 2014

It gets better, it really does. I managed to stay home with my girl until she was 3 months old, and have finally gone back full time a few weeks ago (I was lucky to work 50% then 80% for the first few months back). Yes, it is hard to leave them in someone else's care after spending every moment with them, but it also felt nice to reclaim that part of myself that had been put on hold. If you can work shorter hours or work from home every once in awhile, it eases the transition. Eventually you'll find a new routine and new ways to spend time with them and reconnect. Big hugs, and hang in there!

27
Michelle
Jan 07, 2014

It will be okay...I promise! I went back after eight weeks with both of my boys...and I agree with some of the other commenters, the anticipation is actually worse than when the time comes! I'm not saying it won't be hard...you will surely cry. But then you get to work, and remember that you love what you do...and you love the people you work with (you know, for the most part!) and the day goes really quickly. I learned to appreciate the time that I had home with my kids even more once I went to back to work. And it's super nice that Sean gets to stay home with him for a while too! That will definitely make it easier on you. Good luck!

28
Kristin
Jan 07, 2014

Having done it both ways I will tell you it will be fine, and you'll survive. 100% because you are leaving him with dad. When I left my daughter at daycare I was a mess. I took her every day for a week before I went back to work. When I had to leave my son, my heart (isn't that odd that my son is my heart? My daughter is my mini-me, but she was never as attached to me as my son) I did ok because I was leaving him the capable hands of his father, who started working from home, because honestly can anyone afford child care for TWO?? And I loved, love, my job. So I went back and he changed careers for all of us. And we all survived.

Now Kindergarten drop off??? That a whole 'nother heartbreak.

29
Ashley
Jan 07, 2014

Hello. Long time reader, first time commenter. I wish you could see my knowing smile. Such great comments and encouragement. All true. My second son is 7mos now. It is very hard. For me, I agree, it got harder before it got better. I questioned everything and my reasons for wanting it, and nearly drove myself mad. But we came through. The only saving grace was being confident and comfortable in their care. It took a few false starts, so I would advise against waiting too long, as the good ones go fast or have long waits. You will come through. You will. And you'll be a better mother for it.

30
Mary
Jan 07, 2014

All I can say is don't let yourself resign this first week. For me, the first day was awful. I never stopped crying and I seriously just considered walking out. HOWEVER, it was better the next day and much much better the following week. In all reality, I can't imagine not working full time. 3 snow days at home confirms this even more! So just give yourself permission to hate it for a few days, and then see how it goes.

31
Catherine
Jan 07, 2014

You have the loveliest commenters, Holly. I'm drawing some reassurance from these stories myself ahead of my own return to work. All the very best with yours.

32
michelle k
Jan 07, 2014

You will cry. Hugo will cry. Then you won't.

Then you will work and race home.

Then you will work and linger a bit.

Eventually, you enjoy the coffee/tea/newspaper moments during the morning and enjoy coming home to the baby.

Remember, EVERYTHING is a phase.

My 12 year old and I just spent 20 days together and all I want now is for him to go back to school, me to go back to work, and no one to talk to me for a while. Love him more than anything - no talking!

33
Nina
Jan 07, 2014

There are things that suck about going to work and having kids ( like when they are sick) but if you like your job then I think going back to work is fine and can be pretty damn exciting. For me, much more exciting than staying at home with the children.

I found that being able to work generally made me a better parent because I missed my children and loved seeing and squishing them when I came back, rather than focusing on settling and containing them just to get stuff done.

good luck!

34
Lisa Y
Jan 07, 2014

I got to leave my first two with my husband and that made it less hard. Then when our second was a few months old and we hired a nanny. THAT was the hard transition. But we have the most wonderful nanny and thankfully she has fallen in love with our girls so she keeps staying. I went back to work when my third was eight weeks old and never had a single worry about her because our nanny is like a second mother to her. It's easy to feel guilty about working and feeling like your child is missing out on being with you. But, as evidenced by some of the other comments, great childcare can add a special person (or people) to your child's life.

35
Mrs G
Jan 07, 2014

It gets easier with time. I equate going back to work with having a newborn - at first it is really overwhelming, exhausting, confusing, emotional but eventually you'll figure out a routine and balancing it all gets easier. Going back to work is a similar transition. It absolutely gets easier with time.

I agree with others - start looking for childcare now. Finding a day care for my son was an exhaustive search that took months and it really helped my transition back to work knowing that while I missed him, I didn't worry about him or his well being.

Good luck to you all during this next phase!

36
JS
Jan 07, 2014

Holly - First of all, you are brilliant and I adore your blog. I have no idea how you've maintained it so well even after having a baby.

Have you considered maybe working part-time after Sean's three months of paternity leave are over? At the very least, carefully examine any assumptions you might have that it can't/shouldn't be done for budgetary or career-related reasons.

I can tell you that even though we gave up almost 80% (seriously) of our joint salary when I cut back to working 25% time following the birth of our second baby, it was one of the best decisions of my life. I just wish I'd done it sooner. Reduced hours can help balance your time such that you get to be the primary caretaker of your children as they grow up, yet also have a few hours to get away and make use of your analytical skills now and then.

The unavoidable truth is that you've entered the world of necessarily giving something up no matter what you choose. Every moment with your child is time away from the camaraderie and mental challenge of your office. Every moment at the office is time when someone else is comforting, teaching, or explaining the world to your child.

Blink and you miss it. However, make no mistake: Hugo will turn out fine no matter what. I think the choice is really all about how you want to spend these years. I hope you find the right balance for you and your family!

37
K
Jan 08, 2014

So, how was the first day at work?

Everyone says the first day at work will be the hardest, but that's not how it worked out for me. When I went back to work after I had my son, I forgot that I had left my baby at home. (Go ahead, judge me. I'll wait.) I forgot I was a mother. It was like I had my life back and nothing had changed as far as my work life was concerned. Of course, when I would go back home, I would turn into a doting mother. This happened every single day for years.

My advise - start looking for a daycare NOW. The kid will need time to get settled there and don't forget that you'll also take time to adjust to having him cared for by someone who's not his parent.

All the best!

38
Nisha G
Jan 08, 2014

Wish you the very best!! Do keep us posted on how it goes. My son is 12 weeks old and I am due to go back to work in 2 weeks! Can't bear the thought of going back, but a little excited as well. Your blog and all the comments are extremely helpful :)

39
Karen
Jan 08, 2014

Oh Holly, there is no other way to say this. It’s tough. But it gets better, really quickly. Truly. I went back to work (three days/ week) when my daughter was 11 months old, and then – 2 years later - had 10 months off after my son was born and returned to work 3 days/ week thereafter.

My kids are now 5 and 3, and I work 4 days/ week. If I ever have to work 5 days in any particular week, I am EXHAUSTED and wonder how I ever worked full time (which of course I did for years before having kids, goodness knows how).

Sometimes I hate that my kids are growing up without me. But most times I am proud of myself for providing them with (what I hope is) an excellent role model about juggling working and parenthood.

40
Ivy T
Jan 08, 2014

Wishing you well in your transition. Having a husband with kids already, we decided to have only one together. Finances are tight, but I'm thankful that I'm able to stay at home for a few years to watch my little one grow.

41
Ivy T
Jan 08, 2014

I should note that our decision for me to be a stay at home mom came after months of researching affordable daycare (I had intentions of going back to work after maternity leave), but not finding any that I felt fully comfortable with.

42
Megan
Jan 08, 2014

So good to read this and the comments too as I'm choosing a daycare this week...3.5 months before my little one even gets here (wait lists are scary!)! I'll have 10-12 weeks with him, and I'm already sad. It's definitely ok to be sad. :)

43
Kari
Jan 08, 2014

Thinking about you today, Holly! It's terrifying to go back to work but, kind of like having a baby, you find that you settle into a rhythm. It's nice to be doing meaningful work. The part I didn't like was feeling like all I was ever doing was pumping pumping pumping, but that doesn't last forever and you get to listen to lots of podcasts and read books and scroll through twitter.

When I went back to work, I was so sad, and someone said to me, "That's the hardest thing you will ever do, is leave him with someone else." SUPER UNHELPFUL. And also super untrue! It was good for both of us. And even if it was the hardest thing I ever did (which it was NOT), then my life would be pretty great, because leaving my kid in a loving place with people who care about him is not a terrible thing. He thrives on the fun and the other people and the learning.

It will be delightful to see Sean and Hugo bonding even more, and I really truly believe that I am a better mom because I work. You are a great mom, too! Ok, hope this pep talk helped and that today is great with the excitement of being back.

44
AnnaMarie
Jan 08, 2014

First time commenter and huge fan of your writing.

My transition was terribly difficult and has taken nearly two years to work itself out. Postpartum depression, a job that wasn't flexible for the kind of mom I wanted to be, the longing to be a full time stay at home mom. The greatest gift however was our amazing daycare!!! We all loved his infant teachers and they got us through the worst of it.

I changed jobs, now have a brutal commute and had to change daycares. But now I can look at my two year old who is a talking machine, runs off to daycare with a smile and has all kinds of experiences I wouldn't have thought of and know its all fine.

It's ok to be sad. It will probably ebb and flow for awhile. Enjoy the me time... It's good for the whole family. Best wishes!!!

PS. I agree with the others who say to start looking for care now. It is the biggest piece of the puzzle for your mental/emotional well being.

45
Ami
Jan 08, 2014

Glad you're thinking and talking about this, and that the commenters have been so smart. I am a work-outside-the-home mother and have been since my first (now almost 13!) was born. I did go part-time when she was 18 months old, b/c my husband traveled a lot and I had a hard time getting everything done. Luckily my company was awesome and let me stay salaried and benefits and everything. I did cry the first day I dropped both my kids at daycare, but I quickly learned to LOVE the 20 minutes I had in the car each day all by myself. I would listen to my music, or just turn it off and sit in silence for a few minutes. Heaven, and key to my sanity. I also managed to pump succesfully -- and truthfully that was the hardest part. I felt a little bovine. Both my kids had breastmilk for a year. After all the grief I had getting started, I wasn't about to let going to work stop me! Enjoy being a mom AND an employee. You will probably like it!

46
Melissa C.
Jan 08, 2014

I did (twice). And it will be ok. Not necessarily easy, or good, or bad. But it will be ok.

47
Holly in Michigan
Jan 08, 2014

You'll do great, he'll do great! I'm a full time working mom outside of the home since the kids were about 4 months old. They are 2 very happy, sweet, healthy, smart, very involved boys ages 12 & 8. I tend to stress a little occasionally when work is crazy, but for the most part our life is great! The biggest help for you to stay sane is your husband. DO NOT tell him he's doing something wrong, let him find his groove and his way of doing things. Allow yourself to be ok with his way of doing laundry or cleaning the house or taking care of the baby. You are in this together and if you make him feel like he can't do everything as well as you can, you'll end up doing it all yourself and resenting him. Best wishes!

48
Anna-bird
Jan 08, 2014

That's so fantastic that Sean can stay home for a bit! I think it's just as good to admit that you're sad about leaving as you are excited to go back...to downplay either emotion would be over-simplifying something that's anything but simple. Good luck, and it'll be wonderful!

www.anna-bird.com

49
Nothing But Bonfires
Jan 08, 2014

Thank you so much, everyone, for these wonderful comments! Seriously, your kind words and advice help more than you know. I really, really appreciate the hand-holding and the understanding. Thank you!

50
Lori
Jan 08, 2014

I went back to work after 4.5 months and my husband has always been home as he works from here. He was able to handle our son just fine even though we do things VERY differently. As an example, I came home one day to my son (at 2.5 yrs) unscrewing a computer case and not only being able to do it but having a ball! Not ever something I would have done OR thought he could do at that age! It's been nice knowing that he can handle any situation with our son (who is now almost 5!)and I do not have to stress about him while I am at work. It *is* really nice to have adult conversations on a daily basis! Good luck with everything!!

51
Jennifer
Jan 08, 2014

I had almost the same experience as K. Although I enjoyed my time at home with my daughter, I was very happy to be back at work. We can call it the absence makes the heart grow fonder camp.
It helps a lot that (a) I had a great level of trust for her daycare and (b) the doctor had just told us that I'd been undersupplied with breastmilk (for months) and we needed to supplement. There's nothing like feeling like a crappy parent to make you want to go back to a place where you feel competent for 8 hours a day.
I know it's different for everyone, and I think leaving a still kind of boring three month old is different than the much more exciting six month old camp.
It's great that at least for the short term he'll be with someone who can share every foible with you.
Good luck!

52
Margaret M
Jan 08, 2014

I started a new job the day after Christmas.

I was with my son 24/7 for 16 whole months until I went back to work and I was a nervous. wreck. We also have a four-year-old who would much rather spend time with Grandma and Grandpa than his boring parents anyway so I was totally fine about leaving him with my parents. My baby boy was a different story. I was not only going back to work after such a long time (two years!) but starting a brand new job (at the library! My dream!). Thankfully my mother-in-law is free to watch him through the week and my husband can look after him when I work every other Saturday so I know he is in very capable and familiar hands. I'm just now getting to the point where I don't feel guilty when I drop him off. It took a little bit of adjustment but now...we're fine. :)

53
Kate
Jan 08, 2014

First off, our babies share a birthday!! But now to the point of your post, It is so so hard to go back to work, but it does get better and easier. I went back after 8 weeks and that first week hurt a lot...emotionally and physically. That breast pump can be mean! However, it does get easier. When you are at work, you will be able to do things like enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea and eat a meal with two hands. When you get home from work you will get the biggest smiles ever from Hugo and it will feel amazing (a little sad at first too, but amazing). Just try to treat yourself kindly. If you can, start your first week with a halfday, or start on a Wed. to make the transition easier. When you pump, try not to stress too much about how much milk you get. Things will even out. Def look at pics of Hugo during that time, or relax with some fun stuff online. Just remember, you are his mama and he loves you, and you are doing what you need to do to be the best mama to him. Good luck!!

54
Katie
Jan 09, 2014

I love working, and yet, it was the hardest day of my life to leave my daughter (even to leave her with my husband who was off from teaching for the summer!). I had a wonderful lactation consultant tell me that it was heart-wrenching for her as well, but that we do what we do FOR our family. She told me it would get easier and it did. Some mornings I am thrilled to get away and talk with other adults while wearing semi-attractive clothing. Others, it is still heart-breaking. I am grateful to have so many things in my life that I love, though. I think that's what it means to be a mother, to have part of your life and brain eternally belong to someone other than yourself.

55
cynthia
Jan 09, 2014

I can't add anything new but...it was the same for me as many previous comments. I cried in the days leading up to the return, I cried A LOT on the first day back, especially on my commute. I cried to the first few people I talked to when I got to work... But then work happened, and I got busy, and it wasn't horrible. Missing my boy was, but working wasn't. It takes your mind off the missing.
I've been back almost 5 months after being home for 3+, and I still miss him every day. Luckily my mother in law takes care of him for us and brings him for lunch a few times a week, and I pump 2-3 times a day at work... and it all works out.
Wishing you the best during the transition!

56
Christina
Jan 09, 2014

I certainly cried after the very first drop off. And enjoyed, thoroughly, my lunch with colleagues that day.

I wish, Holly, I wish I could say, "Oh! It's so much easier," but frankly, it comes and goes in waves. Some weeks, I'd give everything and anything just to stay home and play and snuggle all day. Other weeks, I speed to our daycare provider's house like a bat out of hell.

It's been 2 years now since I went back to work, and what I can say with confidence is that there is no job or task more important than kissing injuries (real or imagined), picking up tiny socks, or reading stories.

57
Bev
Jan 09, 2014

I have two children and returned to work very quickly after the birth of each. While I missed them desperately, we found our way. Who says that a baby has to go to bed at the time you get home? Or at any particular time? You are luck that he will be at home in his own bed for at least a while longer, so why not keep him up later and let him sleep later in the morning. Or take longer naps? There are no rules. You can do whatever works for you. My babies stayed up later, but also slept later and longer. Cause and effect. Good luck.

58
Lara
Jan 09, 2014

Quality childcare was the biggest part of being able to go back to work without breaking down every other minute for me. How wonderful that your son will be home with his father for 3 months! Sean will now get to know what it's like to have the best sidekick ever 24/7 and you and he will share and delight in that. And Hugo will share it with the both of you and it will make you even more so the three best friends that anyone could have. There's no way around it, going back to work is HARD, but the busier you are, the better. You will settle into a routine, promise! Promise. Also, don't just listen to the sterile whine of the pump, look at pictures & watch videos of your son...it helps with your let down :)

59
Ashley
Jan 09, 2014

I went back to work after 10 weeks with my first 2 and absolutely sobbed for about a week straight. Any time any one said welcome back or hows the baby I went full out ugly crying. I told my husband I was quitting and I was going to stay home. My husband said I need to give it a month and if I still felt that way then we would find a way to make it work. Well, much to my surprise only after a week or 2 we got into a routine and I was happy to be back at work and was enjoying my job. For about a month after I went back, I would randomly think about my baby and then feel guilty that how could I have possibly not been thinking about him all day. It gets easier much faster than you would think. Get started on finding child care. It can be a long and frustrating process to find someone who meets all of your criteria. I sent my oldest 2 to a very small private day care center, which was beyond amazing. (One lady with 3 babies.) When my third was born we hired a nanny and we are thrilled with her.
Good luck! You are going to do great! You've got quite a cheering squad rooting for you!!!

60
ruth
Jan 10, 2014

I don't have children, but I just wanted to say to you that hard as it will be, you will come through it and organise your lives to fit around your baby. When I am dreading something, I tell myself the thoughts are always worse than the event. This too shall pass and try to think of all the fabulous adventures you guys will have as a family. I wish you all the best when you return to work. Ruth.

61
lesli
Jan 10, 2014

I got to ease back in to work at first, after having three months off with my son, and my husband got to take care of him for a while after that. We put him in daycare not long after his first birthday and it was SO HARD. I felt guilty and sad for a long time - the whole "STRANGERS are raising my baby!" thing - but we didn't have a choice. Money-wise, we couldn't really afford for me not to work. I think you should feel lucky that you love your job and are a little excited to go back to work, and not feel guilty about it. I like my job but don't love it and I think it made it harder, to think I wasn't with my baby and just money was the reason? It didn't seem worth it, though I think in the long run it was. We got him into a good daycare and then a good school so it has all worked out. (He's 6 now.) The day he got mad at me because I picked him up from the afterschool program too early was both thrilling and sad. Anyway, wow, long post. I just wanted to say it will be okay and you will be more sad than he will be! (That didn't come out quite like I meant it but I think you will know what I mean.)

62
Angela
Jan 10, 2014

My little Jace just turned 6 months old, on the 4th, and I went back to work when he was 12 weeks old. My husband is being the stay at home dad and I felt like that was what saved my sanity! I thought I was going to cry my eyes out on my first day back but to my surprise I actually didn't. I was sad, for sure, but I love him being at home with his dad. I'm sure I would have cried if I'd had to leave him with strangers, but even then, they wouldn't be strangers for long. I've been pumping at work and it's not bad, I'm just glad I have a place to do it and can still give my baby healthy breastmilk. I've ony been walked in on once! Fortunately it was a female coworker, and she was more embarassed that I was, which is not surprising considering the sight she had just witnessed! The door was locked but she had a key and didn't realize I was in there. I also get my husband to send me pics of the cute stuff he's doing during the day, so that's nice and then I can show my coworkers my little cutie!

63
Carroll
Jan 10, 2014

Holly, when our daughter-in-law was first pregnant with the adorable little GrandSweetie, I was so sad to know that after 6 months, she was destined to become a day care baby. But 2.5 years later? I am a total convert! Her mom gets to be a grown-up, doing work for which she is well compensated, professionally affirmed and provides great personal satisfaction, while The Babe is surrounded by even more people who love her, provide endlessly-fascinating activities, and (as we speak) are willingly taking on the task of potty training! Who knew that the modern way to raise kids could be such an all-around win?!

You will have a rough first week or so. Sean will be a superb surrogate care-giver & it will mean the world to him to have had this time with your splendid son. Hugo will thrive!

64
Jeni
Jan 10, 2014

I just fell apart when I went back to work. I was depressed for 6 months. When my second wads born, it was easier. But I was always unhappy about being away from my kids. I eventually quit working full-time. We're on a tight budget, but it was well worth it.

65
Kerry
Jan 11, 2014

I have a hard time when the house is quiet and the kids are sleeping let alone when I am working. Recently my oldest went to boarding school and it almost did me in. A few months into it, I am starting to feel better only because I can see the positive growth he is making. Give it time. Sending prayers your way!

66
Marcheline
Jan 11, 2014

I don't have kids, so I'll just post a quote from one of my favorite movies: "Everything will be all right in the end. If everything is not all right, it is not yet the end."

67
suz
Jan 11, 2014

Oh, sweetie.

Your dry-clean-only clothes WILL have that spit up stain on the shoulder.

Yay? Sorry?

68
Laura
Jan 12, 2014

I had my daughter (Katie) over Labor Day 2013 and went back to work 6 weeks later. Actually I did a couple of half days at 2 weeks (I brought her with me) and then 3 days when she was 5 weeks due to the completion of a big project. The 3 days at 5 weeks were good practice, I pumped and my mom was visiting, so I left her with my mom. And guess what. Katie lived! ;) After that she started at her sitter 5 days a week. I worried a lot at first, but the sitter loves her and Katie is happy when I pick her up every day.

I pump behind my locked office door 3 times a day. I actually like that part, it is a time where I have to take a moment's break from work. Just remember when you get dressed in the morning that you will need easy access multiple times a day! A few times I have sat down to pump the first time and realized that I should have thought out my outfit more.

Going back to work was not easy, but it was a necessity. I bring home the larger paycheck in our family and had no paid maternity leave aside from vacation and sick time. I don't love my job, but I love my family, so when I am down about having to be apart and feel like I should be taking care of her, I try to remember that I am taking care of her by providing for her.

Good luck on this next adventure in motherhood!

69
Zaren
Jan 13, 2014

It's so weird, today is my first day of maternity leave! And i don't know what to do. (Baby is not here yet) anyway, i'm sure you'll ease into work in no time. Good luck in finding a good daycare. :)

70
Kathleen
Jan 13, 2014

I sobbed every morning for a week. I was barely mentally present at work, with the hormones raging and my heart split in two. But slowly, we all adjusted. It felt so much better to be at work, using my brain and feeling a bit like myself again. And they thrived at daycare, learning from the older children and coming home with these funny sayings.

Sometimes I wish I could stay home with them forever, but then I remember the role model that my mom was. I want my son and daughter to know a mom and dad that were passionate about their work, and able to balance home, family and a satisfying career. I think that I'm a better mom because I work; more patient with the tantrums and the frustrations that come so often these days because I treasure the time I get with them.

And, honestly? I am more exhausted on Sunday evenings than I am on Fridays. Sometimes it's like a little vacation when I can pack them off for daycare and return to the relative calm of work!

You guys will be just fine. And what a special thing for Sean and Hugo. Good luck!

71
Heather
Jan 13, 2014

I know I am late to the comment party here, but I agree with everyone in telling you basically two things - the first is that leaving your baby at home when you go back to work feels like peeling off your own skin every morning, over and over again. It's ghastly. You feel like you will a) die and b) cry in the bathroom forever. And the second thing is, you start to adjust to the new routine (for me it took about six months) and begin to realize there are some advantages, actually, and you kind of PREFER this, and it is going to be fine. Oh and lastly (wait, I'll come in again...) lastly your baby will never (and I mean NEVER) love any caregiver more than he loves you and your husband. Trust me on this.

72
Karen
Jan 13, 2014

Such wonderful encouragement…. all true! yes it's tough. It's hard to think of them as separate beings when they are so freshly made, and still nursing (!) but this is just the first in a long series of milestones... from this to preschool, to kindergarten…. all the way up to the university drop off. Sounds to me like you are doing a great job of enjoying each moment. And there is something pretty special about the joyful reception when you come home from work too (not just baby, but relieved hubby too).

and sorry…. dry-clean suits somehow ATTRACT spit…. or maybe it's the mad dash toward baby when we get home from work! Changing first would just delay the hugs.

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