Sunday, August 17, 2014

Worker Bee

I intended to write this post about a week or so after I went back to work. Now, suddenly here I am almost five months later and going to work every day still sucks as much as I feared.

It's not the job itself, exactly. Well, it's not always the job itself. I still love what I do even if I don't love where I do it some days. I just never expected it to be so difficult to be away from my baby for nine plus hours, five days a week. I went from being the one person who was with Babycakes, literally, twenty-four hours a day exclusively for two months straight, to being the person who sees her the least amount. Getting up at nine-thirty in the morning, Babycakes up at ten and I have to be at work by 2:45 PM means I only see her for about four and a half hours since she is asleep when I get home. Charming sees her for about 8 hours, my MIL gets her for 5 to 6 hours and I get the short end of the baby stick.

I know this is the downside of being a working mom, but I wish I didn't HAVE to work. If I chose to do this I think I would feel a bit differently. But right now it is impossible for me to not work. And that leaves me with a hole in my heart every day I have to leave that sweet little face and drive to a place I really don't want to be. Even on the days I feel like I need a break I would rather be with her screaming than at work. But it is what it is and I make do. And her big gummy smiles when she sees me every morning make up for leaving her during the day. Another saving grace is the fact I get to leave my precious child in the hands of my MIL, someone I know will take care of Babycakes with extreme care and love. We are beyond fortunate to have a close family member watch our baby. I know how lucky we are because if I had to leave her at a daycare or even a babysitters, I'm not sure I could handle being away from her as well as I am coping with it now.

The first few weeks back were rough. I bawled when I left the house, all the way to work and sometimes halfway through my shift. I would find reasons to sneak away so I could call constantly and check in or just to hear her make noises over the phone. I was a mess and seriously questioned quitting every single day. Keeping busy was key because the busier I was the less I thought about not being with my baby. If I had downtime I would dwell on all I was missing because every look, smile and coo were so precious. I would desperately try to figure out a way to not have to work at all or at least not as much. But I could never make the numbers work. Eventually the pain got a bit less. There is still an ache when I have to leave each day and Babycakes gives me a breathtaking gummy smile as I'm walking out the door (it helps if she's napping by then so I don't feel so bad because I don't want to wake her) but I don't cry in my car the whole way any more. And getting the updates each night from my MIL are fun even if it does make me feel a bit left out. The time to come when she cries because I'm leaving will probably start this guilt all over again at leaving my child behind and feeling like a horrible mother because I'm not with her all the time.

The day I returned to work I was offered a promotion and a shift change. After two months of not being in work mode, dealing with sleep deprivation and all the changes I had to adjust to, this was something unexpected that threw me for a loop. It would have been a bit more money, a different shift and more responsibility. But Charming and I would not have had the same days off. As much as I would have liked the opportunity to move up, at this time in our lives family time together for me is more important than any job. So I turned it down. Do I regret it? Not for a second. The time Charming and I get to spend together with Babycakes is precious. We won't always have that opportunity so I figured disrupting that would not be a wise move in my personal life. I figured being happy at home is essential to being a good employee and seeing my husband is vital to that balance.

Speaking of balance, it was a challenge to get back into the swing of things. I didn't imagine trying to turn off my "Mommy Mode" would be so difficult. But I soon got the handle on making sure work stays at work and home stuff stays at home. Except when people want to see baby pictures. Then I can't help but share. The biggest adjustment was fitting in my pumping schedule. Since I am breastfeeding I had to find time to pump at work so I can stay on the same feeding schedule as Babycakes. I was a bit nervous about where and how I would pump. But I was given a single bathroom with a chair, an outlet and a lock on the door in order to pump in private. I know the law states I am required a room that is NOT a bathroom in which to pump but I like my setup because I can clean everything right after. I make sure to wipe everything down with Clorox wipes before I begin and keep everything sterilized and clean. I have become such a pro I have it down to a twenty minute process that I fit in three times a shift in between my shows. So far my pumping at work has not impeded my ability to do my job at all and I am able to steadily feed Babycakes even when I'm not there, something of which I am extremely proud. I am happy I can provide for my baby and I will do anything I have to in order to continue doing so until she is at least a year old. It's what is best for her and as long as I am able that fact is what makes sure I find the time and the energy to do it every single day.

There are days I feel pulled in a million different directions, days I struggle to find the energy to do simple chores because I am worn out, but I am making it work. I think that is what parenting is all about. Not being a Super Mom or the person who juggles everything perfectly, but one who works at it every day to make things flow as best as I can. I have multiple responsibilities and I'm trying my hardest not to let anyone down.

Especially Babycakes. That tiny human is my top priority, always on my mind even when I'm not there.

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