Becoming a Working Mom

Tap, tap, tappie…is this thing on?  Damn that was a long blogging break!  I just finished my last few weeks of maternity leave and I wanted to cherish every moment with little E, which meant very limited computer time, not that I had a lot before anyway.  So now I’m a working mom.  Wow.  This is hard. 

I thought I’d talk a little bit about going back to work, planning for childcare, and what it actually felt like the day I left her.  So, we are not one of those families that are fortunate enough to have a stay at home mom, and even if we were, I think I’d want to at least work part-time and keep my foot in the door so that I could jump back into a career once E is a little older.  So, we talked a lot about what we wanted for childcare, what would be the right fit for us and what we could afford.  Ultimately we decided that we really wanted to a nanny to watch E at home, at least while she’s this little. 

Yay, we made a decision!  Hard part over, right?  Um…no, now you have to find a nanny.  I asked around on my neighborhood listserv for nanny recommendations, reached out to other moms I knew in Austin, and also searched (and paid for)  Initially I was really opposed to using the internet because hello, a random stranger that I met on the internet is now watching my child.  That’s way scarier than online dating.  But, does background checks, and has reviews so I actually liked the experience a lot more than I thought I would. 

I ended up interviewing about 6 different girls.  My first interview was in person, and the lady was nice enough, but she told me that 7:30 a.m. was “too early for her” and that “she might be late.”  So, I knew she was out.  After that experience, I decided that it would be better for everyone if I did a phone interview first, so if I got responses like that I didn’t need to worry about inviting them over.  I used a list of questions I found on Hellobee to start from, and we added others we thought were important.  Then I talked to Lauren.  She was sweet, lived about 3 minutes away from us and had experience with infants.  Hooray!  I got a good vibe from her and decided to have her come over to meet us.  I knew right away that she was who we wanted.  She did have an offer from another family though, so it was up to her to decide if she wanted to pick us too.  I realized that it’s so important for the nanny to feel like she fits with you too.  And, luckily she decided that we were the right family for her.  Yay. 

We did a short trial just to make sure that she knew what she was getting into.  I went over everything with her and then left for about an hour and a half.  When I got home E’s eyes were all red and I could tell she was exhausted but was fighting sleep.  Fortunately Lauren did not seem scared away, and told me that she just needed more time with her to learn what she likes and for them to get to know each other.  I really appreciated that she didn’t make things dramatic about how she was crying, but was honest with me about how it went.  

About a week later I had to go back to work.  I decided that I wanted to ease into things, so I started with just half days my first week.  I nursed her that morning and just cried.  I hugged her, kissed her and snuggled with her until she fell back asleep.  Then I had to get myself ready.  Every time I tried to put on my makeup I’d just cry more, so it was a tough morning.  I bought a new outfit to wear my first day back because it always makes me feel better if I can at least try to look cute.  And then it was time for me to leave.  She was still asleep so I didn’t want to bother her, but I hugged Sean and just broke down again.  He assured me that everything would be ok, and that it was only a few hours apart.  I still felt so guilty and sad for leaving her.  I didn’t want to be away from her yet.  She was/is still so little. 

Once I got to work I had a warm welcome back and everyone wanted to see pictures of her, which was good and bad.  I wanted to talk about her, but talking about her made me sad.  About 2 hours into my work day I had to pump.  Talk about awkward.  Pumping at work initially is super weird.  I never thought I’d be sitting topless in an office at work, but yeah that’s happened now.  And now that it’s been a week of pumping, it’s still awkward, but it’s also kind of nice to have that time away.  I don’t do any work during it, I just take that time to look at pictures of E.  I still don’t enjoy pumping anyway and now I have to do it 4 times a day (3 at work and 1 at home before work), but it’s important to me so I’ll keep it up.  And, as she gets older I know I’ll be able to reduce the number of pumping sessions. 

And, everyday it gets a little easier for both of us.  The first day I know she cried a lot.  She nursed for an hour when I got home and slept for 3 straight.  That’s unheard of.  The next day was better and the third day was the best yet.  Lauren said she only cried once she got tired not just because she missed us.  Today is the fourth day and I’m hoping that things will keep getting better.  Next week I go back to full-time so I know that will be a new challenge, and I’m still trying to find my way as a working mom while battling the guilt I feel about leaving her.  It’s so hard, but we’re doing the best we can and trying to figure it all out.

11 Responses to “Becoming a Working Mom”

  • Thank you for this post! I got a real life sense of what to expect next Spring! Sounds like you are handling so many changes gracefully, I hope it gets easier day by day to be a working mom. It is so great that you found a nanny that fits well with your family!

  • Thank you for writing this heartfelt post! I’m a month out from going back to work, and we recently decided that I would go back part-time (from home) for a month, as well, because the family-help situation we were planning will not work out after all. We don’t know what we’ll do after the part-time is over. I can still work full-time from home until we put our baby E into daycare at 6 months, but I don’t think working from home full-time will work with a baby in the house, even if my hours are flexible. I’m still struggling with being a mom, but can see how hard it will be to leave the baby behind to go back to work, as well. Your post made me cry, for you and all the moms that go/will go through this. But we’re all strong and our babies will grow up seeing that. Big hugs to you, and I hope you enjoy your weekend!!

  • Keep up the good work! My baby turns one tomorrow and I don’t think it gets any easier to leave them. I’m starting to really struggle with this because when I get home I have about 15 minutes before we need to start getting ready for bed. It sucks! Oh and I was going to say, stick with the breast feeding as long as you can and I’ve never heard a mom say that she likes pumping.:) It’s just one of those things we do for our babies out of love… no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it becomes.

    Just sending some support!

  • so many changes! sounds like all of you have handled them really well so far. that’s wonderful that you found a nanny you like. i almost cried reading about your first day going back and having a hard time saying goodbye. sniff.

  • It’s definitely hard going back to work. I cried the first few days too. But luckily, the first 2 days, my little one was with grandma and then her aunt, so by day 3 in daycare, I was feeling a little better. It never really gets “easy,” it’s just something you have to do. You’re lucky you can afford a nanny, I’d love to be able to do that.

    As for pumping, no one likes it, but it has to be done. Lucky for me, I can do it in my office with the door closed. I have a hands free bra so I just pump and continue working. Also, I wear a tank underneath my clothes so I’m never topless at work… because that does feel awkward to me too! I’m now down to 2 pumping sessions at work, and it’s so much better.

  • You are being so honest and you’re such a good mom! E clearly loves you and missed you too. Things will get better, just hang in there. It was really really tough for me to get back to work but I think, for me anyway, it’s for the best for us. Sending you and E some love!!

  • I really enjoyed this post because you don’t really hear about this side of things very often! I’m glad things seem to be going relatively smoothly – hopefully it continues to go well!

  • Way to go on your first week, mama! It will definitely get easier and being comfortable with the person who is watching E makes it such a better situation.

  • Sounds like it has been tough, but you have a great attitude–just wondering how you decided on nanny vs day care?

    • kelsey@mintedlife

      Well, I really wanted more one-on-one attention at this age. My biggest fear was her sitting in a crib crying alone. Not that daycares do that but I just thought they might be tending to other kids so she would be sad and alone. I also didnt want her to get sick a lot which can happen with daycare. But i think socialization is so important though so once she\’s a little older I do want her to go to a mothers day out program for a few hours a week. But it\’s such a personal choice.

  • Ugh – we just did this 2 weeks ago. I go see him at lunchtime a lot because he’s so close, but my first day had lots of tears! I do look at his picture a lot on my desk and I know he’s taken well care of, just miss him lots. They are such great snuggle-bugs!!

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