I went back to work on Tuesday. And I’m not going to lie, that first day pretty much sucked. I had 4 wonderful months of being off with AV, which I know is longer than a lot of people get, so trust me I am so grateful for even having that time. I had 6 weeks fully paid and another 6 weeks with 66% paid and I used up every bit of my vacation time to supplement the partial payment weeks and into part of the 4th month. It was absolutely, 100% worth all the vacation time and the weeks of not being paid. Maternity leave was by no means easy, but they were some of the best months of my life so far. I just wish I had had more time, I always have seen myself as going back to work, but in my opinion going back before 6 months is just not right. But alas, that was not to be, in the US your job is only guaranteed through 12 weeks so I was pushing it a bit with taking the extra month (that is a whole other post, fuck the lack of support for women in general in this country, from the lack of women’s healthcare support, infertility coverage all the way through to maternity leave).
Right now I have a great boss but our company is undergoing a lot of changes (and fucking drama, ugh) so it was a risk that he might not have been there when I got back or that leadership would change so drastically that they wouldn’t care that I had been there for 10 years. And then there is the financial aspect, I make more than my husband and my job is the one that currently has more long term ties with things like bonuses and such, so walking away, even for a little bit, was never really in the cards without a gigantic impact.
My mom arrived the Thursday before, she is taking care of AV for this year, and I am so, so grateful to have her. We trust her explicitly with our most precious baby girl and she helped my sister with her baby for the last 4 years so she has a lot of experience (and is up to date on all the latest thinking on sleeping, feeding, etc which makes it easier than me having to provide direction). So I have no issues with her care and I know that she will have a wonderful time bonding with her Grams which will be a special bond she will carry throughout her life. But it was still sad to go from being with her every day to missing even the little milestones and changes that seem to happen so quickly now as she has passed the newborn stage.
So on Tuesday morning I woke up at around 6 to pump (AV was still asleep) and then proceeded to get ready very, very slowly in the hopes that she would be up by the time I left for work. She did wake up right before I left and I cried saying goodbye to her, and then I cried in the car on the way to work. I got there and it was fine, my team had decorated my office and everyone gave me a warm welcome back. But it’s still surreal, I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to be home hanging out with her, taking walks and not worrying about the drama. Because there is a fuckload of drama at work that I have stepped back into. Within about an hour of being there I got an invite for a large exec meeting all day the very next day, making my transition back a lot more public and faster than I wanted, talk about being thrown into the fire. Wednesday I was at the all day meeting, had to awkwardly step out to pump in the middle (which I doubt was much noticed, just weird to me) and then go to a dinner event that night, so I left before she was awake and came home when she was already asleep, and that was hard. She woke up a bit after I got home and for once I was secretly thrilled that she had woken up since it meant I got to rock and snuggle with her to put her back to sleep, easily the highlight of my day.
And the drama just doesn’t matter to me that much anymore, I have to deal with it in order to get by, but it definitely takes away from me loving my job and my company like I once did. And that makes this easier in a way, because I won’t stress as much about work things that will be insignificant in the long run, but also harder because I love my career and take a lot of pride in what I do and who I am at work, and I miss that.
I’m doing a stepped back program that my company offers my boss and I agreed on taking it a little further, I’m 50% through October (although I doubt I’ll be able to be fully off on Mondays and Fridays like I want), but that will make it easier to still at least work from home and see her during the day on those days. Week two starts this morning and I’m up once again, this time at 5 am pumping to make it to work for early meetings. We’ll see if it gets any better or if I just get used to the drama and craziness.
In other news…
AV is doing great. She is smiling up a storm, laughing occasionally (and it is this hilarious belly laugh that just makes me laugh harder) and rolling over like it’s her job. She has even started scooting forward on her knees to get closer to toys. We have this Nook lilypad playmate that she is spending a lot of time on doing all this scooting and rolling over and I just got her a stand up activity center that I think she is going to love. She is doing pretty well at sleep, she had a few weeks of what I assume is the 4 month sleep regression and on a friend’s advice I started a pretty strict nap schedule where she goes down every 90 minutes, which seems to be going well. She is obviously tired by the 90 minutes and goes down for a nap typically within 5 or 10 minutes and will sleep for 45 mins to an hour. At night she is still waking up at least once, sometimes twice a night (if it’s twice the first one is usually an hour after she goes down) but she is getting a decent stretch of anywhere from 7-9 hours in the middle of the night.
I am doing pretty well physically as well, I’m down to my IVF weight (5 lbs more than where I would like to be) due to a combo of breastfeeding and the ton of walking we did this summer while I was off. We’ll see if the loss continues now that I am back at work and not as active, I would love to work out but cannot imagine finding any time to do that with having everything else going on and wanting to be home during her awake hours as much as I can.
Pumping can still suck it. With my work schedule I am now sleeping through the night (unless I have to get up with her) and then pumping in the morning when I get up, and then in the car on the way to work, once in the middle of the day at work, in the car on the way home and then once more before bed – so 5 times a day which isn’t as awful as the 8 that I started out with. Her sleep schedule doesn’t really work for me to feed her directly during the get to work rush, but at least I’m still producing as much as I can. She is eating more now so we are adding about a bottle of formula a day but I’m happy I’m still at least getting her enough to be mostly breastmilk. My goal is still to make it 6 months with this pumping schedule so I expect her to be on formula at 6.5 months anyway so she may as well get used to it now.
That’s it for now. Jane at Mine to Command had a great post that is inspiring to me to keep writing (even if it is not very often with work and baby). Even though this may not be an infertility blog anymore you guys are my people, my infertiles. And it comforts me to get your wonderful, nonjudgmental advice and feedback in parenthood just like during treatment as I trust you guys way more than the overall judgy mom world. And no matter what I am still sending love and hope to all of those out there still struggling, rooting for you guys every day.