Well it's official--my maternity leave is over! (insert a mega sad face here!) Excluding the week Henley was born, this has been one of the most emotional times I've ever had in my life. I've been back to work for one week now and am just now starting to feel like this is my new routine.
I started thinking about returning to work and getting started with our new normal around the time Henley was 7 weeks old. I was lying in bed one night with Henley snuggled tight up against me. I was thinking how awesome the last 7 weeks have been and then I started doing the math---7 weeks old, 12 weeks of maternity leave equals 5 weeks left!! I lost it right there--tears, crying, the works.
I started thinking how I would only be getting a few hours with her at night during the week. I was thinking that there is so much to do at night as it is that I can't imagine adding a baby into the mix and still getting quality time. It was around this time that Henley first started smiling and her smiles and happiest times were much more frequent in the mornings. I just knew I'd be missing all of those sweet little moments. On top of all of this was the fact that I would be leaving my precious, beautiful little baby with people I had met for 10 minutes tops!
The dread surrounding the day I'd be returning to work was constant, my thoughts ended up there frequently and always ended with tears. At about 10 weeks postpartum, I started coming to grips with the situation. Work was 2 weeks away, I needed to be mentally challenged again, Henley needed to develop socially, all working moms have experienced this, and all of these emotions were normal. I met with my boss and discussed an alternate schedule that would allow me an extra hour or two at night with Henley without sacrificing the amount of hours I was working. Mentally I felt a little more prepared but emotionally I was still a mess.
I returned to work Wednesday but I had received advice to take her to daycare a day or two before I go back for a few hours to get myself acclimated without the added pressure of work. I was scheduled to go back to work on Wednesday so I planned on taking her to daycare Monday and Tuesday.
Last Sunday night I was doing my nightly bed time routine with Henley and was rocking her to sleep. I just started to cry again thinking of all of my worries. On top of all of the normal concerns I had was the fact that this signified the end of the first stage of her life. She is no longer a newborn, I am no longer the sole person offering her care--that chapter was over.
I sat with my husband that night rocking her for at least an hour after she fell asleep just talking it through. Logically I knew this was what we wanted but emotionally it was so hard to think about. My husband is a saint and it always there for me to talk through things. I left that conversation feeling emotionally prepared for the following day. I could do this! Henley would be ok and I would have time to catch up on some things I had to do before work.
Monday morning rolled around, I got up and started getting ready to drop her off. I was feeling so confident that this was going to be much better than expected. I was actually looking forward to this in a weird way. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. We arrived at daycare around 9:30. I walked in, got the tour, got all of her stuff set up (still feeling like a rockstar I might add), then one of the worker's held Henley and said "we got this mom, see you in a little bit" and I lost it! Right there in the middle of the room, crying my eyes out. I wasn't really even thinking about anything that would cause me to cry. I was overcome with this emotion that I couldn't control! It felt so unnatural for her to not be with me---for someone else to be taking care of her for the day. I drove home and just cried.
I lasted about 4 hours before I had to go get her, crying for about 3 of those hours. I walked into daycare and she was just hanging out---totally content. I picked her up and squeezed her and gave her tons of kisses---she was back where she belongs! We survived the first day of "school". Tuesday was much better and not one tear was shed. Once I started work, my husband would be doing drop off duty (huge benefit to me emotionally). Since I have started work, saying goodbye in the mornings is hard, I get choked up and I miss her so much during the day but every day is a little better. On Wednesday I cried the whole way to work. On Thursday and Friday I cried when I said goodbye and now I get choked up but I have something so great to look forward to. (and I might add that tonight she smiled and cooed at me for at least 10 minutes so I still get awesome moments!)
This post really doesn't have much of a purpose other than to tell you about my day and to say that people are right---it gets easier every day. I don't miss her any less. Every day I am just at eager to get her---packed up and ready to go the minute I am able to. I speed over to daycare as soon as possible, cursing every light I have to stop at but seeing her there at day care warms my heart. Picking her up and kissing her makes me melt. Parenthood is the most incredible privilege I have ever been blessed with. I feel so honored to have the opportunity to be Henley's mom. I love that I get to love her and that I get to experience the mother bond. Being a mom is incredible, truly!
At least once a day I am just overwhelmed with emotion and love for her it's incredible. It's crazy that I love this little person so much---I had no idea I had this much love to give.
If you are returning to work soon or if you are worried about it, just know that you are not alone! Every new mom feels this way, it's not natural to be away from our babies but it's going to be ok. They will be learning new skills and meeting new friends (and you will be able to stay challenged and keep your sanity). It gets easier every day. Stay strong!
Ok---after all of that gushing I just want to go pick her up and snuggle her right now (I won't of course--never wake a sleeping baby)!
If you hung on for this whole post, mad props! ;-)