Ten days until I officially become a “part-time” mother. I’ve agonised over this time as of recent, because in the beginning I felt extremely ready to get back to work. About 9 weeks in of my 3 month/12 week maternity leave, I had the urge to be back in the workplace. While I adored the one-on-one time that I shared with Liam, and although I had an adult in John to talk to, I was yearning for that constant day-to-day adult interaction. I wanted to be solving problems other than how many wipes it would take to clean Liam’s unnecessarily generous bowel movement or how many things I could get done in literally the 30 minute break that Liam would give me before he wanted to feed again. I thought it would also be nice, for a change, to eat my lunch or dinner with both hands without having to support Liam attached at the breast like a symbiotic creature.
I’m waiting for the guilt to set in. If it does set in.
Am I a horrible mother if it doesn’t?
A lot of planning (and arguing) went into what would happen when this time came. I had my reservations with John’s parents keeping Liam five days a week mainly because we lived so far apart. I welcomed the thought of a part-time nanny and had actually started looking for a nanny before I was close to my due date. I didn’t realise how early I had done it until I checked my calendar and noticed I didn’t account for the 3 months I would be on leave. On top of that, John decided to take almost the full month of February for vacation to extend the time Liam would be home without me. I suppose that contributed to my eagerness of going back to work. At this time, I really missed Jade. I was there for Jade when she had Aava and she knew she could rely on me keeping her should anything arise so it was a shame that she couldn’t share this experience with me. And be my live in nanny. Duh.
At 11 weeks old, Liam continued to grow physically but his interactions were also becoming more deliberate. I feel like I’ll be right in there with the “Mummy Club” if I say that I felt like I knew how to handle him best. I feel like this is something all mothers say, right? By now, I had learnt the difference between his hungry cry and tired cry, not that he was much of a crier to begin with. I could tell when he wasn’t comfortable with something or when something was upsetting to him even if his reaction wasn’t vocal. Although I had left him with his grandparents and his godmother briefly from time to time, the thought of leaving him on a daily basis for a close to 10 hour day was extremely hard for me to grasp. You know, you start thinking of all the worst case scenarios that you wouldn’t even have considered possible before or if baby is in your care. And its random stuff, too. If I share with you some of the thoughts that were really in my head, you’d feel propelled to contact social services on the grounds that I am no longer mentally stable enough to care for him.
I’ll just keep them to myself, but you catch my drift.
My mind often wanders, and complicates what could otherwise be a simple event, due to the mere fact that I will have absolutely no control over the day-to-day caring for Liam. After being locked into that role for close to three months, I expect the transition to be a hard one.
Another drastic change that would arise from my return to work would be my breastfeeding schedule. Actually, apart from in the morning and at night, my breastfeeding schedule would be almost void. This meant not only would I be totally missing out on that special bonding time, but it would also take a while for my overactive milk glands to take a hint. Which meant full, engorged and often leaking breasts. No bueno. To make matters worse, with Liam on a relatively consistent feeding schedule of every two hours my body was literally on cue. Yes, on cue. What do I mean by that, you ask? I mean every two hours, full or not, my breasts would start to automatically express. Automatically, as in, all by themselves, in case the picture wasn’t graphic enough for you. No touching, no stimulation. Just forceful and intrusive. As far as they’re concerned, a baby is usually attached to them at this time so bring forth milk. I always imagine the milk glands as a little army and a leader at the head of the pack like “This is Sparta!” and then they all just run towards the nipple and are released as milk.
I should’ve kept that to myself, but you catch my drift.
I hadn’t really thought of how to tackle this apart from pumping at work, but I wasn’t sure if I was 100% comfortable with the notion, yet. It’s at this time I wished there was such a thing as”pump rooms” designated for this purpose. No such luck. Until then, my most private place was the solitary bathroom in the center where I worked. Not the most luxury pumping experience, as you could imagine, but desperate times call for desperate measures. When weighed up against the possibility of rocking milk stains as a fashion accessory, the bathroom plan is practically the lesser of two evils. Emphasis on evil.
I suppose the most I could hope for is that work is so demanding that I will not possibly be able to worry about what’s going with Liam and the hours fly by. Knowing my luck, the complete opposite of this will happen. I don’t paint myself with the paranoid brush; I feel like this is all completely normal. But then again, paranoid people don’t exactly admit to being paranoid, do they? My only solace for the moment is knowing Liam is a pretty easy baby to deal with; no fuss. Like his mama, of course.
Ten days. Only ten days.