The Return to Work

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Exhausting. That’s the best word I can use to describe my first day back at work.

I woke up extra early so I’d have time to pump before leaving. And since I had been used to sleeping in until 9 most of my maternity leave, this wasn’t the easiest adjustment.

I was hoping my daughter would stay asleep but in the middle of the night, after she ate I kept her cuddling with me. So shortly after I got up, she woke up.

Normally I’d nurse her back to sleep but I guess she knew I wasn’t going back to sleep either, so she wanted to stay up and play. I had my husband help with her so I could get ready. I hooked up my pump and PumpEase so I could do my makeup while I prepared some milk for the next day.

When I was done I had pumped five and a half ounces from one side (Lil’ J ate from the other earlier and I was thinking I’d nurse he again before I left).

I cleaned my pump, got dressed and was ready to leave. This was the part I was dreading.

I had put her in her swing so I could finish getting ready and to my surprise she had fallen asleep. One of my friends told me this was the best way to leave. I knew this was true because had she been laughing and cooing or crying I would have bawled my entire way to work.

Instead I slightly stroked her cheek, shed one tear and kissed my husband goodbye.

On my drive to work I blared the music for two reasons. For one, I wanted to drown out my thoughts and two, I couldn’t really do that with her in the back seat. It was weird not focusing on the baby mirror behind me and consoling my daughter who hates riding in the car.

When I got to work I was greeted with warm welcomes and lots of questions. Of course I had half a dozen pictures printed off to place on my desk and showed them off to my colleagues.

When other mothers asked how I was doing I surprised myself when I realized I was doing fine. Then I felt another strange hint of emotion–was that guilt? How could I be doing so well away from my daughter when I love her so much?

I tried to brush it off and made my way to the morning meeting. I didn’t miss those.

I hurried out to my first interview. I was working on my segment to help find adopted families for foster children and I was introduced to a talkative and very intelligent 12-year-old.

The moment we met my mind focused on him and making it a time he’d remember. We raced go-carts and played a dozen games of ski ball before the park even opened to the public.

I was immersed in my job with no time to think about missing my daughter. But when the shoot was finished and I was invited to eat lunch with them, I politely declined so I could go home and see my baby.

It had been about five hours since I had last pumped so I was feeling a little engorged.

When I got home my husband had pizza coming out of the oven and Lil’ J’s smile when she saw me just melted my heart.

I had called my husband on my way home, so instead of warming another bottle for her, he let her wait to nurse. And boy was she ready. She likes to eat but there must be something different about it coming straight from the source because she didn’t want to let go. I loved having her snuggled in my arms and watching her stare and smile at me as she ate as if she were saying “I missed you mommy.” I enjoyed it so much, I forgot to eat. My husband packed the pizza up for me to take with me back to work.

I was surprised at how he was doing. I hate to admit it but he was showing me up. I can’t remember if I had ever had a meal ready for him when he came home from work. Usually I was asking him to pick something up.

This time when I went back to work it was a little harder. My daughter was laughing and smiling when I left and I love being around her when she’s in such a good mood.

After my break the day took a bad turn. I had my second interview for another story, but on the way back we were rear ended.

Neither I or my photographer were hurt, but instead of staying ahead of schedule, that and all the paperwork that comes with car accidents, set us back hours.

It did however, give me some time to catch up with my boss who praised me for breastfeeding and asked me about how I’m enjoying motherhood.

Three hours later it was finally time to head back to the station, but it was time to go home when I got there. Luckily the story I’m working on doesn’t air until Sunday, but I still wanted to get something going before I left. So I took my laptop, and camera into the makeup room where there were two other breast pumps lined up next to mine.

It had been another five hours since I had last fed my daughter so while I was trying to get everything set up, things got a bit messy. Apparently my body responds really well to seeing the pump, almost as well as when my daughter cries. I felt something wet on my leg and realized I was squirting from both sides. I hurried and hooked the pump up so more precious milk wouldn’t be lost on the make up room floor (don’t worry, I cleaned it up. Wouldn’t want anyone to slip!).

I had no problem pumping hands free and working at the same time. The most time consuming part, I’m finding is cleaning all of the parts after pumping. At home I leave the pieces out to air-dry but I’m obviously not going to so that at work. So washing and drying all the pieces took some time.

I got another nine ounces to bring home and was more than ready to go home to my daughter.

For a moment I thought I’d bring my laptop home but I decided not to. Keep work at work. I thought.

My husband had dinner in the oven and Lil’ J was happy to be back in my arms. I didn’t want to set her down and she didn’t want to let go.

My husband was able to workout and study while we reconnected and I was in awe of our new system.

Unlike my routine, my husband left Lil’ J in her PJs all day versus dressing her up, but I didn’t mention it to him. Baby steps I thought.

It was nice to put makeup on again, actually doing my hair and wearing a suit. But my feet, which had grown accustomed to flip flops over the past twelve weeks didn’t appreciate squeezing back into heels. So it was great putting my feet up and snuggling with my sloberpus that night.

We all turned in early around 10pm.

Today I’m anchoring the evening shift so my schedule will be a little different but I’ve had the whole morning to spend with my daughter.

Tonight she’ll get to watch me on TV and come visit me at the station during my dinner break.

I’m so blessed to have my husband at home with my daughter and he’s doing SO much better than I imagined.

I didn’t believe people when they told me I’d appreciate the time with her more, I didn’t think it would be possible to appreciate it more, but I really do.

It’s a lot more work now, and there’s a lot of teamwork involved. I’m working hard and focusing on work when I’m away, but the moment I get home I take my daughter and don’t set her down.

My husband can take that opportunity to do things he enjoys doing but it’s pretty much non-stop work for the both of us.

My husband and I may be doing things a little backwards compared to most families but I’m optimistic it’ll work for us.

I’m surprised how I am able to jump back into work almost without skipping a beat. I think part of that thanks to having a job I love.

I try not to wonder what I’m missing when I’m away. And I made my husband take an oath to act surprised by any new developments I may miss, as if I’m seeing the firsts right along with him.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be a working mother, but for now, I confess: It’s not as bad as I had feared.

Everyone who comments on this post is entered to win a CoddleLife Bottle. I’ll pick a winner using on September 28th.


Swimtown Pools Winner: #33 Domestica
PumpEase Winner: #130 Lindsey

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  1. So great! Glad it’s working for you.

    I bet news vans get rear-ended a lot. “Wow, look, a NEWS truck …” BAM! I used to worry a lot about getting in wrecks when I’d ride along in the 5 Van.

  2. Glad it went so well for you! Hope you keep this post in mind if some days are a little tougher. Glad you didn’t get hurt in the rear-ender, that would’ve been a real downer for the day! So I guess there’s lots of pumping going on at the station. 🙂

  3. I went back to work 2 weeks ago, and I love it. My husband will be the stay at home dad in another 3 weeks. I love my baby so much, but I related to how you feel a lot in this post. I am jealous at how much you pump though! When I only get half that much, it makes me wonder if it is still worth it.

  4. Major timesaving tip for the pumping:
    Put all the pump parts in the cooler/refrigerator with the milk! Just like the milk in the bottle is kept cold so it doesn’t spoil, the leftover milk in your pump equipment also stays cold so it doesn’t spoil. When you’re ready to pump again, just take it out of the fridge and hook it up!

    This way, you only need 1 set of stuff per work day and you don’t have to spend any time washing parts.

    (I put the parts in a baggie to keep them clean.)

  5. Congratulations on your remarkable assimilation. And WOW–you even found time to write a thoughtful post on your experience. Kudos to you Super Woman!

  6. They sell Madela bags that are microwaveable so you steam clean the parts. They are also sterilized during the process. You just put a bit of water in, shove the parts in and let it go. Then, you can air dry or use a towel.I think you can get them at Babies R Us or even target. Saved tons of time – I found I was spending forever trying to get the parts really clean.

    Good luck!

  7. I forgot…I would put the sterilized parts in a gallon size zip top bag. I folded a smallish towel or a cloth diaper and put it in there. Then, I put the parts back in after shaking them off quick and left the top open a bit. The towel absorbed most of the moisture and the open top stopped any funkiness.

  8. It sounds like you guys are adjusting to the change well! Good for you and Lil J (and hubby too!)! I agree with you on the pumping- cleaning the damn parts is the hardest and most tedious thing EVER. When I knew that I was done pumping for this baby I wanted to do a ritualistic burning of the machine but then I remembered that the pump was $200 and I will need it for any subsequent children we have. Blah. Love!

  9. Wow that’s great. It seems like you’ve adjusted well so far. I could hardly wait for your post but we celebrated my husband’s birthday yesterday and I vowed not to blog (or check out other’s blog). LOL. It was tough. Good to see that you also kicked butt on your first day back to work 🙂

  10. I am not entering for the bottle, just to comment. (No grandbabies using them right now.)
    I am impressed with your team work and I think it is wonderful! I think with your husband taking care of baby you can feel good about doing your job and that certainly helps so much. My husband is like this and it is great for the children to be really close to their father also.
    Sounds like it is going well.
    My son was also just rear ended-ugh. Sorry that happened.
    Have a great weekend.

  11. Oh, and I forgot to add something. You said he didn’t get her out of her pjs. Well, when my kids were little and my husband would dress them, tops and bottoms would not always match and many times the tops were put on backwards! Made me laugh!

    Glad you weren’t hurt, also.

  12. Oh I’m so happy everything went, for the most part, well! I am concerned about going back to work after my 12 weeks of maternity leave too, but I must go. This has really given me hope that my transition will not be as horrible as I imagine.

  13. I only hope that if I have to go back to work after my maternity leave, that it will be as smooth a transition as it appears you’ve had. I’m glad you’re able to do a job you love, and then come home to a wonderful family!

  14. I’m so glad it wasn’t as bad as you feared! And so glad to hear you’re OK after the car accident. Keep up the awesome work, as a Mom and employee, and please don’t be too hard on yourself; there will be hard days I’m sure. But thankfully we have God, our husbands, and our friends and family to help us through!!

    shellbelle1229 at yahoo dot com

  15. I’m so happy that things went fairly well for you. I didn’t realize Daddy was going to be at home but I’m sure that makes it a little easier to leave. Originally in our circumstance Daddy was going to be at home, but he found a job and so now we have our little guy with a sitter. It’s been fine but I would rather be at home. Hopefully in the next year or so it will change and I can stay at home. 🙂 You are a milk machine! Keep up the pumping and you are blessed to be able to go home at lunch sometimes. Have a great Sunday and as always, thanks for sharing.

  16. Yayy! I am so glad that your first day back wasn’t so bad 🙂 I don’t know how you are going to master the pumping at work part, but as always I am confident that you will work it out 🙂

  17. You are so lucky (and I know you know this) to have a hubby like yours! I am now a stay at home mom, but even I can’t keep a 100% schedule down. Luckily for me though, my hubby does the cooking when he gets home bc he understands that taking care of a 3yr old and a 4month old isn’t that easy. At least I keep the house clean. lol. Your little girl is so darn cute!

  18. This is one of my biggest fears. So I’m so happy to hear how you navigated it so well. I don’t think my husband would ever go for staying at home — but we often entertain the idea of switching off and such. Sharing the tasks is important!

  19. Oh man, I remember those pumping days. My son was in the NICU for 13 weeks and didn’t pick up on breastfeeding until he was 6 months old! So me and my pumps were best friends. And yeah, I hated that seeing the stupid pump caused all kinds of leaks! Breastfeeding is somehow so much cleaner.

    And yes, the dishes killed me. Between the pumping gear and the bottles, I felt like my hands were never un-raisined. I ended up buying enough shields (etc.) so I could at least pump all day without washing all the time. You are such a champ!

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