It's been a little over a week since I went back to work. I was fortunate enough to get 12 weeks off paid from my company ("paid" since I had six years of sick time saved up!) and it feels like I've never left work but also that I've been away forever.
The First Eight Weeks
The first eight weeks were hands down the hardest. I had no idea what I was doing and it seemed like every second I needed to be doing something with Anna. Finding time to put her down and take a shower sometimes was my biggest challenge of the day and it could be overwhelming.
(Anna becomes Baby Rambo when her bow starts to come off. Hanging out with Aunt Steph.)
I had a mini-breakdown around the eight week mark. I mentioned that I was breastfeeding her exclusively and on-demand, so I'd feed her whenever she was hungry. I kept waiting and waiting for my milk to be enough where I could still feed her AND pump enough to get a supply saved up in the freezer for when I went back to work, but that day never happened. I'd only be able to pump an ounce or less at a time and it was starting to stress me out.
I realized that I couldn't keep up what I was doing and so with Anna getting her first round of shots, and with a lot of encouragement from Cody and friends that switched to formula after breast milk, I gave her a formula/breastmilk bottle for the first time.
(Passing time with Mommy while the floors are getting redone downstairs.)
It probably makes total sense to some women, and seems silly to other women, but it was really emotional for me. I had envisioned that I'd be the kind of Mom that would breastfeed until she was at least six months old and I even talked about wanting to follow the AAP recommendations and continue with at least one feeding a day of breast milk until she was a year old. Coming to the realization that I couldn't do that was heartbreaking. It's hard to not feel like you're a bad mom for not giving her the best source of nuitrience that you can.
The Last Four Weeks
But then, it seemed like all the stress of being able to continue to breastfeed her after going back to work was preventing me from really enjoying motherhood. As soon as I started supplementing her with formula it's like my whole world changed. I ENJOYED every moment with her and the fogginess of day-to-day life with a newborn went away. My last four weeks of maternity leave was amazing. Cody was probably relieved as I was much more pleasant to be around. Anna started sleeping longer at night (which gave us some much needed sleep too) and I didn't have to worry about pumping in the middle of the night either.
(Asleep on Daddy, complete with drool!)
I have friends who can feed their baby AND pump an entire bottle of milk and coming to the realization that I couldn't do that, but that it was okay, was huge.
The First Day Back
I thought last Monday was going to be full of tears and guilt, but surprisingly, it went really well. I think it 100% had to do with finding a babysitter who I trust completely and who I see eye-to-eye with on how to raise kids. I picked Anna up that afternoon and I was so excited to see her. She was awake from pick-up to bed time and I loved every minute I had with her.
I hate only having 30-60 minutes with her in the morning and really hate putting her in her carrier when she's in such a good mood, but I'm happy that she's at a place with two older children (2 and 3, and the three-year-old girl LOVES "Baby Anna" and LOVES to help do everything for her--it's adorable).
(Cody is the king of making Anna giggle! Photos by Aunt Dianne!)
I wish she didn't have to be gone all day and I'm hoping that we can pick her up early a few days a week (when Cody gets off work early or if my sister wants to hang out with her in the afternoon's, etc.). I know that it will be hard again when she gets to the age where she realizes that Mom is leaving, and even harder when she can talk and she tells me that she wants to stay at her house, but for right now it's working and I feel so blessed that we found her babysitter.