As my first post-maternity-leave day at work looms before me, I find myself feeling nervous about going back. I’ll have been away for thirteen months when I walk into the office next Tuesday – one month of leave over the Christmas closure, plus twelve months of maternity leave. Despite having a new work wardrobe, my first car to make the commute easier, grandmothers to look after my little man, and other things working in my favour, it’s a hard prospect to face. I’m sure there are more that I’ve not yet thought of, but here are ten reasons I’m nervous about returning to work (in no particular order).
I went on maternity leave earlier than planned. Due to experiencing SPD since late in my second trimester, by the time Christmas rolled around, I’d had enough. I couldn’t face going back to work for a month after the office shutdown period, before going on maternity leave. (I was also paranoid about going into labour at work, which isn’t exactly close to home.) While this was the right decision for me at the time, it has resulted in my return to work happening before my little man turns one. I feel guilty about that.
There have been lots of changes in the company while I’ve been away. While I’ll have the same manager and be in the same team, it won’t be the same as before. Our senior manager took a career step in the direction of another organisation, so we’ve ended up with a new senior manager. I haven’t worked with them before, but observation tells me the management style is different to what I’m used to. I can’t judge until I’m there, of course, but I know I will miss the laid back, trusting, thoughtful senior manager we had before.
I’m happy that we’ve gotten some of our former team members back in our team due to the changes, but it also feels like I’m going back to a completely different team dynamic to the one I left. I almost feel like I don’t really belong anymore. Of course, that may dissipate once I get back into the swing of things, but feeling that way it doesn’t make it any easier to go back.
We’ve moved buildings. I’ve visited the office a couple of times while on leave, and it’s a nice place, with a cafe downstairs. But it’s “activity based”, which basically means there are certain areas for doing certain things (exactly how this works is still not apparent to me), and pretty much no one has a fixed desk – you just sit wherever is free each day. Im aware I’ll have to adapt, but I’m not looking forward to this new workspace arrangement – I like having a place of my own.
After thirteen months away, I don’t know if I’ll remember how to do my job! It’s not exactly an easy one – it took me a good couple of years to become proficient to the level I felt comfortable with (ie, where I could do my job unsupported and with confidence). It is a multi-faceted role, combining technical writing, editing, project management, systems training, and technical support. The latter two are offered both remotely and face-to-face. You have to know what you’re doing, because stuffing up one small thing at the beginning of a process can lead to much larger consequences down the track, or an immediate, large mess that no one will want to deal with (but will have to, anyway).
Also, a lot of projects have been done and re-done in my absence – including some that I was primarily responsible before prior to my leave – so I’ll be going back to a system and processes that will be notably different to the one I left. But, I’ve been with the same team in some form or another for five years, so I’ll probably be fine once I’ve been back for a couple of weeks. Until then, it’s hard not to worry whether I’ll have taken two steps backwards, so to speak.
Despite this list being in no particular order, this is undeniably the most prominent reason. I don’t want to leave my baby. If I had the means, I would not return to an office job; I would choose a new line of work, and stay home with my little man. However, that is not a possibility at this time, so back to work I go! I’m lucky to have two grandmothers available to help look after J, so that he doesn’t have to go to daycare so young. In fact, he doesn’t need to go to daycare, period; but his daddy and I think it would be good for his development to attend when he’s a little older (before pre-school).
Anyway, despite being able to leave him with familiar people, in familiar surroundings, the fact remains that I will be leaving him. We miss each other so much when we’re apart for only a few hours, so the mere thought of being apart for an entire day tears my heart from my chest. I can’t even imagine what it will be like on Tuesday morning, when I get into my car and drive away. The one positive about this aspect is that I’ll only be working in the office two days a week, while the other two days will be working for rom home days. And I get the fifth day off to spend with my little man. For that, I’m grateful.
I don’t like cooking. I find it tedious, and never feel like I have time to make a good variety of meals. I eat well enough, but make as simple meals as possible. Thinking about what I can make that is easy to take to work and will last a couple of days is doing my head in. Thank goodness for frozen leftovers from Mum, for those days when I just can’t be bothered.
As J will only be 11 months old when I go back, I have started expressing milk to leave him something to have during the day. I don’t want to have to give him formula for that month before he turns one (for various reasons), and I’ve got all the equipment available due to needing to express for his night feeds early on in our breastfeeding journey (in order to alleviate extreme latching pain). There are two problems with this, however.
A) Expressing is a pain in the butt:
B) Expressing at work is required:
This literally hit me last week, when I was happily labelling my first milk pouch for the freezer. What happens to the milk he’s not draining from my boobs while I’m at work and he’s guzzling the little pouch? I have to express at work! I am now having nightmares about where I can do this, how long my boobs will last before leaking, and what happens if I have a meeting when I need to express (‘Sorry, boss, I have to drain my boobs’ isn’t exactly an appropriate response to an Outlook meeting request).
This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, my lovely manager has agreed to let me leave the office at 4pm, to go and collect my son, then go home and continue working till my hours are made up, so that I don’t get home so late. (Yes, my boss is awesome.) On the other hand, this introduces two problems:
A) I have to eat dinner at some point:
B) J not understanding that I have to keep working:
My little man will need my attention – not to mention a bath, and his last breastfeed of the day – when we get home, likely resulting in my working at stupid hours, after he’s gone to sleep. Then again, my two office days (I’ll work from home the other two days) coincide with two of the days J’s daddy visits after work, so this may not be as complicated as I’m imagining!
I’m not bad at housework, when I find the time and motivation to do it. The problem is that I have trouble finding those things, resulting in household chores blending into one big pile of things to do. On the day of writing, I mowed the lawn in my little man’s thirty-minute nap. Despite being on-and-off awake/asleep all morning, since 2:30am, I had a pretty productive day. I ate three square meals, washed some clothes, put folded clothes away, bought a bra for work after realising I didn’t have a black one and all my new work clothes are dark colours, and put the bins out for my house and the neighbours’. Other days, I can barely function. These are the days that worry me. Housework sucks.
Throughout my maternity leave, I’ve been lucky to be the first to witness all of my son’s “firsts” so far – his first smile, his first word, his first crawl, sit up, stand up, and so on. He is yet to walk or say something other than ‘mama’, ‘dada-dee’, and other random syllables. I don’t want to miss his other “firsts”. I’m well aware how lucky I am that I’ve been able to stay home with him this long and, like most mothers (as opposed to fathers, who don’t stay home as often), have a greater chance of witnessing these magical moments; however, I can’t help but be sad that I may miss other moments, like walking unaided and running and jumping. I know, though, that whoever witnesses these first will treasure them.
So, there it is, all laid out. It’s been cathartic to write this up, rather than letting these thoughts continue to swirl around in my head and make me nervous about my return to work. As these last days fly by, I’m trying to focus on the positive aspects, such as financial security, intellectual stimulation, adult conversation … and, of course, there’s always my new work wardrobe. There’s not much that can’t be made better – even if only a tiny bit – by a new dress!
Mini Mummi Blogger 🌺
Mini Mummi Blogger is a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. Currently on maternity leave, she is looking to put her writing/publishing experience to good use through her blog, helping other mummies navigate through the wealth of often conflicting (and, sometimes, even discouraging) information out there about pregnancy and motherhood. She believes that every mummy knows what’s best for her own baby – even first time mums!