Back to the day job!

Today is the day. My last day of maternity leave. I’ve spent lots of time thinking about and planninthumb_IMG_9844_1024g my return to work, but it still feels like it’s crept up on me. February was supposed to be the month to really enjoy, but it passed by in a blur of illness and self-pity as a result of said illness!

 

I haven’t managed to finish all the little tasks and plans I set myself to complete during maternity leave, but it has been a wild time! I cannot believe that this time last year I was counting down the days until maternity leave started and guzzling Gaviscon like it was the nicest stuff ever. Now, almost 12 months on, I have an 11-month-old little girl and I’m starting a new job tomorrow.

 

I’m pretty confident that Amelia has no idea that our life is about to change, and that we wont be spending so much time together. Particularly since she doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about consistently sleeping through the night. As if to warn me of said fact she decided she was ready to get up at 11pm last night and stayed up until 1am. She then decided to wake again at 2.15am for another 45 minutes. I could only think about ‘what if she does it tomorrow night?’ (or any other work night for that matter). I still don’t have a plan for such occurrences, and would be grateful for any tips on how to perform at work after a bad nights sleep.

 

Lots of people have asked me whether I’m ready to go back or whether I’m looking forward to it. The honest answer is that I just haven’t thought about it all that much. I’ve been doing the odd half-day here and there since last July so I know I can still do the job. I’m going to be working in place that I’ve worked before and with people I know and like so I’m not worried about it being a different job. I am looking forward to doing a job again, and being my professional self a little more often. I’m looking forward to developing my career some more. I’m not the biggest fan of the unknown so I am most nervous about how Amelia is going to get on being at nursery more frequently, and how we will manage our new routine. I’m anxious about being organised enough to get us all out of the house on time, making sure we don’t forget anything and ensuring that the house stays clean and tidy, and the family fed well. I don’t want us to slip into bad habits.

 

I never contemplated not returning to work. There have been days where I have thought it’d be nice to potter around all the time, or that I can’t even be sure how I ever fitted having a job in amongst all of the other things I have to do with my day. Some days it has felt like being a student again. When Amelia has decided to have a mammoth morning nap and I’ve decided to get back in bed or just lounged around watching TV in my pyjamas. But I miss work. I miss having the responsibility, and a structure to my week. I love the detective work involved in medicine, and how it challenges me. I am now at the point where I sit and watch the TV show ‘GPs behind closed doors’ trying to diagnose the patients, or ponder how I would manage them! I’m not going to be doing as many days as I did before Amelia came along. We will have two full days in the week to do things together. I’m not ready to give up our baby groups just yet!

 

I’m looking forward to Amelia going to nursery regularly and watching her develop. She changes so quickly at the moment, and I hope that nursery will continue to nurture her and support her development. She seems to enjoy going. The last couple of weeks she has cried a little when I’ve left her. However, by the time I return to collect her she is usually focussed on some kind of toy or trying to ‘help’ with the paperwork! She eats well at nursery, and gets to try different food to those she might have at home. My only concern regarding nursery is that she doesn’t nap for as long as she would at home, and that can leave her overtired when she’s collected. It also seems to affect how she sleeps at night and if she hasn’t napped well in the day she tends to be more likely to wake in the night.

 

Returning to work is simply the start of a new chapter. I’m not the first woman to finish maternity leave, and I wont be the last. It will just be a change, and take a little getting used to. I will let you know how we are getting on. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips for staying organised, and making things a little easier I would be grateful for all advice!

The next chapter is coming…

The countdown to my return to work is on! There are so many things I had planned to do during my maternity leave, including lots of bits around the house and gardening. Where bits and pieces have ben done here and there, most of my plans remain just that – an idea that has not turned into a reality.

 

My biggest challenge is feeling ready to return to work, and confident that I will manage to balance everything. Worrying about managing to get to work on time, and get back in time to collect Amelia from nursery. I have been fortunate enough to have had almost twelve months of maternity by the time I return. Some careful saving before and during maternity leave, and having a husband who works two jobs, has made the time affordable and without too much financial worry. I have done the odd session of work along the way to top up the savings, and that has helped in more than just a financial sense. Doing the occasional half-day of work allowed me to keep my knowledge ticking over and the benefit of realising that Amelia does just fine without me for a few hours. In fact it probably does us both a bit of good! The last couple of sessions I have done have felt like respite as Amelia battles with teething and colds!

 

Amelia started going to nursery for a half day here or there in December, when she was 8.5 months old. I booked her in for three half days and she goes along if I go to work or if I just need to get some work done at home. Sometimes I don’t take her if she’s had a terrible nights sleep and wakes up later in the morning. I accept this is not the best use of money but knowing the option has been there has been a great help.  As I return to work she will change up to three full days, though my job plan will be such that I can collect her a bit earlier on two of those days and we will rely on Daddy or Grandparents to collect her on my long day.

 

At nursery they report back to me that she’s always exploring the room and having a great time most of the time. She loves to help them do their paperwork (as she does at home), and eats and drinks well most of the time. Knowing she will happily wolf down a whole bottle at nursery has been on of the biggest reassurances I have had. Prior to her starting nursery she was still fussy about having a bottle. Knowing that she was doing well with a bottle at nursery has left us feeling that now is a good time to start the transition from breast to bottle feeding.

 

I have more than exceeded my expectations for how breastfeeding would go, and how long I would breastfeed for. Looking back to the early days when I found it such a long process, frustrating when I felt I couldn’t produce enough to maintain her nutrition, and anxious when I felt she depended solely on me for her feeding, it has changed into such a different experience. It has become ‘easy’ and an opportunity to relax for a little while each day.  I have no real regrets but I’m just ready to stop now. The process of trying to stop feeding is harder than I had perhaps imagined. No one really tells you how to stop feeding and it’s been a learning process. Some days she has a lot of milk from the bottle and not so much from the breast, and other days vice versa. When she has been unwell or teething she prefers to breastfeed. Whilst I was ill last week she would take the breast but need topping up with a bottle for each feed. Some days my breasts get full very quickly if I haven’t fed and others, they don’t seem to feel full at all. The supply has definitely reduced as I find we have less episodes of milk spurting everywhere when she gets distracted! I also find she seems to get frustrated at times and pushes off the side of the chair, sofa, myself when I think there is less milk available.

 

The upside of giving more bottles is that bedtime can be undertaken by Daddy alone or one of her Grandparents. This is nice bonding time for them. It also made me feel comfortable to leave her and go and spend the day with my friends in London. It was the longest I’d left her – leaving after breakfast and retuning after her bedtime. She ate and drank well that day, despite a mild temperature. Daddy had successfully put her to bed, and she slept through the night.

 

Maybe I am just being a bit sensitive but I have found that as I tell people I am trying to stop breastfeeding I have had some looks or reactions that I have made me feel that I am doing the wrong thing or being a bad mother. I think that perhaps more of this has come from people whose little ones are a bit younger than Amelia. Perhaps they are not looking at it from the perspective that Amelia is a little older and nearly 11 months old. I guess the question to ask is ‘At what age do you plan to continue breastfeeding until?’ I don’t really ask this question of others, and no one has asked me such a direct question. My answer? It’s not an easy one. Somehow my first thought is 12 months. Perhaps this is because I know I will be back at work by this point or that she will be requiring less milk, and can at that point drink cow’s milk. But, as I have found out, it’s not a change that happens overnight. It takes time, and Amelia progresses some days and then takes a step backwards other days.

 

What are your thoughts on how long you should breastfeed for? Have you any good tips for making the transition?IMG_1771_1024