Back to school.
Back to school, to prove to dad that I'm not a fool.
I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight.
Ohhhh, back to school.
Back to school.
Back to school.
Well, here goes nothing.
I couldn't help but hear Billy Madison in my head as I headed back to work this past week. I had a lovely 12 weeks of maternity leave that spanned the summer and in a way, it felt a little like going back to school. Just without the new school supplies and I was carrying my breast pump into work instead of a fancy new backpack.
I had been feeling all the feelings in the weeks leading up to my return to work. I worked from home for the three weeks prior, so I felt like I was mentally back in work mode, but I was able to stay in my yogis and snuggle with my sweetheart all at the same time. The thought of taking her to daycare and spending my days in the office away from her, was making me feel all sorts of sadness and guilt.
We did a daycare dry run last Thursday so I could leave Zoey and the providers could get to know her a little bit. I was holding onto her as long as I could and telling Ms. Debbie all I could think to share and she said, "You go enjoy your morning, Lauren. You are smiling so big - you must be looking forward to a little break." My response included the bursting of the lump that had been rising in my throat and "I'm smiling so I don't cry." And just like that, I lost it and had to hand her off as I ugly-cried my rear end down the hallway and out of the house.
And I ugly-cried for the next two hours.
It's sort of funny to me because I thought the second time around (going back to work and leaving my child in a child care setting) would be easier. For the record it was not so much easier in any way. There were so many unknowns and fears/worries I had when leaving Camden - how can I fully trust someone to take care of my child, would he still know I was his mommy, could I manage and balance a career and family, is me being a working mother the best thing for my family?
Even though I know that I can trust Camden and Zoey's daycare providers (and the fact that they're together helps a ton), I know she will still know I'm her mommy, I can (sort of) balance a career and family, and (despite my hatred for paying someone to help raise my kids) being a working mom is the best thing for our family - I was a hot mess of tears over leaving her. I know it's a totally normal feeling, but I swear I felt the sadness was eating me up in a way it didn't before. She was the exact same age as Camden was when I went back to work, but I kept feeling like she was too little and young and still should be depending on me, her mommy.
The more I thought about it - I realized the reason I was feeling so much more sad was not just because of Zoey, but also because chances are real good that "this" part of my life - the pregnancy/newborn/maternity leave/new baby bonding part, is over.
Anyway, boo-hooing aside, the first week went as well as it could have gone, despite how quickly I was reminded just how much I hate pumping. The daycare ladies were very supportive on the first day and sent tons of pictures and updates. As much as I loved seeing my girl completely happy and content, the pictures also stung a little. I know I'm a broken record, but I want to be the one making her smile and giving her snuggles. Cam too, for that matter!
When we got home Monday afternoon, I just sat on the couch smelling, talking to, and staring at Zoey. I couldn't get enough of her.
I made it to Wednesday before feeling like I was drowning in the adjustment to "the new normal." This week I felt like I was in a constant rush - rushing to get myself ready in the mornings, waiting until the absolute last minute to wake the kids before heading out the door, wishing my work day away, rushing to pick them up and spend as much time as possible with them before bedtime, getting as organized as possible for the next day, then falling into bed. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I know it'll get easier as we go along, but the physical and mental exhaustion was heavy.
When I went back to work with Camden, I felt like my breastmilk supply started diminishing almost immediately and I am hell-bent on doing as much as I possibly can to keep that from happening this time. My goal each day at work is to drink 96 ounces of water and three giant cups of Mother's Milk tea, while squeezing in four 15-minute pump sessions. So basically this week I felt like if I wasn't pumping or doing work - I was peeing.
As sad as I was to go back to work, I'm incredibly thankful for my wonderful supervisor and co-workers, family, and friends who encouraged me. I truly lucked out going back to work when I did because I get a long weekend with Labor Day, and next Saturday we all head to Hawaii for a work trip.
Hawaii with my little family on my third week back to work? It could certainly be worse.