Today marks my return to work after more than four months and a lot has changed – for you and me – during that time.
You last heard from me in February, when after a routine ultrasound revealed I was in pre-term labor more than two months before our baby's due date. Fortunately, all of the TLC I received from my doting husband, sister and myriad friends and family paid off and our healthy baby boy arrived only two weeks early in April. I've got to believe all of your caring thoughts and prayers helped, too, so thank you!
Life with an infant is much more grueling than I anticipated. You truly don't understand until you experience the endless nights, little one's tiny tears and your own lack of personal hygiene. The exhaustion is the most intense part:
- One day during the first month, I had the pleasure of being peed on not once, but twice, during a newborn photo shoot at a friend's house. When we got home, I had just enough time to take a nap or shower before my husband left for work. Despite not having showered for a couple days, I chose the nap. Gross, right? As I laid down to sleep, my husband walked by and asked: "Why is there a quarter stuck to your leg?" That's how dirty I was. I was so sticky loose change stuck to me. I joked that I should just roll around and see if we could get rich!
- Another day during the first month, I noticed little spots of liquid on the floor throughout our house. I followed them to their source and discovered that my poor husband, who had a glass of tonic water in his hand, was falling asleep standing up. Each time he did so, his hand would relax and a little bit of water would spill out of the cup. We laughed so hard we cried about that one!
Then there was the colicky phase, when the baby cried what seemed like most of the time and needed to be held 24/7 because he couldn't sleep on his back without choking. Luckily, that has passed and we've cleared some milestones – first bottle of breast milk, first vaccination – that have revealed life as a parent is a tough balancing act, fraught with decisions that really have no right or wrong answer. Uncertainty is de rigueur.
Returning to work is certainly one of those milestones. Before baby, I imagined it would be an easy transition and that he would fit nicely into the day's activities. Oh, the delusions of a first-time parent! It is only now I realize that life revolves around baby, not the other way around.
I am not a superwoman, nor do I circulate in international circles of power, but I certainly can relate to this recent piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic. She wrote of coming to grips with her yearning to devote more time to her family, "I was increasingly aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet."
Does that sound familiar? I'd love to hear from you, readers: How have you made your transition back to work work? Have you been able to achieve a work-life balance? What issues continue to challenge you? If you decided to stay home, how did you do it? Mr. Moms, I want to hear from you, too!
As I type, I am bouncing our little son in his chair with my foot and he is cooing up at me with a big smile on his face. Moments like that make all the sleepless nights and tough decisions worth it. So, when you see us around town – he'll be my new assistant – feel free to offer advice on how to make this journey called parenthood work!
I salute you parents!