Opinion

New moms share their thoughts on returning to work

You’re not alone.

That saying’s playing on repeat in my head as I transition back to my role as a reporter for the News Leader Pictorial from a year off on maternity leave and having to leave the little dude at daycare.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and the adult time and I know Jack’s in the greatest of hands, but there are still reasons to whine and feel downright horrible during this transitional phase.

There’s the jolt to your finely tuned schedule, the one you’d perfected over the last year and finally felt at ease with and not to forget the bonus night-time work packing lunches and daycare supplies.

And, finally, there’s the emotional toll from having to walk away from your wee one holding his arms out and bawling to you.

My son’s allowed to be a baby about it. But he is a baby.

I, on the other hand, have to suck it up.

***

“Looking back I laugh about how crazy I was at the time and how I felt like my world was ending,” my post-natal fitness buddy Lyndie Kendall tells me. “Now three months into it, it’s exhausting but Justin loves his daycare and new friends and I’m really enjoying my ‘adult’ time.”

“I found myself wondering all day if she was looking for me or crying all day, or if she was scared,” said family friend Trina Fearon, who’s now well-past the transitional phase and reports her little girl’s now also been crowned ‘Miss Independent.’

“No longer does she require just mom for everything, now she calls for Luke almost as much as me and it sure makes things a lot easier,” said fellow momma Krystle Pritchett about daughter Peyton. She points to her decision to pick up evening shifts at a local restaurant so her hubby who was home from his daytime work shift could watch and bond with their daughter.

For momma Candace Elliot, going back to the daily work grind didn’t go as smoothly as she’d hoped because of breastfeeding issues.

“When I decided to try and get some shifts back at work I realized that meant Kayleigh would need to take a bottle. She was only about six months old at the time and was always just breastfed,” Elliot explained, adding she’s picked up shifts now that Kayleigh’s over a year old and not feeding as often.

For my pre-natal, post-natal fitness instructor and nutrition go-to girl Kathleen Neilson, there was no such thing as maternity leave.

“Being self-employed I don’t get a paid maternity leave so Henry and I returned to work when he was only 17 days old,” she explained. “I’m learning to function on next-to-no-sleep and how to discreetly breastfeed my baby, (thank God for hooter hiders) while still trying to appear professional.”

Friend Ann-Marie Fifield hit the nail on the head with her experience.

“Getting an education is important and I hope my kids will follow in mommy and daddy’s footsteps,” she said on her return to school to finish her degree in teaching. “I no longer feel riddled with guilt but feel like I have a greater sense of purpose and proud that I am achieving my goals.

“It does not matter the quantity of time you spend with your children but the quality of time spent together,” she said.

Ashley Degraaf is a News Leader Pictorial reporter who returned to work last month after a year on maternity leave.

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