I’m typing this at 9 am, on my first full day of work back at the office after my maternity leave. And I’m honestly torn between trying to concentrate on my tasks and booking that Grab back to my baby at home. Now that I have had time to think about it, I can probably split my feelings during my leave into three: (1) the I’m so glad I’m on leave because I have all the time to take care of my new baby, (2) the I’m bored out of my wits and couldn’t wait to go back to work, and last, (3) the waaah I’m going back to work and I don’t want to leave my baby because what if she doesn’t do this and ate doesn’t do that and whatnot.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with the new maternity leave bill especially since the additional days allowed me to breastfeed the new little one more, but the longer leave could also translate to a tougher time and transition in getting back on the career workhorse. So, if you’re like me, who just got back after ML, or is currently on your ML and already feeling number 3 above, then here are a few easy peasy tips that could help you work through your sepanx and ML hangover.
- Work out the logistics.
Going back to work means transitioning and setting up a new schedule for you and your partner or even your entire household. You and your partner will need to decide on who will take care of your baby while you’re out at work — a nanny or one set of grandparents or both. You will also have to plot your day-to-day schedule, especially if you’re breastfeeding — including the possibility of getting a last feed/cuddle with the baby before leaving for work, pumping schedules, and even baby drop-offs — if the baby will be staying with nearby family while you’re off to work. Talking about these and working the kinks out of your new norm can mean less stress for you.
- Don’t stress over pumping.
Yes, what’s so stressful about attaching a suction device into your nipples and watching the milk drip away while computing if all that drip is enough to feed and nourish your baby for the next few days while you’re off at work? Oh, and for some moms, you have to do all that in your desk while also accomplishing your tasks for the day. Seriously though, we moms should do an Elsa about this and just “Let it goooo.” Yes, pump regularly in the most convenient way for you because rock hard breasts are just plain uncomfortable (and yeah, doing so is also the best way to maintain your supply). But let all the other considerations go especially if it’s also that stressful for you. Remember that stress can also affect your breastmilk supply and even your general well-being. So don’t give that pump power over you. Everything will just work out.
- Give yourself a treat now and then — especially while at work.
Again, this goes out, especially to breastfeeding moms. Just because you’re a walking milk factory does not mean that you need to go through your day without that much-needed cup of coffee or your favorite chocolate bar. While it’s still best to consult your pedia or monitor your baby for any reaction (because I’m also not in any way a healthcare professional), chances are, your baby will be just fine if he consumes milk that might be laced with caffeine or chocolate from your day at work. Plus, that cup of joe or chocolate bar might be the small difference between a good and bad day for you at work. If yes and your baby is his normal cheery self with it, then that treat is worth it.
- Get everything ready the night before.
This is especially helpful, again, to breastfeeding moms out there who have to lug around the bulky pump and insulated bags. I had to spend a few hours the night before I went back to work (ie last night) just deliberating on how to carry all my stuff around (I almost packed my insulated pouch with my laptop before I realized that doing so might not be the best idea). Imagine if I left my packing to the last minute? Between the getting ready, getting that last feed in, and packing considerations, it would’ve been noon by the time I left home.
- Snuggle all you want.
Sepanx blues are real and even if we think we have it under control because we’ve been leaving our new babies a day at a time during our ML, we don’t. It’s a different story when the time comes for us to work again. Unfortunately, there’s no other way to combat the sepanx except to shoulder through it. But making the most of the time spent with your new baby and taking tons of photos can also help ease the anxiety.
- Remember that it will get better.
One of the downsides of parenting (or even life for that matter) is that everything is fleeting, even if it may not feel like it right now. You may be tired as hel* these days juggling the new baby and work, but always keep in mind that this is just a temporary set-up. Soon, your baby will wean and get used to you leaving him regularly for work. After a few years, he will go to school and have his schedule, his friends, and yes, his lakad. So yes these few days (weeks or even months!) may be hard. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a mom, it’s that moms are tough. We can survive through anything — from childbirth to sleepless nights to sepanx out of love for our child.