This week was my first week back at work after maternity. I had dreaded this day arriving for the last two months and had obsessed over it. However, I surprised even myself for how I coped.
On Sunday night, I had that awful sinking feeling. I knew how hard my job was and how I lacked any work/life balance before I fell pregnant. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able manage to have a relationship with my baby when I would be working constantly. That night, I barely slept. I had awful night terrors (Read Night Terrors – The Unfunny Truth for more about these) which kept myself and my family awake.
Monday morning soon arrived and before I knew it I was waving goodbye. My heart broke as my little one waved at me with glee and then completely ignored me in favour of a game of ‘Slap Dad’. I climbed into my car and broke down. Surely his reaction was a good thing? Why would I want him to be upset? But all I could think was that my baby didn’t care that I was leaving him – and he probably didn’t.
My day at work passed in a flash. I settled right back in and it felt as if I’d never been away. That heavy feeling that morning had completely lifted and I had been so busy that I hadn’t thought about anything but my job. At the end of the school day, I checked my phone and there was a photo of Little T grinning back – my heart began to feel heavy again.
When I arrived home, I was greeted by an over excited baby and felt relief that he was happy to see me!
Tuesday was a little different. I left the house feeling much more relaxed about the situation, went about my day and was soon back at home ready to greet my excited baby. This time Little T wasn’t excited. He gave me a weak smile, held out his hands but then soon wanted to be held by Dad. I crumbled. My husband tried to tell me that he wasn’t well, that he hadn’t had much sleep and that he had smiled so he was obviously happy to see me. All I could think was that my baby hated me. He hated me for abandoning him. He hated me for favouring work over him.
By Wednesday, my heart ached and I didn’t want to leave. T had been really unsettled all night. Not only was I extremely tired but again, the guilt weighed heavy that I was about to leave him again. Was it my fault that he’d been up all night? Am I causing him some sort of psychological harm? It’s sounds crazy but I was convinced that I was harming my baby.
Yet again, my day passed quickly and before I knew it I was back home being greeted again by a very happy baby. T squealed happily. This time, I didn’t feel guilty. My baby was happy.
Thursday and Friday were much easier. I won’t lie, I missed T immensly but the guilt I was feeling was beginning to shift. T was happy to be playing at home and equally as happy to see me. There’ll always be that little demon that tells me I should be home with my baby but I won’t feel guilty about it. Before long, it’ll be the school holidays and I’ll be able to make up for lost time. In the meantime, I’m providing for my baby to give him a better life. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that.