First Day Back


You’re not going to cry.

Don’t Cry.

You’re not going to cry.

All morning from the first time she woke to nurse I started chanting this to myself. Every time I looked in her face I had to hold back with every cell in my body. Today was my first day back to work.

I had a horrible night last night leading up to this so I knew it would have an effect on me too. The poor baby either picked up a chest cold and cough or has a little bout with allergies. She has been gurgling in her chest and even though her mood is still happy and sweet it breaks my heart. This is why i’ve locked us up in this house since coming home and tried not to go anywhere when there’s so many germs floating around right now because I knew I’d be destroyed if I had to watch her be sick. Her little eyes trying to understand why she can’t breath as easily and not knowing how to expel it. They beg you to please just make it better. And there’s nothing you can do to make it go away. I sat with her in a steamy bathroom for a while and had the humidifier running but this morning it was still the same. I didn’t sleep too well waking up every hour peeking over to make sure she was okay and still breathing and feeling to make sure she wasn’t running a temperature.

Don’t Cry.

It’ll be okay.

You’re not going to cry.

My sister in law is watching her for us. This is the only comfort I found in knowing I had to go back to work because I know that she’ll take great care of her and love her. So every time I felt the panic arise or the stinging of tears being held back I kept reminding myself of this.

She’ll be fine.

Don’t cry.

She will be in good hands.

You’re not going to cry.

Unfortunately my sister in law lives about 45 minutes in the complete opposite direction of work.  That just means more driving time and more time to fret on it. Little by little my resolve was weakened by my separation anxiety.

She will have so much fun today.

Don’t cry.

I won’t be there to see her.

Don’t cry.

She doesn’t feel good and I can’t be there to soothe her.

Don’t cry.

By the time I pulled into the driveway I was in tears. Walking up to the house it became full bawl mode. This was the first time i was going to have to leave my baby since she was born. I have spent every minute with her these past weeks trying to avoid this feeling and be able to return to work fulfilled and ready to get back to the grind. It didn’t work. The whole way in to work I cried.

You have now arrived. Destination: Shithole Lazyville

I walk in to a dirty floor, overflowing garbage cans in the bathroom and kitchen, all sorts of stuff stacked in my inbox, and Christmas decorations still out. Not to mention everyone has been sick there too so I spent literally the first 20 minutes disinfecting every single touchable thing in my office before doing anything else. I spent the rest of the day working my  ass off washing my hands, disinfecting things again, pouring on the antibacterial gel and missing my baby. Aside from the typical illogical things that changed while I was out that I’ll have to adapt to until they realize it’s senseless it’s still same old same.

My first pumping at work experience was awkward. I had let everyone know beforehand that i would be breast pumping when I returned. So at least there would be no surprises. Yet, it still didn’t bring any comfort knowing that no one else thought it was weird. Sitting in my office like a dairy cow with my door closed and locked so no one barged in I tried to just get back to work and not think of it. Storing your pumped milk in the company fridge – That’s another weird thing. All I kept thinking about was someone messing with it or using it in their coffee. And with all the germs in the office I just kept freaking out about contaminating her food.

The first time was weird but then I realized i couldn’t think about it like that. I also couldn’t put it off. Three hours later like clock work it was time again. Interruptions are constant in that place whether by phone email or in my office. Thank God my door has a lock on it. I’m still going to make a do not disturb sign for my door so everyone knows what’s up. Maybe I’ll put a dairy cow on it. I had a crippling thought this afternoon while in dairy cow mode.

“What if she doesn’t remember me when I get home?!”

So I sat there with the breast pump chugging away at me and cried again. Someone suggested keeping pictures of her around me. I  imagined her sweet little face and that just made it worse. If I had a bunch of pictures of her to look through right now I’d be a wishy washy mess and would never get back to work.

T Minus 4 hours.

It’s halfway over.

You’re almost there.

The rest of the afternoon was a flurry of work and calls and letters and cramming every possible task imaginable into a minute. That’s the one bright side of the day. It used to be that I would glance down and see 5:00 and would be upset that I still had so much to get done and it was already 5:00. I used to stay around until 6;00 or so to get more done. Glancing down and seeing 5:00 made me literally giggle out loud. I wrapped everything up so that it would all be ready for me Wednesday and bid my farewell to the office. Leaving only minutes after 5:00 to race home to see my baby.

We are trying to buy a new house (closer to where the babysitter is in fact so that would be MUCH nicer). In the meantime, we’ve worked it out for me to drop the baby off in the mornings and my husband to pick her up after work. As soon as he walked in the door with her I couldn’t wait to pluck her out of that carseat and hold her close. Just staring into her eyes trying to will them to tell me all about her day and maybe even let me know that she missed me (at least that she recognized me and hadn’t forgotten me already anyway). As soon as she smiled my eyes welled up again.

It’s okay now.

Let it out.

Fresh out of the steamy bathroom to help break up her chest congestion and then a nice bath for her  to relax and we’re cuddled on the couch. She tells me about her day while she nurses. The way she  always hums and arches her eyebrows as she looks at me sometimes I catch myself waiting for her to just pull away and start speaking full sentences.  As if the only reason she can’t is because she has a mouth full of boob. She is the sweetest thing.

When you’re so close to something that the farthest you’ve ever been from  them was giving birth it makes actual miles seem like light years away and minutes seem like eternities. All I can hope for is that this gets easier in time. But for now, thank God I’m only working three day weeks for a while because that means I am off tomorrow and I plan on snuggling with this sweet baby for every second.

About stephrader

I am a new mom who went from managing a fast paced legal office to the 24/7 lifestyle of a stay-at-home-mom. I am inspired by everything and writing has always been my outlet. I love that each day offers something new, exciting, breathtaking, philosophical, tasty, funny and yes, sometimes even sad. Check out my blog 'The Write Side of Life'.

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