You’re never fully prepared for all the emotions you feel after having a child. When people talk about the hormones – whoa buddy – they are not kidding. Fourteen weeks after giving birth, I still have an emotional reaction to just about everything relating to my baby girl. I am certain a lot of it is hormones from the actual pregnancy and such, but I also think a lot of it is from becoming a mother. If you’re a parent, I am sure you would agree that your heart immediately softens the second your child is born. That has definitely been the case for me.
In most instances, I relish in the emotions I feel. I stop and think:
“Wow, I am a mother!”
“Oh, my daughter is so wonderful!”
“Jee whiz, I am so blessed!”
No matter how bad my day is, I always remind myself that I have sweet baby Harper, so everything else is small potatoes. I don’t sweat the small stuff.
But, the emotion I was never warned about as a working mother, was “Working Mommy Guilt.” Oh yes, people… it’s real!
Before I even became pregnant with Harper, I knew I would be a working mother. I am beyond thankful for… and blessed by a husband who works so hard. Because of him, if I wanted to, I could be a stay at home mother. However, I love my job (on most days – *wink*) and have always seen myself as someone who would continue to have a career after having a child.
Fast forward to the first 8 weeks of my child’s life. No way!!! I was NOT going back to work… no way in the world could I leave baby girl with ANYONE who wasn’t me. No way, no way… NO WAY! Every single day, during that 8 weeks, I dreaded my return to work. I felt like such a horrible person for making plans to leave my baby with a stranger… especially, because working was a CHOICE I was making, not something I was being FORCED to do.
Coming back to work was hard. Really hard. The hardest. During that first week, I made ways to arrange my interviews for stories around some of Harper’s feedings, so I could stop by her daycare and visit her. I stopped by her daycare every single day that week. Thank goodness the teachers at her daycare are so understanding…
By the second week, things were a bit easier… I limited my visits to daycare to just once a week. I was, however, rushing home as soon as I possibly could. The second my stories aired during the 6PM newscast, I bolted out to my car and sped home to see my baby and husband.
By week three… I continued with the daycare visits and rushing home after work… but I started to become more equipped to handle the idea that Harper was being taken care of someone who wasn’t myself or her daddy. Then, I started to realized how much I enjoyed my job… all the aspects of it. I like getting to dress up, wear makeup, style my hair – and having a reason to do it every day. When I was home with Harper, there were days I had no time to even shower (I will admit – one morning, I didn’t even brush my teeth!). Staying home with Harper, I was so consumed and wrapped up in taking care of her, I didn’t take care of myself. Now that I was back at work, I was making time to take care of myself… and enjoying my time at work.
As crazy as it sounds, I also enjoyed “missing” my girl. Every day, I found myself thinking about her constantly and how I couldn’t wait to get home so I could love on her. It was the light at the end of my busy tunnel every day! Certainly, while I was home with her during my maternity leave, I enjoyed every second with her. But, this was different because I knew not to take a second with her for granted, because there was an 8 hour gap in the middle of our day, where we didn’t get to see one another.
However, in the midst of enjoying being back to work… I still found myself surrounded by guilt. Fourteen weeks later, I STILL find myself feeling guilt. I hate that I am not with Harper every single second of every single day… to listen to her coo and giggle and do all the sweet things she does. I also feel guilty for leaving her to be taken care of by someone who isn’t her parent. It’s a really tough balance.
I do know, though, that the guilt will probably never go away, so it’s something I just need to learn to deal with. I have now been back to work for 6 weeks and I have learned to make some adjustments so that my life isn’t consumed with work, like it was before Harper was born.
Every day, I *make* myself take a lunch at home (not necessarily to eat, but because I have to pump at least one time during the day). While I am home for lunch, I try to clean up or do any little chores I might have, so that I don’t have to do them when I am home at night with Harper. I want to be able to focus my time on her, not housework. I also continue to visit Harper at least once a week (Thursdays) while she is in daycare. I shoot our “Food for Thought” segment on Thursdays, and because the story runs during the 10PM newscast, I don’t have to report in the 4, 5 or 6PM shows… so I make it a point to take a lunch break during her Thursday afternoon feedings.
As I battle this mommy guilt – I do take comfort in knowing that being a working mother is the best option for ME! I give a ton of credit to mommies who stay home with their babies. I know that it is a full time job, too. However, for me and my situation, being a working professional makes me a better mother. I take better care of myself and that makes me take better care of my baby. My sweet Harper is still the center of my world, though. Right now, I may be Abby Reed, the news reporter for KCBD NewsChannel 11… but at the end of every single day, I am ALWAYS Abby Reed, the mommy of Harper.