The Truth About Going Back to Work after Maternity Leave

Like many new mothers, I feel as though my maternity leave has flown by so quickly. I knew that I would inevitably return to work full time, so I made many preparations to try and ease the transition for our family. I worked to get Noah a good routine that helped him sleep well at night, I found wonderful childcare, and I pumped tons of breast milk. I even tried to get ahead on tasks around the house: I (really David and I) washed cars, deep cleaned the house, decluttered, and found an easy way to meal plan.

One of the last things on my master “to do” list was to get David comfortable taking care of Noah on his own. So, about a week ago, David had a “trial run.” Looking back, I think that I did not handle this well because I sprung the idea on David and then had him do the entire evening routine. I think it would have been better to let him know in advance and then break the evening into chunks (nap, bath time, evening feeding and bedtime) and let him try one part each evening before combining it all. Not surprisingly, things did not go smoothly, and the process involved lots of crying from Noah and added anxiety for both David and I. It was that evening that I really had to face my feelings about returning to work. I looked at David with tears streaming down my face and said, “I can have Noah on the perfect schedule, I can freeze 1,000 ounces of breast milk, and I can clean the house from top to bottom, but I can’t make this okay.”

The truth is my heart was breaking at the thought of leaving my baby and returning to work. I was so afraid that he would cry for me, and when I didn’t show up, he would feel abandoned and betrayed. I have spent countless hours cultivating our tender bond and couldn’t imagine letting anything sever his trust in me. How could he trust me when I couldn’t explain to him why I wasn’t there for him? I want to say that my feelings had nothing to do with my actual job or me having a lazy disposition. I love taking care of the babies at work, and I have wonderful coworkers. Before having a baby of my own, I loved my job and most days looked forward to going to work. I even picked up extra shifts while 38 weeks pregnant. However, I had become so overwhelmed by the fears and anxieties that had been wearing on me.

It was then that I deeply leaned into my faith to get me through. I know what the Bible teaches about anxiety: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6-7). The final and most important thing that I needed to do prior to returning to work was to “cast my anxieties” on a God who cares (1 Peter 5:7). So I started praying honestly about my fears. I said things like, “Please, God, let Noah know that he is loved and cared for rather than abandoned and alone. Please give us your peace as we are making this adjustment.” What I heard in my heart was this: God has always provided for you, He has blessed you with this job, and He can make this “okay” even if you can’t. So, Mamas, if you are feeling heartbroken at the idea of returning to work, take your feelings to God, and let Him fill you with peace.

Courtney


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About Courtney

Courtney lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, David, and son, Noah. She works as a nurse and a Mom. Courtney is inspired by Montessori practices, sustainability and minimalism.

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