What I have learned… About being a working Mum

I’ve been back at work for almost 3 months now, my first day was 17th March and I didn’t write about it until now because I spent most of the first month doing a phased return. It wasn’t until after Easter that I was back to my usual 3 day week, so I’ve now done 2 months of that.

Some of you may recall that I was dreading my return to work. I cried the night before, partly because I felt like I was abandoning this little thing that had only ever known me being there almost 24/7. Partly it was purely selfish, I felt like I was missing out on watching her grow up and develop.

So I made it through the day without her… And this is what daddy daycare looks like…

A video posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

In actual fact, It’s been nowhere near as hard as I thought. Work is so busy (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a GP) that I didn’t get a moment to think about her all day. The first few times I left her she was with Pete, happy as larry, then later on with my mum, so that made things easier too. Coming home was amazing. When I started back at work, Bea wasn’t quite 8 months old so we weren’t quite at the stage where she was excited about seeing me again, but then as the weeks went on she started to get really excited when I came home, clapping and shouting and reaching for me. There have been crushing moments too though. The day I returned to work, Bea properly crawled, to the incentive of her expressed bottle that Daddy kindly put on the floor in front of her. Another day I came home and she had started clapping, (taught by my mum,) as lovely as it is for mum and her to have that experience and memory together, it still cut deep that it wasn’t me who taught her.

Being back at work has had it’s plus points though. I know after almost 8 months at home with Bea I was starting to take our time together for granted. There were times I needed to get some life admin task done or a bit of house work and she got plonked and shushed, inevitably towards the end of the day with a deadline looming and the witching hour underway. As she got more mobile that got harder and I got more frustrated. Now, as much as possible, the time I have with her I spend with her. When something needs doing, I plan to do it later… not much is getting done, but, whatever. I think I’m more patient with her too, being away makes me fresher, more ready to face the challenges a crawling, almost toddling, non-stop little minx brings with her. ;)

Objectively, now I’ve done both, I’m not sure how I feel. We just did our garden with the money that I earn – we use my salary at the moment to plough into the house and live more carefully on Pete’s. I’m so happy with it, but I hate that that essentially represents putting material things ahead of my time with Bea. I have more than once considered what it would mean to give up work, financial cuts we would have to make. I know I’d be as happy in a smaller house, so we could still afford holidays and the like, but with Bea every day. I’m pretty sure that if had had the option I’d have taken a career break, but there’s very little information about it available in my line of work and I do know that if you are off for over 12 months, there are retraining consequences. I’m also a partner and have obligations to my practice and partners. To some extent I feel I’ve made my bed and have to lie in it. Unfortunately I don’t buy the working woman positive role model argument… my Mum didn’t work and it didn’t stop me forging a challenging career, however I also don’t feel it influenced me in how I feel about being wishing I was at home with Bea either; I want to be home with her because I want to spend more time with her, not because I feel children do better when they have a stay at home mum (or parent) as a constant.

All those things considered, a lot of this is selfish rather than considering Beas needs. She is a happy little thing, doesn’t seem at all bothered by me leaving and copes really well with our days apart. Her relationship with Pete has blossomed. Although he was great with her before, its really gone to the next level and he knows her routine and quirks (almost) ;) as well as me now. She and my Mum also have a lovely little bond going on and its amazing seeing mum make her laugh or do things with her that I wouldn’t have thought to do.

Of course I know that there will be countless things she doesn’t learn from me, at nursery, at school, even at University (if she goes,) but its hard making the transition from being the lynchpin to all her new experiences. At times I have felt recently that she needs me less because she doesn’t see me as so central to her life now, she has had to reply on others as her touchstone throughout the day. And I know that its great that she has so many people around her, loving her, cheering her on and ready to catch her when she falls, but it doesn’t stop me wishing it was me. I also know I’m lucky to be able to work part time and I will say that 3 days is a reasonable balance but at the same time, more than enough for me.

I don’t think I’ve given any answers in this post, if you’re searching for them yourself, goodness knows I wish I had them myself, but I hope if you’re dreading returning to work it might help in some small way. I certainly found it was a bit like when I was pregnant and people would tell me that having a baby was ‘the best thing ever!’ – I used to think, ‘It might be for you…!’ and couldn’t comprehend how I would feel when she arrived. Similarly people told me the anticipation of returning to work was worse than the reality and it is, but I couldn’t see that at all when I was dreading my own return, until I had done it and it was fine.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, as always readers,

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS All these photos are from my Instagram account, you can follow Bea and I’s adventures here.

2 months with Bea

Wow. Where did the last 8 weeks go? Seeing your little baby grow is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying – time is going so fast!

So much has changed already in the last month. Last time I updated you all Bea was a tiny newborn, all snoozy and helpless. In the last month she has grown feisty and smiley and like a tiny best friend I always have around. :)

I was recommended The Wonder Weeks App just after Bea was born and was a bit sceptical – it talks about babies all having developmental ‘leaps’ (where they learn how to do something new,) at certain ages. The night before Bea was 5 weeks she was way fussier than usual and fed more, in a really out of character way and I was clueless as to the cause. Then the next morning she woke up and smiled at me! It was the best thing ever and now Pete says he will do absolutely anything to make her smile. (I also bought the book but admit I haven’t had much chance to read it! – The Wonder Weeks. ) The smiles were a bit hit and miss at first but from 6 weeks we reliably get them every day, always best in the morning.

That 6 week mark was a real turning point for us. After the smiles started we noticed Bea seems so much more alert and awake. Now it’s like she sees us when she looks at us and she looks for my voice and smiles when she hears it. She’s so much more sturdy now and looks around all the time at things when we’re out and about. Her sleep patterns are changing too, with longer and longer stretches at night, we’re now onto one ‘night’ feed between 3 and 5am then another morning feed between 6 and 9am which is pretty great. Those long ‘wake’ periods she had in the night have also settled thankfully.

At 7 weeks we had to go for her first injection – in Manchester all babies get a BCG (TB vaccination) as newborns and I was surprisingly (to myself at least) nervous about it. The thought of my little baby being hurt was awful and she did cry, but it was over in a second and she settled straight away. I managed not to cry, but it was a close call!

At just 8 weeks now she seems so big (although she is still wearing all newborn or 0-1 month clothes.) She is so much more vocal about what she does and doesn’t like now – often whinging a bit when she needs a cuddle to get off to sleep. Her sleeping has got better and better and we have had 2 nights where she has slept straight through but to be honest I prefer when she doesn’t, as a ‘full night’ means she wakes at 7 after a late 11ish feed and I get less sleep in total that way. The first time gave me the fright of my life though when the alarm went off and I realised she hadn’t woken me at all! I’m also seeing daytime patterns emerge with 2 sleeps in the morning and 2 in the afternoon before what I call ‘the witching hour’ starts and the evening cluster feeding begins.

The other big change this month has been her interaction with Pete and I. Since Pete went back to work there is a definite difference in the way she responds to both of us and when she is tired or fussy it’s me she wants and settles better with. I feel in equal measure disappointed and delighted by this – after all it’s selfishly so lovely to be her favourite person, but I always wanted Pete to be a completely equal partner in parenting and interchangeable with me. I suppose that was naive looking back as with maternity leave and breast feeding I was bound to have the upper hand at this stage and I hope in the future she will love spending time with Daddy just as much. For now though, when Pete is home, he’s left ‘holding the baby’ – it means I end up cooking often or doing housework instead but its worth it for him to have quality time with Bea and work on his quota of smiles. ;)

In some ways it has also been a month of adjustment. Although I have no desire to do anything else right now, it has been a big mental shift towards becoming a ‘Mum’. Now I’m at home I feel under pressure (although not from Pete, only myself,) to keep the house in order too, doing housework and preparing meals or shopping. I have at times felt insignificant in the world knowing I have so little impact in a wider sense as Bea and I go about our daily business together, despite my belief that mothering itself is an unmeasurable contribution to society as a whole. It has been a passing thought though and I’m finally getting into my groove of balancing all the different aspects of this new stay-at-home life.

I hope you have enjoyed the update and perhaps some of you can identify with my thoughts?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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