By Doula Jen
It’s your first day back to work! I’m sure you’re carrying a HEAVY bag of mixed emotions — anxiety, doubt, fear, excitement, relief…
You’re tired, possibly still recovering from birth. You’re doubting your choice in child care. You’re doubting your entire career path. You’re doubting your ability to function at work NOW, heart hanging ’round your baby’s little finger and big old brain fuzzy and fragmented with sleep deprivation.
You’re doubting your worth as a mother. And yet, you doubt that you would feel complete without your working self — your skill, your talent, what you went to college for and the name and identity you have built in your professional life.
Mama, I want you to take a deep breath and — if you dare — give yourself a big hug. That’s right, wrap your arms around your own shoulders and squeeze. This is going to be hard and confusing and scary and weird. But it will also be OK.
You are a strong and powerful woman. You will do what is best for you and your family no matter what — that instinct is in you. You are going back to work because that will make you the best mom that you can possibly be…perhaps because of financial security, perhaps because that side of you demands to be exercised and fulfilled.
You are going to doubt yourself and you are going to shine. Both of those things at once.
But on this, the first day, let’s not look to hard at the big picture. You’ve just gotta make it through the day. Here’s what I suggest:
- Throw out the guilt — it’s OK to feel a little bit excited about stepping out of your postpartum PJs. Clean hair and brushed teeth feel GOOD, we know — it’s OK!
- Miss your baby like crazy — this is not a sign of weakness, it’s an inevitability.
- Check in on the nanny or day care center as often as you need to in order to feel comfortable at the office.
- Pump in a safe, clean place like it’s your JOB. Because it is. Yes, you’re moonlighting so to speak. The world will have to deal.
- There will be comparisons to the stay-at-home moms. Give them props for the very specific challenges they face and give YOURSELF props for those that you face. Walk your own walk and OWN your every step.
- Most important, if you do NOTHING else on this list, finish your lunch with chocolate. You need comfort and sweetness; and you need to reward yourself for a job well done — both in and out of the home.
With much love and admiration from your doula,