Does returning to work automatically equal mommy guilt?
This past month has been hard.
I returned to work full-time in a new position after being off work for 14 months. I choose to end my maternity leave 3 months early for this job as it was on my professional bucket list.
I thought Matt would be fine and would probably not even be nursing that much. I made this assumption based on my older son who was down to nursing twice a day at 9 months (early morning and bedtime).
Matt’s a different cat though.
Not only would Matt be happy to nurse several times throughout the day, he’s a baby who loves and needs to be snuggled and in close physical contact or proximity to his favourite people (me, his dad, and his brother).
My hubs and I took seriously this early return to work and made some big decisions based on it. Hubby is staying home to be with our boys, us feeling that Matt in particular needed one of his parents to care for him while still so young.
My three guys are loving their time together and I am so grateful that they are having this special time to bond, which is not always the case for daddies and babies. Matt is a happy baby during the day when I am gone. Eating lots of healthy foods, having good naps, and lots of indoor and outdoor play time.
Here’s the BUT in all of this…
Everyday, when I get in the car after work (as I am picked up at the subway), Matt begins to cry. At first, he gives me a giant smile, and then he sobs. All the way home. If I reach back and hold his finger or touch his cheek, he stops crying. If I remove my hand’s proximity to him, being that I don’t super long arms to reach over the front passenger seat to the bucket behind me, he sobs. Big awful, gut-wrenching sounds.
Hubs and I have had to come up with a system where I race into the house each day to change and freshen up. See, once I hold Matt, he hangs onto me like a barnacle. My baby is needing cuddling, nursing, cuddling, nursing, playing while holding mommy’s hand, playing while sitting near mom, and more cuddling. I am so happy to give him all of this and do miss him desperately, too.
What is heartbreaking to me, is that if I put Matt down to change his cloth diaper, feed him dinner, give him his bedtime bath-he cries. He does not want to be out of contact with me. He tries to scramble up my body, clawing desperately to hang onto me.
Every evening I am doing what I can to try to fill up his cup.
Showering him with mommy kisses, cuddles and milk to get him through the night AND the next day. This is what is tearing me apart.
Many of these cuddles take place with both my boys on my lap. While nursing Matt, my oldest son will often position himself behind me, lying across the back of the couch so he can suck his thumb, touch my hair, and cuddle his mommy whom he says he “lubs so much”. Enter blessed and emotional sigh here.
It’s been 5 weeks and there’s no sign of an adjustment. Each and every work day is the same.
I didn’t think it would be so hard to return to work nor that I would feel so very torn. Big, life questions about what I want our family life to look like are running wild through my head.
I’m in a bit of a crisis, folks. And I’m knee deep in mommy guilt.