Almost everyone I see asks me how I feel being back to work and I’m finding it hard to answer. I’m so so proud I’m making this work and it seems do-able. And if I’m being honest, Arya being such a chill and easy baby is probably 95% of why this feels so manageable. She still mostly sleeps through the night so I’m getting about 7 hours of sleep a night, she goes to bed around 7-7:30 so I have a few hours at night to myself, she is perfectly content hanging out with most people, and she is able to entertain herself for decent stretches of time. And yes, I am fully aware of how lucky I am and I tell Arya every day how grateful I am for her.
But I have a constant fear of money hanging over me. We are just barely squeaking by. We are completely living check to check and we would be completely screwed if I were to ever lose my job (or our rent controlled apartment). Not only is this terrifying but it also makes me so angry. I’m an attorney and I make almost six figures. And while this pales in comparison to what many of my classmates (who chose much more lucrative legal careers) it shouldn’t be this hard..right? So fuck capitalism and can we please get universal free childcare, healthcare, and education already?
On a very unrelated note, I had the weirdest interaction with Arya’s daycare yesterday. When I dropped her off she was wearing a onesie and baby leg warmers. The outfit looked a lot like this:
One of the teachers was like: “look at you today!” I assumed she thought the outfit was cute. Later, when I picked Arya up the same teacher was like: “today we called her sexy girl!.” Um what? I didn’t ask her to elaborate and just responded “oh haha.” I’m thinking she thought the legwarmers looked like women’s thigh high stockings or something. It was so weird and a bit gross and I know this wouldn’t have happened if she was a boy. Can you please not sexualize my six month old?
Despite the weirdness, I decided not to say anything. I have been super, duper happy with how they are taking care of Arya and she is so happy when I drop her off and pick her up. I have to pick and choose my battles and this just isn’t worth it. But WTF?
This is the start of my fourth week of work. It’s been surprisingly nice being back and having a routine with Arya. I know it sounds awful but I thought I would miss her more than I do. Not to say I don’t miss her, but its been great to have some balance. I also love how I’m actually excited when I pick her up from daycare when her smile seriously melts me.
But this post isn’t about Arya, its about work. On one hand, its so refreshing to use my brain for more abstract things and to be working on issues related to social justice (especially during this dumpster fire period in my county’s history). But, I’m also feeling like I need to “prove myself” and my “worth” to my organization. To be clear, no one has said anything to me to to suggest this is the case (actually they have all been super sweet and welcoming). But, I was pretty checked out when I went on maternity leave. As I’ve discussed on this blog, I had an absolutely awful pregnancy. I was sick the entire time. This made it really hard to work and keep on top of everything. I’ll be the first to admit that my work suffered. I had a review with our executive director before I left on leave. While it was mainly positive he did mention that I need to pay better attention to detail and be more meticulous about what I put out. I completely owned it because it was true. I vowed to up my game when I came back and I was serious.
I’ve made a huge effort to be really efficient and on top of things since i’ve returned. I’ve taken a lot of initiative to jump right back in and I feel good where things are at. At my first meeting back with my boss she asked how things were going. I mentioned how much “more on my game” I feel now and I admitted that I was having a hard time with the pregnancy sickness and lack of energy. She seemed happy I mentioned the elephant in the room and we continued our conversation. I think she has a hard time having difficult conversations with me because we were friends before she became my supervisor and we hang out socially outside of work, But I just wanted her to know that I’m committed to doing a good job.
Also, they are letting me work a modified schedule because Arya’s daycare is only open 8:30 to 5:30 so i can only be physically in the office 9:30-4:30. I’ve been super focused while in the office and have worked straight through (not taking a lunch) so I can be as productive as possible. I’ve also been putting in (some) hours on nights/weekends to make up for the time i’m out of the office. I’m honestly feeling like I’m pulling my weight and it feels great.
So on Friday I asked my boss if she would be amenable to me working from home once a week. This isn’t unheard of-many people in my office do this. Almost all of our work can be done remotely. I explained that with the additional time I would gain not commuting (because daycare is like 2 blocks away) I could work more (i would gain about an additional 1.5 hours). I expected her to be cool with my request but she wasn’t as enthusiastic as I expected. She basically said she wanted to think on it and ask our executive director. She expressed concern about me being out of the office more (which was definitely valid). And then she asked me how I was making up my missing hours. I told her I was doing nights and weekends here and there. Then the conversation ended and I left feeling very uneasy.
Now that I’m writing this, I’m thinking maybe I asked for too much. Maybe I should have waited a few months into this transition back to ask for this? I can seriously see both sides of this issue so i’m on so pins and needles until I get a final decision. In the meantime I’m trying to not get too spun out on this. I did a bunch of hours this weekend (thank god Arya is amazing at entertaining herself). But I can’t help but feel a bit judged.
This outfit isn’t particularly cute ( and Arya spit up on it) but it made me really emotional to see her in it this morning. It’s the outfit I bought while I was doing IVF and didn’t know whether it would work. Everyone tells you not to do this but I needed to do something hopeful after 2 years of surgeries, appointments, giving myself hundreds of injections in my belly, and spending tons of $$$$. I bought this when I had just transferred my one “ good” embryo- whittled down from 35 others with genetic abnormalities. This was my only shot and I wanted a baby more than anything. When I brought this outfit home I remember looking at it and not being able to imagine I would ever have a baby to wear it. I stuffed it deep inside a drawer thinking it would make it even harder when the embryo transfer didn’t work.
And now I have this amazing tiny human and I can’t even express how grateful I am for her and her loud belly laughs and smiles.
I have officially survived my first two weeks back at work. I was cautiously optimistic that Arya would transition well. She goes to daycare at my gym with a random assortment of people and I leave her with several of my friends regularly. But, this is definitely the longest stretch of time we have been apart and it is in a new environment with lots of strange people so the possibility of her freaking out was still there. On the first day I’m sure she was picking up on my nervousness because she seemed a little more sensitive than usual. It also didn’t help that she woke up with her first cold ever. She was extra clingy when I took her out of the crib and immediately fell asleep in my arms. I snuggled her in my bed and tried not to cry. But when I dropped her off she seemed fine and even smiled at the teacher that took her from me.
We did a quick five hour day and they said she was fine and even napped twice. They use an app that gives you constant updates on feedings, naps, and diaper changes and they even sent a bunch of pictures. It was really reassuring and helped me to relax and focus on my first day of work.
It was definitely weird being back at my job after six months off . But my coworkers are awesome and everyone kept asking about Arya and telling me how happy they were that I was back. They even had a bunch of treats in my honor.
We have since settled into a good rhythm and everything is going well so far. Having daycare two blocks from my house and a very flexible work schedule has been key. And I feel… really happy and content about my life right now. I’m much mite present when I’m with Arya and she goes down early enough that I still have a few hours to myself at night. And I’ve even become way more efficient at work because I need to get everything done in the 7.5 hours I’m there.
Unfortunately, on the Friday of our first week of daycare/work I came down with a terrible cold and Arya’s seemed to get worse. Arya woke up at 4am Saturday morning and didn’t sleep for more than 10 minutes until 6pm that night. I was delirious and it was so so hard but I got through it- although we didn’t leave the house for two days.
Here are some cute pictures of her at daycare:
Things have been a whirlwind and my maternity leave is quickly coming to an end. We took a two day trip to Las Vegas to stay with a friend, her partner, and their one year old in a huge suite booked for a work trip. I watched both kids so they could celebrate a birthday and ( shockingly) it was really hard. I got both kids down at the same time and was all ” this isn’t too hard.” But then they both woke up screaming and was faced with the dilemma of how to comfort a screaming toddler and baby at the same time. I finally settled on rocking Arya in the stroller while holding the toddler. Just when they finally calmed down, my friends came home and their toddler fell into their arms immediately becoming a crying, blubbering, mess. This did not instill confidence in my already super anxious friend ( I’m one of the only people she will let babysit).
Despite Las Vegas being the antithesis of ” baby friendly” we had a pretty good time walking around and going to the pool. For an inexplicable reason, most of them were really shallow ( like 10 inches deep). This was perfect for some baby swimming ( sorry fancy hotel guests hoping to have a relaxing and sophisticated day at your super fancy pool).
And Arya started solids and is a vigorous and enthusiastic eater- just like her mama.
Arya had her four month checkup yesterday. She is in the 20th percentile for weight and height and doctor said she is doing great overall and met all of her milestones. They gave her the second set of vaccinations and she was as upset as you would expect. I gave her some Tylenol when we got home and she zonked out and slept and slept and …. slept for fourteen hours straight! I’m still in shock. I checked on her a million times convinced something was wrong but she woke up with a huge, satisfied smile. And she finally noticed one of the cats today: