… to a lesbian conception adventure!

Posts tagged ‘work’

Then and Now

Being back at work this week I was incredibly struck by the difference between almost-40-week-pregnant me and mother of an almost-12-week-old me.

It was like time stood still, even as it clearly moved forward.

I was struck by the e-mails I received both in the week before I had the baby and in the week that followed.  The week before, I am a part of those e-mails, making plans and scheduling meetings like I’m not about to have a baby (the magic of not knowing when the baby will come).  I am full steam ahead because there was no way to plan to NOT be full steam ahead.   I remember the last midwife appointment, the Thursday before I gave birth.  Life was the same as it was the day before and as it would be the day after, moving along toward birth. The week after K was born, work life chugged along without me and I am absent from the conversations and decisions.  It is strange to me to think about life just continuing along while I was getting to know an entire new person who had just arrived in the world.  Not that it shouldn’t have, but finding a pile of unread interdepartmental mail in my mailbox that was important but is no longer relevant was slightly jarring.

I was struck by the changes that have not been made, some of which are pretty major, and the changes which have been made, many of which are pretty minor.  There are different paint colors.  A new cafe for employees.  Changes in decor.  I left and it was the middle of summer and there was summer decor.  Now it is fall and there are gourds and pumpkins and fall colors.  Experiencing the change without seeing the transition is strange.

I was struck by the changes in my body.  My building has tons of windows and I spent my entire pregnancy watching my reflection as I grew from I-have-a-secret-that-no-one-knows to wow-you-are-so-big-shouldn’t-you-have-had-the-baby-by-now.  And to see myself first last week, with the baby in the carrier strapped to my chest, and then this week, with my stomach way down, was not surprising but was interesting.

I feel like an entirely different person since K was born.  And yet, at work, I’m expected to be very much the same person, at least professionally.  I am pleased that I still feel interest in my job, that I feel incredibly competent and ready to take on big challenges.  But I also feel separate, different, as I have this connection to this little person that no one else at my job has (with my little person, anyway).  I am not constantly thinking / worrying about K, thankfully, but I am constantly and forever attached to her and I feel that attachment throughout the day, pulling at my heart.  And getting these glimpses of who I was, even twelve weeks ago as I sat watching the Olympics and feeling K move around like it was her job, is so mind-bending.  I knew I had no idea how I would feel or who I would be and really, I had no idea.

The concept of a world without K is hard for me to fathom, despite all the evidence that it did actually exist.  Not so much imagining a time before she existed outside of me – that’s easy to remember when I’m woken up in the middle of the night or I’m driving across town to daycare, extending my drive home by an hour – but imagining a me before I fully knew all the wonder that is her.

 

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We did it!

Well folks, we survived our first work/daycare combo day.  And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared.

We got up this morning and C took a shower and then I took a shower while K slept (after 4:30 am feeding).  C got K dressed and then I nursed her and got things together before they headed out the door together.  I dragged my feet but finally went to work.

Which was insane.  Seriously, for a first day back, I might as well have just been there 100 years.  My day was essentially pump meeting pump lunch with meeting pump more meetings.  It is ridiculous how much has changed and how much has stayed exactly the same.

Surprisingly (and perhaps because I was so busy), I did not feel any burning urge to call daycare in the middle of the day (I did check in yesterday).  I trust my provider (who did send me a picture of K in the middle of the day) and honestly, there was no time for me to stop and make that kind of call (not to mention C called today and then left me a message with all the updates).  I was also surprised how easy it was to talk about K without become tearful (I thought it would be a lot harder).  It was nice to be around adults and bizarre to be able to focus so intently on conversations (and eating my lunch!) as my own person, separate from K.  I missed her, but today, anyway, I did not feel desperation or depression.  Just a little sad, accepting the fate that I knew was coming.

I did the pick-up this afternoon and it was great to get to my little person and say hello and breathe her in, though I am excited for the day when she is excited to see me (and not just happy to have the boobs back).  She did well at daycare (eating 10 ounces and basically letting me know that I should continue to pump an extra time each night just to have extra – she went through all the fresh I provided as well as the frozen I had given). And for the second night in a row, she had a super fantastic evening at home with us – playing on her mat and discovering her feet (and how they can be used to kick objects).  She went to bed fairly easily and C and I got to watch some television.

I am glad we have made it through day one (if day one had to happen) and I feel confident that we will keep making it.  I’m also super grateful for the good teamwork C and I have in place already that has allowed us to tag team K’s care, house care, Wonderdog care, and self-care.  With that being said, let me go prepare for tomorrow tonight so we can have another good morning 🙂

No one said it would be easy… and advice?

So in two weeks, I will have been back at work for a full day already and my child will have been in daycare for two days (we are starting her on Tuesday while I’m still home just to get the feel for daycare and to troubleshoot if necessary).

And I feel broken.

My anxiety has increased dramatically as I think about leaving my baby for so many hours a week, only really seeing her during her most cranky time of day (which I’m hoping might change when it becomes “our” time of day but I’m not convinced).  And as I think about returning to my job, which I love but which will require a lot of navigating to figure out what my temp has done these past 12 weeks.  And navigating the pumping, of course.  And C and I learning a whole new way to relate to the baby and each other as she takes on Fridays with the baby and we both come home the rest of the week exhausted, eager for baby time, eager for alone time.  And, honestly, as I look back over the past 10 weeks and wonder if I have used them to their fullest capacity – I mean, I have been off for SO MANY DAYS – have I done enough adventuring?  Enough outside time?  Enough walks?  Enough inside cleaning/getting stuff done time?  Seriously, this is where my anxiety is right now.

So outside of the last part, which is just something I’ll have to get over as I spent the past 10 weeks bonding with my child in many different forms and it has been GOOD even if I don’t feel like I measure up on some imaginary yardstick, I need advice from all the mamas who went back to work: what did you do to feel as fulfilled (and guilt-free) as possible?  Because I firmly believe that I can’t have it all – having it all would entail being 100% fully devoted to work AND family and I don’t think there is enough time in the week for that.  But I also firmly believe I can be satisfied in both areas and that is what I want.

Here’s what I’m doing so far:

  • Starting back half a week early.  This allows me additional FMLA time to take off one day a week the following three weeks and also makes my first week back a little less intense.  My boss is keeping my temp until that Friday, so I won’t have to do a ton of my actual job that week.
  • Starting K in daycare a day early.  Hoping that that will make my first day at work a little less tearful as I can be horrifically sad on that day early day (let’s face it though – my mind will know the difference between me being able to run and get her at any minute and being stuck in a meeting just thinking about it)
  • Taking small trips away.  This has included leaving K with my mom for several hours on Mondays, which is when my mom will be watching her.  K has successfully taken bottles from both C and my mom, so I am confident that she will eat, even in daycare.
  • Trying to enjoy all the moments I have with her and be IN the moment with her right now.  This is a hard one, as I also want to get a lot done around the house before I go back to work and I’m constantly thinking about work.
  • Talking to my boss about flexing some time so that I can have more time with K.  And/or running out the door as soon as I am done with my day.  Don’t know how this will fly and I’m waiting to see my boss in person to have this discussion.
  • Pumping daily.  Building up a small stash, yes, but also continuing to get used to pumping.
  • Taking lots of pictures.

What advice do you have?  I’m particularly thinking about when I’m at work the first week and I see my clients and they ask about the baby – somehow I think it would be less than professional to burst into tears the way I did at the dentist office when they asked about the baby I had just left behind with my mother.  Also, have any strategies (outside of routine) to make evenings more fun and exciting with a veryhappymorning baby?  Basically anything you can offer in terms of how to make this suck less would be awesome, though I realize it’s mostly just going to suck.

Gotta go, baby’s waking up!  But I do want to leave you with this thought, too: if I’m completely honest with myself, part of me does not want to return to work just because it’s nice to not work and to be able to do whatever I want most days, even with baby in tow, even if it’s truncated by the need for naps or nursing.  That part of me might even be bigger at times than the part that just wants to eat up the baby and never miss a moment of her life.  Also, part of me is excited for the challenges and socialization of work.  I just wish I didn’t (and K didn’t) have to sleep because then I COULD have it all.

My eyes are up here…

So a disturbing new trend is taking place among my co-workers. As I speak with them, I find their eyes shifting down to my ever-growing midsection and then back up to my face. More than once in a conversation. In a subtle, but very-noticeable-to-me way.

At first it was just the coworkers that know, but now it’s also coworkers that don’t officially “know,” though apparently according to a coworker in the know, I gave away my whole pregnancy by wearing motion sickness bands to a training several weeks ago. Ever since them, several of my colleagues have asked him if he knows what’s up. Who in the world is that super sleuthy to guess that? Why do people have the time to guess that? And why would that be the one day (seriously, the bands didn’t work so well for me) that I would be trying just about anything to keep myself from vomiting?

It’s really not a big deal, of course folks are going to guess (and talk). I just was excited about my little secret and finding out that it’s not such a secret after all (and not for a good, baby bump reason, but for a silly had-to-deal-with-nausea reason) is a little disappointing. That being said, I’ve neither confirmed nor denied anything (and won’t until after my appointment next week) and in the meantime I get to chuckle a little to myself when I see someone’s eyes shifting ever-so-cautiously down down down.

Happy Work Story

After all my concerns about work, there is at least one happy work story to report.

Coworker: So are you going to have babies?

Me: Hopefully soonish!

Coworker: [squeals a little] Who will carry?

Me: Probably me

Coworker: [a little more excited] I’m tearing up!

We went on to talk about some of the challenges that I’m worried about in our workplace and she was mildly reassuring (I think we all know that no one is going to quell all of my fears) and it was lovely to have a normal conversation with someone about something that so many people find abnormal.

Meanwhile, I am SO SO SO SO SO SO anxious to get this party started.  For all the planning and thinking, I have NO idea how I will feel when we get to the big day or when we test. And I want to know how I will feel, what it will be like. And so I am anxious!

Question of the Week: What if I have job trouble due to the nature of my romantic relationship?

(First of all, a quick shout out to all the growing families experiencing BFPs out there! Congrats!)

(Also, can you believe it’s been six weeks since the first Question of the Week? We are rolling right along! In a week I get my next thyroid test and in about six weeks, we will (theoretically) be placing an order since our doctor can and will store in his office)

Today’s question of the week piggybacks on last week’s, but for me is more of a reflection of the overall job impact of not only being pregnant but having a baby.

Although most of my coworkers know my “situation,” being out at work is fairly risky business for me (long story). So having a baby is even more risky business. Because while I’m not always captain disclosure, I’m not very good at secrets, either.  And there is only so much deflecting that can be done in nine months (and for the entire life of the child). People will ask about the father (and therefore conception). And there are places and times when disclosure will be appropriate and places and times when it will be wildly inappropriate.

I do not think I will be fired. I do, however, think I will face countless moments of making the decision whether to disclose or not, I think I will be way further out at work than I ever have been so far (I am somewhat discreet) and that idea makes me uncomfortable because, in general, it’s easier to be discreet. Not because I’m uncomfortable with who I am, but because I am VERY VERY aware of potential ramifications and I am not comfortable with those.

(To anyone who might wonder why I stick around – I truly love my job and I am able to be honest if not shouting it from the rooftops (example: I was given a surprise wedding shower when we got married)).

This is sort of a silly what-if, I guess, because there will be job trouble. And I will have to brace myself for unwelcome comments. But at this point, our baby and our family trumps these concerns.

Gender and Ramifications of Pregnancy

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about the impact pregnancy will have on my career. More specifically, the impact it will have on perceptions of my gender and personality.

If you had to dichotomize my relationship with C by looks alone, I am the femme one, hands down. But of course it’s far more complicated than looks alone or actions or emotions by themselves and while I am “femme” in many aspects of the word, I am not stereotypically feminine at home or at work. I believe that this has been an asset and I believe at times, primarily because of the oppression of all things feminine in our society, I have benefited from not fitting exactly into that role and from being able to connect better with coworkers and managers.

So when I think about being pregnant at work, I think about the ways perceptions could instantly change. I work in a high-stress and sometimes dangerous environment and while I will appreciate the support I am fairly sure I will be given (“light duty” work, greater protection from the stresses and dangers), I do not want to be perceived as too “feminine” (read: stereotypes of weak, vulnerable, needy), especially because I worry that such perceptions might follow me long after I have given birth.

These concerns are not out of some macho sense that I need to appear strong for myself or even that I need to appear strong to simply keep my job, but instead a sense that I need to appear strong for the sake of my ability to be an influencer at my job. It takes time, especially as a young woman, to gain acknowledgement and respect. It takes time to build relationships to the point that you are a voice to be heard rather than dismissed. And I worry that being pregnant will relegate me to “vulnerable” which is associated with weak, which are both associated with feminine, which is then associated with a need to give a pat on the head and send back to work.

Much of this concern may be blown out of proportion in this post, but I don’t think it is an exaggeration that pregnancy will have an impact on others’ perspectives, if not consciously than because of a subconscious script that we all have been fed in one way or another since the time of birth.

(None of this even goes into the reaction that my coworkers, who know my relationship status, will have as they attempt to put two and two together about how exactly the pregnancy came to be. That’s a post for another day.)