Come back when you are ready.
Those are the words that my boss said to me when I called to tell him I was in labor. And he meant them.
My boss is one of the kindest, most generous and supportive people I know. So after 11 weeks I will return to work, not necessarily because I am ready but because it is time.
Why 11 weeks if I feel I am not completely ready? I work in a small anesthesiology group and know that my coworkers are covering all of the call I normally take. It allows me to start after Easter and start fresh at the beginning of a month. I also took some of my time off unpaid so I could save some of my vacation weeks for later in the year. If only I didn’t have school loans and bills to pay I could have taken more unpaid time off! So 11 weeks it is.
It got me thinking though, when after the birth of a child would I really feel ready, if ever? Would it be when they learned to sleep through the night? Or would it be when they learned to say mama? Would it be after they weaned from breastfeeding? I thought that since this was my second child, I would not have all of the irrational fears of returning to work that I had with my first. My first child in fact did not prefer the nanny over me and is now 3.5 years old and shows no signs of being scared for life because his mom works. I was able to breastfed for 6 months during residency before my supply tanked and I am worried I won’t be able to even get that far this time. So here I sit, one week left of maternity leave having many of those same irrational fears.
I was in my third year of residency when I had my first child. I was blessed to have supportive attendings and an amazing program director. Yet I struggled for a good 5 months before I learned to let go of some of the guilt of being a working mom. I love my profession but I of course love my children and husband more.
This time, my husband is staying home with our two lovely children. He started staying at home with our first as soon as I finished residency. He is making a sacrifice by leaving a job he really enjoyed to stay home for a few years, and I sacrifice by working full-time. It is what works for our family and my sanity. Like everyone else, I am searching for that perfect life work balance. Depending on the day or week, I think I might have found it. Yet sometimes the mommy guilt rears its ugly head just when I think I have gotten it under control.
So I pose the question to you. When were you ready to return to work after having a baby?
I would like to thank everyone who contributes to this blog. I have been following for over a year now. It has been really supportive to read these posts and see how we are all just trying to be the best moms we can be.
- an anesthesiologist in a small private practice group with two children under 4.