No matter how long you’ve been on maternity leave, coming back to work is tough. There are so many changes involved with pregnancy and motherhood. Transition to the workplace doesn’t make that easier. Factor in PPD / PPA and you’ve got a LOT going on. There are so many changes mentally and hormonal to deal with. Then, there’s the uncomfortable feeling of leaving your child behind. Going back to work isn’t on the top of anyone’s list. As a result, the transition can be challenging.
I remember what it felt like the first few weeks. It was not easy. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. My mind wandered and many times, I was confused. Everyday a number of thoughts would circle my mind.
“I feel like a foreigner”. Before I left, I was so sure of who I was and what I did. When I came back, I felt like a completely different person. When people asked me how it felt coming back, I could only say that I felt like I was in a foreign country. I was afraid to admit that I didn’t belong, and nothing felt familiar. I was so unbelievably lost and alone. It was as if the workplace was a piece of a far distant past – so long ago that it was an inconceivable role for me to play. I could not function properly. This was not something I felt I could do.
“Maybe I should be a SAHM. Was this a mistake?” As much I suffered with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, the fact was that I was still at home. It was hard, but I could take solace in the fact that I was in my own space. As I was getting better, I started to change my outlook on life and enjoyed watching my son grow. I began to go on outings with him, and spend time doing things as a family. It hurt to think that I was missing out on so much in his life. Was work really worth it?
“I miss my son.” Always. I found myself on my phone constantly. I asked for updates. I looked at his pictures and videos. I yearned for more time. I wished for more memories.
It continued to be a struggle for a few weeks. Luckily for me, my work allowed me to work half days for the first two weeks. It really helped me transition. Yet, it was still difficult the months following.
It did get easy as time went on. I learned to take work as a bit of a break – I could actually eat at a decent time. I could go to the bathroom! I could have adult conversations!
I continued to go therapy weekly as I went through the transition. This really helped me deal with my feelings and find healthy ways to cope with the changes.
I also found that I enjoyed the time that I had with my son more. It’s hard to be away and miss out on a few things, but it also meant that I cherished what we did have together. I don’t take anything for granted.
It’s now been 10 months since I’ve come back to work, and I can say that things are definitely much better. It’s not to say that I don’t have my days.
Overall, I found that I’m a more efficient and happier person. My priorities have changed and I found myself not letting the stress get to me as much. I try to be more efficient and not overcommit to work. I do what I can to still be a valuable employee without sacrificing my family life.
There will always be a competing interest between career and motherhood. It’s all part of being a working mom.