Update: 1 month post return to work

Hiya!  As promised, here’s an update on life after returning to work.  It’s been over a month since I last posted.  So sorry for being MIA!!  I don’t like making excuses, but I do have a couple.  😉  Firstly, we’ve been sick as dogs for over a month thanks to the super bug my daughter bought home from daycare.  Only in the last two weeks or so have we been feeling human again.  Scratch that.  Since starting this post, we had a stomach bug and baby is sick again.  🙁   Secondly, since returning to work,

I am just plain tired all the time and have less free time to blog.  Well, just in case you were wondering, I thought I would fill you in on how things are going….

close up thermometer on schedule with pills

Photo by Daphoto

Daycare

Before I went back to work, I was very concerned that my daughter would not adjust to being in daycare.  This is because she was very unhappy, by unhappy I mean cried A LOT, during gradual entry.  Even during the first couple of weeks after gradual entry, she cried quite a bit, but that could’ve been partly because she was extra cranky from being sick.  Luckily, my husband does the pick up and drop off so I don’t have to see her being upset.  In the last three weeks, though, things have changed.  She now willingly goes to the daycare teachers, when before it required some coaxing and distractions.  She doesn’t cry when my husband leaves.  She just waves good-bye.  They tell us that she doesn’t cry anymore while she’s there.  She’s doing well, eats a lot and sleeps well.  In fact she naps longer when she’s in daycare than at home.  When my husband picks her up, he finds her happily playing.  She waves at him when she sees him and doesn’t whine or cry for him to pick her up.  This change is bittersweet for my husband and I.  We are happy that she is finally comfortable in the care of others, but we are also a bit sad that she doesn’t need us all the time anymore.  My baby is growing up… 🙁

cute little girl drawing with pencil in kindergarten

Photo by Olesiabilkei

Work

Work has been okay.   I’ve been pretty good at going home on time and not working crazy hours.  I’ve only had two long days thus far.  But then again, I’ve just started two new projects and the work load hasn’t gotten too heavy yet.  Pre-baby days, I used to work minimum 10 hour days and also worked on the weekends often.  Hopefully, those days are long gone as my priorities have now changed.

Pipette with drop of liquid and lab equipment on the seascape (collage)

Collage by Zakiroff

Home Life

Having a child certainly changes things.  We are no longer on our own schedule.  We cannot come and go as we please.  After rushing home from work, we try to get dinner on the table as soon as possible so that we can all have dinner together and spend a little time together before baby’s 7:30pm bedtime.  Cooking dinner or doing anything for that matter is a challenge these days.  Baby has yet to outgrow her separation anxiety.  In order to get anything done, one of us stays with her while the other cooks or cleans.  Either that or we get our chores done while she’s napping or after she’s down for the night.  Because of this, we try to make quick and easy meals, like Charlie’s lemongrass pork (also tastes great with boneless chicken thighs).  We try to plan out our meals for the week so that we know exactly what we’re going to eat.  Weekends are left for the fun stuff: laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping.  Why does it seem like there are always endless piles of dishes and laundry to do? 🙁

orange in the grocery store

Photo by voronin76

Tired all the time

You guessed it.  I am tired all the time!  Doesn’t help that for the past month, baby has decided 5:30am is a good time to wake up. 😛  Doesn’t matter that I get at least 6 hours of sleep each night.  By mid-week, I am ready to conk out pretty much right after baby goes to bed.  Maybe my low energy is from all the rushing around I do all day.  Rushing to get out of the house in the morning to beat traffic and get to work early.  Rushing at work to get all my stuff done.  Rushing home to make dinner.  Rush, rush, rush.  I signed up for yoga to slow down, to relax and for some “me time”.  Even though class is only once a week, I’ve managed to miss half of them due to either being sick, coming home late from work and just wanting to spend more time with baby.  There are not enough hours in the day!

alarm clock and book on bed

Photo by Rita Blue

That’s all for now, folks.

How do you find balance between family and work?  How do you find time to do everything?  Please share!

First week back at work

Good morning!  How is everyone’s Monday going?  Last week was my first week back at work after being on maternity leave for a year.  On top of that the whole house was and is still, as I type, sick.  Well the dog isn’t.  Lucky guy.  Since it started with baby, I blame it on daycare.  She must have caught something during her gradual entry.  Sigh….daycare, can’t live without it, can’t live with it.  Anyhoo, needless to say, having a sick, extra clingy baby did not make the week easier.  I had a lot of anxiety about going back to work.  Here are a few reasons why:

Leaving my baby

This wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  I think it was because I knew she was in good hands.  Since she was sick, she was only able to go to daycare one day.  The other days, my husband and mom took care of her, whom I trusted would care for her to the best of their abilities.  Even so, I checked in with my husband multiple times a day, but did restrict myself to calling my mom only once.  While she was in daycare, I left it to my husband to check in on her.  The first day back at work was a little tough because everyone asked how I was feeling about being back and how my baby was.  This made me think about her, how she was sick and I wasn’t with her.  So, I was fine, if I didn’t think or talk about her.  Easy, right?  The transition was definitely easier for her than for me.  She would wave goodbye to me in the mornings and when I returned at night, she would look up from whatever she was doing and just smile.  She did not cling to me as I left the house or cry for me to hold her when I got home.  I am a bit sadden by this, that she does not need me so much anymore.  But I suppose this is a good thing.

Going back to work

Office

Photo by Mantinov

While on maternity leave, I kept in touch with a few co-workers and had also been checking work email, so I knew what was going on.  In the past year, the company and my department has grown substantially.  There have been a bunch of new hires and our department has expanded both in manpower and space.  What I was anxious about was going back and being the “new” person, even though I had already worked there longer than the people who were hired while I was away.  I was worried that I would have to rebuild old relationships and not be “in the know” anymore.  I was worried for nothing.  All my co-workers were so happy to see me come back.  I had the same rapport with everyone as I had before I left.  I was able to jump right into the lab since I didn’t have to be trained and get started with experiments (this helped with keeping my mind off baby).

Lab Experiments

Photo by jk1991

It was like I never left.  I was new, but aside from not knowing the names connected to a bunch of new faces and where my desk and the washroom were, a lot has remained the same.  I have to admit that going to work is like going on a mini vacation away from baby each day.  I get to get “dressed up”, put on some makeup,  have “adult” conversations and finish a meal.  Maybe going back to work is a good thing.  Maybe it’s good for me….

Driving

Shift Gears

Photo by Alex White

Even though I’ve had my license for years, I’ve never had my own car so I am a very inexperience driver.  I always just took transit everywhere.  When I was in university, it would sometimes take an hour to get to school by bus because of traffic, but I didn’t mind.  I was able to study or sleep on the bus.  No stress of being behind the wheel while sleep derived.  When I started working, I either lived really close to work or lived close to transit so driving to work was unnecessary.  Before baby was born, we moved into a new place, that is not so transit friendly.  It would take me about 50 minutes to get to work by bus, but that’s if I catch the bus at the right time.  If I didn’t, I would have to wait 20 to 30 minutes since the bus doesn’t come very often.  Even though I had started driving more while on maternity leave (to go yoga, to go buy groceries and yarn 😉 ), these trips were short.  I did not have to drive on the highway or cross a bridge, something I would have to do to go to work.  Up until the night before work I was still thinking about taking the bus.  When I told my husband this, he said, “I didn’t know you were a coward!”   Well, that made me a little mad.  So, I did a test run.  I got onto the highway and drove across the bridge and back.  It wasn’t so bad because it was after dinner on a Sunday.  There wasn’t a lot of cars on the road.  This gave me the confidence to take the car the next day.  Oh boy, I was nervous that first morning.  There were way more cars than the night before.  But that kind of made merging onto the highway easier.  The rest of the way to work was uneventful.  On the way home, however, I wasn’t very careful when changing lanes after getting on the highway, that I almost caused an accident.  Scared the #*$% out of me!   After a week of driving back and forth, I am still anxious and not very confident behind the wheel.  Hopefully, that will change with time.

So, that was my first week back at work.  It wasn’t so bad, after all.  We will see how the next weeks and months play out.

How did you deal with going back to work after having baby? 

Gradual entry into daycare – Days 3 to 5

Day 2 of gradual entry into daycare was rough.  Here’s how the rest of the week went:

Day 3

After a tearful day 2, I had a little chat with a friend who had already gone through the process.  She gave me some advice, “Don’t doddle.  Make goodbyes short and sweet.  Just like ripping off a bandaid.”  I did just this at drop off on day 3.  I handed my daughter over to the teacher, said, “goodbye, I love you” and walked away.  She started crying immediately, but I kept on walking.  Unlike day 2, I was free to leave the facilities since they already had all our completed paperwork.  The plan was for my daughter to be there alone for 3.5 hours.

I actually got a lot done during those hours away from my daughter.  I didn’t want to stray too far from the daycare, so I went to the mall, not just to wander around aimlessly for I had missions to complete.  Shopping trips these days now involve looking for stuff for baby or other people’s babies.  The first mission was to find non-slip shoes for daycare.  Why is it so hard to find shoes for babies?  And why do they need them anyway if they don’t walk?  The second mission was to find a gift for a kid’s birthday party we’re attending this weekend.  And the last mission was to find new work clothes.  But why do I need new work clothes anyway?  Is it so bad to wear the same clothes if you still fit them and there’s nothing wrong with them?  But I digress.  Aside from the last mission, the trip to the mall was a success.  Shoes and pjs for baby check.  Present for kid’s party check.  I even had time to get some grocery shopping done and made some phone calls and lunch dates with my supervisor and work colleagues.

I called the daycare about an hour and a half after I left her.  They said that she was crying on and off and didn’t eat much at breakfast (maybe due to discomfort from bowel movements).  When I called she was napping.  Apparently, she went down easily.  I guess my sleep training helped.  When I returned, the kids were being served lunch.  I could hear my daughter crying and complaining as I walked toward the classroom.  She was in a highchair, not wanting to eat anymore having already eaten quite a bit, according to the teacher.  When she saw me, she cried and immediately wanted out of the highchair to be in my arms.  The teacher assured me that the crying was normal and that she’d seen worse.  Apparently they’d previously had a child that cried non-stop for 6 months.  Yikes!   After a few tears and cuddles, my daughter was herself again, smiling and waving goodbye to everyone.

As I left the daycare, a few things crossed my mind:

  1. I thought how much trust you have to put into complete strangers when you leave your child with them.  Did she really just cry on and off or did she cry the entire time?  Did she really eat?  I guess I just have to take their word for it.
  2. Did I not do enough to prep her for this transition?  Is she naturally more clingy or did I make her that way?  Did I not take her out enough to socialize with other people and babies?  Was mother goose, story time and swimming once a week not enough?
  3. I hope that she will never forget that….

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Day 4

My husband dropped baby off on his way to work so that I wouldn’t have to drive back and forth 4 times.  She was to be there from 9am to 2:30pm.  Since my husband dropped her off, I didn’t have to rush to get ready and was able to squeeze in some cuddles in bed with baby before they left.  With my morning free, I was able to spend some quality time with my fur baby.  🙂

13124769_10153395200771571_6057103143554230598_nWhen I called to check in, they said she again cried on and off after daddy dropped her off, but she enjoyed the cream of wheat breakfast and had a long morning nap.  She did much better in the afternoon after eating a bit of lasagna for lunch and drinking some milk.  She was actually playing quietly on her own they said.  Even after hearing this, I was anxious.  My tummy was uneasy like I was about to poop my pants.  This was the feeling I got before I left the house to go pick her up.  What would I find?

I was 30 minutes early.  To my shock, when I walked into the building, it was quiet.  As I walked toward her classroom, I was not greeted with sounds of her cries.  Could there be light at the end of the tunnel?  She was, as they said, playing on the ground by herself.  She was fine.  Fine, until she saw me.  The moment she saw me, she started to cry.  She wanted me.  She cried and screamed hysterically on the car ride all the way home.  I forgot to bring snacks to make the ride more enjoyable.  She normally doesn’t like being strapped in and me not being next to her after a long day apart made the ride even worse.  Not even my tone deaf singing was able to calm her down.  She just wanted to be held.

Day 5

Day 5 of gradual entry was to be the longest.  She was to be there from 9am to 4pm.  She was not happy to get into the car seat in the morning.  Did she know where we were going?  Unlike yesterday, singing helped.  I cycled between wheels on the bus, twinkle twinkle little star, itsy bitsy spider, slippery fish and you are my sunshine over and over again.

Before I left her in the classroom, I saw that sad little girl from day 1.  She was upset again, so I smiled, said hi and asked her how she was doing.  She said quietly, “miss daddy”.  🙁

Once again, baby cried when I said goodbye and walked away.  Funny enough as she was crying, she was also waving bye bye to me at the same time.  Silly girl.  I guess that’s an improvement.

I waited until after lunch to call to check up on her.  Boy did the time pass slowly.  Every time I looked at the clock, only 30 minutes had passed.  It is so weird being home without her.  So quiet.  I had to keep myself busy cleaning and getting ready for my return to work.  I packed up some baby things we no longer needed (breast pump, clothes and toys she’s outgrown) and did some re-organizing of my closet.

When I called, they told me that she was crying on and off more today than the other day.  She had an hour nap in the morning and didn’t eat much lunch (none of the kids did apparently because lunch was egg sandwich).  She wasn’t even happy to play in the sandbox, which she usually likes to do.  Why was she extra upset today?  Was it because I had dropped her off instead of dad?  Like the day before, she was much better in the afternoon.  She had some one on one time with the teacher while the other kids were napping and they had a pretend tea party.  When I picked her up, she had just woken up from a long afternoon nap.  I guess it’s a good thing that she comfortable enough to able to sleep there.

So, that’s was the last day of gradual entry.  The week was full of ups and downs.  Baby still cries on and off while there by herself.  It’s not like she never cries at home.  So why am I so hung up on the fact that she cries on and off at daycare?  I guess it will take some time for her to adjust.  Hopefully, not 6 months.

Ready or not, I go back to work next week and she will be doing full days in daycare.  Wish us luck!

Gradual entry into daycare – Day 2

Day 2 of gradual entry into daycare started out better than day 1.  Once again, I pressed the snooze button when the alarm went off, but baby woke us up so we didn’t sleep in like the day before.  We had, so I thought, enough time to eat breakfast since the daycare told us to come later.  Even with the extra time, we still left the house 20 minutes later than my husband had suggested.  Rush, rush, rush.  Is this how it’s going to be when I go back to work?  Traffic was good and I would’ve made it on time if it didn’t take 5 minutes for me to park.  And I wasn’t even parallel parking!  Shows how inexperienced of a driver I am, but that’s another story.

The plan for today was for baby to spend 2 hours there, but with me in another room.  We entered the daycare as they were just settling down for the baby signs lesson.  My daughter must have sensed my anxiety over leaving her because unlike yesterday, she stuck to me pretty closely.  She was not interested in the baby signs and the other children.  She was more interested in the murals and mirrors on the wall and did not want to go to the daycare workers.  While I was with her, I saw the same sad little girl I saw yesterday, except she looked even sadder today.  During the 20 minutes I stayed with my daughter, this little girl sat and cried quietly.  I wanted to go over and give her a hug, but it was not my place.  The only thing the daycare workers did to comfort her was ask if she was okay.   Is that good enough?

I took my opportunity to escape leave when my daughter began to show interest in some toys.  She started to cry as soon as I said good-bye and started walking away.  I went down the hall and sat near the reception area.  From what I could hear, she cried loudly for a good 10 to 15 minutes.  It was heartbreaking and felt like sleep training all over again.  Luckily, they were doing some cleaning of the facility and her cries (and my tears) were drowned out by the sounds of a vacuum.  I thought I heard her crying non-stop, but when I checked on her after 30 minutes, the daycare worker I spoke to said the cries were from other kids.  They said that she was better after they gave her breakfast and changed her poppy diaper and was only crying on and off a bit.  She didn’t see me, but I could see that she was crawling on the ground by herself and was whining a little, making it known that she was not happy at all.  I went back to my little area and spent the next 30 minutes looking at photos of her on dropbox.  I have taken thousands of photos of her since she was born and the majority are photos of her being silly, laughing, smiling and happy.  Happy was not how she was feeling at that moment.  How could I put her in any situation that would make her unhappy?  After another 30 minutes of crying on and off, I went to her.  I decided that an hour was enough for her (and me).  I thought it would be better for her to end the day there happy rather than sad.  She clung onto me for dear life as soon as she saw me.  After a few minutes of comforting, I led her to the others and she began playing with a big box of dried pasta.  She really enjoyed this activity, but for the rest of the time we were there, she kept her eye on me and was never too far away.

At the end, the daycare worker told me that my daughter seemd better when they left her alone.  That she got more worked up when they interacted with her.  Is that why they didn’t comfort that girl?  As I left the daycare, I wondered if my baby will ever adjust.  Will she become that sad little girl overtime?  Will she feel abandoned and alone and willl her loud protests and cries become muted?

It is midnight now as I finish this post.  I am tired.  I am drained.  I am dreading day 3.

Gradual entry into daycare – Day 1

This week, my daughter started gradual entry into daycare, where she will be spending a few hours each day there so that she gets used to the people and environment.  She will be attending daycare two days a week once I return to work next week.  This is my account of events.

Day 1 started a little rough.  We just return from vacationing in Hawaii on Saturday so we are still on island time.  We all ignored the alarm and woke up late, leaving only about 15 mintues to get ready.  These days with baby, it takes at least 30-45 minutes to get out of the house.  To save time, we ate breakfast in the car and luckily, traffic wasn’t too bad so we were only 15 minutes late.

We spent about 2 hours there.  The plan for this first day was for me to be with my daughter for the duration that we were there.  To my surprise, she did better than I thought.  She didn’t stick to me like glue the whole time as she usually does these days (separation anxiety is alive and well).  She even let the daycare workers carry her around even though she had only met them briefly 2 times prior.   This is surprising because it still takes her a while to warm up to her grandparents, aunts and uncles after not seeing them for a while.   There were a few moments when she got upset when she didn’t see me or wanted me to hold her.  But she did go explore on her own and “played” with the other kids.  She really enjoyed the breakfast they provided (she loves to eat), the music and dancing “class”, and playing in the sandbox.

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I think the first day was harder on me than on my daughter.   Why?  Because there were a  few kids there that didn’t seem too happy to be there.  There was this one particularly sad looking little girl there who caught my attention.  She’s only been attending this daycare for about a month, but I’d heard from the workers that she’s had a tough time adjusting.   When I sat next to her during the baby sign lesson, she turned to me and said in her tiny pleading voice, “I want my daddy.”  That just about broke my heart.  I was so close to bawling my eyes out and taking my daughter home right then and there.  Sure, she was fine at that moment sitting with one of the workers at the opposite end of the room.   But how will she be when I’m not there?  Will she cry and want someone to take her to me or my husband?  I guess we will see on day 2….