Halfway somewhere

I seem to have fallen into a strange in between life. I’m supposed to be back at work, and for all intents and purposes I am, but my work has decided that they can’t really accommodate a breastfeeding mother, so I’ve been told to work from home when I don’t have meetings. 

It means I sort of feel like I’m back at work, but I sort of still feel like I’m on maternity leave because I’m at home like before. My friend sent me flowers to commiserate my first week at work and I felt like a bit of a fraud! But lovely flowers!


It means I’ve pulled back a bit from the SAHM / maternity leave group of people as I was going back to work, and yet I’m not really back at work yet because I’m still at home a lot of the time, so it’s a sort of limbo. 

My slightly grey mood is probably also a result of staying up late to watch the General Election last night – I feel like my brain is in a bit of a fog! (For those not in the UK, we had an election and there’s now a hung parliament which means nobody won with enough majority to govern on their own – so there’s change ahead.)
So I’m spending the majority of my time since being back at work, working from home. Of course I’m thrilled to spend more time with baby B, and Dog, and T. T thought he was going to be a single dad for a while but that hasn’t really happened. I did go into work to meet my boss and so T took B for the day to see his parents.

I met with my boss and he confirmed he wanted me to work on some internal stuff for a while, but because of the whole pumping thing I ended up leaving early and so T wasn’t home from his parents’ place so I felt kind of emotional to be wandering around by myself knowing my baby wasn’t at home. On the plus side I got to spend a bit of time with Dog, who probably feels a bit neglected by me lately (although I think he enjoys not being grabbed and cuddled all the time as I think he found it annoying!). 

So after the meeting with HR, they arranged a pumping room for me at work, which I duly used when I went to meet my boss. They actually banned me from using the disabled bathroom so that’s one thing. Which I can cope with, as it wasn’t particularly pleasant. However the pumping room is not exactly ideal either. I felt during the HR meeting (with three people) it was kind of trying to force me to accept the solution, which was that they make a meeting room slightly private for me but I have to give them 24hrs notice and I also have to tell them the exact times I want to pump on any given day. Anyone who’s pumped knows that’s not an ideal situation but I accepted it and I tried it when I went to meet my boss. For reference, the legal obligations are here: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/b/s/Acas-guide-on-accommodating-breastfeeding-in-the-workplace.pdf

The room they’ve given me is a small teleconference room. It’s actually fine size wise. It has a desk which means at least I didn’t have to put anything on the floor. And a power socket as the pump I have (Medela Swing Maxi) is a battery eater otherwise – it takes 6 AAA batteries for 1.5hrs pumping which is like three sessions! The problem with the room is that they don’t have a lock and it also has a big window (partly frosted opaque) which needs covering up. So their solution is to use 2 pieces of flipchart paper and to put a sign on the door saying not to come in, and then give me a doorstop to wedge in so people can’t open the door easily should they choose to ignore the sign! All this stuff needs taking down and reinstating in between sessions!

Anyway, I decided I would ask for a morning session just after I arrived at the office and then a lunchtime session. I’d leave early so didn’t do a late afternoon session. The whole thing worked okay, but I just get so much less milk during pumping at work than I do when I’m at home. 


I managed 2oz each session when I tend to get around 4oz or more from each side when I pump at home in the early evening. It took longer too. It just felt like a lot of work and hassle to do but then I guess I hadn’t done a full day’s work and also I haven’t done it at that time each day, so my body isn’t used to it then (and when I’m home with B, he doesn’t drink so much during the day). 

What I’m finding difficult about it is that if I’m partly working from home then I don’t really get into a routine with it. If I’m home with B then I’m not pumping as he just gets it from source, although I often try and do a pumping session in the evening to stock up so T can give him one bottle a day. 

Obviously when he’s at nursery he’ll need more than that, so I’m just trying to figure out when I’m going to pump to supply that. I’m feeling a bit confused by the whole thing because of the lack of routine that I thought I’d have when I went back to work.

I’m glad to be back at work in a way, in that everyone at my work is very nice. I’m kind of concerned about it because I don’t feel that I have enough to do right now, and maybe people find it weird I’d complain about not having enough work, but I sort of feel like if I’m going back and foregoing more maternity leave, I should be busy and doing well so I can get promoted etc etc! 

I just feel a bit torn between lives right now, but I suppose that’s normal. And I’m very lucky my job is allowing me all the working from home time. I guess they’ve kind of had their hand forced because they can’t accommodate the breastfeeding, but I still seem to get on well with my boss so I’m hopeful we can continue to have a good relationship. I guess I just want it to be worth going back to work. I don’t want to miss out on B for nothing.

Also, I think the going back to work has precipitated a change in my relationship with the local mums. Over the past few weeks I was kind of getting a little frustrated with them, because they cancel things at the last minute and don’t commit to things. I think maybe we are just different sorts of people but when I make an arrangement to meet up, I expect it to go ahead unless someone’s sick or something. Nowadays they seem less keen to meet up – maybe they just hate me! But also I find they only confirm stuff at the last minute or they cancel stuff the day before. 

Maybe it’s because my time off was more precious to me that I more wanted confirmation of what we were doing, but anyway, it has gotten to the stage where I kind of feel like we are not on the same page. The two mums I was most friendly with are more friendly with each other, as they live really close. And one of them especially is kind of making a bid to be one of the leaders of the local mums… This is the one I used to hang out with a lot. 

She tends to cancel stuff at the last minute and I just feel that she’s gotten a better offer. I’m fairly laid back but after a few times I started finding it annoying. She’s also very competitive in terms of sending updates on what her baby’s doing, and buying stuff for the baby, and I’m just not into it.

I think the main thing that happens as the babies get older is that you realise that you all have different parenting styles and maybe that means you have less in common than you thought. I really felt like I got on with them all but everything with them seems a bit more high stress, with routines and so on. We haven’t had much trouble with B because we just kind of go with the flow. I never try and put him to bed early, and I guess we are what you’d call attachment parents, we co sleep and babywear, so he’s not really a big crier and he’s just generally an easy baby.

I say this not to sound smug but more to illustrate that we aren’t very organised parents or set in our ways… He just hangs out with us and we haven’t changed our routines too much. We still go to bed late and because we are off, we get up pretty late too. It means we don’t get up at 5am like the other mums seem to do. (I’m so glad as I can’t cope with 5am wake ups.) I think maybe they think I’m lazy or something because we don’t have all these fixed things we do, and I can’t relate to the constant stress they seem to have. 

Some people don’t even seem to enjoy having a baby – it’s like they are obsessed with trying to escape on a night out. I don’t feel I’m missing out at all – perhaps because I never thought we’d get to be parents. I don’t think that makes me a better person; just a different one. But anyway, I sense a distance growing between us.

Because T and I have both been off I’ve had a different experience too – they do a lot of mum stuff but I don’t do much of it as I feel it would be mean not to include T when he’s off too. It makes you realise how much parental stuff is left to the mums. I also can’t understand why mothers complain about it because it’s great. Maybe it’s great where we are in London, but there’s so much to do that socially you really wouldn’t suffer being a mum, unless like me you are going back to work. There’s stuff for mums and babies every single day. And loads of places you can go, and classes and so on. I actually feel exhausted just thinking about what some of them do. I think even if I was alone at home I’d want days where I just relax at home!

So overall, I think I feel a bit like going back to work has been an anticlimax. Right now I’m not fully back at work and I’m not at home on maternity leave any more, so I’m sort of stuck between two worlds. I don’t think I’m depressed or anything, but my mood has been a bit down over the past week, because of the whole back to work thing and then feeling like I’m half and half. 

I’m the sort of person who likes to go in 100% on things, and the problem is right now I’m spread thinly between both. I need to figure out how to be happy with the balance. 

Quite honestly I wish I could stay at home full time with B, but it’s not possible financially. And I should be grateful that I have a job with a sympathetic company which will allow me to work from home and relax a bit and still get a good salary! Maybe when we’ve moved house – hopefully next month – I will be able to relax into the new reality.

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16 comments

  1. Amy M.

    We don’t have a set routine either. It gets annoying when you’re trying to plan things and everyone wants it at a different time because their kids nap times are all at different times. She naps when she naps. Once in a while if I’ve already set plans, and she’s fallen asleep, I’ll just pack her up and take her along anyway. (Unless she’s been having a bad day, then I’ll just say I can’t go.) I think it’s important for kids to be flexible with life. That’s how I’m raising my family, anyway! You do what works for you, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      I know right? I find it so weird that people plan their entire lives around naps! One of the people I know goes home for exactly the same time every day so they can start the bedtime routine! Half the time we don’t even have dinner until 9-10pm… I agree that everyone should do what’s best for them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Amy M.

        We start bedtime anywhere from 9-10pm. On the very rare occasion that we’re not home at that time, then she usually falls asleep either wherever we are or on the way home, and nurses then goes to sleep when we get home. I know that some people live by schedules, I just don’t want to feel that tied down to things!

        Liked by 1 person

      • EmilyMaine

        I would honestly never survive if my kids didn’t go to bed by 7pm and I def plan my life around working towards that. I need that couple of hours at night where I have the option have some time to myself. We do get early starts because of it but I’m more a morning person anyway so it doesn’t matter to me. Once the babies get older they will settle into two naps a day and you will be able to predict them pretty well regardless of sleep the night before or whatever. It just kinda ends up that way. I do plan around that a little but am happy to get her up in the morning and just go if she sleeps longer as she will usually just make it up in the afternoon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amy M.

        Yeah we’re night people. Once she’s in bed I still have at least an hour usually to myself, though some nights if I’m super tired I’ll go to bed after I put her down. Her long morning nap was around 11-ish for a while, but then she changed it up again and now it can start anywhere from 9am-2pm!! We just go with the flow lol.

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      • Nara

        Yeah, I was wondering if we could possibly get some baby free evening time but he isn’t keen! Maybe in the new flat it will work as it’s a different layout. Hopefully he will start going to bed earlier!

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  2. sewingbutterfly

    I have pulled back on a lot of mum-group contact because I am struggling with it all. Is it because I didn’t have to try very hard? Not sure that is it. I am not desperately trying to escape to a night out but I do need space. I go to a crafting meet up fortnightly-ish depending on my husbands shift roster and baby stays home with him. It helps me feel like myself. I found that I could not express any of my struggles to my mums group because I did once and was met with silence and patronising comments of ‘aww you will be right, you are just a bit young’ (I am 29!) or ‘Oh you should consider yourself lucky because your baby sleeps through’. Not helpful. I feel like everyone else is insanely in love with their babies and just glide through this mum thing with no issues. I absolutely love my son but I felt no guilt when going to my craft meetup and I didn’t miss him. I feel like something is wrong with me :-/

    We have no routine here either really. I am baby-led in terms of naps and feeds etc, I feed him when he is hungry (we formula bottle feed and do solids) and he naps when he is tired. We do however have a bedtime routine but we have kept it flexible for the odd night we are out or away etc. Helps things go smoothly.

    Sorry this probably sounds rambling!

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    • Nara

      Thanks for understanding! I think it’s probably the first time we make friends that aren’t based on shared interests as such, maybe! I don’t think there is anything wrong with you. We are all different and I also think people who haven’t experienced any infertility or loss have a different approach to parenthood. There is another one in our broader local mums group and we have an understanding!

      We are so baby led… we hardly ever so anything organised! Terrible! 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. EmilyMaine

    Ahhhhh sorry it has all been a bit of an anti-climax. Did you get to express some of your concerns with your boss about keeping busy and career progression etc?

    Like

    • Nara

      Yeah it’s a bit weird but I think the slow start has helped me. I feel tired from the commuting. The work isn’t too difficult at all but that may change!

      Like

  4. sbach1222

    I hear you on wanting to be busy at work. I hate to think I’m leaving Baby Bach to do… NOTHING. I mean, I am earning money to give us a good life, but I hate being bored when I could be with my baby.

    I’m glad to hear they gave you a room, but those rules are HORRIBLE! You totally don’t know 24 hours ahead of time when you need to pump. You only know like 3-4 hours ahead of time! And NO LOCK?? I would be so uncomfortable with that! Not to mention, that would not fly legally here.

    I hope things start to get better for you. I am sure they will once you get into a routine, even if it isn’t the routine you had pictured.

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    • Nara

      Yes that’s it! The idea I’m going through all this for nothing! Hopefully it will change.

      I had the room today and it was a pain as it wasn’t set up so I had to stick stuff over the window and whatnot. But when I did get it, I managed to get loads of milk! Maybe I was more relaxed… I did feel a bit proud of myself!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dani

    I’m not sure I could do what you are doing right now! Working from home with baby in house would be way too distracting, even when I was just doing my work for the exec development program I had to leave the house because I couldn’t concentrate!!! But I understand it’s tough getting the balance with everything especially pumping. But I’m glad they have figured some Space for you to pump in. I fear for you that there will be a time when you turn up to pump and there is someone in there (who thinks they should have the room) and then it becomes more hassle for you. I hope that doesn’t happen, but that’s what I would worry about.
    It must be a weird Limbo land 😔 hope you find your groove soon!!!!

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    • Nara

      Yes totally this! I’m thankful I don’t have much work right now as it’s really a strange way to work. I can’t concentrate with B around! I tried to go our yesterday to a cafe but couldn’t get online so that was a fail! Ended up going round to my friend’s for G&T instead! Agh. I need to get back into a routine. I suppose it will happen when B goes to nursery! Definitely weird limbo! 😬

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  6. Dubliner in Deutschland

    I hope you’ll get into the swing of things and adjust to the changes soon. Maybe the pumping will get easier or you won’t need to do it as often. Sorry to hear about the mum group not being as good. Flakey people drive me mad to be honest! I’ve a few friends like that and it’s really frustrating when you plan your day around meeting someone and then they cancel last minute. It sounds like you’re managing really well with B and nice that you’ve worked around your routine. Happy parents means happy baby.
    I haven’t noticed any “symptoms” yet (just a little heartburn and bloating) but it’s hard to know what things are side effects all the meds and hormones. Feeling scared to find out the result! x

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    • Nara

      Yeah I think I was getting annoyed with the flakiness but I think I just expect more as I have less time! And I do plan my days around things so it’s annoying when people give hardly any notice!
      B is definitely a happy baby, which is good. It just makes me worry about him going to nursery but hopefully he will just be his usual happy self!

      I keep checking your blog! I hope you’re feeling okay. Although how can you?! It’s a special kind of torture. I hope that everything goes well. I’ll be thinking of you. Xx

      Like

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