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May 03, 2012

Working Mama

I've been back at work for nearly 3 weeks now and have been meaning to post some of my thoughts about it. I generally get asked 2 questions: Am I glad to be back? and Is it hard to be back? The answers are a little complicated.

I am glad to be back - I returned to the news that my promotion and continuing appointment packet was approved, so as of July 1 I will be promoted to the rank of Associate Librarian and get to keep my job for the foreseeable future. I enjoy doing what I do and working with the people at ASU. My supervisor is very supportive and allows me to have a fairly flexible schedule so Chris and I can usually make sure one of us is available to be with Elmer while attending to our various responsibilities.

Is it hard to be back? Yes and no. Yes because I only get to spend time with Elmer in the morning before work, and I get home just in time to put him to bed in the evening. But I'm trying to take my time with him in the mornings and not rush around to get ready - in general, I do my best to always be patient and enjoy the moments with Elmer, even at 3 AM! And yes, because I do have to pump at work and I feel a little pressure to produce enough food for the next day. Nursing is much preferable to pumping! However, after some trial and error, I've figured out that a twice daily pumping works well for me, producing enough milk for the next day's feedings. I pump just before lunch, and then again at 4:00 before I leave for home. I think it helped, too, that I just accepted that it's not the end of the world if Chris needs to make a bottle of formula once in a while. Pumping works a lot better if you aren't stressed out about how much you're squeezing out!

No, it's not hard to be back, because being at work is like traveling back in time. My office is the same, my desk, and my responsibilities (more or less - they're always changing). Once I get on my bike and start pedaling to work, it's the same routine I've had for the past 6 years. If it weren't for pumping, it'd be easy to forget I even had a baby! And it's not hard because I know that Elmer's in good hands with his father - I never have to worry about him during the day.

I've noticed a few changes in my outlook on work/life balance. I am less likely to goof off because I'm more aware that if I'm not being productive at work, my time would be better spent at home. I'm becoming more focused on getting things done and using my time more efficiently, both at work and at home. I'm very motivated to leave work promptly in the evening so I can get home in time for Elmer's bath and bedtime routine. And weekends have an additional sweetness - not only do I get to spend more time with my husband, I get to be with my son. Also, no pumping!

*A pumping footnote -I use a Medela Pump In Style Advanced, which seems to work very well for me, and I strongly recommend a hands free bustier (like this one). I have a private office with a window I can easily block off, so I can just continue to work while pumping.

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