Back to work Anxiety
I hope this is ok to post this as its not so much about Breastfeeding as it is my extreme anxiety about returning to work.
My daughter is 12 weeks old. I have returned back to work full time. I am nursing and pumping.
I am having a hard time coping. I am having extreme guilt over leaving her all day long. I am gone with driving times 9.5 hours 5 days a week. My sister and husband and mom go back and forth day to day caring for her. so she is with all family. But she is having a hard time adjusting. I have to wake her up to nurse 2 hours ealier than normal then she takes an extra 2 hour nap in the morning at my sisters to make up for waking 2 hours earlier. She gets 2-3 4oz bottles while i am gone, and she nurses as soon as i walk in the door when i get home, and 2 more times that night. she sleeps 8.5-9 hours at night straight. She takes another 3 hour nap in the after noon. Plus she still dozes off here and there through out the day. So i have a very good sleeper, and I think she is eating enough. She never has to cry to eat she is fed at first sign of hunger.
So all this being said I can't stop obsessing that its ok and its enough and she is fine.
I have extreme anxiety that everyone is doing it right, and that her schedule is ok. that she is eating enough and sleeping enough.
I am almost feeling sick. I feel guilty when i make dinner or take a shower or clean because its time away from her. I have started staying up later than her to shower and pick up the house and i wake up earlier than her to get ready for the day and pack her things.
I am tired. And yet I feel sooooo guilty. I cannot stop thinking about her and obsessing that she is ok.
My midwife wanted to put me on an antidpressant for my anxiety, but I took it for 2 days it made it 100 times worse, and I just do not want to take a pill. I know I am extrememely hormonal as my emotions and tears are quick and i still get hot flashes. I am also still bleeding everytime i exercise... so i feel like a lot of this will regulate with time.
Can someone tell me they went through something similar? Tell me it gets better? I will go back to normal?
Am i a bad mother for working full time?? My husband wont let me cut down to part time because he does not think we can afford it.
Re: Back to work Anxiety
Hi mama, I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this. I'm wondering if you are having post-partum depression/anxiety exacerbated by the stress of going back to work? Definitely a certain amount of emotional upheaval is normal in going back to work when you have an infant, but this sounds like it may go beyond that. There are ways of dealing with depression and anxiety that don't involve pills - therapy etc. It sounds like your midwife is pretty tuned in to what could be going on, perhaps she could refer you to a mental health professional?
Of course you are not a bad mother for working full time (or part time, for that matter). I'm a full-time working mom as are many others on here, as are many mothers in general - I can't remember the latest statistics but I believe the majority of mothers of young children are working, in any case there are many mothers in your situation. Some mothers work out of economic necessity, others because their work outside the home is important to them. Part of having children is making sure they are provided for. It sounds like you have a great situation set up in terms of having close family members watching your LO while you're at work.
In terms of worries about whether baby is getting enough: is she growing appropriately? Is she having an appropriate number of wet diapers? If she is, then she's getting enough.
Also, I think trying to get enough sleep is really important. I know for me that when I'm tired my emotions are that much more labile. It's okay to take a shower or clean when she's awake. At that age I put my LO in a bouncy chair while I showered; you can wear her in a baby carrier while cleaning up.
Hang in there mama. Going back to work is really tough. Things do get better with time. But don't hesitate to reach out for more help if you need it. :hug
Re: Back to work Anxiety
I went through something similar, but maybe not quite as extreme. I am gone as long as you are every day, and I have some days I have to work 14-15 hours (2x a month, and I didn't start back with that right away). It gradually subsided. I cried on the way to work every morning for probably a month. I did end up talking my boss into letting me work from home one day a week, which helped a lot. It's still hard, but I've come to accept my busy schedule. There are days I feel bitter that I couldn't stay at home, but my LO is a very happy, smart girl who still wants Mommy more than anyone. I know it is harder on me than it is on her. I check in from work regularly, and pretty much run the show from work. My nanny and husband always ask questions about how they should handle things, and I know what's happening pretty much at all times (when she's napping, what she ate, etc.), even though I'm not there.
We are very devoted to cooking and exercise, so I do try to schedule those things to not be away from her too much. I exercise during my lunch break as much as possible, and then I take her in the jogging stroller. I cook a lot of easier things than in the past. When LO was little, I would put her bouncy chair in the kitchen and talk to her. Now she usually plays with her dad while I cook and runs in to see my sometimes. But other than that, all of my hobbies have gone bye-bye for now. Although I'd like to pick them up, it's just too much.
Just try to give it a little more time -- it is definitely worse in the beginning. We always said one good thing about our situation is that there's a steady stream of people happy to see my LO (daddy in the morning, nanny, then mommy comes home) so maybe you can try to see it that way, too. But adjusting to working on so little sleep, pumping, trying to do laundry and other chores...it's all very stressful.
Re: Back to work Anxiety
I can't speak to the mental health/pp depression issues but I think the posts above are great advice. I do think it's really hard to go back to work -- even if you WANT to go back to work. I did ... but still cried when I took my LO to daycare the first few times, and felt very conflicted about it for at least a few months, and I also felt a lot of worry about how he was doing in daycare, and sometimes I felt guilty for wanting to be at work ... so I can only imagine how much more intense those feelings would be for someone who does NOT want to go back to work but might have to out of necessity. Returning to work is a big adjustment and some of it might work itself out with time -- but you need to check in with yourself about whether your anxiety is in proportion with the reality of the situation, or whether you might be experiencing a mental health issue above and beyond the challenges of the adjustment period. It sounds like you have some good self-insight on that.
As far as feeling bad about taking care of yourself and house vs. taking care of baby ... For me it took a while to figure out how to integrate baby into my life, rather than scheduling life around the baby. It took me the better part of a year to figure it out! Now I just bring him along for everything I need to do, because ultimately I think they just want to be with you -- they don't care whether that's in the carrier while you vacuum, or lounging on the couch -- a mommy cuddle is a mommy cuddle. So for me, this is what it looks like: When I shower, he sits in the bouncer chair on the other side of the glass shower door, and I sing to him, play peekaboo, etc. I take him with me to the grocery store -- I used to wear him in the ergo, now he rides in the cart. When I need to cook, he keeps me company in the kitchen -- I used to sit him in the bouncer on the floor when he was little, but now that he's big enough, I have a portable chair clamped to our breakfast bar and he watches everything from there -- or you can use a regular high chair (I bet watching you cook dinner is probably a very fun sensory experience -- shiny pots and pans, delicious smells, fun noises, mommy zipping around the kitchen). When I'm hungry, he sits in his high chair at the table and "eats" (plays with solids) while I eat my meal. So maybe part of this is changing your perspective to see how integrating baby into all the things you're doing when you're home IS quality time with baby :)
Re: Back to work Anxiety
The PPs really said it all but I will chime in anyway. I had many of the same feelings when I went back to work and one of the things that helped was knowing DD had great, safe, loving caretakers. We have never done daycare. My husband cares for her when I leave for work and 90 min later the nanny comes so he can start work. They both love her and care for her deeply and that just makes all the difference for me. But I also want to address the guilt and how much time I spent with her back then at 12 weeks and now at 10 months. The answer is, most of my free time. At 3 months I was nursing constantly: up till I left for work, right when I got home, all night long. One reason we chose to co sleep, which we've done since birth, is because I couldn't fathom working all day, and then having her spend all night in a crib. It works for some people. Just not for us.
Fast forward to today at 10 months. I still spend all morning, evening, overnight and weekend with her. I don't belong to a gym (I actually workout at home either in the nursery while she plays or I have her in the jogging stroller and I have compromised on exercise by choice), I don't do girls nights out and we don't do date nights away from her yet. We love being with her and we find time for each other. When she was a newborn I used to shower with her right at the shower door in a portable cradle. I have been taking baths with her in my lap since her belly button healed post delivery. Now we have a jumpy swing in the doorway of the bathroom (the doorway is very wide) and she watches me shower and I sing and talk to her. She jumps while I get ready too.
When she was 2 to maybe 7 months I wore her in a sling to get things done. Or I just let everything go. So you see, I get where you are and you can make this work for both of you as long as you accept you are not harming her by being at work.
Honestly one of the hardest things was how much I asked DH for help. Cooking, cleaning, caring for our 3 dogs and 2 cats. Some days DD couldn't leave my arms and it was all I could do to get to the bathroom let alone shower. If I had $1 for every time I've gone to the toilet holding a baby... There were days on mat leave where I'd say to DH, ok she's fed, please take her for 10 min so I can shower and brush my teeth and feel human! :) I hope you have a husband who is as awesome as mine because he's still doing most everything around the house unless he takes her to play and then I pitch in. You also have family, which is awesome - we do not - so take advantage of that!
I know I jumped around a lot but I will end with this. At 6 months they're SO different and at 9 months SO different again and in my opinion it has gotten easier. DD is still EBF except for a little food experimentation (BLS) but she doesn't need me constantly holding her now as long as she is fed and rested. Oh by the way - she's sleeping on my lap as I'm writing this. :)
Take a breath. Maybe try a meditation from meditationpodcast.com (they're great, there's one about letting go of anxiety). And let us know how things go.
Re: Back to work Anxiety
Thank you guys so much! I today, Monday on week 2, have a lot better perspective. and I am SUPER excited about how I am going to incorporate her into everyday life. I have set up my kitchen where she can watch me cook and do dishes and have bought a CD of nursery rhymes so we can sing whilst we are cooking and cleaning. I am really trying to let go of my anxieties. I have been talking to my mom alot as she struggles with a bit of anxiety too. I have been trying to see how time away from mom will be good for her! Especially with her quality daddy time. It is really a struggle for me, but I have a more positive outlook, and this advice has REALLY helped me see it that way! I cannot say thank you enough!!! I didn't even cry this morning! I felt sad, but I didn't cry!
Re: Back to work Anxiety
Thanks for the update! I didn't realize last week was your very first week back. Yes, very normal to feel like a basket case. I'm glad things are going a better this week. It takes time to settle into the new routine.