Mom to Veronica
911 Call Taker/Police Dispatcher
Length of maternity leave: 9-weeks
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
I was very worried at the time that my then 2 month old was not on any sort of schedule. This was not for lack of trying, I had started a bedtime routine at around 4 weeks and stuck to it every day, and even still, every single day/night was different. She was not a good nap taker and would only nap on my chest or in someone’s arms. It was exhausting and had me worried that this would make things that much harder when I returned to work. My anxiety was terrible, I even believed I was truly experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, and I likely was. This changed drastically once I actually made it back to work, thankfully. V (Veronica’s nickname) had her 2 month appointment the week before I returned to work and I cried to her pediatrician. She hugged me and told me it was still very normal that she was not on a strict and predictable schedule and to rest assured that she would be OK as long as her needs continued to be met. She told me if things did not emotionally/mentally get better that I should seek outside help. I’m so thankful that I think most of my anxiety was attached to my fear that my return to work would be catastrophic and V wouldn’t adjust.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
We never get to clock out of work. I get up at 5, either feed baby or pump depending on her, get myself as together as much as possible and head out the door. I leave work at 3, come home or go to pick up my daughter and then my son arrives home from middle school. I then proceed with the evening with both kids solo. My husband works opposite hours to me which works logistically but actually really sucks because we rarely see each other. So the difficultly is the days seem doubly long and when you’re already drained and exhausted, it’s often tough to power through.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I do enjoy working and my job. I like having somewhere to be outside of home and a place to be around adults and to use my brain for things that aren’t just children or household related.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
Absolutely. I no longer will volunteer for overtime even though the money would be nice and useful. My time at home is much more important.
Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work or getting ramped up in your role?
I wish I could tell myself, and believe myself that everything would be OK. That my husband is more than capable and actually in some aspects better than me with the baby.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
The pros are HUGE. Trust, first and foremost. My mom cared for my son in his infancy and toddlerhood while I finished college and worked and she is a baby whisperer. She’s amazing and so extremely patient. Convenient: some days she comes to our house which saves me from having to drive with a baby that still hates the car. When she does have baby at her house, we stocked the house with baby necessities so we don’t have to tote a bag back and forth every day. Cost effective (read: free).
Cons include my twinges of guilt that I am working my mom too hard. On most traditional days she has her for about 4 hours. There will be times I get forced overtime and that will make the days much longer. Also, my husband and I work opposite schedules. He is not home until 9:15 PM which leaves dinner and bedtime to me after a long day at work. I often wish I could tag him in or call in reinforcements once a week or so. Since my mom cares for her while I’m at work, I feel like she is not an option to lean on if I’m having a particularly hard day or want to take some time for myself at some point.
Having two kids and working a full time job is the most challenging thing I’ve taken on in life and pushes me past what I previously thought my limits were on a daily basis. The support from my husband and our parents has been such a blessing.