Gretchen

Mom to Noah

Nurse Practitioner

Length of Maternity Leave: 12-weeks

Childcare: In-home Daycare


What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?


I couldn't imagine not being with my son for hours on end. We were extremely blessed to have my mom living with us until he was 6 months old, and my first 6 weeks back to work were part time rather than full time hours. Even with a gradual transition back to work and later on into daycare, I felt guilty. I felt guilty that I finished my Masters when he was 2 months old. I felt guilty that I studied for my boards exam while he napped as a newborn. I felt guilty because even as happy as I was to be a new mom, I was equally happy about my new career that I had worked so hard for in the years prior. And when the time finally came to start my new job, with my new title - it hurt to leave him. The thought of someone else spending more time with my child than me was painful. I'm still working through it.


What do you find difficult about being a working parent?


I feel like I'm running back and forth between two full time jobs. And when I'm at work, I feel like I have two different full time jobs there as well. Pumping is no joke! It's currently the most stressful part of being a mom, hands down. Don't get me wrong - I fully understand that the ability to provide nourishment for my child is a HUGE blessing. With that being said, it's also so.very.hard. I'm constantly trying to drink enough water and eat enough food in between seeing patients so that I'm able to pump what I need (which I rarely do). I pump every 3 hours for about 20 minutes each, which means I'm spending an HOUR of my work day pumping. And during those pump sessions, I'm constantly stressing about how behind I am (both on pumping and on actual work) and how I'm inconveniencing others to stop to pump. When I get home I have to wash pump parts and prepare everything for the next day. I try not to let the exhaustion get the best of me, although it usually does, and my poor husband is the one who suffers most. I'm proud of my career and I'm thankful for my job, but being a working mom is a constant struggle.



What do you enjoy about being a working parent?


I enjoy getting out of the house and interacting with my patients and co-workers. Contributing to our family's finances is also hugely important to me, and my current position allows us to save and plan for Noah's future. Being away from home gives me a greater sense of appreciation for family time and days off, and I'm working towards letting go of the small stuff (laundry, dishes, housework) so I can be fully present when I'm home. And yes, letting go of housework means I've hired someone else to do it. Let's be real, I can't actually let go of that, but I can't get it done, either. I never thought I'd be one to hire someone else to clean my house, but it's literally some of the best money I've ever spent!


After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?


As far as career goes, I definitely view things now from a parent's point of view. When looking at job opportunities, rather than choosing what most interests me or what could best further my career, I choose flexibility and predictability. Making career and family fit well together in my life has been more challenging than I anticipated, and it has reminded me that family is more important and I need to do what is best for the three of us, not just what is best for me. Additionally, the only way we made it through the first few months of parenthood was because of our families! To them we owe a great deal. My mom and mother in law especially were tremendously loving and helpful as I recovered from my c-section and began my journey as a mother. We feel so blessed to have the support of our parents and have loved watching them as grandparents to Noah. Having a child of my own has reminded me just how thankful and grateful I am for my own mom.


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?


Take a deep breath, you've got this. When it starts to get hard and you want to give up, just push through for one more day. Lean into your support system and don't try to be the hero; you can't do everything alone. Your hard work now will pay off later for this sweet little boy. Also, treat yourself to a Starbucks and pedicure every once in awhile...you deserve it!


What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?


In-home Daycare


I literally agonized over what to do about childcare. As I mentioned before, my mom lived with us for 6 months after my son was born. After begging my mom to never leave us (she eventually had to go back to be with my Dad because they live in another state), I had many sleepless nights over which option to choose. We ended up choosing the home daycare option for the smaller setting and flexible hours. While it is convenient to my husband's job, it's about 15 minutes out of the way one way for me when I drop off/pick up. We have been very happy with our choice. Noah gets plenty of one on one time and his schedule is followed to a T. There's only one other baby his age, Miss Bristol, and they're the cutest little couple you've ever seen. Also, our sitter WASHES HIS BOTTLES. Amazing.



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