Monday, December 14, 2015

The Countdown to the End of Maternity Leave

by Meghann on December 14, 2015

First of all, I want to state how incredibly thankful I am that I was able to afford to take a full 12 weeks of maternity leave. It’s been a hot topic in the media lately just how horrible the maternity/paternity leave policies are in the United States and, frankly, I agree they are bullshit. I am luckier than most that my company offered 6 weeks of short term disability at partial pay and that we are a dual house income that could afford to lose one of our incomes for a short period. With that being said, going back to work at 12 weeks makes my heart hurt and I can’t even imagine how painful it would be to return any sooner than that. My heart goes out to all the moms and dads who have to return sooner, you are stronger and braver than I will ever be.

The countdown to the end of my maternity leave has begun. I head back to work on December 21st and my heart breaks a little more every time I allow myself to think about it. The time has passed too quickly, my baby is still a baby, and I feel like we’ve only just begun to get to know each other. Even now tears are starting to roll down my face as I ponder what our new normal will look like.

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Thankfully, due to the holidays, I’m able to ease into my return to work. I’ll work two full days on Monday the 21st and Tuesday the 22nd, then half a day on the 23rd before having a holiday break between Christmas Eve and New Years Day. Derek is taking some time off to cover the 2.5 days I’ll be in the office in December and will then be utilizing the remainder of his paternity leave for the first 2 weeks of January. Even though I technically start back at work on the 21st, we won’t have to place Annalynn in daycare until January 19th. Knowing she’ll be over 15 weeks, instead of just 12, when starting daycare puts my mind a little more at ease.

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I’m also grateful that having Derek at home with her will allow us to have some trial and error when it comes to her napping and eating routines while I’m away. After overcoming our initial hump with nursing, I’ve really grown to love our breastfeeding relationship and would like to continue it as long as we can. Since she’s been eating on demand from the beginning, I know the transition of going to bottles for the majority of the day is going to be tough. Not only in making sure she has enough, but that she’s not being overfed as well.

Lately I’ve found myself asking ALL THE QUESTIONS when it comes to returning to work and breastfeeding. How much will she need? Can she still eat on demand? How do we establish a routine? When should I pump? How will this effect my supply? etc. etc.

I’ve learned more about breast milk since becoming a mom than I ever would have known otherwise.  For instance, did you know that breastfed babies’ will pretty much eat the same ounces per bottle from when they’re a couple of months old to when they’re done with breast milk? That’s because a your breast milk adjusts as the baby grows to accommodate the need for more calories and fats. Pretty cool, right?

Katy wrote a really great post regarding how she handled pumping and working, which answered a lot of my questions and contains links to some valuable sources. I highly recommend it if you’re a new mom who also plans to pump at work.

Right now I have a little more than 100 oz of breast milk in my freezer. I’ve been semi-blessed with an abundant supply (*knock on wood*) so building my freezer stash has thankfully not been an issue. I usually pump every-other-day during Annalynn’s first nap (about halfway between her feedings) and get about 5 oz in a 10 minute session. When I head back to work, I’ll be pumping at least 3x a day at the office. My office has a private nursing room for pumping, which will be helpful. I still need to find some business casual appropriate shirts/dresses that will allow easy access for pumping.

Since I’ve learned so much reading about other bloggers’ experiences with breastfeeding, pumping, and working; I plan to do a series of follow-up posts with my own experiences. I also want to point out that there is NOTHING wrong with formula and if I have to eventually give my baby formula I am 100% okay with it. How we choose to feed our babies is such a personal decision and there is no right or wrong answer. Feeding the baby is the ultimate goal and I just happened to choose the path of breastfeeding (and have been lucky enough to make it work thus far). If that path goes another way, then so be it. Right now my goal is to make it at least a year with breastfeeding (hopefully even more) and I’m up for the challenge.

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I think heading back to work and leaving my daughter behind will be one of the hardest, most painful things I’ve ever done. I’ve really enjoyed being a temporary stay-at-home mom. I’ve loved getting to know my daughter, I’ve loved being the one to feed her and put her down for her naps everyday, I’ve loved our mommy groups and daily outings, and I’ve loved being with her almost every waking hour of her life thus far. Everyone warned me that the love I would have for Annalynn would be all encompassing, but it’s still stronger than I could ever  have imagined. I miss her when she’s sleeping, I miss her when I’m away, and I miss her when I’m not holding her. This kid is my world and nothing will change that.

And so the countdown begins…

7 days and counting…

I’m so not ready for this.

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