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the new mom September 16, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Staff.

Editor’s note: this post could apply for a new dad. That Guy experienced quite a bit of this when his child was born. Except for the breastfeeding part.

Photo used under CC license; by Flickr user nyki_m.

Photo used under CC license; by Flickr user nyki_m.

The New Mom. Ah, how offices love babies. The entire place grinds to a halt when an employee on familiy leave brings in a squalling bundle of diaper-filling joy for a brief visit. Because, you know, you’ve just gotten government-mandated leave and you still can’t stay away.

But it gets better! The first three or four days back from family leave are like still being on vacation! Here’s the first day’s schedule:

9am — roll in half an hour late, apologizing profusely, but you had trouble separating yourself from your baby.
9:10am — start setting up all your baby photos on the new desk. You will need push-pins, tape, picture frames, and above all else time to reorganize your desktop accessories to make room for all the pictures.
9:15am — your co-workers realize that you’re back and begin pressing you for pictures and stories.
9:17am — you officially become sick of people asking if you’ve had any sleep yet.
10am — first break. You call the sitter or the daycare or the significant other. You talk to your child, even though it can’t speak yet.
10:10am (breastfeeding moms only) — you pause to express milk and then clearly label it so no one puts it in their coffee. This will happen at least once in the next four weeks.
10:30am — while going through your e-mail, you feel an urge to lock yourself in a bathroom stall and cry because you miss your baby so much.
10:45am — you call your baby again.
10:55am — you update your social networks and blog with how you’re feeling about being back to work.
11:30am — you finally finish clearing out several weeks worth of e-mail. This process included asking co-workers what e-mails didn’t have to be responded to yet. By now, you have seen 70% of the people in the office, and have told 55% of them that you are getting some sleep.
12pm — lunch.
12:45pm (breastfeeding moms only) — even though you may not feel like pumping just yet, you do it anyway because “I won’t get a chance later; I’ll be too busy.”
1pm — start meeting with the people in your department to find out what projects are in progress, where in the process they are, and how you can or should be helping them.
1:40pm — you start to nod off, not used to staying awake this long.
3pm — your boss finally finds a few minutes to shoehorn you in for a closed-door meeting to see “how you’re doing”. You spend the first 20 minutes rehashing every baby story you’ve already told.
3:20pm — your boss tells you to “take it easy” for the first couple of days.
3:22pm — the first major project hits you in the face.
3:30pm — you step outside to relax. You call your baby again.
3:45pm — you try to figure out how you’re going to tackle the huge project your boss just gave you.
4pm — lock yourself in the bathroom again. Look at pictures of your baby on your cell phone. Maybe watch a brief video of it sleeping.
4:10pm — you find your favorite co-worker and spend some time just chatting, getting away from everything. Conversation inevitably drifts toward the baby and, after a few minutes, you realize all you’re hearing is “uh-huh. Yeah. Interesting.” Having had enough of that from your spouse, you leave, disgruntled.
4:30pm — debate with yourself over leaving work early.
5pm (breastfeeding moms only) — pump.
5:10pm — sit at your desk, staring off into space, the company website or intranet or e-mail client open on your computer so you can pretend you were working.
5:20pm — pack your stuff. Collect your milk. Get down to the car.
5:25pm — leave parking lot.
6:30pm — you finally get home. You want to flop on the couch and relax, but your child needs you and you miss being with it. Your spouse is totally unhelpful, or tries to be helpful and just can’t figure out what you want or how to read your mind to get it. You both fight, trying not to let the baby catch on. It sounds very strange.
9pm — go to bed, praying that the kid sleeps through the night, just this once.
1am — feeding.
4am — feeding. Even if it’s not your turn to feed the kid, you’re still woken up by the noise and light.
6am — your alarm goes off. You stumble out of bed. You look at your kid… and smile… and lose track of time until it wakes up and wants feeding.
8:15am — you leave the house. Work starts at 8:30.
9am — you arrive at work, apologizing profusely.

Look… it’s difficult. Your co-workers know this. Some of them have kids. But y’know what? They all want you to suck it up, just like they did. Of course, it’s harder for you; when your co-workers had their first kids, they all had to do only one thing. They didn’t have to do 25 different jobs. You have a point, and they have a point.

It gets better. But that first day is the toughest. Just know that the sympathy you receive on Monday will drop off sharply on Tuesday, and by Wednesday… well, you’re screwed.

That is, until you bring the baby in for a visit. And you know you will, too.



1. you must work now « corporatespeak - September 22, 2009

[…] while back I wrote about new moms and how difficult it is to get back into the swing of things at work because of all the mom stuff […]

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