24 September 2011, by Mandy Loh
BIIIIIG SIIIIIIIGHHHHHHHH…my maternity leave has ended! 🙁 How on God’s green earth did 16 weeks fly by so quickly??!?
On Wednesday, 21 September 2011, I was officially back at work. I was supposed to have been back on Monday, but decided to take 2 days of annual leave to start mid-week instead, so as to ease back into the working world with only 3 days before the weekend. It’s a good idea and does help to alleviate some of the misery!
I’m blessed to have a full work-from-home arrangement with my company, so Wednesday was actually quite fine. I just had to clear about 400 emails, which I managed to read and file by the end of the day. I had cleared the bulk of it about 2 weeks ago when my inbox had more than 1,000 emails, mostly non-important things or spam. Cristan even cooperated by taking a rather long (3-hour) nap in the morning, allowing me to concentrate on work quite effectively! The real pain hit on Thursday and Friday, as I had to be in the office for 2 full days of meetings and training.
I had been bracing myself to be away from Cristan for the entire day, but nothing could really prepare me for the reality of separation! After 3+ months of blissful full-time motherhood and being with Cristan 24/7, it was FREAKING TOUGH to say goodbye on Thursday morning! Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a rush and only had time to snatch a few kisses and cuddles before I had to run out the door. (Which perhaps, on hindsight, is better than spending a long time saying a tearful goodbye.) The skies exacerbated the moodiness by being depressively grey and rainy. Good thing Tim was nice enough to give me a lift to the office that day, especially since I had to lug my laptop and breast pump there.
It felt like an extremely bad case of post-holiday blues, multiplied a couple of hundred times, compounded by a massive dose of missing-baby blues. My legs felt like lead as I stepped into the office building. Yet, I was surprised to feel a curious mix of emotions, as I actually looked forward to seeing my colleagues again! When I finally entered the office, the happy and joyful welcome I received from my dear colleagues and friends really did help to make me feel better about leaving Cristan behind for the day. It WAS rather nice to be back at work after all!
Most working mothers would agree that being back in the office makes you feel more like yourself again, where you can have engaging grown-up conversations instead of baby-talk the entire day. (It gets a little boring carrying on a monologue all day long with a 3-month old!) The mental stimulation of work is also a refreshing change from the numbing repetitiveness of nursing and diaper changing. However, being a working mom committed to breastfeeding means having to express milk every couple of hours for those 2 days in the office, which I totally detested.
I already dislike expressing milk, even at home, as it’s boring and there are all these funnels and bottles to wash up after. Having to do it in the office (which unfortunately does not have a nursing room, as we are a small company) makes it much worse! After the deed was done, I also had to ensure that nobody moves or throws the milk away, so it was imperative to leave a note in the fridge. (Photo courtesy of my colleague, who found the note hilarious.)
I’m so thankful that I have the luxury of being home with Cristan to nurse him, with only the occasional need to express when I have to go for meetings. I salute all working moms who continue to breastfeed their babies after they start work. It’s a big commitment and is just one more example of the depth of a mother’s love, to provide the best nourishment for their children.
ps. I heard that in Vietnam, there’s a proposal to extend maternity leave to 6 months, so that mothers can exclusively breastfeed for at least that length of time (as recommended by World Health Organisation). Maybe that’s something for the Singapore government to think about eh? 😛
Well, the first 3 days of work has gone pretty well, but the real challenge lies ahead when I will have to take care of Cristan all by myself during office hours, while handling a full load of work. Wish me luck, everyone!