Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hell Week

So, I've officially completed Hell Week. No, I'm not a Navy Seal. But my first full-time week back to work has left me in a haze.

Under normal circumstances, I would easily be able to manage everything on my plate. After all, I know my job like the back of my hand. Normally, it would be second nature for me to put out fires and correct mistakes. But after 9 weeks of looking at nothing but poopy diapers and my newfound boobies, the paperwork and media requests have become overwhelming. I am unsure where to start with the list of tasks ahead of me and so I space out. I find myself easily distracted whether in the office or at home. It's as if I've acquired ADD and any shiny object diverts my attention. My heart is at home and my head tries to follow but I keep it on a short leash. I have no choice but to focus and take one thing at a time. Easier said than done, but I need to prioritize. After all, the bills have to get paid somehow and I'd prefer to do it without taking my clothes off. Especially with all the momma flab. Oh, and my morals and values of course.

On Monday, from the minute I awoke, I was on a mission. I frantically cleaned all the bottles in the house by hand and sterilized them. I wrote out detailed instructions for my mother on how and when to prepare the bottles, which breastmilk containers to use and how much at each feeding, how to use our backup formula if she should run out of breastmilk, where to find bibs, burp cloths, etc., how to work his numerous soothing contraptions, as well as a list of numbers to contact me or DH should something go awry. Yes, I became THAT mother. The overly paranoid, protective one. After all, it's not like my mother raised two children. I reasoned to myself that Nate is different. He is a high needs baby (I know, which baby isn't? - but tell that to me in my hysteria) and she needs to be adequately prepared for a day alone with him.

I decided to nurse him before I left and as I was burping him, he gave me a big smile and even a hint of a laugh. It brought out the waterworks I was determined to hide. Again, I had to walk out the door without kissing him. Just trusting that all would be fine. I hated leaving him when he was in such a good mood but I reminded myself I would be seeing him in just a few hours, agonizing as they may be.

Of course, the day went off without a hitch, despite my nightmarish visions of calamity. I called to check in at lunchtime and he had just woken up from a nap. He didn't eat much over the day (about 7-8 oz. total in 9 hours) but I was just happy he didn't flat out refuse. And we also didn't have to resort to formula! When I came home, he was asleep in his swing, so content. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Tuesday and Wednesday were remote days. It was difficult to plan phone calls around unpredictable nap times and to type one-handed while Nate was on the boob but we somehow got through it. I definitely felt moments of guilt when he would cry and it would take me a few minutes to finish up what I was working on to come to his rescue. Or when he would look at me with sheer frustration as I tried to nurse him and type simultaneously, like "this is uncomfortable mommy!" Or when I would look down at him in his bouncer (which I'm pushing with my foot as I type so as to get more than 5 minutes use out of it) and he would be staring back up at me as if to say, "pay attention to me, mommy!" It's so hard because while I want Nate to always come first, there will inevitably be times in which tending to his needs will be delayed. Something's gotta give. Hence, the impending guilt and feelings of selfishness.

I wish I were like that octopus in that air freshener commercial so I could have 8 free arms to cook, clean, work and take care of my baby. Alas, I only have 2 and I have to do the best I can. Even if my best isn't good enough according to my standards. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I want to excel at the mommy thing and the career thing. My fear is that I'll be subpar at both. And I really really don't want to fail at either. Talk about pressure.

After two days of trying to balance the scales of justice, I was honestly ready for a mental break. Working in the office is hardly guilt-free but I don't have the added stress of watching my baby stare at me with beautiful, big puppy dog eyes and pouty lips as I put together media plans. I don't have to peer at the clock as I hold him in my arms. I don't have to apologize profusely for not being responsive enough. Nothing makes me feel more helpless.

Thursday was Daddy Day and again, I woke up with a sense of mania - preparing bottles, organizing toys, strategically placing burp cloths and blankets throughout the aparment. While I trust DH wholeheartedly, I sometimes worry about him being alone with Nate for extended periods of time. He doesn't have as much patience as I do for the crying and battle of the wills. He often raises the white flag as if he's under duress and hands him off to me during the witching hour. So naturally, I was afraid of what it would be like when I wasn't there to relieve him. But, like Monday, it went better than I expected. He ate a little more for Daddy than Grandma over the course of the day (about 10 oz.) but still not as much as he does from me. No surprise there. When I came home, he was chillin' on Daddy's lap, listening to the sounds of Baby Vivaldi while intently watching DH code. We had success.

Friday was another remote day and I felt refreshed and ready to tackle the tasks at hand. There was light at the end of the tunnel. If I could make it through today, we could have 2 whole days together with no interruptions. That proved to be enough motivation to get me through those final 8 hours and through the ribbon to the finish line. *key Chariots of Fire soundtrack*

The bright side of Hell Week is that it has made me feel more at ease leaving Nate. I still get sad and sometimes the tears still flow - or least threaten to - when the clock strikes 830am and it's time to leave. That's just the momma in me. But I know that I'll come home and he'll still be in one piece.

It has made me realize that it doesn't make me a bad mother to make the most of my time away. I can *gasp* enjoy myself and indulge in a cup of coffee and adult interaction and conversation. All the while knowing my boy is in good hands. It's a nice thought but I don't flatter myself that he even notices a vacancy in our residence those 2 days per week. As long as he's fed that is.

But best of all, it makes me cherish my time with Nate so much more. Those first few seconds when I step through the doorway and see his face are indescribable.


Melissa said...

You're quite a trooper! I don't know how you juggle full-time work plus mommyhood. You definitely get an award for that!

Congrats on surviving your first week back at work. I know it's tough - but you're doing a phenomenal job.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

YAY for surviving the first week back. I've heard others say that working has made them appreciate their time with the baby more. I'm hoping that is what happens for me...I'm just dreading leaving Lemy. Bleh. ((HUGS))

scarredbellybutton said...

If you haven't already, have a look at The Fussy Baby Book by William & Martha Sears.

Samantha said...

You've made it! I'm sure you'll start to feel more relaxed with your mom and husband as your schedule gets more routine.

Denise said...

Congrats on making it through hell week! You are doing so great adjusting and balancing work and mommyhood.

Shelli said...

I remember my first week back to work like it was yesterday (and that was five years ago).

Pretty soon, your 'new' normal will fall into place and you'll find yourself juggling pretty well. I've found that work keeps me from losing me, and as much as I lament about it, I still love it.