Diaries of a working mom chapter 12b: Back to work, again, really!

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When people ask me how much time I took off after Leo’s birth, I always give the caveat that I came back in very different circumstances than most women.  I was working from home, part time, with full time childcare. I was able to see the little guy throughout the day – and most days still do – and even bring him to some meetings with me.

Since I came back to work a little faster this time than last, I’ve been thinking each week about how I’m feeling about it.  Still no regrets, but some interesting observations:
  • May (2-6 weeks old).  Yes, I was working, but I was pretty delirious.  I was sleep deprived, emotional and starving (since Leo’s digestive issues sent me on a total elimination diet).  I was able to get back to the basics of back office management and respond to my colleagues’ requests, but my strategic thinking was… lacking.  And of course, I was beating myself up over that constantly until my very wise executive coach told me to lay off myself and just ask others how I could help them.
  • June (6-10 weeks old, when many women in America have to return to work).  Compared to May, I was a new woman, but probably only 50% of myself.  My productivity wasn’t my usual and I still didn’t have the stamina.  I could think coherently, but my time doing that was limited. That said, we were so busy that I was working full time and really contributing again.
  • July (10-13 weeks old, when most women I know return to work).  I feel back to myself from a productivity and stamina perspective, but now I feel totally time constrained.  Maybe that is never going to change until my kids go to college, but I feel like I have so much less time and so much more to pack into it.  Nursing is a huge time commitment and with two kids, my evenings and weekends are completely consumed with childcare.  That said, I’ve learned to work at a new level of efficiency during the workday.  I’m probably getting as much done as I used to, but I’m still wishing for more work hours every week.
So, when I think about how I’m feeling, I think now is a good time to get back to work.  I’ll stand by my previous assertion that coming back quickly was the right thing for me personally and for our company, but for the record, a few weeks is not an appropriate maternity leave for most moms at most companies.  I’m very happy to see companies like Yahoo increasing their standard maternity leave, even if their CEO comes back in two weeks with a nursery next to her office!  

Coming back soon after a pregnancy can work with a lot of flexibility and support.