This time next week I will be leaving my baby for the first time. I have so many emotions about it all right now. Fear. Sadness. Worry. Guilt. And perhaps just a teensy bit of excitement. Last year, I made the decision that I would return to work one day a week (I was doing one day a week while pregnant with Gideon). Now that it is upon me though I don't feel ready at all.
I didn't leave the other two to return to work until they were 12 months old and even then it wasn't always a weekly thing so I am feeling some intense mother guilt for returning when Gideon is only 7 months old. I know I will be leaving him in very good hands (Chris will have the kids the first two Fridays and from then on it will be my Mum) but I can't help worrying. Gideon has been our most 'attached' baby out of all three kids. He is used to milk 'on demand' and being held when he sleeps so I have no idea how he is going to go...
Added to that, I will need to express milk for him while I'm at work. I'm worried about how my work is going to react. Even though my work is made up of female employees I am still worried about how my need to express and organising a place to do it will go down. I'm very passionate about breastfeeding, probably more so than any other employees at my work who has returned with a young baby. As an ABA counsellor, I know I should be proud to be advocating breastfeeding but all I feel is downright scared about it! I haven't even discussed this need with my principal yet - must put that on the to-do list!
There are many reasons why we're decided that I will return to work when Gideon is 7 months old. Part of that is financial. By going back to work one day a week we will be able to send our kids through Steiner Education (at least for Primary) which is important to us.. Also, it means that I will be eligible for paid maternity leave when/if we have another child. If I had to put my children into care then I would not be returning to work. But knowing they will be with their Nanna and cared for just as I would care for them makes me happy to go back to work.
There's also a part of me that is actually excited about going back to work. I'm a special education teacher and I work at a school for students with physical and multiple disabilities. I find my work very rewarding (although challenging) and I love it a lot - especially when I am only there one day a week!
I know I shouldn't be, but I'm a little worried that people will judge me for going back to work when my baby is so young. While it's probably pretty normal in the wider community for Mums to go back to work when their baby is young, not many people in my circle of friends have done so. And it is true that if money wasn't an issue then I would not be going back to work. I would be staying home with my kids. But I feel that working just that one day a week will actually make a much better Mum. It will teach me to appreciate my kids just that little bit more. And, of course, my kids will get to spend some quality time with their Nanna as well - how special is that?
Now just to get over my own anxiety about leaving Gideon...and start expressing so I have some milk to leave for him!!