Preparing for Re-Entry

Every time I’ve started a new job or assignment in my professional life, I’ve had to talk myself down from ledges early on, calmly rationalizing to the perfectionist part of my brain that no one is perfect at a new job/task/assignment on the first day. Probably even the second day. So a little slack and a lot of patience would probably go a long way in guaranteeing success .. and my ability to stay out of a padded room.

I think parenthood is much like that. The first few weeks, I remember thinking, God, I suck at this and I don’t know how Tony’s not ruined, but I’m SURELY screwing this newer model up and WHY DID I HAVE ANOTHER KID and other such things. I think there’s a reason I can’t remember the early, early newborn weeks with Tony and that’s because, as a kindness, our brains erase the really terrible parts so that we might continue procreating.

(HA HA, KIND BRAIN, JOKE’S ON YOU. THIS FACTORY IS SHUT DOWN. THE SUPPLY CHAIN IS GOING COLLLLLD.)

But now, five weeks in, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. While saying we have a “routine” is probably a stretch, I’m much more relaxed with whatever the day brings. I’m actually enjoying it now, believe it or not. I’ve relaxed enough to nap on occasion, and I’m learning how to balance housework with babywork and time for me. (I actually am not good at the last part, but I’m still learning.)

Of course, since I’m finally feeling comfortable in my new role, IT’S TIME TO GO BACK TO WORK.

I know I’ve said (more than a few times) that I was ready to get back to work and be a grown-up. And that’s true. I have the privilege of loving my job and what I do, and I realize how rare that makes my existence. I miss my coworkers, I miss the adrenaline and deadlines, and I miss having something substantial to talk about. (Right now, my conversations revolve around bowel movements and feeding schedules, and then I fall eerily quiet.) I really am looking forward to getting back to what is a defined, comfortable space for me.

But.

I have high, high, HIGH anxiety about other parts of my returning to work. And since this blog serves as my therapist, let me make myself comfortable on this here couch and share them with you.

I’m busy. Although – obviously – my work would never force something on me if I said it was a difficulty for my family, my work schedule as I left it was a hard one. I was at work most mornings by 6:45 a.m. and rarely left before 5:00 p.m. Now, again, I could raise my hand and say This won’t work anymore and maybe that’s what’ll happen. But most likely not. See, I chose this. Loving what you do sometimes means that you spend long hours doing it. But the reality is that this means Bryan will have THREE CHILDREN to get ready for school. And after a month, none of them will actually attend the same school. (Downside of having children spaced out as we do.) So I don’t know the right answer here. Cue anxiety.

I’m fat. This sounds like a silly thing to fret about, doesn’t it? I KNOW, IT TOTALLY DOES. And while, sure, my personal demons are tormenting me all the time, the larger issue at hand is that I have nothing to wear. Seriously. Although it’s slowly coming off, I’m still needing to shed about 35 baby pounds. You can’t just coerce those pounds to fit into what I was wearing before pregnancy. Luckily, my employer is health-focused, and my new office building has a fitness center. (And five flights of stairs to my office.) I also signed up for the next 5K training class, which is a 2x/week class. So I have a path. But day one? Will totally be sporting maternity clothes. Cue anxiety.

I’m emotional. The biggest struggle for me, as a woman, is not being emotional at work. Empathetic, sure. Compassionate, yes. But emotional? Rarely. The last time I cried at work was when a coworker showed me a video of a soldier surprising his family with his unexpected return. (THANKS, PATRICK.) But I’m still sweating out the hormones over here, and I tend to blubber a bit. Over STUPID stuff. (Today, I cried at The People’s Court because a woman’s iPod was ruined and it had her wedding song on it.) Cue anxiety.

I’m new. While I’ve actually been on this program since Tony was five months old, I’ve been gone for six weeks. Which, coincidentally, began the day after our new program director came on-board. So I have NO idea what’s been going on over there. I’m walking into a potentially new program, overhauled in my absence. I’m usually a quick learner (she repeats to herself to calm her nerves), so I’m sure it’s not long before I fall into a rhythm. BUT WHAT IF I DON’T? WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A PLACE ANYMORE? Cue anxiety.

Disclaimer: I am incredibly fortunate to 1) have a job that offers 2) paid maternity leave and is 3) not affected by furlough. I am aware of these points, so no need to make them in the comment section.

All in all, the bottom line is this: a week from today, I’ll scan my badge and find my desk again. I’ll be lost for a little while, but I’ll muddle through it. I’ll figure it out because that’s the only answer. And I promise: I WILL NEVER TAKE MATERNITY LEAVE AGAIN.

Gratuitous baby pics:

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5 Responses to Preparing for Re-Entry

  1. Jesabes July 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Eek! Good luck with everything. I know you’re going to rock it:)

    (Also, that is one seriously cute baby.)
    Jesabes wants you to read ..OK, fine, I’ll try The Honest Company (coupon included!)

  2. Sarah in Ott'awa July 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    Oh! It’s so nerve wracking. Both times pre-return, I’ve gone through some massive work changes, so I have nothing but sympathy.
    With Teddy, my entire work group disappeared and while I found something else while I was still off, I came back to a brand new job (after the hiring manager had left) while pregnant again. And the job wasn’t as it was originally described. That was hard.
    With Veronica, I went back to a job I hadn’t liked with another new manager AND a massive change in direction for the project with 4 of 5 times the amount of work and pressure. But, I LOVE it this time, and our new team. I will be off again in October with baby 3 and I am really going to miss it.
    All that to say – you are a total and utter rock star. I have no doubt that you will kick all kinds of butt.
    Sarah in Ott’awa wants you to read ..The end of this phase

  3. Bessie.viola July 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Oh Sarah, I feel for you. It’s so hard. During my maternity leave with Luke my entire company moved. Everything I left before having him was gone, and I went into that new building as a totally new employee despite being there for almost 10 years. I cried in the bathroom more than once but figured it out eventually.

    I hope you’re able to find a schedule that works for you & your family. Sending lots of encouragement your way…you will do awesome!
    Bessie.viola wants you to read ..no sleep ’til…

  4. Mike July 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Girl I will tell you that, for the most part it is the same as when you left. We have had a couple leave to other groups and then there is the 6:30am meeting and the 7:am meeting but that’s just for engineering releases. We have two interns and amber has done a great job, you might even have to fight her for the MMR and PMR late nights.

    For the most part nothing has changed, my desk is still a mess and yours is clean. Stress none and enjoy your last few days of freedom because at the moment I think I want to get prego just for the paid time off. Lol

  5. Tara July 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    The best thing that comes to mind was something you wrote that Bryan told you awhile back. “You’re Sarah Fucking Brown.” You can totally do this.
    Tara wants you to read ..BBTW 8

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