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Going back to work after having a baby

1
…was not what I expected.

After 10 lifechanging months away I immediately felt myself pulled in a million directions.

I wanted to be recognised as the same person I was when I left and yet I wanted people to see me as a good mother, perfectly balancing work and parenthood.
I wanted to prove that I was still great at my job, despite the sleepless nights and 10-month gap from work.
I wanted to look good, but not overdone. I didn’t want it to look like parenting was easy or like I placed too much emphasis on my appearance when I should be more

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2
focused on my baby.
I wanted to seem relaxed about my daughter being at nursery, but with a responsible level of care and concern.
I wanted to be welcomed and I wanted to be needed.

But I wasn’t really needed. The world had kept turning while I was on maternity leave. Lo and behold, my maternity cover could do my job, really rather well. Everyone liked her, rated her working methods, went for drinks with her. I hired her – I knew she was good, but the stupid, needy brain in my head wished in some way she had stumbled so I could have walked in and

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rescued everything.

I felt like everything was a private joke. Everyone was getting on with their lives while I was staring through the window, like Ebeneezer Scrooge visiting his alternative Christmas present. New staff give me a confused look. Everything’s the same and nothing’s the same.

My daughter’s pretty relaxed. She didn’t cry when I left her for her settling-in days. Nursery would be a doddle, right? But when I collected Zoe and she looked at me with her red, hollow eyes, barely smiling because she’s utterly exhausted, unable to

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sleep in the loud, bright nursery environment. I feel terrible. And the guilt hangs over me for hours and hours as we rush home and get her to bed and I realise I’ve spent no time with her. And it stays with me for days as my happy-go-lucky daughter has become quiet and distant.

Does she feel abandoned? Does she feel neglected? Does she hate me for letting her get so tired? Should I just quit work and take her out of nursery?

She gets ill immediately. A full-on bastard of a cold and cough, which is joined by teething and disturbed nights. Then,

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inevitably, I get ill. And on my second week back to work I have two of my three working days off sick. Immediately I start to feel like I must be getting badged by my colleagues. ~She’s a mum now, she’s part-time, can’t rely on her, don’t give her anything important, don’t bother inviting her out for spontaneous drinks.~ But they’re probably right – and that’s what stings. Because I have changed. I’m still me. But I’m a mother. I just need to figure out how to be a working mother. Wish me luck!
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Using a laptop

- 11 Feb 19

…was not what I expected.

After 10 lifechanging months away I immediately felt myself pulled in a million directions.

I wanted to be recognised as the same person I was when I left and yet I wanted people to see me as a good mother, perfectly balancing work and parenthood.
I wanted to prove that I was still great at my job, despite the sleepless nights and 10-month gap from work.
I wanted to look good, but not overdone. I didn’t want it to look like parenting was easy or like I placed too much emphasis on my appearance when I should be more focused on my baby.
I wanted to seem relaxed about my daughter being at nursery, but with a responsible level of care and concern.
I wanted to be welcomed and I wanted to be needed.

But I wasn’t really needed. The world had kept turning while I was on maternity leave. Lo and behold, my maternity cover could do my job, really rather well. Everyone liked her, rated her working methods, went for drinks with her. I hired her – I knew she was good, but the stupid, needy brain in my head wished in some way she had stumbled so I could have walked in and rescued everything.

I felt like everything was a private joke. Everyone was getting on with their lives while I was staring through the window, like Ebeneezer Scrooge visiting his alternative Christmas present. New staff give me a confused look. Everything’s the same and nothing’s the same.

My daughter’s pretty relaxed. She didn’t cry when I left her for her settling-in days. Nursery would be a doddle, right? But when I collected Zoe and she looked at me with her red, hollow eyes, barely smiling because she’s utterly exhausted, unable to sleep in the loud, bright nursery environment. I feel terrible. And the guilt hangs over me for hours and hours as we rush home and get her to bed and I realise I’ve spent no time with her. And it stays with me for days as my happy-go-lucky daughter has become quiet and distant.

Does she feel abandoned? Does she feel neglected? Does she hate me for letting her get so tired? Should I just quit work and take her out of nursery?

She gets ill immediately. A full-on bastard of a cold and cough, which is joined by teething and disturbed nights. Then, inevitably, I get ill. And on my second week back to work I have two of my three working days off sick. Immediately I start to feel like I must be getting badged by my colleagues. ~She’s a mum now, she’s part-time, can’t rely on her, don’t give her anything important, don’t bother inviting her out for spontaneous drinks.~ But they’re probably right – and that’s what stings. Because I have changed. I’m still me. But I’m a mother. I just need to figure out how to be a working mother. Wish me luck!

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Hi, I'm Nathalie. I live in Bristol and I've been mum to the lovely Zoe since April 2018. Motherhood arrived during a very difficult time in my life - it's been both an enormous challenge and the best thing I've ever done.

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