In some ways, eleven weeks flies by when you have a newborn. At the same time, it feels like an eternity since Harrison’s challenging birth. I suppose because we were confined to the house for the first 5 weeks or so, it feels like I haven’t had too much time to get out there and explore the world with him. His world has been limited to restaurants and church and grocery shopping (save a day at the zoo, which he couldn’t fully appreciate yet!).
Preparing to go back to work has been a bit of a struggle. I wanted to be on a schedule with Harrison so that I could wake up, shower, feed him at 6, finish getting ready and spend a little time with him before leaving for work at 7:30. Then I figured he could eat at 9, noon, and 3, and again when I got home from work. But babies (at least this baby) don’t care too much about plans! Daylight savings really threw us for a loop. He was doing great getting up on his own at 6. Then it became 7. And now he’ll even snooze until 7:30 or 8. He still gets up at least once in the middle of the night to eat (which is fine since I have to pump anyway). But now I’m wondering how everything will play out on Monday. Since Nick’s parents will be watching him, his mom is going to do me a huge favor and come pick him up rather than me having to go drop him off which will probably save me about 15 minutes. That’ll help me adjust to our new normal. Luckily my first week back is only a 4 day week (we have off Good Friday), so I won’t be taking the full plunge just yet.
Despite having all of the help, I’ve been looking for ways to simplify my routine (though I’m not sure I ever had a routine). During pregnancy, I admittedly became a little lax with my appearance. Messy bun, leggings and even Uggs found their way into my office attire. Decision making was so hard! I’m determined to make a concerted effort to look presentable for work, which I hope will help me get some confidence back in how I look. I took all my suits to the dry cleaners earlier this week (discarding a few that had embarrassing holes and tears!) It is so hard for me to part with clothing that I’ve spent a substantial amount of money on. I always justify keeping that jacket with the missing buttons (lying to myself that I’ll sew some new ones back on), thinking that I can use it for backup in an emergency. The trouble is, since I know I have that backup sitting in the closet waiting to be used, my emergencies are more of “I really don’t feel like taking these other clothes to the cleaners, so I’ll just put on the old gray suit… no one will notice that the hem is drooping down.” Except they probably do notice. So this past week, I finally parted with the suit that I wore for my first job interview after law school in 2012. I got that job which led to my career so I suppose I always saw it as something of a good luck charm. BUT there was a paint stain on the elbow (don’t ask me how) and a hole in the pants and skirt (I had both to mix it up)… so I convinced myself to just toss it. And I feel so much better!
My biggest concern about my attire is making it easy to pump while I’m at work. I love a dress suit, but I think a skirt/pant suit with a button down shirt is going to be so much easier for access. And then I thought how easy it will be to only decide between a white or blue shirt every day! Just pair with a suit and I’m good to go, right? So that’s my plan. Suit + White or Blue Shirt + Black/Navy/Nude Shoes + Minimal jewelry. I have a beautiful watch that Nick gave me as an anniversary gift last year, so it will probably be my go-to along with a pair of stud earrings. I’m not a big jewelry person, and I think for my job it is best to keep it simple anyway. If you’re looking for a great professional looking button down shirt- the Brooks Brothers non-iron ones are my favorite (and currently buy 2, get one free until April 3!). They’re machine washable and come out looking perfect. Even the 346 ones from the outlet are great (the quality from the main store is a little better, but if you are looking to save a few bucks and have an outlet nearby, it is a great alternative).
So I have the clothing bit all worked out. But the hardest obstacle by far for me is hair. I have naturally curly hair (not what I consider to be in a good way), and more than anything in the entire world… more than cleaning toilets or doing laundry… I hate blow drying my hair. I’m pretty sure I’ve gone a full week without washing it simply because the idea of blow drying it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hibernate from the world. Unfortunately, dry shampoo can only get you so far before your hair is a chalky, gross, matted rats nest. So I did a run through post-shower that started with Kenra Platinum Blow Dry Spray which is one of my absolute favorite hair products. It smells amazing, detangles my curly mess, and allegedly cuts the drying time in half. (I’m not so sure about the last claim, but it does seem to shed some time off the chore, which is enough to make me satisfied! I stopped in Ulta yesterday and noticed they said these were 2 for $30 and they didn’t specify a size. The large (6.8 oz) bottles are normally $33 a piece, so I picked up two of the big bottles. I checked online and the same sale is going on there too. I highly recommend this stuff to make your morning ritual a bit more breezy! Once my hair was dry, I adapted the routine of Mary Orton from the blog Memorandum that I’ve followed for years that she details in her post here. I sprayed some dry shampoo (though my favorite is by Bumble and Bumble – I don’t love the Dry Bar stuff as it seems extra chalky to me) in my roots, sprayed some hair spray all over (I used the Big Sexy Hair kind like she suggested- the brand is currently buy two get one free at Ulta!), skipped the powder, brushed out my hair, hot rolled it, sprayed again, and ran my fingers through it. It looked awesome when it was done, but I’ll be honest- probably not something I’ll be doing every day. It was a little time intensive for me. I’ll likely stick to straightening with a flat iron post blow-dry for normal work days.
Of course, we will see how any of this plays out tomorrow. I’ll be lucky if I get my makeup on and manage to not screw it up with all the tears I’m sure I’ll be shedding. Harrison is sleeping so soundly right next to me right now and I know I’ll be missing him like crazy come tomorrow.
I made a list of all of the things I need for work (pumping bag, bottles, pumping bra, my laptop and cell phone and charger). And then I made a list of all the things I need to leave with Nick’s mom. I made sure to sterilize all of his bottles (though I almost managed to set the house on fire!) One of the bottles had a nipple brush inside of it that I missed when I threw it in the sterilization bag. The bags go in the microwave with a little water and they sterilize bottles and pump parts by steaming them. The nipple brush is made of metal. I heard some crackling noise as I was washing other dishes in the sink. I turned to look at the microwave, but everything looked alright. The sound continued though, so I opened it up, realized my mistake and thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t burn the house down the night before returning to work.
Clearly it is going to be an adjustment for me.
Emotionally, I’m not sure that I’ve fully processed what it is going to be like going back to work. I’ve left Harrison for a max of 3 hours for work outs or a dinner with Nick or to get my nails done, but even those instances were not on the regular. I’m sure I’ll be worrying like crazy and checking in frequently to make sure he’s okay and just to see his face via facetime. I was telling Nick that I am really fortunate to love my job because it would be so hard to leave Harrison for a job that I hated. I am excited to have intellectual conversations about the law and interesting cases, but I will totally miss talking in googoo voices as I try to get Harrison to laugh. I’m terrified of missing his firsts- rolling over, crawling, etc. I think the first time I miss a first I will probably have a breakdown! But I am also excited to still be working because it is something that is all my own- something that makes me feel like a multidimensional person rather than all one track. Stay-at-home moms are incredible because it is 100% all self-sacrifice. You’re thinking about your family 100% of the time. That in itself is fulfilling and I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to focus so intently on my family during my time away from work. But man, you have to be careful to give yourself a lot of self-care, because it is easy to go days without a shower when you have nowhere important to be. It’s easy to call chips and salsa a meal when your co-workers aren’t peer pressuring you to go out to eat (ha!). The trade off, of course, is that there is more time to get things done around the house. You don’t have to worry about taking off from work to be home when a maintenance worker comes to do a job, and you can just take the dog to the vet for her checkup on a whim. I bought a paper planner so that I can visually focus on each month now with all of my appointments and Harrisons and things like hair and special occasions. Life gets so much trickier with kids!
Wish me luck and stay tuned for updates on the ridiculous emotional toll tomorrow is going to take on me.