Monday, May 25, 2009

What I wish I'd Known - Maternity Leave Edition

Well blogland, I go back to work tomorrow. *sob* I am not really looking forward to it for a wide variety of reasons but I take comfort in knowing that Mr. Goat will be home with the boy for the foreseeable future. However this does lead to a dilemma of schedules and such for us and I thought I'd pick your brain to see how you balance the baby (particularly at night) when one spouse is working and one is not.

Baby Goat is starting to sleep for a 5 hour stretch some nights but it can be variable, unreliable and he can still be up all night sometimes too. I am mindful that I'll need to be supportive of Mr. Goat needing baby breaks as well as my own need to sleep to maintain work/baby schedules.

So do you guys have any advice for us? What do you remember about heading back to work with a baby? Was there a care balance that you guys discovered that worked for you? Any tips or thoughts are helpful! Thanks!


esperanza said...

I wasn't going back to work full time, but Mr. E was at work full time. He took anything that happened from 9 pm to 1 am, and I took anything thereafter. Unless it was some sort of crisis. I was up all hours of the night for the pumping routine, anyway.

Good luck!

Kristine said...

I wish I could help you here. I've never been faced with this situation so I'm clueless to it.
I can just wish you luck and say you guys will figure it out. I am sure it will be hard to adjust but you can do it!

Good luck! If you need an ear - I've got two of 'em!

Anonymous said...

I wasn't going back to work either, so early in my baby's life (in Canada, we have one year of for maternity leave if we want it) but my husband did.

He too, did the 9:00 pm until 1:00 am time slot as he was the late night person. While I did the early morning shift as I was the early bird.

It worked for us!

Rebecca said...

Enjoy your evenings with your son. If he cries all night, look at it as an opportunity to be with him. Expect him to be up all night for a while. If he doesn't see you during the day, he may make up for it at night. Since you'll probably miss him, too, during the day, being up at night is a way to have time together. It is hard, too. I think those first months back at work are harder than pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Cut yourself a bit of slack on the production during the day if you are tired - it just comes with the territory.

My simple advice, then, is enjoy the moments you have together (despite the lack of sleep) and hang in there. You can do this.

sharonleelah said...

I know it may be hard, but since you work in a church, talk with whoever's in charge to find out if you can have some flexibility in your schedule. Like can you work the same number of hours, but work some of them from home. That might allow you to get some naps in more easily.

Marketing Mama said...

Liz - good luck tomorrow! It's amazing how quickly maternity leaves go by... It really is awesome that you don't have to worry about dealing with daycares right now, having baby E home with Mr. Goat is such a blessing.

I think it's important, since you are working and he is home, that you two share the night shift, or that he carry more of the load, as he has the ability to take naps during the day and you won't. At a minimum, you should be able to get a solid 5-6 hours of sleep in order to function at work (in my opinion) - so perhaps you can break up the night into shifts that would allow you to do that.

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow!

Tiffany said...

I didn't go back but Patrick did and we did every other feeding/diaper change. That allowed both of us a decent stretch of sleep. This worked VERY well for us...I wish we had done it with earlier children but alas, it seems we finally got our acts together for our third child. You guys will figure out what works best for you. The biggest key to success in this area is to listen to each other and your needs. If one of you has had a particularly hard or long day, help each other out. Listening and communicating your needs (especially sleep) will make a huge difference in getting through parenting.
Patrick wants me to add that flexibility is extremely important. Just because you agree to something or set up a plan in the beginning doesn't mean you have to keep it that way if it isn't working for one or both of you.

Monkeymama said...

I hope today is going well Liz!

In balancing the child care we learned from our first baby that we just have to say what we are thinking. Like saying, "It would be very nice if you could rock the baby now." Instead of stewing and thinking "I've rocked this baby for over an hour and he(or she) is just watching TV!" We had a lot of trouble with that in the beginning. Or, that we need to be sure to say something when one of us wants to get out of the apartment for some "me" time, instead of feeling like the other person should make an offer.

We don't have a hard or fast schedule, but I think we try to split child care related things as close to 50/50 as we can when Greg is home from work.

Also, I try to do most of the middle of the night stuff and then Greg gets up when the kids do and I sleep an extra 30 - 45 minutes while he gets them breakfast and makes his lunch. But after a week or two you'll find a rhythm that works for you - just don't be afraid to discuss it.

I hope it all goes well! Life is so much more difficult when you are sleep deprived. :)

Molly Guthrey Millett said...

I remember the day before I went back to work with my baby as one of the hardest of my life. I felt a lot of overwhelming emotions, including anger and grief. The good news is "the day before" got easier with each baby!!!! :) But, it's never easy.

When I was home with the baby, I felt like I should be the one to get up with the baby at night, because I could recover more slowly in the mornings than the "payroll spouse," who had to report to work at a certain time and be productive during the day for meetings and such.

As the payroll spouse, it is hard to come home and face "the second shift" and not really get a break. But I have also been the at-home spouse, and it is hard not to really get a break because the payroll spouse feels like they need a break, too. Hopefully you can see how it goes that first week and work out a time where you can both take a break.

As a payroll spouse now of three children, I basically get up with the baby during the night and also work the job during the day. I don't really get a break except when our baby-sitter is on duty, to be honest, or after the kids are in bed. It is exhausting, and also for my husband. I guess I've just become accustomed to the exhaustion. My coping mechanism includes having very low expectations for everything, and crashing on the couch immediately after my children are asleep!

liz said...

I've been back at work for 2 months and Seth is at home with Anna. So far it's going fairly well for us. Right now A sleeps with us and when she is up for a feeding, I just nurse her in bed with me. This works well for a working mama because I don't have to wake up fully! I just get her started and then I can fall back asleep - so I highly recommend working on the side-lying nursing position if you can. This keeps you from having to get up and stay awake while the baby eats. Otherwise, if she needs a diaper change, S usually takes care of that. You definitely need your sleep so make sure to voice your needs clearly (as Monkeymama said - it's important to be upfront about this instead of the silent resentment thing!). At some point soon E won't be eating as much at night and he'll sleep for longer stretches. It will get easier!

As far as other tips - if C can swing it, have him bring E in to work to have "lunch dates" with you sometimes. We do this 1-2 times a week and it's wonderful! I get to see her mid-day and it gives us all something to look forward to.

How is pumping going? I bet you are a pro at it by now - I hadn't pumped much before I went back to work so that was an adjustment for me, but you quickly get into a routine. Everything seems worse when you are tired, but this too shall pass and you'll get the hang of it after a while.

Let me know if you ever want to commiserate - I know it can be hard. But it's wonderful that E can be at home with Daddy!

liz said...

Oh, I also forgot to add that when I get home from work, I go sit with Anna for about an hour and nurse her right away. This lets us get re-connected and is a great way for me to unwind from my day. It also gives Seth a break and he can putz on the computer, make dinner, etc. It seems to be working well. Right now we are splitting her bedtime routine but I imagine that when we move up her bedtime, I will do most of the bedtime things (bath, book, etc.) to allow me the chance to do those things with her since Daddy gets to see her so much during the day. Most of the people I know who work outside the home do all or most of the bedtime routine, both to spend time with the child and to give the stay-at-home parent a break.