I returned to work when my little lady was just 5 ½ months, earlier than most, I know. It wasn’t because I couldn’t get back to work quick enough, quite the opposite, I treasured every moment with my girl but more because the right role appeared that could encompass my new life as a Mama and I just couldn’t pass it up. I won’t lie, the change has been challenging at times for both baba and I, not to mention Daddy Bear and my own Parents. From the get go, she noticed that there was a change in her routine and immediately stopped sleeping at night. You know you have issues when even the glorious “sooo” doesn’t work.
I am in a very fortunate position that her Nanna is happy to take her during the day so from that aspect, she remained relatively content (the odd cry and clinging to my chest at drop off) as she really loves and trust her. I greeted my new co-workers with bleary eyes every day, having spent most of the night trying to settle her. The funny thing is, when she did manage to get a little sleep, it was usually in the early hours from 5-7. She has always been an early riser so I was lucky that she would naturally wake by the time I had to lift her from her lovely cosey cot (terrible Mama), feed her, dress her in a flurry and then bring her to my Mam’s house for the day. Great, I thought to myself, it’s only her sleep that is affected, sleep I can deal with (or so I thought). At least that’s the only thing that’s been disturbed. Oh, boy was I wrong!
A couple of weeks after, she began to stop taking her feeds. Point blank refused, clamped mouth, no thank you sir! Teething, everyone told me was the reason, “it’s just teething she doesn’t miss you sure how could she, she’s only a baby, she doesn’t know Adam from Eve” but I knew it wasn’t just teething. That mothering instinct is stronger than we give it credit for. She is clever, all babies are and she sensed I wasn’t around, I just knew it.
So, I decided that, as leaving work wasn’t an option, I would try to convince her that Mama being away was a good thing. That by being elsewhere during the day, it meant that I gave her 110% in the evening, more than I would have given her throughout the whole day before.
I persevered with both her sleep and feeds and gave her as much attention as was physically possible, before and after work. I gave her cuddles upon cuddles, played with her, had baths with her, brought her on big long walks, brought her swimming, read stories to her, everything and anything I could think of. My aim was to increase the bond between us and try and convince her, that it’s a good thing Mama works because now I give her the moon and the stars. This wasn’t an easy task, any of you out there who work know that after a day in the office, it can be hard to even string two sentences together let alone try to be the world’s most fun parent but I kept trying. Dad was blissfully ignored and made to live on a diet of oven cooked meals while I tended to our number one.
A month in and she slowly began to take her feeds again, 20ML turned into 90ML and up it went. Waking up twenty times a night then went back to 2 or 3 times per night completely manageable.
Now several months in, I have my happy content baby back. Her days of discord seem like a distant memory to me now as she now happily reaches for Nanna when she’s dropped off. I no longer have to overly apply myself at night time with her anymore, I just be myself and that thankfully, is now enough for her. It certainly was touch and go for a while but we all got through it. I realise now that any change takes adjusting to, whether your baby is not even 6 months or 10 months and going to crèche, or going from pureé to lumps in their food, any small change can cause little teeny tiny ripples in their routine which they love to cause a fuss over but I am happy to attest that they get over it, and so do we, it is all a learning curve. I am also delighted to say that I’m loving my new job which I believe projects onto her, happy Mama leads to a happy baby.