Monday, 21 March 2011

Running out of time

Spring has sprung and the countdown has begun. Baby Badger is now over nine months old - as Father Badger puts it "she's spent more time out than in"! All of these things are lovely and exciting but it also means that my maternity leave is running out and it's causing an internal conflict I never would have predicted before becoming Mum.

There's a big part of me that wants to return to work. I've worked hard since leaving university, soaking up knowledge in my field and climbing a decent way up the ladder. The professional in me desperately wants to continue advancing my career, gaining knowledge and respect from my peers along the way. I've simply put too much into it to throw it away. I'm also a strong, independent woman and I feel very uncomfortable with the fact that I am unwaged at the moment: not because we are in financial difficulties (although obviously things have been tight over the last few months) but because I have always been on an equal footing with Father Badger in terms of what I contribute to the coffers and I somehow see that as earning me an equal footing in the decisions we make about our home and lifestyle.

The same part of me worries that I've changed on my year away from work and won't be able to pick up where I left off. The job I do requires me to care about what I do; to throw all of myself into my work, providing top customer service and going above and beyond to make sure the best possible outcome is achieved. My priorities have changed: I can't easily put in the extra hours the job sometimes requires; I assume all I'm going to want to do at the end of the day is rush out to see Baby Badger. I can count on one hand the times I've had more than four hours sleep in one go: can I really function on this much sleep? Ultimately, will I care enough about what I'm doing when it will naturally come second to my daughter? I take pride in doing a good job and can I cope with only giving 80% of myself to my colleagues?

There's the hassle factor... I am still breastfeeding and don't intend to stop as I would like Baby Badger to decide when to wean from the breast. We're doing Baby Led Weaning, which is great, but she's not yet taking in food in any great quantity so she's not yet dropping feeds. This wouldn't be an issue except that a few months ago she stopped taking expressed milk: she now flatly refuses the bottle. We're making slow progress in getting her to drink water from a variety of sippy cups so hopefully we can progress onto milk - we've got two months to get it sorted! I've had the conversation with HR regarding somewhere to pump at work (oh, the dignity) and although it took them by surprise they have come back with a sensible suggestion. This is a good thing but it does mean that I will have to pump and eat lunch at the same time. I shouldn't complain though as it's my decision to still be breastfeeding.

There's also the childcare... We are lucky enough to live near both sets of grandparents and they are covering two days per week between them. I think this is fantastic as Baby Badger will grow up knowing them well. She will be going to a local nursery for the remainder of the week. It's a good nursery, and they say they are happy with the less mainstream things I'm asking of them, namely feeding expressed milk and using cloth nappies. I am dreading leaving her there as she is experiencing really bad separation anxiety - unless Father Badger is around, I can barely make it out of the room before she screams, and I can't bear hearing her unhappy.

Then there's mealtimes. As I mentioned, we're doing Baby Led Weaning. The more I think about it, the more I am against traditional weaning. It seems crazy to shovel food down Baby Badger's throat, distracting her in order to sneak another spoonful in. Yes, I know generations have been fed that way, but it doesn't mean it's right. It's very important to me that she continues to be in control of what and how much she eats as I believe it will lead to a more adventurous palate and the ability to listen to her appetite. My worry is that either the nursery staff or grandparents aren't going to entirely "get it" and mess it up. Is this the control freak in me trying to get out?

Then there's the last little problem. I'm going to miss her. I don't want someone else seeing the first time she walks; the first proper words; her cheeky grin. Maybe this is the biggest issue for me...?

All the above makes it look as though I'm in a dilemma, but that's not the case. The terms of my maternity package mean that I'm tied to going back for at least six months (or pay back a sizeable chunk of money), so I don't really have a choice to make: I'm going back at the start of June. I guess my dilemma is convincing myself that it's the right choice. I'm working on it...



  1. It sounds like you've got a good childcare balance sorted there, so that's one worry off your mind. In terms of the BLW, she might surprise you. C is 11 months this week and has just in the past couple of weeks taken a big leap with eating more, understanding the sippy cup and as a result can go 10-bedtime without a breastfeed some days. I think it's very unlikely that the nursery will mess it up - they can just give her the meals they've prepared for the older kids, pretty much. Grandparents, well, I guess it depends on the person. That's the deal for free childcare, isn't it - you just have to trust them.

    And I hate to be the smug parent with a slightly older child who therefore knows it all, but the details of BLW might not be as crucial as you think in the big picture. I was a BLW purist, he never had anything from a spoon until he could do it himself, yet I now have a 2.5 year old who tonight refused to touch his soup, and wanted his bread and corned beef on separate plates rather than in a sandwich. Separate plates!

    Separation anxiety is another thing that might go as quickly as it came? Fingers crossed.

    As for missing her, yes, of course you will. But you'll have a career to devote yourself to more as she gets older, and you'll be setting her a good example about going out to work. I'm a SAHM so I get to stay with my kids every day, but my career is knackered and we're totally skint. And sometimes it's no fun and I'm desperate for a break and some time to be myself. So, y'know, swings and roundabouts. :)

  2. I can't really give advice on going back to work although you shouldn't feel guilty for making the decision to keep on breastfeeding and you should remember your doing your work a favour as she'll be in hospital or need doctor's appointments less. I never used bottles with my girls and my last never had a sippy cup only when out in the buggy.Look on ebay for a Doidy cup.Bloody marvelous invention.Mia used one from 4 months old and has always had an open cup at meal times.A baby can take up to a year to eat big quantities and it's all about taste and texture the first year as she'll be getting a half of her daily in take of food from you.Are you following Muddling Along Mummy? She's an AP parent and in F/T work.Oh on the blw front, a spoon can be used you know? Have the food in front of them and let them have a go.No reason why she can't use her hands and spoon feed.Any way good luck.I came by to tell you I'm tagging for a meme.I'll send you a link on Twitter x

  3. Thanks guys for the reassurance and common sense. I'll look up Muddling Along Mummy - I've certainly come across her before but haven't visited in a while.

  4. I've done the back to work at 14 weeks (was very proud of myself for only ever providing expressed milk) and I've done the stay at home until age 2 (took voluntary redundancy when on maternity with Small). Both have pros and cons. With Big I was a better parent for the time away from her being an individual, and that in turn allowed me to be a better parent to Small, and in turn, Smallest.

    There are no easy answers. But yes, on the blw, you'll be amazed at how quickly it changes when they are ready to change. Smallest goes through such obvious stages with it as well - she's just cracking using a spoon without tipping it all down her front, for the longest time she tipped it over each time and ended up with an empty spoon in her mouth!


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