Back to the grind

With a few colleagues on April 5, observing the TOMS Shoes "Day Without Shoes."
I'm the 3rd one from the left, and was about 4 months pregnant! And cold. Very cold.
I wish I could live two lives -- one where I work full time and go to conferences and travel around Africa, and one where I stay at home and play with Johnnie and cook things that I grow in my (would-be) garden. I guess it's possible in theory to have it all, but in the past two weeks since returning to work I've discovered that, right now at least, all that's possible for me to have is small bits and pieces of it all.

My boss could not be more accommodating. I've started back just 3 days a week -- even in the midst of the hardcore fundraising season -- to help us get adjusted to this new routine. There is a quiet room set aside for me at work so I can pump twice a day so I can continue breastfeeding. I work close enough to my mother-in-law's house than I can feed Johnnie myself on my lunch break.

I'm busier, yet possibly more productive, than I've ever been. There is no time for procrastination in my life right now. I get up at 5:45am to feed Johnnie, then S whisks her off to his mother's house while I enjoy a few quiet minutes to shower and run out the door. My work day looks like this:
  • 8:00am - Arrive at work
  • 9:45am - Pump (30min)
  • 12:00pm - Run over to my mother-in-law's to feed Johnnie (45min)
  • 2:45pm - Pump (30min)
  • 5:00pm - Leave work to pick up Johnnie

This schedule leaves little uninterrupted time for actual work during the day. I worry that my coworkers will judge me for taking so many breaks. (I'm sure formula feeding would be dramatically more convenient, but I firmly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding whenever possible.) Since it is the critical holiday fundraising season, this is the absolute busiest time of year and I have to pull my weight and then some. The day flies by.

When I get home, I feed Johnnie again and try to find something decent for dinner because I likely didn't have time to eat much throughout the day. I am still limited to what we can cook in a toaster oven, though I'm trying to get my act together enough to use the crock pot more often. My head hurts. In the evenings I wash bottles and pump parts, iron my clothes for the next day, feed Johnnie some more and throw some easy-to-eat snacks in my bag. Then I feed her again, trying to tank her up before bed so she'll sleep longer. We try to be in bed by 9:30 since Johnnie will wake us up at least once for about an hour around 2am so she can eat again. The past few nights she has woken up hungry twice, and I'm worried that we're regressing.

Rallying the troops at a work event in October. (Johnnie is in the stroller at left.)
It's not as hard to say goodbye to her in the mornings as I expected, which is good news since I've never been a morning person. The hard parts are lunchtime, when she smells me the moment I walk in the room and cries because she's hungry -- and as soon as she's done eating I have to hand her over and rush back to work. And it's hard when I pick her up in the evening, when she seems to have gotten even bigger since the morning and had a whole day of fun and activity that I wasn't a part of.

S and I try to find time to spend together, but usually one of us falls asleep or has to catch up on an email or switch the laundry when we have a free moment. Weekends are precious, though we have to use them to work on the house when the weather or other circumstances permit. I wonder if I'll ever find time to go for a run or, for that matter, lose the extra 11 pounds I'm still carrying.

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I guess I am. Fortunately, most days there's no time to dwell on it. But behind and beyond these words, written at the height of exhaustion, I am thankful to be employed, especially at a company I love, when the unemployment rate is so high. I am thankful that Johnnie spends her days with someone who loves her so much, and that I'm able to continue breastfeeding. I'm thankful--beyond thankful--for my incredibly understanding, patient and supportive husband. I am thankful for the sweet baby who is healthy and full of smiles for me every morning when we sing, "This is the day that the Lord has made."

There are many more positives than negatives in our life right now, and I'm sure things get easier with time, though I can't think far enough into the future to imagine it. I'm tired, and I miss S. But in the midst of it all, I am blessed.

This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!

It's amazing how much better the day goes when I start out singing that.


  1. I cannot even imagine the balancing act you're pulling off right now. Even if you feel like you're barely doing it, you are! I think that going back to a job you love is important. It will give you a sense of place outside being a full-time caregiver and as Johnnie grows up will give her such a great role model to look up to.
    Hang in there! :)

  2. I feel ya sister! We are living in identical worlds right now. It has been one crazy ride. More than we ever thought we could handle. But, still worth every minute of it. Keep rockin' it!!!

  3. Thanks for your honest! It's so refreshing to read what motherhood is really like, full of love and sacrifices, etc rather than the picture perfect life that so frequently permeates the blog world.

    You sound like you're working hard but doing amazingly.


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