Going back to work after maternity leave is full of unknowns. It’s getting back into a routine after spending time with your little babe. It’s questioning if you have done everything right and if you have made the right decisions for your family. These thoughts can be overwhelming and take over most of your mental capacity when you should be focusing on your little miracle and healing your body.
The reality of maternity leave always seems different than I anticipate. Our first daughter, Veda, was born at the end of March 2020. What a weird and wild time! Veda was a chill baby and was sleeping through the night at five months old, so we really got into a routine. When the time came to go back to work, I was extremely emotional.
I was fortunate to have the time with her that I did, but I didn’t realize how different I would feel. I knew deep down in my heart that I was ready to get out of the house and get back to it…but how was I supposed to let someone else take care of her? Would she be hurt, knowing I chose to work instead of being with her every day? Soon after returning, I realized I truly had missed my job. I missed the interaction, my clients and my work. I realized I could be a dietitian, a wife, Veda’s Mama, AND a human being, all at the same time.
Fast forward a little over a year later and my jaw dropped at a positive pregnancy test. As time does, it flew faster than my first pregnancy. I was confident I would plan to take 12 weeks off and felt more prepared after just having a baby. The biggest change in planning was finding daycare. We had to find a new in-home daycare for two kids and my stress level shot through the roof. During our search, I kept wondering if this was my calling to stay at home with our kids instead of working outside of the home.
Our sweet baby girl, Estelle, joined our world at the end of May. Labor and delivery was quick and much easier this time around. Although I am thankful for that, it also meant my initial recovery felt like a piece of cake.
Giving myself rest and grace is difficult for me. Many days were relaxing with snuggles; others felt a bit frantic as I thought about all the things I needed to check off of my list. I was fortunate to take 12 weeks off again. As my maternity leave started to slowly come up on the horizon again, I felt more prepared. I knew a little more of what to expect. I could plan more efficiently and knew to have things everything ready the night before.
As I returned to work, my husband took his paternity leave. It was another month our sweet girl could spend at home. Knowing this reduced my anxiety and helped me gain more confidence going back into the world as a working Mom. Most recently, Estelle started going to daycare with Veda. It is the sweetest thing to see them get to share their days together, and it makes my heart happy.
Someone once told me that when I leave work to get our girls, my day starts all over again. It’s completely true. But experience tells me when I leave work it’s an opportunity to refocus. I get to pick up our girls and squeeze and kiss them and smell that little girl and baby smell I miss during the day. I try to take it all in because I know someday, I won’t be picking them up and things will look different. There are still some days I wonder if being a working Mom is the right thing. But seeing their faces, hearing their giggles and coos and seeing them become the girls they are meant to be reminds me that it’s worth it.
Ashley Danielson is a total type a who loves to try new things. As a Mama to two girls, she works outside of the home as a registered dietitian and is a foodie who gets to her yoga mat as much as possible. Ashley enjoys lovely conversation over coffee or a glass of wine with family and friends. She works daily on intention, giving herself grace and living life with purpose. Follow Ashley on Instagram: @loveyourbites_rdn