It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in a meeting around 3:30 pm shifting uncomfortably in my chair thinking my stomach was upset from my lunch. I remember speaking to a co-worker after that meeting and having to sit down in a chair due to the pain in my stomach. I felt frustrated as I had experienced similar stomach issues in the past and figured that’s what was occurring. I remember apologizing to my co-worker for sitting down in the middle of explaining something but it seemed that she was more aware of what was happening to me than I was. I was frustrated because the cramping was distracting and stopping me from doing my job. I fought through it though and continued to work until the end of the work day.
I wanted Emsley and I knew I was “ready”. I put the word ready in quotations because I don’t think you can ever be 100 percent ready, but I was as close mentally as I’d ever be. Despite this, I was in complete denial that I was having a baby that day. I hadn’t finished the tasks I wanted to finish at work. I hadn’t finished training my replacement or cleaning out my desk. In my head she was supposed to be born in August. Her due date was August 9 and I had wrapped my head around the fact that I would be overdue like many first time mom’s are. Based on this she would be an August baby. This would give me one to three whole weeks of MAT leave to get things in order and finish packing the hospital bag before she arrived. July just wasn’t the right month in my head; it didn’t make any sense in my very pregnant brain. But clearly, like many things in life, I had no say in the matter. On July 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm our little girl entered this world in a very fast manner. It was a beautiful day outside, hot and sunny and I couldn’t have asked for better weather to walk into the hospital with.
I had a hard time adjusting to being a mom at first. It didn’t sound right to label myself with that title, or to call Emsley my daughter. When I saw her for the first time, with the umbilical cord tangled twice around her little body, my mouth dropped. I am not sure what I was expecting to see but I couldn’t believe my eyes. The nurses then placed her on me and I remember the awe and disbelief related to seeing this tiny human laying on my chest. I kept looking at my husband for validation, almost in confusion that she was ours.
A lot has changed since then. What I once struggled with accepting I have come to know as my only label. I am a wife and mom first and it has been all I have lived this past year. Now I sit here preparing to enter the work world again. A job I loved, that I know I will love again and a job I never wanted to leave in the first place. I had always believed that I would return to it full-time, never thinking that I would question that. I have always worked as much as I could, ever since I was 15 years old. Working is just a part of my nature. I have never been unemployed and have often worked multiple jobs at once. To say I am happiest when working is an understatement. The maternal instinct came slow to me and when I would find myself daydreaming of the future I never imagined myself to be a stay at home mom. Don’t get me wrong, I value others who do this as a job and even more so now that I have lived that role over the past year. It is one of the hardest jobs and at times can feel like one of the most unfulfilling jobs. Because let’s be honest, our babies and toddlers aren’t overtly thanking us profusely for the sacrifices we make or the love we pour out at them day after day. But now as I return to work today, I find myself not going back full-time as planned but rather part-time. The girl who thought she had it all figured out, believing she would be completely okay with walking away from the day to day home activities to go back to work full time is now trying to balance it all. I sit here with tears in my eyes as my body floods with a mix of emotions. Part of me is excited to go back because I truly do love my job and the people I work with and I know a lot of people can’t say that. I miss my co-workers and felt such a loss when I left them and my workplace a year ago. But part of me is also feeling anxiety and fear about leaving my little girl. Even though I know she’s in good hands, I can’t help but feel worried about her. Worried about her safety, her needs being met, her boo boos being kissed, her heart being filled full of love and her brain being stimulated as she learns and grows. I feel sad that I will likely miss out on the continued firsts that she will experience, the ones that I know are coming. I feel jealous of the people she will get to spend her days with, wishing that I could somehow be in two places at once. But mostly, I feel guilt. I feel like I’m letting her down by not being with her each day. As if I should be with her, picking her over my own selfish needs. I call them selfish because I feel like going back to work will allow me to continue to grow and feel a type of self worth that is different than what I experience at home. I can’t help but feel like I am picking myself over her by leaving the home. Like I’m abandoning my role as a full time mother and abandoning her by leaving her behind. My brain knows that this isn’t the case and that I shouldn’t feel this way but my heart aches anyway. I remind myself that it is important that I take care of myself, but it’s hard to believe this when being her mom is all I’ve known this past year. To be honest, it’s hard to remember what life was like before she existed. Sitting here today, wiping the tears from my eyes, it feels like motherhood has been the only role that I’ve ever known.