I went back to work full-time this week. I only took eight weeks of maternity leave, which I know is short. You don’t have to tell me. You don’t have to see me at the grocery store, say hi, ask me when I’m going back to work and when I tell you, screw up your face and say, “ARE YOU DREADING IT?!” because yes, Captain Obvious, I dreaded it. The worst part was the drive into work on Monday, when the thoughts I had been fighting against entering my brain started to–how would my baby survive without me? What if he’s searching for my boobs for comfort and I’m not there!
But once I got back behind my desk and started slogging through emails and saying hello to my co-workers, it started to feel like a new normal.
My office mates said all the right things like how glad they were to see me and one even said I looked slimmer to which I yelled, “IT’S JUST SPANX.” I don’t know why I can’t just say thank you. I have to add that my massive belly is being corseted in by a $78 swath of elastic.
But I enjoyed every minute of my leave. I did everything I wanted to do, even though my list of goals during my break was cut short because the BABY kept holding me back! Like the pole dancing class (no childcare on their part! no upper body strength on mine! Or lower body strength. Or strength in general.)
Joan Rivers has this show called, “How’d You Get So Rich,” but my show would be, “WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING AND HOW THE HELL CAN YOU JOG AT 10 AM ON A TUESDAY?” That was the most surprising part of my leave, that so many people had time to stroll through a mall on a random morning. I could understand the men and women with children in tow, but the 30-something sipping a latte without a laptop in front of him? What does he do? Must be nice to have such a gilded life!
I’m still trying to figure out pumping at work. I’m very fortunate that I have understanding co-workers and a private space to pump, but pumping at work is very different from pumping at home. It’s all some weird circus act of pulling out my boobs, setting up my baby slideshow on my iPhone, keeping my nipples in the breastshields, and TRYING TO RELAX.
My biggest fear is that my milk will dry up, my breasts will shrivel like the Wicked Witch of the East’s legs after Dorothy’s house fell on her and her ruby red slippers were plucked from her feet. I know this is my destiny anyway, but I would like to have a few months of this top-heavy topography before my deflated boobs buy a houseboat in Sag Harbor.
It’s nice to talk to adults who are not my mother. Adults who don’t need every other word defined or don’t talk about Golden Girls as if she knows Rose Nylan in real life. Adults who don’t ask for salmon necks/salmon tips/salmon collars at every grocery store in the Pacific Northwest. Adults who, when told they can’t buy a certain haircare product without a professional license, continue to ask every beauty supply store she comes across for said verboten product.
But most of all, it’s nice to have my brain working again and to know that after a long day of emailing and typing and talking, there’s a little boy and a sweet chubby-cheeked baby waiting to welcome me home.