back on the chain gang

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.

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  1. I successfully pumped at work for about six months, and I found that if I stopped worrying that a male co-worker was going to walk in on me and just focused on doing something entirely different while this machine was sucking me dry, my supply was fine. I read crappy biographies (think: sTori Telling). I did worry, too, that the time I was spending doing it, twice a day, was cutting into my productivity, but really, it was a nice break, and I felt more focused on work when I came back to my desk.

  2. Despite all the inconvenience that comes with lovely pumping at work: 1) you are not alone; 2) I am sure you have the deluxe version of the boob pump that doesn’t leave people wonder what is going on in there; and 3) enjoy your Dolly Parton time. Your shirts might not close, and everything seems to have shrunk disproportionately, but soon your lower “left over” will take over and that will be a sad day for all of us, fellow companions. I am glad you are back!!

  3. haha, sag harbor! I think i already got a boat there…and that’s without baby!!

    and $78 spanx! where in the world are you getting your spanx at! giiirrrlll…let me tell ya, lane b(ryant)…spanx under $40. betta believe it!

    Welcome back!!!

  4. I am a firm believer than any working mom is Super Woman…and with TWO kids, I think that you can get the title of Super Wonder Woman.

  5. Let me know when you are due to move into Sag Harbor. I am the mayor and I have a welcome basket for you.

  6. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the working part. I’ve been back at work since Pie was 2 weeks old (no maternity leave at my company). It sucks, but you’re right…driving home knowing I’m about to see her sweet face is the best part of my day.

  7. In regards to the pumping: You can do it!

    I did successfully did it 3 times per day 4 days a week for 1 year for my little girl. It did take a few weeks to get the hang of it and to feel comfortable doing it, but after that it was just routine. Now that I’m finished I REALLY miss my breaks….

  8. A few things.

    1. “I don’t know why I can’t just say thank you.” GOD do I ever understand that sentiment!!! I think it’s cause we’re oversharers, and without that quality, we wouldn’t be writers/bloggers/sharers of stories. And the world would suffer.

    2.” No upper body strength on mine! Or lower body strength. Or strength in general.” I hope you know this isn’t true, girl.

    3. My mom worked the entire time I was a kid, and I really thank her for showing me the strength of a working woman…and giving me a realistic picture of what it takes to get by in the world. Most of us…have to work!

    4. Um, I’m finally going to admit it: I don’t actually know what you do. That’s after years of reading this blog!

  9. LOL Sag Harbor. Watch out as you navigate away from confession to ‘thank you’. One time I said “Spanx you very much,” and had no good way to explain myself.

  10. You know what’s unfair? They get SIX MONTHS of maternity leave in Canada. Ridiculous, yes?

    PS, Sag Harbor = awesome.

  11. You can do the pumping!!! I pumped for 6 months after returning to work and learned if I focused on my son, and not the fact that the pump sound could be heard by 3 of my closest co-workers, then I did fine.

    It helps if you have a sense of humor – I put up a pumping sign on my door with a cow on it so no one would walk in on me. I was only walked in on once (by my paralegal who has grandchildren). Since she came from the era when women were given hormone shots after birth to “dry up” their milk supply, she was much more embarassed than I!

  12. You are so frickin’ funny! I love to read your blog. I reside in Sag Harbor.

    I have so many embarrassing pumping stories. I work construction, and used to pump on the way to work in the car, at break, and at lunch. It felt like I was always pumping. For the most part, the guys tried their hardest not to notice that I wasn’t around so much. But their was always one or two who would “moo” around me, or ask where the milking parlor was, etc. Lovely. Once I was pumping while driving (hmmm… take that, texters!) and stopped at a promising looking garage sale. When I was back in the car, I discovered that apparently I had been walking around with one of the silicone parts still stuck to me, and it fell off at the sale! I wasn’t about to go back to look for it, and thank goodness I didn’t live in that neighborhood.

    I only have one child – I think the pumping ritual had something to do with that!

  13. i’ve been pumping for four months at work. and i had someone walk in on me. it was the worst possible thing and it took me weeks to get over. i lie…the worst would have been if it was a student. luckily it was just the substitute secretary…but i came to love pumping time because i read terribly inappropriate books while in a middle school library. good luck.

  14. UGH. Pumping. That is all.

    I also enjoy playing the “Can all these people seriously be independently wealthy? WTF?” game.

  15. Haha! I wonder about those guys lounging around on weekday mornings, too. I figure they just work the night shift.

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