I’m 39 weeks pregnant, which means at any day now, I could go into labor and have a baby. A BABY.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve known that there’s a baby coming for 9 months now. I’ve felt her move and kick and seen her little movements on the screen. I’ve heard her heartbeats, and felt her little hiccups. There’s a baby in there, but now, it’s feeling SO real that there will be a BABY out HERE.
Note: I keep saying that there’s an imminent baby, and Josh keeps saying that she’s inevitable, in his best Thanos voice, so if anyone is looking for my nerd husband, he’s probably in trouble for comparing our tiny, sweet infant to Thanos from Marvel.
She’s been doing real baby things too, like getting the hiccups ALL the time, and kicking around to get comfortable (it’s such a distinct feeling), and getting startled by loud sounds (especially in movies), and having music that she seems to like. Josh has a playlist of music for her, and she starts moving around at some music, and then relaxing for others, and it’s SO CUTE.
I’m at the stage in my pregnancy when people have started answering my phone calls with, “are you in labor?!” and my friends at work at like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”
But the reality is that I’m starting to really feel the whole “working mom” change. When we started talking about having kids, Josh asked if I wanted to work or wanted to stay home. The truth is that I LOVE my job. I feel really, really lucky to have a job that I love, with team members I really like, and an industry I’ve worked hard to learn. I’m also incredibly lucky to have a great team and a great boss: everyone has been so supportive about me leaving for appointments and preparing for maternity leave. Also, the money I make is something to consider when we looked at our budget and plans.
Another Note: I’m throwing absolutely ZERO SHADE at stay at home moms. I have considered being one in the past, and I think it’s absolutely a full time job in itself. In a different job or a different situation, I would love to be one. I’m just looking at my own situation.
So the plan will be for me to come back to work, and I know that parts will be hard, but again, I really love my job and I have some flexibility when it comes to kids and work, and I feel really lucky/blessed to have it.
But here’s the thing.
For the past 3.5 years at my job, I’ve been able to work when needed. I could stay late, I could go to the meetings, I could do focus on WORK when I needed to without worrying about these other distractions. And now, as I march toward my due date and maternity leave, I’m struggling to turn that side of my brain off.
This is not pressure from my job. Everyone (my boss, my site leaders, etc.) have all been SO supportive and encouraged me to take the time I need once I have the baby. But my Type A personality is making this difficult.
I’ve spent HOURS at home and on the weekends preparing my maternity leave plan. I have a full spreadsheet with my regular duties (not including my one-off support actions), with the process, locations of materials, and coverage people. I have calendars with due dates and actions by whom and when. I have pages of templates that I’ve made for people to use while I’m out, and processes for those templates to help people walk through them while I’m gone. I’ve done literally everything I could think of to make my leave as seamless as possible.
And still, I feel so strange thinking about leaving work for the next 3 months and not being available for my team as needed.
WHY, though? I keep asking myself this question. I’ve worked really hard to get everyone ready. Why am I so worried? Why is work such a concern?
The first answer is that I really feel like I provide a value-added support for my team, and they’ve all been very vocal about that. I feel confident in my abilities to help, and I’ve been doing it long enough to feel like I know what I’m doing. So when people say, “oh we’re going to miss you so much”, my immediate response is to figure out a way to help them now so they don’t miss me as much, if that makes sense.
The second answer is harder, and is probably more indicative of the real issue:
This will be the longest stretch of time I haven’t worked or been in school… EVER.
I think many of you would feel or have felt the same. I started writing for my city newspaper at 13, which was a GREAT job, but one I could do on my own time. I got a job at Texas Roadhouse (woo!) at 18, and since then, I have worked straight through to now. I had my first job for a few years, then moved to a different position, then another, with barely a week in between. Even the transition between New Mexico and Georgia was not long at all – I wrapped up work in NM on a Friday, and was flying to Georgia the following Wednesday because my current site team asked me to come 5 days early for a strategic deployment event.
I finished my master’s degree while working full time, and since then, haven’t taken more than 2 consecutive weeks off of work since I was 18. So this time period of being away from work for 3 months is huge for me.
This is, of course, NOT a 3 month vacation. I know my entire time will be spent with a newborn and all that word entails: sleep deprivation, bodily fluids, the works. But for someone who finds a lot of fulfillment in her job, the thought of separating from that is probably harder for me than it is for my actual coworkers.
The change to becoming a working mom is a big one, and one I had theoretically prepared for, but now that I’m approaching it, it’s showing me that a big part of my life has been WORK and who I am at work. Again, I find a lot of satisfaction in my work, and that’s okay – there’s a semi-stigma about connecting too much of your personality to work, and I agree with some of it. I don’t think of myself as just an employee or of my work as my top priority in my life. But I find a lot of enjoyment out of what I do, along with satisfaction and fulfillment, and I consider being a communications manager a part of my identity, though definitely not the entire one. I’m a lot of other things, and right now, I’m trying to figure out how to balance all of them (wife, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, student, aunt, niece, fellow board member, volunteer, coworker, direct report, etc.) with a new role of MOM, and this will be the first time I’ve had to really shift my role as “employee/worker” for something else.
I’m sure I’ll write more in the future about being a working mom, but this is just a stream of consciousness post about my realization that maybe the stress about preparing my work team for me to be gone is less about them and more about ME. There’s a big, exciting new chapter ahead, so stay tuned!