First day back at work(Approximate timeframe: 6 weeks to 12 months)
One of the more heartbreaking, bittersweet moments in motherhood is the day you head back to work for the first time, leaving your precious baby behind. It can feel like you're being torn in half, and throughout your day you may be prone to spontaneous weeping. But we promise, it does get better.
Catherine Holecko of Neenah, Wisconsin, says she was coping pretty well on her first day back to the office—until, that is, she couldn't remember how to use her breast pump.
"I went back to work when my first baby was 4 months old," she says. "Despite weeks of practicing with the breast pump I just could not get it to work on day one at the office. I definitely felt like crying when I was sitting on the floor of a borrowed office trying to express milk with my bare hands!"
First day at work—without crying(Approximate timeframe: 1 to 30 days)
It's also A-OK to be excited about going back to work. After all, you worked hard for your career and you love it—even if you love your baby more. The first day you find yourself back behind your desk with a smile on your face is a good day, indeed.
Just ask Lesley Kennedy, a mom of two girls. After 12 weeks of maternity leave, she says she looked forward to returning to a job she really loved.
"I certainly was nervous to leave my first-born behind and head back to work, but I will admit I was also excited," she says. "The days leading up to that first day back were full of plenty of tears—mostly because my baby girl absolutely refused to take the bottle. It was beyond frustrating. But the final day of my leave, she drank from that bottle and I went back to work feeling slightly less guilty and dry-eyed. I figure I'd pretty much used up all the tears!"
First weekend away from Baby(Approximate timeframe: 6 months to 3 years)
A weekend getaway without the kids? Really? Taking time out from parenthood does a body good. But what happens when you actually get to your destination and all you can think about is your baby?
Sandy Rohr, a Rochester, New York, mom of two tweens, recalls the first time she and her husband, Ed, left their baby behind.
"When our daughter, Elena, was about 9 or 10 months old, we went away for our anniversary to spend a couple nights in Lake Placid and then we planned to go on to spend one additional night in Vermont," Rohr says. "At our hotel in Lake Placid we ran into a couple with a daughter the same age as Elena. That night we saw them in a restaurant in town. Then next morning they were seated next to us at breakfast and the little girl had the same exact shoes as our daughter. We were bombarded at every turn. We left and got on the ferry to Vermont and as soon as we got off the ferry we looked at each other and both said we wanted to go home, and went home a day early! Who would have thought seeing cute little shoes could make us miss her so much!"