Welcome to the fifth trimester; diary of a PR girl after maternity leave

I went back to work the other week after almost a year of maternity leave and I have to say that, so far, I am really enjoying it. I was incredibly nervous before I went back with all sorts of thoughts and fears running through my head. Of course, many of those fears are still there, but at the same time, and as the days go on, they are also lessening in their intensity somewhat. 

To give you an idea, I decided to keep a little diary of how I felt prior to going back in comparison to how I am feeling a few weeks in to highlight just what a rollercoaster of emotion this whole process has been. Perhaps you might resonate with a few of these too?

Before: I am nervous. I have that knot in my tummy like one might feel on the first day of school. I am full of excited nervousness, yet there is also a side of sadness and fear. Lots has changed at the office over the last year and there are many new faces. Luckily I’ve never been too worried about meeting new people, but there is still that nervousness around trying to fit back in and get to know the new people.

After: I am inspired. I am loving putting my creative mind into gear and thinking about client campaigns, and then challenging myself when they don’t go 100% to plan. I am enjoying managing real grown up people, who can talk back to me and feedback on progress.  Being told ‘good job’ again is like music to my ears, because, let’s face it, mums rarely hear that.

Before: I am anxious. I am anxious about leaving Amelia for a whole day in childcare. So many questions are going through my head… Will she eat enough? Who will give her cuddles if she cries? Will the childminder be able to recognise her signals of boredom, tiredness, etc? Will she get enough attention (but not too much)? Will she miss me? Maybe she won’t even notice I’ve gone… and if so, which is worse?!

After:  I am happy. I have really enjoyed getting back to work, talking to my colleagues, making a difference outside of my close family circle. Most of all I enjoy seeing the fruits of my labour (perhaps more immediately than I do with my baby) in the form of coverage hits and client wins.

Before: I feel sad. Sad that I may miss out on social events with other mums and their babies. I know seeing them chatting about going to the park with their babies on our WhatsApp group will make me feel left out and perhaps a little lonely. I feel sad I may miss milestones with Amelia and sad I will have to leave her every morning.

After: I feel free. I have craved the prospect of a car journey into work alone, without having to distract a little person the whole time. This past week I have benefitted from some real thinking time on my commute, some time to listen to music on full blast, and some much-needed silence.

Before: I feel fearful. What if I can’t make it all work? What if I can’t get anywhere close to a work/ life balance and my family or work suffers as a result. I fear running around like a blue assed fly trying to do it all, but simply not doing anything well enough. I fear failure.

After: I feel acceptance. Being a working mum is something I have always wanted to do and planned for. And whilst these first few weeks have felt hard (and I have been in bed by 9pm most nights), I’m accepting that this this is the right thing to do for both me and my family.?This is our plan and we are following it through. I feel proud of myself for that.

Before: I feel guilty. I feel guilty that I’ve chosen to go back to work for ‘me’. Amelia doesn’t have a choice in the matter and so in many ways I am forcing this new life on her. But this is my job as a parent, and this is just the start of many tricky decisions I will no doubt have to make on her behalf.

After: I still feel guilty. Guess that’s never going to go. Bummer….

A cocktail of emotions for sure… None of them right, wrong or wholly unexpected for a new mum heading back to work embarking on her fifth trimester, but certainly all of them very very real. It’s going to be a rollercoaster and I honestly have no idea where I will end up. Here goes…

Related feature:

How does it feel – just ‘being mum’

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