Going back to work after baby

22 September 2018

Picture this: I’m sitting in an empty airplane on an early Wednesday morning. I have two pieces of luggage with me for this short work trip: one with my laptop and personal belongings, and one with my breast pump. I already got stopped and questioned by security about the “heavy metal block” in my bag (it was the power charger). It’s my second day back to work after a year off with my new baby.

I take a deep breath before take off. I’m not really supposed to be on this plane on my second day back to work, but something came up last minute and my boss needed me there. The day would consist of several presentations. I had delivered this presentation successfully many times before, but now was different. For the past year and a half, I have not gotten a good night’s rest. In fact, just the night before I was up for an hour at 3am trying to pat my baby back to sleep.

My palms start sweating and my heart races. I can feel my chest tightening and my stomach clenching. I fear I am going to mess up and prove to them all that I will never be the same again after becoming a mom; never as productive, as sharp. No, I can’t let that happen.

All I can do is pray. It’s all I’ve ever been able to do in times like this.

We land at our destination and I make my way out of the airport. Before exiting the doors I see a sign “Chapel”. Since when are there Chapels in airports? I am just about to catch my taxi, when I decide to turn back. I have an hour or so to spare. I figure I’ll check out that Chapel…

The Chapel is empty. There is some quiet music playing and a couple rows of chairs facing a cross and a pulpit with a Bible opened. I sit down in the front row, lower my head and begin to pray again.  I pray for strength to get through the day.

I think of my son. I pray that he feels safe and secure throughout the day, as he gets to know a few new caregivers. I hope that the love and attention his father and I gave him this past year built a strong foundation of attachment and trust. I am learning to let go a bit of the control as I transition out of  the intense first year of motherhood.

I walk up to the pulpit and look over the scripture readings selected for the day. It’s opened to Proverbs 3 : 5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.

Since becoming a mom I’ve discovered strength in me that I didn’t know was there. I felt it when I carried my son for nine months; I felt it when I held him in my arms after 20 hours in labour; I felt it when I realized I survived waking up every two hours for months on end. I felt it when I delivered several strong presentations on my second day back to work.

At the same time, I’ve never felt so weak. In the moments of weakness, like on this second day back at work, I need to remind myself to trust. To have faith… in my son, in my marriage, in God, in myself. Now more than ever in my life, I’ve been learning to give up on trying to understand everything. To have all the answers. I’m learning to embrace each day and know that when I feel the weakest, that’s when I’m strong.

That evening I hugged my son tight and gave him extra kisses. And for the first time in the whole year, I got the best eight hours of sleep.

Photography by Kristy Cheung


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