I was in the shower the other night, winding down from my day with the baby. This is my one time each day to relax; to meditate and reflect. And yet I found myself having a panic attack.
I am currently on maternity leave from work. I got my 6 weeks of disability at 50% of my salary after Adelaide was born. Since then, I’ve been on unpaid leave because my employer, like most across the nation, does not offer any form of paid maternity leave to bond with your new child. Knowing this, my husband and I saved up money during my pregnancy so that I could take a full 6 months to be with my baby and nurse her exclusively. But only for 6 months. (In a perfect world, I would wait until she was 1)
So, while in the shower the other night, I thought about going back to work on August 3. About leaving my baby girl with strangers at her daycare. About the feelings of abandonment she will feel not having mommy with her all day. And the bonds she will forge with her new caregivers as a result. Even as I sit here typing this, Adelaide feeding on my breast, I feel the tightening in my throat. The pit in my stomach. The tension in my chest. The start of what will become a panic attack if I allow it to progress to that.
You see, I am overwhelmed with emotion at the thought of returning to work. I love my job. I have one of the best jobs in the world. I work with amazing people. And my bosses are my mentors. I both look forward to and dread my first day back. I am shaking at the thought; both the excitement and the guilt.
I still don’t know how I am going to make it through that day. I know I will. Other mom’s have done it. And when their babies were much younger. I just never thought I would have to deal with the guilt and dread of being a working mama.