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real ideas, real advice, from real mamas

Going Back to Work: Debbie’s Story

My Position: United States Postal Carrier
Length of Time Off: Six weeks
Position Status: Full-time

Image by quinn.anya, under Creative Commons license.

I had taken six weeks of FMLA. I fully intended to work up until my due date and take the six weeks caring for my daughter, but my blood pressure began to rise toward the end of my pregnancy and I was advised to stop working. At almost 39 weeks pregnant, I began my time off and had my daughter at 40 weeks.

I had four weeks at home with her. My husband was also home during that first week, the other three I was on my own.

I felt like I was losing my mind.

I had, and continue to have, a difficult time processing my birth and dealing with those emotions, and all of that on top of caring for a newborn was too much for me.

The actual duties of “newmomdom” came surprisingly natural to me. I wasn’t afraid to hold her, nurse her, bathe her, change her, etc. I went through all of the motions perfectly, it was just the internal emotions that kept me in a fog. For whatever reason, I hadn’t bonded with my daughter— neither at birth nor in our four weeks together at home because all she really did was sleep. I was more than ready to go back to work. I thought if I got out and back to my “usual” routine then something would click in my head: “hey, you’re a mama now!”

I love my job and got right back into the swing of things, leaving my daughter at home with my husband who took eight PAID weeks of paternity leave. I had no reservations leaving her with him as he was happy and excited about the prospect and I knew he’d be great with her.

I, regretfully, waited until the week before returning to work to start pumping. I was able to get about a week’s amount of breastmilk stocked, and I never had more than that on hand. We were able to exclusively breastfeed for just shy of six months. She took the bottle immediately, and never had a problem switching back to the breast.

I pumped twice a day while at work in a conference room, storing the milk in the break room refrigerator. Everyone at work was very supportive. Other than not having maternity leave, it is a very “family friendly” workplace. I never had any trouble taking time off for doctor’s visits, nursing breaks or just additional bonding time. And I do feel like the distance made my heart grow fonder of my little one. Returning to my normal routine somehow enabled me to accept and welcome her into my life. I have my work that satisfies me both mentally and financially, and while working I look forward to coming home to my happy daughter.

After my husband’s paternity leave expired, our daughter went to a temporary daycare at his work. Since it was free of charge, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see how she would do in the “daycare” setting. She actually did very well and I was hoping to convince my husband that we should find a permanent one for her, but after reviewing our finances we decided to have my mother-in-law take care of her, which she does still to this day.

I was nervous at first because of my mother-in-law’s overall persona— I love her. I think she’s hilarious and truly kind at heart, but one would never describe her as a sweet, gentle soul which is what I wanted my daughter to be surrounded by. Over time though, taking care of an infant definitely softened her up and it has become a very beneficial arrangement for all of us.

A few months after turning one, my daughter really started to make a spectacle at drop off time. It was definitely hard. I started to arrive 10-15 minutes earlier so I could give the extra hugs she seemed to need and that’s still the stage we’re at now; she is 19 months old.


Check out more Going Back to Work stories: Corey’s Story, Christy’s Story


Debbie F. (7 Posts)

Debbie F. is the mother of one adorable daughter, A. She's a full time working mom who tries to squeeze in as much quality time as possible. She loves all things food related, to take long drives alone, read when she gets the chance and to relax at the end of the night with her husband on the couch.

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  1. Lindsay /

    Such an honest article, I enjoyed it :o )

  2. Charlene /

    I really appreciate your story! I also never really bonded with my daughter for awhile. For my hubby it was love at first sight, but it took about 1.5 to 2 months for me to really accept her. I always loved her and like you the duties came easy, but figuring she was actually mine to keep took awhile. And I never had those feelings of guilt of leaving her to go back to work or just for me time. I think it made me love her more!

  3. Great story, thank you for sharing!

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