Nine weeks at home

Today is my first day back at work.

I’ve had a shock of bittersweet emotions coursing through my veins for days. “This is your last week at home” starting ringing in my ears last Monday, mocking me with this desperate insistence to make every moment count.

That can be hard to do when you’re running on four hours of sleep with a baby human screaming in your face . . . but I’ve tried.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that part of me was looking forward to getting back to “normal” life, even if my definition of normal has changed greatly. For as much as I’ve loved being home with Oliver, I’ve missed my friends and my work. Nothing about my life has felt familiar since April. The first month was spent drifting like zombies through hospitals, worried and exhausted, and the second wandering the house with a whimpering newborn, even more exhausted than before.

But we have adapted. Ollie’s month in the NICU taught me to be resilient, strong and patient — especially with myself. I had to learn to trust in a greater plan than the one I’d so fastidiously been crafting, and to accept that life does not always follow our color-coded spreadsheets.

That was a tough one for me . . . a lesson I’m still learning. One I swallow down every day.

I can’t say I have any regrets, though. With this little guy napping on my chest, how could I?

Sleeping with paci

Like all working parents, I already feel guilt nibbling away at the corners of my consciousness. Though he’s now tipping the scales at more than 9 lbs., Ollie is still a little tike — and his preemie status, especially, has me desperate to take care of him. When he spent those long weeks in the NICU and I was hours away, crying in the darkness, all I wanted was to hold him.

And I have held him constantly over the last month. There are times I thought I was going crazy, alone with him in this house; times I could not watch another second of daytime court shows or make another cup of bitter coffee that would cool before I could drink it. Times I was so desperate for human contact that I would prowl Facebook with one hand while soothing Ollie with the other, and afternoons I sat near the door waiting for my husband to come home.

But there were so many beautiful moments, too. Times Oliver and I rocked in the nursery and I swallowed back a tidal wave of tears reading On The Night You Were Born, which I can’t even type without getting weepy. Mornings we did nothing but cuddle over the morning news, then took photos in the cloudy light to document the growth of my sweet babe.

He’s gained about 4 lbs. since he came home in early May — doubling his birth weight and then some. When Ollie arrived early, so vulnerable and small, I didn’t know how I’d ever feel confident holding and feeding and soothing him. Everything was overwhelming. I plunged forward because I had to — because I am his mother — but I was scared, so scared, each time we walked into the NICU.

The past few weeks at home — these final weeks of my maternity leave — have really helped me find my mama footing. Though I am dead exhausted (and I’m sure that’s about to get worse), we’re so in love with this tiny baby . . . and that love carries us through another (nearly) sleepless night.

I’m sad to be going back to work. I’m happy to be going back to work. I’m not exactly sure how life will look yet, now that I’m returning to the office and Oliver is headed for daytime care, but I’m trusting that we will form new routines and make it work.

I don’t have a road map . . . but I don’t need one.

We’ll draw it ourselves. And it’ll be okay.

20 thoughts on “Nine weeks at home

  1. “…life does not always follow our color-coded spreadsheets” — that is so true! I am in a different stage of life to you: I’m a recent graduate, currently searching for jobs that will allow me to work part time and study for a Masters at the same time. But I can understand the feeling which you articulate so beautifully in this post, the feeling of not quite knowing what the routine will be, but trusting that life will settle into a new normal.

    I wish you all the best with your return to work. Oliver is a little darling! 🙂


  2. What a beautiful tribute to your first few months with him ! Good luck getting back to work. Sleep is the key; get plenty of it ! Remember to take care of mom, too !


  3. You are doing great. It’s true that life with a baby, and especially a preemie, does not follow planned out spreadsheets, but it’s all worth it to see then grow! Take each moment as it comes and things will brighten as you go.


  4. I hope today went well! Tomorrow will be a bit better, and the next day will be a bit better too. I think working has been good for me. I miss Caleb during the day and am always excited to go see him when I get out, which is a good thing. It helps him socialize too since he isn’t with just Jerry and I all the time. Hang in there and enjoy the bit of normalcy that working brings. It can be sad but it can also be a really great thing for the whole family, including Ollie. 🙂


  5. Omg, this made me so teary! Thank you for sharing with us, and oh, I can so sosososooso relate to so much of what you share (without the stress of an esp tiny baby, of course!). And I can’t read The Night You Were Born without losing it, still, 7 months later. It’s so incredible, all of it. Hope re-entry to “normal” life is gentle and pleasurable.


  6. From a fellow mom who has stayed home for over 3 years now… you’d be nibbled away with guilt if you stayed home too. “Grass is always greener” type situation. Put him in the care of a facility/person you trust, go to work and enjoy your social interaction, and know that whatever path you choose in the future… you’re doing what YOU know is best for YOUR son.


  7. Working away from the kiddo is tough, but sometimes it is a definite sanity saver! Sending lots of good thoughts for your transition and some good sleep too!


  8. Hugs to you. I identified with so much of what you’ve written. I returned to work in January after my son was born last Fall. Other moms at my workplace told me it would get easier as time went on. My mother reminded me that returning to work was a time of transition, just as becoming a mom to my little guy was a time of transition. I don’t know that it gets easier, but I’ve learned to be more efficient and to give myself grace when I don’t meet the expectations I set for myself. While I love being with my son, it was a relief to return to part of my life that was familiar even though my entire perspective had shifted. Best wishes to you as you navigate your own time of transition. You’ve got this. 🙂


  9. Your posts are precious! As is your little guy! I’m so happy for you. I’m jealous of your stage of life. Not that I don’t enjoy getting a lot of rest and being selfish with my time, but I’m jealous that you have someone to share life with so consistently. Someone who literally depends on you for life. It may be egotistical of me, but I want that. Thank you for your posts. I really enjoy them.


  10. I love reading your blog!! I am new to blogging & still learning, so I love to read others writing about their lives. Please check mine out, any thoughts would be appreciated! welchswildride is me!!


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