Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Work and family

I received this comment yesterday:

"I am a new reader to your blog and like reading about your vet work. Very interesting--but I would also love to hear how you are juggling motherhood and work. How is your family adapting --esp. your baby?"

The timing couldn't have been more perfect, as I've been meaning to do an update on the work/motherhood situation.

So far, the transition has been mostly painless. It's definitely hard being away from Evaline for long hours of work. I miss her terribly when we're slow. Being busy helps more, as I have less time to think about my darling little girl.

The transition for her has also seemed to be relatively painless. When I started back to work, I was really worried about 2 things - her lack of a schedule and her refusal to sleep well anywhere other than in the bed with me. Amazingly and luckily, those things naturally and quickly worked themselves out when I went back to work. She started to self-regulate and now has a pretty normal schedule of going down for the night at around 10:30-11:30 and sleeping till anywhere from 5:30-7:30. At that point, she wakes up and wants to eat, then sleeps again for several hours. We've had a bit of regression on the sleeping at night lately, but I've read that this is very common at 4 months.

As to sleeping in bed with me, she still does that when I am home (it's the only way I get to snuggle my sweet baby when I'm working long night shifts), but she has no trouble moving into the cosleeper bassinet next to me at night. I find the cosleeper to be helpful when I need good, deep sleep. Evaline is a wiggler and tends to kick and fidget in her sleep. If I need to get a good, restful 5 hours, I nurse her to sleep, then move her to the cosleeper. If I'm off work however, she just sleeps with me.

She does tend to get a bit more fussy with her daddy than with me, and she seems to know when I am leaving and get a tad upst. Otherwise, she is doing great at home with my husband. He is in the final death throes of his mathematics PhD. He has been working on his PhD for years, and it is almost done. Right now, he's struggling to get work finished when I am at work. The baby takes up all of his attention when I'm gone. Luckily, we have family members (my mom, his mom) who are kind enough to come down on a semi-regular basis and help with childcare so that he can prepare for his defense.

Working and pumping has also been going pretty well. There have been a couple of situations in which I've had to go too long between pumping sessions. This has lead to some very painful clogged ducts. Otherwise, I am currently able to pump enough to keep up with her, and I am able to find time to do it at work. That's the beauty of winter in the ER - we're usually slow (although that has not been the case lately).

As to the "sleep deprivation," I find it no more serious than bottle raising 3 kittens at one time. Truthfully, ER has prepared me well for this kind of sporadic sleeping schedule, and other than the first month and a half (when I wasn't even working), I haven't felt like a zombie. I feel like I'm getting enough sleep at home, and I've been able to catch a few hours of sleep every night at work (except for my last weekend on, which was hellish).

All in all, I couldn't ask for a better, smoother adjustment period. It has definitely been hard, and there are nights (like last) where I miss her so much that I call my husband 6 times in 6 hours, just to see how she is doing.

Interestingly, my approach to work is evolving rapidly. I used to be very, very serious about my work. In such a way that I was very one-dimensional in my approach to things. Having a baby and something outside my work to focus so intently on, it has helped me broaden my focus. I think it's having an effect on my medicine. It's hard to explain, but I'll work on it. I'm also not so annoyed with clients and stupid situations anymore. When it boils down to it, I do what I can within the constraints clients place on me, and there's really not much else I can do. It's strange to think that having a child would change this for me, but it really has.

Overall, I'm happier and much more well-balanced. My technicians have all commented on the change. They think I'm glowing. Motherhood does that to you. I love her so much that sometimes my heart is stilled with astonishment.


foffmom said...

Sigh. Perfect. Your positive attitude is PERFECT. And it does forever change how you view life, and other humans. Because you know, they were someone's child once.
PhD MATH!!! My version of hell, but fortunately unattainable given my math skills.
I am glad things are going well.

Mary said...

I'm right there with your husband! It's SO hard finishing my PhD this semester while caring for my baby full-time. I raise my glass to him!

I'm glad your transition has been pretty painless. I hear it's difficult to go back that first day and then it gets easier. Your days are always so different, I imagine it keeps things interesting and helps keep your mind off her.