The Day My Maternity Leave Ended


Posted by Rebecca, August 22nd, 2012

I started this blog three years ago. My thoughts were to have a place to document our house, have a creative outlet, help others… and something I’ve never shared with anyone, to make a career out of it.

Mike started SongMeanings when he was a teenager and has worked diligently on it for over 10 years. Once it became profitable, (many many years into it) we knew that when we had kids, Mike would quit his full-time gig and be a work-at-home parent. I wanted something like that for myself and I knew that the only way to get there was to not sit around and complain about it, but to bust my ass for it.

So I did something about it and started this little place on the internet three years ago. At the time, I had no clue there were other home blogs out there– I was seriously living in a hole. It was only after I started this that someone told me about Young House Love. It discouraged me at first, but Mike has been my biggest support system from day one. He told me that the beauty of the internet is that there isn’t just one site on a topic– there are many and many can be successful. So I kept chugging away and loved it more and more each minute.

The first day that I had 100 visitors I got a little misty eyed. I remember running up the stairs and telling Mike that people liked it– I could not believe that strangers were finding me. It was and continues to be incredibly rewarding to write this blog. The high I get off of coming up with a great idea, finishing a project or seeing one of my projects pop up on Pinterest is more than enough to keep me going. Which is good because as anyone who has a blog knows, it takes a long, long, long time to make any profit off of it. I knew this, as it took Mike probably a good 6 years of hard work and dedication to ever see a paycheck from SongMeanings.

Last summer, Mike and I decided to have a baby way sooner than we thought we would. The decision is another story for another post, but it also happened way sooner than we thought it would. Suddenly I was left with a semester of graduate school, pregnant and trying to keep up with this blog. I knew my dream of working on this full-time to be home with our future children was slipping away. Okay, it took a giant plummet.

I was, and still am, okay with that. My mentality has always been that I chose the career I have now and if I want something different, it’s up to me to change it. It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I’ve been discouraged a lot, but my forever confidence boosting husband has assured me that writing this blog is good for me. It has become so much more to me than a website that I make (very) little money from.

With all of that out in the open, we obviously welcomed Easton in May. I was fortunate enough to have 12 weeks home with him, since I got the standard 6 weeks of disability and NJ is 1 of 3 states that offers an additional 6 weeks of paid maternity leave (don’t even get me started on US maternity leave…) Which means I went back on Wednesday of last week.

Walking out the door that first day was beyond painful. I cried through the morning rendition of “If you’re happy and you know it” (Easton still laughed, he had no sympathy for me), I cried as I handed him off to Mike for his morning nap (which used to be my extra 2 hours of sleep with him), I kissed him and stared at him about 20 times before I actually got out the door.

Then I got to work…and I felt okay. I know how lucky we are. I didn’t have to drop Easton off at daycare. He is home with the only person who loves him just as much as I do and I couldn’t ask for more. Mike sent me texts, pictures and videos all day. There wasn’t a minute of the day when I didn’t know what Easton was doing. The first day I went home a little early and I left at 2.

That night when I got Easton to sleep, my ribs hurt. Then my back hurt. I figured I was just completely drained from the day, but the next morning, I was still dragging myself around in pain. First I thought I must have pulled a muscle, then I thought I hurt myself carrying Easton in the Moby wrap the day before, then I thought I must be getting sick, but I had no other symptoms. Throughout the day, I was told I looked like a tired new mother, which couldn’t be further from the truth because Easton was sleeping 11 hour stretches at night. Then one of my coworkers brought up the idea of mastitis.

By the next morning, I couldn’t lift Easton out of his crib and I knew that was what it was. I didn’t pump much over those 12 weeks at home since I hated it and it was easier to feed Easton myself. The last several weeks, I made it a point to have Mike give him a bottle a day so that he’d be used to drinking from it. He did well and my only concern all along was him. I never thought of the effect that pumping would have on me. It was only my third day back to work and I had to take a very precious day off and lay in bed all day.

All of the progress I felt like I made that first day back went out the window. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to continue to breastfeed, which then would give me even less time with Easton. I never thought I’d be one of those people so incredibly attached to nursing my baby and the thought of losing it was depressing, on top of feeling like crap all weekend. Many tears were shed about whether I made the right decision returning. I was mad at myself for not working harder at this blog to get to where I wanted to be.

Ever the supportive husband, Mike told me numerous times in the past week that he would go back to working a 9-5 job in addition to working on SongMeanings at night. But that is not the answer for us. The arrangement we have now works best for ALL of us and not just me. It’s not about me– it’s about Mike’s happiness and Easton’s happiness as well.

I had to start the return to work process again on Monday. This second time around was worse than the first. On top of the usual stresses, I had to make sure I was taking care of myself and pumping often.

It’s hard to keep my health in mind when my days have been non-stop. I try to get up before Easton does (around 5) to get myself completely ready so that I have time to play with him before he gets sleepy again. Once he starts rubbing his eyes, I pass him to Mike for their morning nap together and I leave. This works out well because Mike usually works until 2am and he’s able to catch an extra hour or two of sleep. I try to get out the door by 7, to get to work by 7:30. My job has an 8.5 hour workday to account for lunches. I skip lunch away from my desk and instead pump 3-4 times a day. One of my coworkers came by yesterday and told me how nice it must be to come to work and have a break. Yeah, some break!

I leave by 4 since Easton goes to bed at 7. I get so excited driving home and he has been so excited to see me. Really, I had no clue a 3 month old would react with giggles, flying arms and tight hugs. When bedtime rolls around, if he’s not in bed by 7 he gets pissed. We didn’t set the 7pm bedtime, he did. If I don’t leave by 4, like if I get in later than 7:30 in the morning, I miss precious afternoon time with him.

Which happened yesterday since I ended up having to pump at home in the morning. I got home around 5 and Easton was crashing by 6:30. I gave him a bath and rocked him to sleep. Once I put him in his crib and looked down on him, I cried my eyes out. There was just not enough time with him.

So I walked down the stairs and Mike saw me crying… again. He once again offered to go back to working an additional 9-5, but I told him to stop being ridiculous. I told him just need time to be sad, and I don’t know how much time. Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe 18 years.

I got up and repeated the process yesterday, despite the fact that Easton has started waking up in the middle of his 11 hour stretch of sleep (bad timing, buddy). It was a little smoother and I got home early enough for loads of play time and cuddles.

As I left work, I ran into my boss’s, boss’s, boss. Yeah, someone quite a few levels above me. She asked me how it was being back and I said it was good, but I missed Easton. She told me that one of the VPs of the company said that when her son was born, she would go out to the parking lot to cry.

Ever since then I feel better. Often times, people think of a mother returning to work as a black and white issue– either you can or you can’t, you want to or you don’t want to, it feels right or it feels wrong. In reality, the issue is one giant grayscale full of emotions and even the most successful of women are not immune. Just because it doesn’t feel right doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Just because some days you can, doesn’t mean that some days you can’t.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to make some tweaks, build my own business and work from home alongside Mike. Until then, it’s okay to feel sad and cry every now and then– I think it would be strange if I didn’t.

I know this wasn’t very house related, but I hope that sharing my experiences helps someone else out there. We’re hoping to get back on the project wagon once things calm down a bit. Until then, you can follow daily Easton pictures over at Macky & Co (which Mike finally caught up with!) and follow me on Instagram @lilhousecould. Thanks for reading 🙂

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17 Responses to “The Day My Maternity Leave Ended”

  1. Alison says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile but first time commenter. I have a 9 month old little girl and I am a labor and delivery nurse. My first shift back to work I literally cried in the hallway for 3 hours in between patients. It does get better but there are still moments when it’s hard. Give yourself and your family time to figure it out how it will work. You can do it!

  2. This was so perfectly written. A complete grey scale is the best way I have ever heard another mommy describe exactly what I felt. I was lucky that I got to stay home Liams entire first year ( actually he was 15 months…I nursed the whole time, and he weaned himself as I went back to work. I still cried everyday for 2 weeks, and actually still have those days ( he is now 3). I went through weeks of feeling like something was “off: that something must not be “right” that this is totally unnatural to leave my baby..but it was my very first lesson in doing what needs to be done for our family… Time has passed, as it will with you, days get easier and thats hard too. but I promise, you will fall into your routine, and so will Easton, and the very bottom line is you love him ore than the world, and he will feel that if you are working or not. Let yourself be sad, and then let yourself ease into working 🙂

  3. Mary Wilson says:

    Rebecca, I love your “little place on the internet”… you call it. Your blog this evening touched me. You & Mike made a plan many months ago, a plan that you considered to be the best for you and your family at the time. It may be a plan that can work now, but it may also be a plan that would work better if it were delayed a few months. Best regards ~Mary

    • Ashley says:

      Well said… Both this comment and the original story. I can’t help but feel the same way Mary… Just consider that plans change and we need to adapt. If you stay the current course I bet it will get easier. If you change it up and spend more time at home before heading into the office full time…..? Who knows?! It’s OKAY to do what’s right for you and your family at the time. Hugs!

    • marissa says:

      Mary, or it may also be a plan that would work better if it happened sooner. I’m not sure what your point is.

      • Mary says:

        Guess I could have said it better. I would encourage you to give consideration to your husband’s offer to return to working outside the home–if for only a few months–maybe until you’ve stopped nursing Easton. Sometimes timing is everything.

      • marissa says:

        Timing IS everything. I agree. But who can realistically predict timing? Timing for Rebecca might not be timing for Easton. Or for Mike. That is why they planned for this. Because when you plan, you’re preparing yourself.

  4. Kris says:

    I can only imagine what you and Mike are going through as you make this transition. I give you a lot of credit. I do know the universal love a mommy has for her babies so this tugged at my heart strings. It will all work out. 🙂

  5. I’m not a mom but I do hate leaving my dog each day. Same thing, right? ;P

    I think blogging sometimes leads to unrealistic expectations. Each day we read people that get to stay at home and craft/DIY all day and make their living at it. Unfortunately, that market is saturated and you have to be super unique to make it work anymore. I get wrapped up in it. I get tired of getting yelled at by schizo patients and drug abusers all day and just wish I could sit at home and approve blog comments for a living. But then I have to step back and remember that not everyone can sit on their rears and tweet blog stuff all day. The world needs people to hand out their drugs and crunch their numbers…and we’re lucky to have jobs that pay us well. Darn blogging setting us up for disappointment.

  6. Nancy S says:

    Hang in there! It can be tough. I was lucky enough to have my son at work with me for the first couple of years, then he stayed home with his stay at home dad. A lot of times I’ve wished we could trade places but it is what it is. On the plus side I think it’s a wonderful experiance for my son to bond like that with his dad & I know my husband wouldn’t have traded a minute of any of it, well, I’m sure he was ready to rip his hair out a few times in the beginning – just like any other stay at home 🙂

  7. Emily says:

    Thanks for this post!! I’m a soon to be mommy and I’m already dreading going back to work and leaving my son- I know it’s going to be difficult. I’m hoping with time it’ll get easier for you- and that maybe one day down the road, you can make this blog your full time job and stay home with your kiddo! 🙂

  8. Laura says:

    Im proud of you! Being a working mom is hard but you will figure it out. Your home is coming along beautifully and you inspire me so much – I realize now that we can have what we want no matter where we end up living. Best wishes & lots of prayers for you. Ps, give your hubs a high five from me – I’ve been semi-obsessed w SongMeanings since I was in high school 😉

  9. Gabbi says:

    I am not a mom {yet}, so I can’t say “I know how you feel”, but I think you are doing a fabulous job! I can’t even imagine how hard it is to return to work, but I am so very proud of you for doing what is best for your family. While things might not feel “right”, you know what is right for now. So kuddos to you for having the strength to get it done. Many positive thoughts to you as you get through this…xo!

  10. Julia says:

    As a new mom, I can promise you it gets better. Going back to work was really difficult for me, especially leaving my daughter with basic strangers. (now they aren’t, and we love her child care providers). I found soon she was happy, learning, thriving, and it gets easier each day.
    Fortunately I have a lot of control of my schedule, but not all moms do, and we all make it work somehow.
    I totally understand your evening problems: my girl goes to bed at 730, and refuses to stay up one minute later, so there are nights I feel I hardly get to see her, but I just try to make our time count.
    Good luck, and hope you get your routine going more smoothly and feel better about it soon.

  11. Margaret says:

    Hang in there, it should get easier. I was lucky also. I left my kids with a dear friend when I worked. I felt guilty because I did not feel guilty. You’ll work it out, don’t worry.

  12. I’m with Gabbi! Not a mom (yet) but you are totally inspiring! You go girl! 🙂

  13. Lisa says:


    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, but have never commented. Thank you for sharing this personal post with us.

    As a new mom myself, I can relate so much to your struggle. Leaving my baby as I returned to work was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I resented my job and that I had to work, hated that I had to pump multiple times a day, and I was useless at work since all I thought about was my daughter. Now, almost exactly 2 months after going back to work, it’s still so hard seeing her so little each day, but we’ve all adjusted and it’s a bit easier than it was the first few weeks. I know she’s happy and thriving and learning, and I’m able to help provide provide for the family so we can all enjoy extra things like vacations together… and I hope that I can be a role model for her that a woman can sucessfully have a career and be a mom.

    And go ahead and cry, cry all you need to, it’s completely normal. What you’re going through is easily one of the most difficult transitions in a woman’s life.

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