As I anticipate my return to work amidst Fall’s cooler mornings and cozy evenings, it feels like the closing of one chapter and starting of another–despite how taxing and complex the handoff may be.
I always feel a wave of nostalgia this time of year, especially since three years ago I became a mother for the first time–experiencing Matrescence firsthand–and one year ago when I learned I’d go through it for a second time.
Reflecting back on the baby and toddler milestones that whizzed past us over the course of the past four sleep-deprived months, I now feel a sense of pride of what ensued.
Here’s a typical “work week” by the numbers, as a temporary stay-at-home mom (and aspiring Chief Household Officer):
- 14 hours of breastfeeding per week, typically every 2-3 hours around the clock
- 45 ounces of pumped milk per week, typically while multitasking one-handed thanks to my pocket-size Spectra S9
- About 15 bottle feedings per week from the aforementioned supply, plus more than 400 ounces of supplemental formula (until we got hit by silent reflux, nixing dairy)
- Nearly 1,000 diapers, from teeny-tiny Pampers Swaddlers to my favorite super-soft and sustainable Bambo Nature, where we grew up to size 3
- Countless hours of eye contact and smiles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cobbled-together dinners, and bedtime stories
All together, these helped double the size of our once 7-pounder, while his older brother started preschool and became a “threenager” before our eyes.
I squeezed in self-care through the help of my village, technology and conversations with a group of Mama Makers & Shakers who appeared at the most clandestine times:
- 10 interviews with incredible women (often while breastfeeding or holding a baby in my arms) who demonstrated inspiring resilience, resulting in 7 published blog posts and 3 stories in the queue
- 2 Audible books from my Working Mom Reading List (The Ambition Decisions and Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less)
- 180 minutes of interrupted workouts, made possible by live streamed options like Vfit (I’m such a HIIT fan now!) and pre-/postnatal fitness expert Nancy Anderson’s Ab Rehab program
And then there are the memories that don’t have a number attached to them, but are immeasurable in the way they’ve brought our family closer.
Together, the four of us have continued to ride the rollercoaster of emotions that started when life caught us by surprise on the last day of May. Both boys keep us on our toes, but when the chaos settles, the sweetest moments are revealed.
While I’m still not sleeping, I don’t have a freezer stash, and I can’t tell you what the next six months will bring, I will embrace the unpredictability.
I won’t feel like I’ve stepped away from my career, but rather enhanced it by overcoming non-stop challenges over the last four months.
This time around, I won’t strive to be super mom, but will remind myself to stay present and do my best for the moment.