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Going back to work: It's not the end of the world

BAM! It’s morning and it’s your first day back to work. You rush into the baby’s room for a feeding, nursing him in the glider where you sat only a handful of hours earlier. Your teeth aren’t brushed. Your face isn’t washed, and your hair looks like it hasn’t seen the bristles of a brush since the beginning of time. You’re wondering what kind of outfit you can possibly throw together since you’re between sizes and barely remember how to match colors. Yes, you should have thought about this last night. Thanks for the reminder. You’re worried about making time in the day to pump milk. You’re worried about leaking through your shirt during a meeting. You’re afraid you won’t even remember how to do your job anymore.

And that face—that sweet little face! How will you survive a day without it? Will he be safe? Will he be fed? Will he be cleaned? Of course he will. But who will sing to him, rock him to sleep, cuddle him in that fuzzy blanket he likes? Someone else! And guess what? That’s okay.

For many women, going back to work is one of the greatest challenges of new motherhood. In the beginning, leaving your little one may seem like the worst possible task, something that fills you with dread, sadness, and guilt. But if you can muster up the strength to make it through the first week, you might be pleasantly surprised.

For starters, time out of the house will bring a bit of sanity back into your brain. You get to avoid spit-up for more than 30 minutes. You get to have conversations about topics unrelated to poop. You get to wear actual clothes, however weird they might look. Maybe you even put on a little makeup again. In addition, you’ll speak in sentences that aren’t sung. Remember your regular-pitch voice?

Going back to work is an adjustment. There is no way around it. You’ll need time to develop a new schedule, learn how to function on little sleep, and trust whomever you leave your child with. But millions of mothers do it, and they’ll reassure you that it can be done.

Having hours to focus on adult things, away from the intensity of your home, where a baby has taken everyone captive, makes the time spent with your child even more special. As much as work may tire you out, it can also refill you with strength. You’re a person in the world again, and you go home with a burst of love for your baby that you’ve stored up throughout the day. It’s doable. So buck up, change out of your sweatpants, and get to work!

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