It’s strange how after doing my job for so many years I now view it completely differently. I love my job, despite what I might say when I get home after a hard day, but the arrival of a tiny human into your life throws a little more perspective on things! Having spent 4 weeks learning by trial and error (it’s all you’ve got!) how to rebalance life with a little one, going back to work throws the delicate and precarious balance that you think you have managed to achieve completely off again! There is a very difficult balancing act to be done – and unfortunately I’m no gymnast, nor am I known for my plate spinning skills..!
Life now feels a bit like running from one end of a see-saw to the other, trying to prevent each end from hitting the bottom. Going back to work simply makes the see-saw longer, so you have to run faster!
My first week back in the office hasn’t been too bad. I only had just over 1000 emails to “process” (i.e. filter for important stuff and delete!) which was much better than I feared and everyone has welcomed me back, coming to say hello and offer congratulations – which has also given me an excuse to tell everyone about how proud I am to be a Dad, how well Mum is doing at home and share pictures of my little girl. I’m not sure how it works in other offices, but in mine significant life events come with “cake fines” – so there has been plenty of cake to gorge myself on as well! I’ve found I’ve slipped back into work itself quite easily, although I find myself longing for 4pm when I can go home to my girls.
Having spent every waking second with Little H for weeks, to now be spending more time at work than I do awake and at home with her or my wife is a little upsetting. Mrs Heatho is in the habit of sending me a picture of a smiling Little H with a full belly every morning though, or a picture of whatever adventure they’re on that day, so I get little updates as to how she is enjoying her day!
Even when I get home, if Little H wants feeding I have to wait patiently for a cuddle… but I do love my cuddles when I get them 😊. I tell myself that she knows when I come home, that she follows the sound of my voice and looks for my blurry outline to confirm the source of the noise… whether she does or not I don’t know but it makes me feel better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive enough to expect my four-week old daughter to excitedly greet me at the door every time I come home, wiggling her bum with a soft toy in her mouth (we’ll leave that for Fern 🐶) but the fact she turns her head towards my voice lets me know I’ve not been forgotten.
So far it hasn’t happened but I’m dreading the inevitable days that I come home and Little H has grown like a weed, or done something for the first time. It will be a shame to miss out on those things, but I console myself with the fact that there will be a first time Little H crawls, talks and walks for me – and it has to be enough that I will treat my first experience of them as though they were the first experience of them.
Sleep management is a whole new ball game as I now have the mental drain of a days work to cope with. I know it’s not exactly “easy” being at home alone with a baby either – but I found work tiring before I had a child depriving me of sleep and time on my own. Basically, Mrs Heatho is smashing it and letting me get pretty much a full nights sleep every night. We will see how long that lasts! We always said that maternity leave was there for Mrs Heatho to look after our baby and that I had to be able to function at work, therefore I needed sleep. Some people will disagree, say that is selfish of me etc… but it’s what we agreed was right for us. So far, I’m not sleeping in a different room which I know others have done. Something else will be right for other people. If it stops working – we’ll change it. There are of course still times when I’m up in the wee small hours bleary-eyed to make a bottle up because the boob just isn’t cutting it. I’m yet to do a middle-of-the-night nappy change, but I’m also not stupid enough to think I will avoid it forever! It’s striking a balance and being flexible to find a way that works for you both. Every time I stir because Little H is fussing or crying I check that Mrs Heatho is ok – I have to trust that if she isn’t, she will let me know.
It can also be challenging when you know that it’s a hard day at home. As good as work are… I can’t just be popping home every other day to help solve a crisis or offer support – Mrs Heatho is having to work through them on her own. We’ve always worked through problems together, so it isn’t very nice knowing that all I can do is send messages of support when the low moments hit.
On a more positive note, maternity leave means that Mrs Heatho is around every weekend, so we can plan to do something as a family each weekend – so I always have that to look forward to and see me through until Friday 🙂. This weekend we have multiple groups of friends coming to see us, so it promises to be a terrific weekend and will be well worth the wait!
By the way, where did the last month go?!
Little H is one whole month old today. I can’t describe the feeling of how fast that month has gone. It’s as though she arrived yesterday but at the same time feels like she has always been a part of our lives. I suppose in a way she has been a part of our lives now for 10 months since we found out that Mrs Heatho was pregnant. Time has really flown by – but i can’t wait to see what adventures our lives are accelerating towards.