December 12, 2012

Trial Run: Returning to Work

So, starting in January I will, God willing, be returning to work full time as a receptionist at a pediatrician's office. In short, I'm not ready. Well, I'm not sure that I am ready for it. God did amazing things and made it possible for my brother-in-law's fiance to come up to the U.S. to care for Santi as I work. She will live with us and be a sort of in-home nanny/aunt-to-be for our little peanut. Of course, my dream and desire is to be able to do what she is going to do and stay with Santi myself. Yet, as of right now, we haven't found that to be a possibility - but I know God sees the bigger picture and we really don't have a clue as to what He has in store. What if I suddenly sell a painting, make a trillion dollars, start a business and am able to work from home while caring for the babe? What if a friend of a friend needs full time childcare for their infant or toddler and want to pay me to watch theirs while I still have mine? What if... what if...

Anyhow, I'm a little more than nervous about returning to work full time. Questions run through my head, doubts if you will, about being able to pump enough milk at work for the next day, about Santi needing me as I work 20+ minutes from home, etc. So, the thoughtful woman that my mom is, threw an idea my way that I really loved: she stay at home one day a week or so (as needed) to watch Santi, while I go to work for a day to see how it plays out. This way, I'm not going from 3+ months of 100% baby and me time to zero baby time for 9 hour shifts Monday through Friday.

Yesterday was day one. I pumped the day before just for kicks, even though I have a mini-stash of milk in the freezer my mom could take from, and set my alarm for 5:15am. I need to leave the house around 7:00am, no later than 7:15am - so the early wake up time gives me a chance to feed Santiago if he's awake, get ready myself, eat breakfast, read bible, did a little nervous dance, say more than a few prayers, hug my hubby goodbye, maybe do some kegal floor exercises - the possibilities are endless when you give yourself a little extra time in the AM!

At 5:15am, the crazy loud, obnoxious sound screamed out of my phone. Why didn't I change the settings to a peaceful, bird-singing, harp-playing ring? Needless to say, with the crazy alarm clock sound came a waking husband (sorry, Edu) and a really confused - and now really awake - baby (sorry, Santi). This wasn't my plan. Plans are for wimps. I grabbed Santi and fed him real good, then he fell back to sleep. I got ready for work, ate breakfast, read bible. Prayed.

It was just 7:00am, I said goodbye to hubs, mom arrived and I asked her if it would be a good idea to feed Santi a little before I left, she said yes. I did just that. He was happy to be woken up only to be given milk then put back to sleep. I drove away. Lunch was: black rice n' bean chili, fruit, beet smoothie (banana, kale n' beet greens, beets, orange, lemon, ginger).

I tried not to cry on the drive. It was dark, there was traffic, and all of the radio stations didn't feel like playing cheerful Christmas music, just commercials. Le sigh. I prayed some more, that God would give me peace, that His will be done in the future with who will be caring for Santi (me? me? me? sigh...). I am so thankful that my mom volunteered to watch him for a day so I could try this work thing out, but honestly I didn't want to leave. I figured, I'm not technically back from maternity leave, so can't I just not show up for work? I'm not ready, I'm not ready. God's will be done, give me peace, Lord. I arrived at work just on time - a little late, actually.

The first person to greet me at the door was a nice lady doctor, surprised to see me. All I could say was, "trial run - I'm not ready" she mentioned how no one is ready, she remembered her days of new mommyhood and returning to work. I held back to the tears. I carried my breastpump bag with my lunch bag, that's it. I was nervous. I wasn't ready. God is my true source of strength, give it to Him, Nicole. I gave it to Him. I put on a smile. I was happy to be back here, but I wished Santi were there with me.

Work commenced, I was cheerful. The ladies I work with at the front desk are truly a joy. We laughed a lot, we worked and giggled and I felt like I had never left in the first place. Yet, now I had a baby. Why wasn't I taking care of him? Why did I get pregnant, receive an amazing gift from the Lord in the form of a baby boy that we named Santiago James, and then leave him at home as I returned to normal life? I know, it's because I sort of had to - I don't really have a choice. But do I? I really do, actually. I could become a full-time nanny. I could watch him and someone else's kid. Why don't I look at that option? Do I want to leave my baby, really?

I decided to pump at 10:00am, lunch time (after I eat, around 12:15pm) and in the afternoon around 3:00pm. Soon enough, the ten o' clock hour arrived, so off I went to a separate part of the building with a closed door and, after proceeding to make a "do not enter" sign, pumped. I had imagined I would take just a half hour break or so, since pumping in itself doesn't take much time. Little did I know, I wouldn't return to my desk for another 45 minutes. How is that really possible?! Okay, so I took a little time making the sign, then I had to set the machine up, set my phone to slideshow mode so I could look at Santi's cute little face while pumping (they say it helps milk to let down), read some of my mom's texts about how babe's day was going, slurped my mid-morning green smoothie, then I had to pour the pumped milk into baggies, store those in ice pack-filled insulated bags, rinse off the pump, transfer the milk to the freezer, then return to my desk. Still. 45 minutes?!

I was a little embarrassed about it. I apologized to my partner in crime at the front desk and she of course didn't mind. Honestly, though, my mood kind of went to the pits. I tried to ignore it and accept that it was the first time I had pumped at work. Surely I will be quicker at it after much practice, and it won't be a big deal. Right? Well, the other two pumping sessions didn't really show that. At lunchtime I ate my beans n' avocado, with an orange and some pomegranate seeds - a gift from my friend KTB! - and then walked back upstairs to pump. Another 30+ minutes (I shaved off a bunch of time since I didn't have to make a sign, and I had already chatted with my mom while I ate lunch) and some 6 ounces later, I returned to the front desk to work.

The strangest feeling was the fact that I didn't feel intensely blue about missing Santiago. I was so into the work zone, checking patients in, scanning in paperwork to the computer, doing my job in general, catching up with co-workers, that I hardly had time to worry about how my son was doing. I don't know if I should feel guilty for being a heartless mom who forgot about her baby, or if I should thank my gracious Father in Heaven for giving me peace so I could work and be anxious-free. I choose thanks, yet I still felt a tiny bit of "wow, really, woman?!" for not thinking about Santiago more. If it were my future sister-in-law, maybe it would be different, maybe my flesh would be filled with jealousy, maybe I would encounter a sort of spiritual battle with that. Maybe I shouldn't anticipate a future like that - sheesh, does my mind sure wander.

The three o' clock pumping session really turned me off. This time, I grabbed a snack since lunch had settled well in my stomach and I needed a mid-afternoon pick me up in the form of fruit. I think this added a chunk of time to the pumping/away-from-my-desk session, because I took another 45+ minutes. Is this how it's going to be for the next year as I work and pump? Over an hour and a half off of each day? I sigh, for a fifteenth time. How I missed having Santiago with me, feeding him as he asks, not using an electronic milk expresser every couple hours, living the dream life of being a stay-at-home mom and not missing a moment of our baby's life...

Traffic on the way home was dark and covered in rain. All I wanted now was to hold Santi and breastfeed him. There was a strange disconnect that I felt between him and I, all from a stupid plastic pump. I missed his hands that reach all over the place as he eats, his eye contact, how he sometimes gets sprayed in the eyes and doesn't know what's going on, his smiles that he just recently started to send my way during breastfeeding.

Santi did great with my mom. He ate well, he napped like a professional, he played like a champion. My mom is such a blessing to have in my life, she loves her grandson so unconditionally and is amazing for bringing up this idea of having a trial work day so I could see how it feels. She wrote down pretty much everything he did all day, which put my heart and mind at ease. I know I can leave him in the hands of another loving lady, and God has placed my future sister-in-law in that position. I know Santi's life is in God's hands, and my strength comes from Him alone. I trust Him. I lean on Him.

But, ah, how I didn't want to see that pump again for a long time. Thankfully, they don't need me a work for another "trial day" until the end of December. Unfortunately, that also means that once that day hits I will be less than a week away from starting to work full-time. God's word reminds me, "do not worry about tomorrow...."

I try, Father. I try not to worry, not to be anxious. I want to give this entire situation to You. I long to watch our son full-time, may Your will be done, help me to trust You fully. I know Your plans are to give me a future and hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” 

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”

Trust. Pray. Give it all to my loving God, it's all I can do. Here's to the future! 


  1. great job on the trail day.

    an idea to save time on the pumping session is to put the pumping parts unwashed in a wet bag in the fridge or cooler so you don't have to wash it every time. since the milk stays good in room temperature for 8 hrs, it should be fine.

    I know the feeling of not missing the baby so much when away, at least not as much as we expected. it's a good thing, it makes transition not too hard. don't feel guilty about it, it only makes you more productive as a mom and at work.

    I have the same fear of not be able to pump enough for the next day, I think once I go back tomwork, the stress could be a factor. Lets see how that goes. For the moment, I'm freezing a lotmof milk just in case.

  2. How wonderful for you to have your brother-in-law's fiancé coming to act as nanny for Santi! Given that you do have to go back to work, what could be more perfect than to have him in the hands of family? Your Mom is a god send as well. I loved your creative little sign! :)

  3. Nichole, I love your honesty! The spiritual battle, the choosing to do all things Gods way. I'm so blessed by you! Lots of love and peace to you. The father knows your desire! Sweet blessings to you.