Confessions of a Curious Mind

January 5, 2010

Returning To The Rat Race

Filed under: Mothering,Work — Ms Curious @ 4:56 pm
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I’ve been back at work since mid-December from maternity leave.

I worked for The Company, a large multi-national organisation which will remain unnamed. It is in a very demanding industry and staff usually work long hours, but are rewarded well, at least monetarily.

I took 12-month maternity leave to look after The Little Guy, and I was happy to forget everything about the corporate world for a while and enjoy motherhood. As the end of my leave drew near I had to think about my return to work. My preference was to work part time which The Company is likely to accommodate, but I also want to work “family friendly hours”, which is not typical around here. There are several mums working part time in The Department but they work long hours on the days that they are in the office, and they are often on call during their days off anyway. That wasn’t what I want.

I didn’t like my chances and I told Mr Curious that my requirements were not realistic, but he told me to ask for it anyway. “What do you have to lose?” he said.

So I did. I met up with our HR manager around August the told her my thoughts. She said she would speak to the head of The Department and see what could be done.

I didn’t hear from her for a while. When I got in touch with her eventually, she said that they could only think of one area in The Department where I might be able to work, and even then they were not sure if that team wants a part time person.

I was expecting the worst at that point, but I wasn’t necessarily unhappy. The reality is that I wasn’t happy with the role in the first place. Whilst HR and management have been very supportive, I find the actual work of The Department depressing. I never connected with the work, it was a stressful role with lots of deadlines, and it was dragging me down.

I half-hoped they would offer me redundancy, so I get a nice payout and can look for work in the new year.

A month before my maternity leave finishes, I was asked to come into the office. I had a meeting with the head of The Department, the HR manager and another manager. They have found a home for me. I would work on projects to improve team efficiencies and effectiveness, and since these are internal projects there are no demanding deadlines. I would be working for a manager who works part time herself (she has a 15 month old girl).

I was very grateful – I can tell that they tried very hard to accommodate my needs. So I said yes to the role. There will be a review in 3 months’ time to see how things are working for both parties, which I am happy with.

As the start date drew near, a part of me was looking forward to spending time with adults only and not being a mum only 24/7. Thankfully The Little Guy is not too clingy so it was relatively easy to leave him. My mum and MIL are taking turns looking after him until childcare starts next week.

It was good to go back to work around the Christmas period because it is quieter and it gave me a chance to ease back into work. Also my manager is on leave until the end of the month so I don’t have a lot on my plate (I’m writing this at work right now).

Yesterday, as I was reading some work documents, I was reminded of how much I dislike the nature of the work. I feel immense loyalty to management, but I think working in The Company is not healthy for me in the long run. So whilst I’ll do my best whilst I’m here, I will start looking elsewhere soon. As to what I will be looking for – that’s another topic completely!

January 4, 2010

The last breastfeed

Filed under: Mothering — Ms Curious @ 11:13 pm
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This is not the first mothering post I envisaged but reality intervenes sometimes!

A milestone occurred last night. I gave The Little Guy (“TLG”) his last breastfeed.

I have been breastfeeding TLG from birth. I can hardly remember the first breastfeed I gave him, when he about about an hour old. What I do remember is the agony of engorgement (when the milk came in and the breasts went rock hard for a few days) and the constant pain of cracked nipples in the first weeks. It was like scratching a wound every 3 – 4 hours so it was raw all the time! At that point I couldn’t imagine how I could enjoy breastfeeding.

Fortunately, soon TLG learnt to suckle better and I have good milk supply. He is a very efficient drinker and a feeding session is usually over in 10 – 15 minutes, and I only need to give him one breast most of the time. I know many mothers who have difficulties with breastfeeding, from low milk supply to mastitis. I am very thankful that my run was so smooth, and I loved the convenience of it. Of course it was still tough waking up multiple times during the night to feed him, I was walking around like a zombie most of the time.

I didn’t think about breastfeeding as a special bonding moment … until after we started feeding him solids and he took less milk per feed. It occurred to me that he was no longer completely dependent on me for his nutrition, and that made me a bit sad. Maybe “sad” is not the right word, it’s a feeling of letting something go …

I started cutting back on his feeds in November – from 4 to 2 that month, and I cut the morning feed on Christmas Eve. He was fine after each cut. He was eating very well by then so I know nutritionally he was well covered.

I thought the feed before bed will be the hardest to cut because it is part of a bedtime routine (bath – milk – storytime – bed) and he may be upset if he doesn’t get “mummy’s boobie juice”.

We started giving TLG cow’s milk to drink during the day in the last week and he was drinking well. So on Saturday night I asked Mr Curious to give him warm milk at bedtime. And he was OK! According to Mr Curious he was only sipping at first, but after a while he realised that it was the only milk he was going to get so he drank the whole thing.

That could’ve been it, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop yet. The decision to give him cow’s milk on Saturday night was a bit impromptu, and I wanted to do it one last time, to enjoy the intimacy of it and to give it a proper farewell. Plus my boob was pretty full!

So I gave TLG one last breastfeed last night. I closed my eye for a while to enjoy the sensation, and told him that it was a pleasure to provide for him in the last 11-odd months. And then he came off the boob and it was over. I gave him a big hug, then resumed the bedtime routine.

Looking back, I’m very proud of my achievements. I am so glad that I was able to give TLG such a special gift.

So farewell to my maternity bras, Bonds maternity singlets and Henley tees. You’ve served me well. And it is kind of nice to have “the ladies” to myself again … well to Mr Curious too I guess ;-).

P.S. The logo at the top of this post is an international breastfeeding symbol promoted by Mothering.com. You can read more about the design here.

P.P.S. I am firmly in support of mothers’ choice in feeding their baby, whether it is breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. Unfortunately many people are very judgemental one way or another. Let’s hope those attitudes change soon!

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