Working baby

As of our return to the office on Monday January 28th, I am now a working mother and Alice is now a working baby (and for those of you not aware of my arrangement with my job, I get to bring Alice to work!). A lot of you have been emailing, texting, and generally inquiring about my return to work, so I thought I’d toss together a quick update (interspersed with random pictures of Alice for entertainment value only).

My first day back was tough. During my absence there were some changes, and I’ve returned to a new boss with new ways of doing things. No major differences, but a good amount of minor ones . . . plus a different overall feel due to a different personality. So Monday felt hectic and I returned home exhausted, feeling like though I’d been with Alice all day I hadn’t actually spent any time with her, and basically like my brains had been extracted, put through a salad spinner, and returned to my cranium completely addled.

Overwhelmed and spent, I immediately started a countdown on the whiteboard on our fridge: a countdown from 365, giving myself permission to quit in a year if it was going to be this hard.

The next day was completely different. So easy and peaceful that I almost forgot to adjust my whiteboard countdown to 363 when I got home. Tuesday evening I had the time and energy to exercise, shower, make dinner, and have a long conversation about history with my husband over wine.

Taking care of Alice while I worked suddenly seemed completely doable, and not just doable but enjoyable. And it’s been like that ever since! I know there will be harder and busier days mixed in with the easier ones, but so far I feel hopeful and happy about this arrangement.

So here we are, about to start our second week, and I have 5 tidbits to share:

1) Alice’s napping area is in her travel bed, which is set up . . . take a guess . . .

. . . take a guess . . .

. . . in the ladies’ bathroom!

Hee hee.

Before any of you freak out about hygiene, etc., know that it’s just a small room right across from my desk that, as the only female employee, is only used by me. It’s small, contained, I can close the door and turn off the lights, and it’s so close to my desk that I can hear her when she’s done napping and starts cooing or crying or calling out for some attention.

2) There’s a new coffeemaker in the office! And it grinds the beans from scratch for each cup it brews. And the beans come from this guy in Colorado who roasts them in a shack behind his house. No offense to the ole Keurig, but oh baby does this coffee knock the socks off those K-cups.

3) I’m driving to work.

If you just said “WHAAAT?”, know that I’m also saying that.

When did I become a driving person?????

The answer is: like, just the other week. It’s all very new, but it already feels like I’ve been doing it forever.

Pros: I don’t have to insulate myself and my baby against this weather to the degree that I did when I took public transit every day. I don’t have to carry baby, diaper bag and purse to and from work every day on my own body. I don’t have to worry about other peoples’ feelings when Alice is fussing or crying. She can have as many full-out crying sessions in the car as her little self feels the need to do, and the only person that has to listen is me! (and no, it doesn’t bother me–I can tune it out to the point that I don’t notice when she stops)

Cons: I’m not in touch with the outdoors. Or the seasons (is it winter? what? because it’s always toasty and dry inside our lil’ Honda Fit). I walk less. And I feel disconnected from the city and its people. I loved the feeling of joining all those other Chicagoans each morning as we all headed into work en masse. Yes, sometimes there were attitudes and grumpiness and people crammed into a train car shoulder to shoulder–but there’s an energy that comes with that human contact that I don’t get in the car by my lonesome. Also, I can no longer read or snooze on my way to and from work–I used to get in an extra half an hour of sleep that way every day (true story).

All this said, maybe I’ll go back to transiting more once the weather gets nice.

4) Alice is an incentive to count down the days until I don’t work anymore. I don’t know how long I’ll do this working mother thing (a year? two years?), but I know I don’t want to do it forever. So in the back of my mind is a little voice that every now and then pipes up and asks “how long?” I don’t have an answer yet, but I hope to have an idea of what my working future holds in terms of a timeline by the end of this year.

5) No sleep deprivation! It would be so hard to go back to work if I was experiencing sleep deprivation. But thank God for this blessing: Alice has always been a great sleeper. I’ve never had to experience that fog/haze due to lack of winks that I hear is actually quite common among new parents. And she hit a milestone the Friday before I started work again (the day she turned 3 months) by sleeping an uninterrupted 12 hours. Unbefrickinlievable, that’s what it is.

On that note, if you would figuratively (or physically) raise your coffee mugs for a little A.M. toast, here’s to a great week #2 of work for Alice and me, and a spectacularly happy Monday for all of us!

Okay, fine–and a great week for the rest of you, too. I can’t be accused of being stingy when great weeks are being toasted to and passed out by the powers at hand.

12 thoughts on “Working baby

  1. Layla

    Wow I can’t believe she slept for 12 hours!! Thanks for the blog update, and sorry I still haven’t replied to your email yet, I promise to soon. I like that you see public transportation as a positive thing instead of a chore :o)

  2. Patti

    what a great arrangement that you can take Alice to work with you. Going back after only 3 months sounds really tough, except for that arrangement with you very understanding company.

    Good luck with week two

  3. Kelsey

    What a great post! I hear you about public transportation, it’s wonderful and not so wonderful at the same time. So great to hear that your job it’s working out thus far and that Alice is sleeping longer. Blessings for all!

  4. Kari

    What a great blessing to take your baby to work! I am so glad for you that she is sleeping well and you are able to do good work for the time being. I also went back to work outside the home when my second baby was 3 months. He is 10 months now. He hasn’t had any problems adjusting, but I have! I work afternoon shift to cut down on daycare/more time with baby. So while he sleeps really well at night, I get home so late that I miss out on most of his good sleep! And my oldest is in kindergarten, so we all get up early to help him with his preparations for the day. It’s all okay though, “this too shall pass”.

    I am so happy for you and your family as you transition! I came on here to get your mac and cheese recipe, and I ended up commenting about babies instead! Thanks for the recipes, I’ve tried the corn chowder one and it was great! Making mac and cheese for a home group potluck tonight. Yeah, comfort food!!!!

  5. Kimby | a little lunch

    My coffee cup is raised… three cheers for working Mom & working baby! Glad to hear things are going well after the initial adjustment, Jenna. A thought on your countdown… it might accelerate after Alice starts walking. 🙂

  6. Veronica

    I’m so glad you’ve gotten into the swing of things so quickly! And boy do I love those pics of Alice looking up at her mobile (is that what you call it when the toys dangle? lol). Soo precious!

  7. Kate

    I’m so glad this is working out well for you!!! Yaaaayyyy! It’s the best possible situation. I loved being with my babies but love working too! By the way, I work at a great Montessori school, Gateway, that takes children at 14 months in case you’ll need something else by then. It’s very reasonable compared to other private schools in Chicago and it really is a great school.


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