Should I (and can I) delay returning to work?(71 Posts)
I would really appreciate some advice...
I had my first baby in December, so she is now 12 weeks or thereabouts. It was always the plan for my DH to take SPL starting in April and for me to go back to work (teacher) for the summer term. We need to decide at some point whether I will stay at work in September, at which point she would need to be in nursery, with my MIL kindly offering to do a day a week of childcare.
However, for the moment that is by the by, as I am finding the return to work date to be a bit of a problem. I am genuinely not sure what to do for the best.
Some of the issues:
1) breastfeeding - if I go back to work I will need to express if she is going to continue to be breastfed. I don't think I will manage to express enough for her to be EBF (I am pumping and it is exhausting me trying to feed a very hungry baby and build up a frozen supply) so she would need to go on to formula. I thought I would be fine with this but I am finding the idea of expressing whilst she drinks formula somewhat counter-intuitive! I can also see me coming home from work knackered, then having to take over sole care just so she can continue to be bf at all. Doing nights as well as working FT is unlikely to work well.
2) My DH. He is a new dad and obviously that is hard. He loves the baby but it is fair to say he doesn't have the same bond with her at the moment as I do. He absolutely sees the importance of building a bond with her and is looking forward to doing lots of outdoor and fun activities (many of which I would love to do in theory but if I'm honest with myself, probably wouldn't - more of a potter round with a book person). It does frustrate me somewhat that my maternity leave is being spent on very early baby care and expressing in the freezing cold - hard to enjoy it! Anyway, my DH k mainly wants to do what is best for the baby. He is starting to recognise how much work that involves (sent him a detailed breakdown of a single day - that was an eye opener, I think!). I know he will find childcare quite tedious and, if I am honest, I think he is likely to parent in a more detached way than I do. I am more hands-on with the baby most of the time. This may of course change when he is in sole charge. I also think he would appreciate the break from work and I don't want to look like I am grabbing all the available time off. He says that isn't a factor but I can't be sure he isn't being polite!
3) My DD is very attached to me. She gets colicky in the evening, needs breastfeeding to sleep and is hard to put down at times (sometimes she is fine). When my DH has had her for an hour or so on his own she has been fine for 30 minutes or so but then starts to get upset. At night that turns into full-blown screaming fits which are distressing for her and impossible for me to ignore, so I end up taking her to calm her down and comfort her. I am worried that she just needs me, but equally I am worried that that is ego talking - would she be fine in a few days?
4) Work - I have already given a return to work date that is now 7 weeks away. I would be giving less than 8 weeks notice of a change to this, and I don't think they are obligated to accept this, are they? Obviously I don't want to mess anyone about but I need to do the right thing for my DD so I will have that conversation if I need to.
5) My beliefs and assumptions: I feel a bit daft that I seem to have underestimated how difficult this would all be. I always thought 50:50 care was an obvious solution, and I do honestly believe it will be better in the long run for everyone if my DD has two parents capable of looking after her equally well.
So what should I do?
Sorry for the length - trying not to drip feed!
Oh and I should say also, my DH gets full pay if he is off because his work have excellent terms and conditions, whereas my paid maternity leave is due to end shortly. The money would be helpful but isn't the main issue.
It sounds like you know the answer to your dilemma...you aren't ready to return to work& your daughter mightn't be either.
Has your partner had your daughter alone for the day? I'm sure he's absolutely great but the reality of paternity leave vs the fantasy is v different - as we know now! Also you have gone through 9months of pregnancy, labour & breastfeeding so to take the majority/all of the time off is not unreasonable...
Contact work & use breastfeeding as your reason for delaying, they might not be happy about it but it may be difficult to turn you down on those grounds...good luck x
It's really okay to want to spend more time at home with your daughter.
Even if you hadn't parsed out some excellent reasons for that (and you did), it would be okay.
I think you don't need any reason beyond a general belief that it would be good for her to have you there.
Does your husband feel strongly about taking paternity leave? It sounds like he is okay with doing it, but doesn't feel very compelled by it. So why not let him support you and the baby for now?
We had initially planned on DP having 6 months the SPL after I returned at 6 months. As the time.got closer It became clear I was not ready to go back to work. I felt my DS needed me in a more co Stanton way than he needed DP (who is very hands on). Luckily my work were very understanding so I took the financial hit and have taken 9 months. I go back to work at beginning of April and I feel much better about it than the previous date.
You clearly feel it's too soon and it's ok to admit that. My DP was very understanding, although a bit miffed at losing 3 months of his leave.
Whether your DH does or does not look after your baby now is unlikely to affect whether he can care for her alone. I had the full 12 months off with all three of mine. It has made no difference to DH's ability to parent them. I think that's more about expectations than experience. Don't worry about feeling differently that's normal, you didn't know how you would feel and you do now.
Don't underestimate those pesky hormones, you don't sound ready to leave her so don't! Even if you can't delay returning now you can always get parental leave. Its unpaid of course.
Get moving quickly and delay your return to work. You won't regret the extra time spent at home but you may regret giving up on the time.
I went back to work at 7 months with DD1, with DD2 I took the year, with DD2 I felt much better about it. Both were breastfed too, with DD1 I spent months locking myself in a work too with my pump! With DD1 it was easy, no pumping required, she was eating plenty so I just fed morning and evening.
Stay home for at least one more term. Get your DH ago have some time off in the summer to start a more gentle handover of childcare duties and enjoy more family time together. Reconsider going back in September.
Oh and talk to work today. Don't delay it any further.
I think you know the answer OP.
i had planned to take 6 weeks off work.
I had a total turn around once my baby came.
I totally understand. Neither you or your baby are ready.
It's OK to change your mind, you can't second guess what life will be like with a baby.
Is there any flexibility to return after May half term? It sounds as if you aren't ready but remember your baby is growing at an amazing rate and once you wean at 6 months it will feel like a whole other ball game. If dh could then take until Oct you would have the summer to decide re nursery and MIL as a long term solution. It does seem impossible now to think beyond the
next feed next few weeks but your daughter will change considerably. The attitude towards your dh will shift, esp when he starts offering food. He probably won't parent in the same way as you, but that is fine too. It is dh who has had to get them off needing me to feed them to sleep (at around 8 months not 12 weeks). With me they get more and more agitated but as he has no milk that isn't an option. Have you tried going out when he has her for gradually increasing lengths of time? I would say that is vital.
Delay your return, there's plenty of time for your DH to bond with baby if you go back in September. He can stay paternity leave in August and you can both do a gentle handover over summer even you're both off work.
Maternity leave in France is 13 weeks from whenever the baby is born or due date if it's early. It's very hard but fine. Really nice to have adult company again.
But, if you continued to breast feed that would be really hard. Expressing is very time and energy consuming. I continued to breast feed morning and evening which was nice for us all. Without disrupting our lives.
Personally I wouldn't not go back. Brilliant for your DH to find out why it's so time consuming. And to learn about really managing it all. And to get a proper bond going. Good for you to keep your career going for so so so many reasons.
If you want to continue breast feeding at night maybe find a less disruptive to sleep way of doing it. Co sleeping or whatever.
I would delay your return. Can your DH take the paid leave later (eg september to dec)?
His idea of paternity leave (outdoor activities - for himself? - with a baby in tow) sounds naive.
If you do return after easter suggest stopping bf and expressing and sharing the night care, for your health and sleep.
And interestingly France has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the western world.
I'd see if you can move your return date. My thoughts on spl are the same as yours. While ebf, it's the mother who is usually the primary caregiver. My husband enjoys older babies much more than newborns. I went back half day at 6 months and that worked well, as i didn't need to pump at all and was able to ease my way back in.
I promise I say this with kindness....
Whether or not you return to work, you need to be less judgy about your DH's parenting, and give him some space to be his own type of parent to your baby. When he is in sole charge he should be allowed to do it in his own way without being worried he's not meeting your standards.
Your detailed breakdown of your day may not be how he wants to spend his day. He might feel pushed out or second best, and that's not sustainable.
I'd give up the pumping. Soul destroyingly boring. If you are not ready you are not ready. however, DP taking paternity leave (4 and 6 months) is the best parenting decision I have made. He is truly an equivalent parent and does not bat an eyelid to do something alone with DS 3 and DS 18 months.
Thank you everyone for the advice - I think I will be letting work know today that I will come back at summer half-term. That way my DH still gets to do some of the leave. Work are unlikely to be pleased but I have to do what we think is best for her.
The point about weaning is a good one.
disappearingfish: I know what you mean and I hesitated before sending it to him, but the truth is I wasn't trying to tell him how to parent, just to inform him of what my day involved so he wasn't under any illusions!
I think most likely this is a matter of short term pain for long term gain. Swapping roles with your DH while the baby is still a baby will really help with keeping the gender roles from taking hold.
The impact of a less engaged father at age 8 is not as visceral as a baby screaming for its mum at 3 months, but I think it's more critical.
I readily admit to having an old fashioned attitude, but in my view the early time of a baby's life is easier with their mother as primary caregiver.
A baby has lived and grown inside their mother's body for 9 months- the umbilical cord may have been cut, but a baby is more in rhythm with their mother's care than their father's.
Especially so when breastfeeding, a baby is easier to settle, calmer, easier to sleep when with their mother.
Fathers can play an important role of course and when a baby starts to "open up" and especially when mobile then fathers- and other caregivers become important.
Babies are the only mammal born with such underdeveloped functions, biologists suggest that homo sapien needed to give birth at 9 months because of the brain size /pelvis ratio, it would make sense for human gestation to be a lot longer.
I have even heard " 9 month in - 9 months out" referring to a baby's foetal development.
Not sure how much I agree with all that, but the feeling that a mother can best serve a baby's needs in the early days is one that I share.
I don't think that's necessarily down to him taking paternity leave though, my DH, for example, didn't and is similarly sharing parenting.
Obviously sharing the time off can be great if it if's the right solution, and in OP and her H's case there are financial reasons for him to take time off. Perhaps there's some better solution on the timing of that.
Look, I don't have children, and you have to do what's best for your family. I would just point out, though, that you're comparing you now, with months of practice at daily childcare, with your husband who doesn't have that experience. What if you compared you before the baby? Didn't you learn lots in the first few weeks? I think he would too. It almost certainly would be harder than he expects - but isn't that what you (and all new mothers) found too?
Delay for sure. I intended to take 4 months off, then it was going to be 6, then it was eventually a year.
I totally get that and I think he would learn very quickly. That's why this is a difficult decision. The other factors are the breastfeeding (we both want to breastfeed her longer than 4 months), and how distressed she is getting at the moment when my DH takes over. It just feels wrong given she is so tiny.
I also have a lot more experience with babies than my DH (massive family versus very little family) but that is no obstacle. I am sure his care for her would be fine.
The nature of teaching is also relevant, I suppose. At three moment he comes home and has his evenings to help with the baby; I would be marking and planning in the evenings, so either my work would suffer or I wouldn't be able to breastfeed, in all likelihood.
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