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Business trip in second week back, dilemma

(11 Posts)
Solasum Tue 18-Feb-14 15:07:28

I'd appreciate opinions, as I am not sure what to do.

I work for a small company, and am the first person to take maternity leave in recent history. 20 years ago, the last person to do so took only 6 weeks off. I am due to return to work full-time at the beginning of April, after 3 months off. For various reasons, it is really necessary, though hopefully there will be some scope for me to work flexibly. At this point, DS will be in nursery 3 days a week from 8.30-5.30, then with my mother for the other two days.

The week after I return to work, I am expected to go overseas for a trade event. It is important, expensive, and I was the driving force behind our attending it. When I looked at the details of last year's event, it lasted 3.5 days, and using very early and late flights, would have meant 3 nights away. I have just received the details for this year's event, and the timings have been changed, so now it would not be practical to be there for less than 5 nights.

This creates a big childcare issue. The daytimes are fine as things can carry on as usual. It is a very big ask to get my (elderly) mother to do 5 nights and 2 days without a break. DP will unfortunately also be away for a few of those days (and has never looked after DS on his own anyway - I know this is my fault). So we are a bit stuck.

Another concern is BF. I am going to keep feeding him on demand until I go back to work, after which point he will be FF during the day (except at the weekend, if this would be possible?), and I hope to continue morning and night BF feeds for as long as we both want to. It is not the kind of event it is going to be possible to express at - as an example, at similar things in the past I have gone 12 hour stretches with two 2 minute loo breaks etc. I am worried both about leaking and it meaning I will not be able to continue to BF as it will have been so long without nursing by the time I get back. After the event, the evenings are for networking.

I have looked at taking him with me and hiring a local nanny, but the days are very long, and timings mean his routine would be completely ruined if I wanted to see him awake. Plus it is of course expensive, and if he was there I'd find it a real struggle to force myself to go to the evening events etc. Or DP could bring him out later for just a couple of days (and maybe an attached minibreak).

One option would be doing all the work and preparation and sending someone else from the company. But this will inevitably reflect badly on my 'commitment'. To be blunt, there are some (older, male) colleagues who are adamant I cannot continue to work in my current role and be a present mother, iyswim. If the event goes well, but I am not there, I will probably not get the chance to do it again, and whoever goes instead of me will.

WWYD? All the options seem rubbish.

WipsGlitter Tue 18-Feb-14 15:10:07

What about DPs parents? Brothers and sisters?

Delay going back to work by a few weeks...

Very hard, none of the options look easy.

eurochick Tue 18-Feb-14 15:10:47

That is really hard. Is there any chance that your mum would like a holiday in the place where the event is (a childcare "holiday", that is!). Otherwise, I think your best bet might be the local nanny. That way you can continue to bf and see your baby in any downtime.

Solasum Tue 18-Feb-14 15:23:21

DPS parents are overseas, and no other family around who'd be able to take him for so long.

I guess mum might consider a childcare holiday, it is quite a fun place. Jetsetting granny smile

MerylStrop Tue 18-Feb-14 15:30:07

I think that either:

1. Your old timer colleagues are going to have to suck it up , your commitment looks pretty damn good if you are only taking 3 months leave. How big of an opportunity is it to do this event? Career/life-changing? Maybe you just have to pass it up?

2. Take 6 months off. They can cope. It is not unreasonable for you to want to do so.

3. Get your DH to take some time off. Unpaid if necessary. If the event is that important to your working life.

Applefallingfromthetree2 Tue 18-Feb-14 15:37:01

I would do all the prep and send someone else, it is surely good practice to develop other staff members especially in a small company. The fact that you have considered this shows that there must be someone else who you have confidence in.You have shown your drive by setting up the event in the first place. You could be in touch by e-mail/Skype/phone and if necessary fly out for a couple of days to support.

You will be a bit of a trailblazer in your company when it comes to working mums so hold your nerve, be confident and concentrate on making alternative arrangements that work for you and the company.

Good luck

Quejica Tue 18-Feb-14 15:46:46

Can you take a nanny, au pair, Uni student etc with you then you can probably still bf on demand.

Quejica Tue 18-Feb-14 15:51:25

Your employers do have legal obligations to you if you are breast-feeding.

Applefallingfromthetree2 Tue 18-Feb-14 16:07:11

I agree with a previous poster that going back after 3 months you have already shown commitment. You will be part of the labour force long after the 'old timers ' have gone so try and smile through their misguided comments.

Nothing could be more important than nurturing a new life , this does not mean that you can't work just that it is not unreasonable to expect flexibility and the law does support you in this

PotteringAlong Tue 18-Feb-14 16:19:01

I think, rightly or wrongly (and I'm not getting into this as a feminist / sexist issue!) you've got to decide where your priorities lie and what you want to do.

Going back after 3 months shows huge commitment. But the reality is that 5 days away from a breastfed on demand baby is not practical. It is a huge ask of your mum and if she's not willing then you or your DP have to do it. Your child, your responsibility.

You then need to decide which career is more important / going to go further / best for your family and either you or DP has to say "no dice" to work. I don't think for one minute that automatically has to be you. But it will have to be one of you.

For what it's worth, when I went back to work DS had formula in the day and was breastfed on demand at night / weekend and it was fine.

PumpkinPie2013 Thu 20-Feb-14 17:34:30

This does sound very difficult all round!

Is there absolutely no way you can do less nights? Split it with someone else? Do 3 nights each so you can overlap one night?

Can your DH send someone else on the trip he was supposed to go on?

Or delay your return but say you will do the prep work at home and send it in?

I think it's a huge ask to expect your mum to have your ds for a full week especially as he is so young and you say she is elderly.

Remember that employers cannot treat you less favourably because you have taken maternity leave so you could delay returning. Honestly, they'll just have to deal with it.

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