Yes I started a new job 9 weeks postpartum in pandemic and spoiler alert it wasn’t the first job I started since I had a baby in early August!
As an attorney I had never had the foresight to plan for having to take maternity leave. Most lawyer matters are lengthy and last over a period of time and don’t stop just because an attorney is sick or has a baby. This is crazy to think of but I had never really planned for maternity leave. Luckily with my first child we were relocating and I managed to work part time as we moved accross country at 8 weeks post partum. Then with my second I was SO SO SO LUCKY and I worked a job with a government agency where I had 12 weeks of maternity leave and had enough sick/vacation/donated time to cover all 12 weeks!
Fast Forward to pregnancy number 3! The pandemic of 2020 hit around March 13, 2020. I with my infinite wisdom rage quit my job 3 months pregnant at the end of Feb 2020. Literally walked out of the courtroom straight to my boss’s office gave him my key and quit. I was pregnant so lots of tears were involved. More details on how to rage quit a job in another post. BUT that meant one of two things either I was going to have a ton of time of with my kids for the next few months- a year or there was going to be no such thing as maternity leave.
SO, Fast forward to August of 2011. Two days before I went to the hospital suffering of “Spontaneous vaginal delivery” I was in my basement and a legal recruiter called me and asked if I had heard of a specific company, I had not. So she indicated to me that she planned to submit my resume to them. Me, thinking meh cant be that bad to start working after having a baby was dillusionally optimistic.
I interviewed from the hospital about 12 hours after giving birth and shortly thereafter landed a 40 hour a week contract attorney job that started in 2 weeks! I was two weeks post partum and working 40 hours a week sorting out applications for a class action law suit. That was HARD AF.
About 3 weeks post partum an email comes in that says “legal clinic director position posting”. I read it through it fits great, I apply. I interview at 5 weeks post partum and 7 weeks post partum and start at 8 weeks post partum.
I have a new born at home, a 2 yeard old a 4 year old and the only people i interact with that are not my husband and kids are elderly. There is a freating PANDEMIC GOING ON. Everyone is at risk of getting sick and the cases of the virus were rising by the day in my state! BUT I go into my first day in the office anyway. I am armed with Lysol Wipes and spray dissinfectant, a breast pump, more sanitizing items, a bag with ice packs for the milk, several masks and of course my smile that no one can see.
This was hard. I had bee no where other than the doctor or the grocery store since MARCH. That was almost 6 month of going no where except essential places. What a shock to my system. I was exhausted from the 2 hours I spent filling out paper work. I could have done that from home that is for sure. And conveniently they forgot to tell the person who is training me to come in on my first day so day 2 n the office came fast- as in the next day. When I got home I threw all my clothes in the wash and I took a shower head to toe to get any potential contamination off of me before I held my little baby. After all the most stressful part of this was the itty bitty baby I had at home. 8 weeks old and so fragile. Such a ball of sunshine and happiness (albeit not sleeping). I had to take every single precaution for him and my other kids and my husband and elderly family. What a mess 2020 has been. Anyway, back to work….
Again I am armed and ready to go. I go to the office and do what I have to do. Pumping in the car in the parking lot to keep my milk and pumping parts out of the way of potential infection.
That day ended and I had several days before having to returning to work. After showering off and a glass of wine to unwind from the stress I was starting to get used to working in a pandemic. I know some of you have been working through it all but it is scary out here for those of us who were blessed enough to be at home all this time.
My kids are trained (and its almost sad) to stay away from mommy or daddy when we first get home from being out of the house. They understand that there is a risk of the virus following us into our homes. I negotiated for a 1 day a week in office schedule and that one day is very long and stressful.
Tips for other mama’s (especially those of new borns) not a medical doctor but my pointers i have learned:
- Try to get doubles of things you can leave at the office- For example I bought a small fridge to keep on my desk at work to keep milk in so I don’t have to use the common fridge.
- Try to pack a lunch that does not have any dishes to go back and forth and wont need microwaved. For example I packed chicken salad, ate with a plastic fork, and had a throw away container. I will not be taking anything from the office back home if I can help it.
- Wipe down your work area EVERY TIME you come back from being away. You never know who was at or around your desk while you were away. Stash some Clorox wipes somewhere in your workspace and WIPE THAT SHIT DOWN EVERY DAY! (I found a used disposable mask in my trash by my desk and if you note from the beautiful picture above I don’t use disposable masks- it was probably the most horrifying thing that has happened to me yet.)
- Hug your babies tight- you don’t know when you might encounter someone and need to quarantine or be away from your kiddos for a while.
- Speaking of masks, order some KN95 masks off of amazon or wherever. These often fit INSIDE some of the re-usable masks and will offer so much added protection both for you and the others around you. Also, try to make sure the mask is close enough to your skin that you are breathing TRHOUGH the mask and not around the mask
- Going to the bathroom nearly broke my ability to handle the public in covid. I was so cautious. Take a Lysol wipe and wipe the seat. If you have Lysol spray the bowl maybe? I don’t know but that was so freaking hard! Trying to avoid that as much as possible.
- Stay calm, ask the universe for protection, bubble yourself, be kind to others, Mask up always and be vigilant. Don’t let other’s comfort with people in this pandemic wear off.
- Take out some life insurance if you can that doesn’t require a physical and get some coverage in case something horrible happiness. I took out a new policy and my friend got it set up where I answered questions and had no health exam. At least if I get sick my family will have some coverage!
The craziest thing about all of this is that everything mentioned above has zero things to do with me being post partum. Emotions are still wacky, hormones starting to level out but not completely, still spotting from the IUD I got at 6 weeks, and still very sleep deprived. This goes to show that even though starting a job right now was NOT ideal, it is doable. After my first two weeks I was very exhausted and although I was working part time I needed a break. I took a break, by cleaning the garage. This was so cathartic for me. I felt so empowered to have this one thing done. I was sore for 2 days straight afterwards but it gave me the break and peace I needed. Which is so exemplary of how you all can help yourselves especially if you need to work in this time. You have to have time for you. Time where you unplug. Even if it is to do laundry, clean the garage….etc. You have to have time where you are in control, you are not watching the kids, and you are doing something, anything as long as it is safe, to recharge and refill your empty cup!
As Mama’s we gotta be strong and take all the extra precautions even when it is hard. Our emotions matter. You matter. You need to do YOU first because you cannot give from an empty cup!