Back to work after baby
Oriana Scislowicz, LVT, PHR, was a veterinary practice manager for many years before becoming senior HR specialist at Pharmaceutical Product Development.
Knock, knock. Your jobs at the door. Its been missing you. Can your veterinary life still work after a baby rocks your world?
As women, one of the most emotional, beautiful and mentally traumatic experiences we can have is having a baby. From the moment your child is born, you're swamped with thoughts of how good you are at this whole mothering thing, how you will balance it all and how you'll cope with time apart from baby.
I had it easier than most. Unfortunately, breastfeeding only worked for us for a few weeks. So I didn't have the worry of finding time to pump as a technician on the floor. Also, the first few weeks while I was back at work, my family alternated watching my son. And it helped that I worked with a great team I loved being a part of.
Still, my first day back, what did I do? I wept the minute I walked in the door ... for quite a while. I took breaks throughout the day to cry some more in the bathroom. It was an emotional roller coaster for a few months. I can remember rocking my son to sleep, tearing up because I barely saw him as I left for work and I got home too late to do anything but catch him as we were putting him to bed.
It didn't have to be that way though. Now I see there were opportunities for me to make life easier. But I was so wrapped up in my emotions, I didn't make those attempts.
Embrace other caregivers
Yes, we all want to be supermom and be with our babies every waking moment and hold down a career we love. We need to remember it's perfectly OK for others to get time with the baby too. It's actually great for babies as well. They need to be comfortable with other caregivers, not just mom. Eventually, instead of feeling guilty that I had to leave my son to speak at a conference out of town, I saw it as an opportunity for solo dad-and-son time.
Ditch day care blues
You're not warehousing your child. If you've chosen a good provider (and you will! You're an awesome mom, remember?) embrace the fact you're exposing your children to other loving adults and peers.
You'll find peace of mind with your provider when you're sure your child is well taken care of, enjoying his or herself and safe in another's hands. These steps will help evaluate your caregiver:
- Pop in unexpectedly and see how things are going. (If your provider has a problem with this, you've got your answer.)
- Call now and then to see what your child is up to and how he or she is doing. Avoid the fussy portions of the day, like right before lunch or near nap times. Chances are your child will sound or look upset during those times whether he or she is with you or with someone else. So don't put yourself in a situation where you generate second thoughts unnecessarily.
Get plenty of rest (I know ... funny, right?)
I'm not gonna preach about getting more sleep. I know that sounds like a joke to all parents with small children. I remember my neurologist scolding me for only getting five to six hours a night, as it was probably making my migraines worse. And I just thought, “You clearly don't have kids, buddy.” But you can go to bed a bit earlier when it's possible, and nap when the baby naps on your days off. Don't feel guilty. Do it.
Take care of yourself
Whether it's taking time to read, or getting a pedicure or massage, make time for you. Find something you enjoy and work it into your week.
Connect with mommies
Reach out to other mothers via meetup.com, on online support forums or through local library and baby gym classes. It's nice to hear from others struggling through the mommy experience and learning to let go of the guilt, along with learning to manage raging hormones.
Dump the judgers
I distinctly remember an old friend on Facebook posting something like this when she had her child:
How we handle motherhood is a very personal decision, and no view is right or wrong as long as you take care of your children. Some women crave the mental stimulation of the work they love, and they feel they're better mothers by having a career. And financially, it may be difficult for many mothers to stop working. Others may take a break and return renewed when their little ones grow older.
The take-away: Do what's right for you and your family, and block out any negativity from naysayers. Remember, when women judge other mothers their snark reveals their insecurities.
Explore the (veterinary) field
If you have a tough schedule, specialty medicine can sometimes offer more reliable weekday hours. Pet poison hotlines, food and lab companies, teaching positions and government and agriculture jobs can also offer better schedules for new moms. Also remember the pros of almost any schedule. For example, you may be bummed that you work most weekends or late nights. The flip side: You have more time off during the week. That means more family time and less day care for baby-and potentially one-on-one time with baby if your partner is at work.
Delegate times of the week exclusively for fun kid activities. For example, my day off during the week is spent all day long doing fun activities with my son. While during the weekends, we may run errands and clean, that day during the week is all about baby.
Take pics to work
Most of us aren't sitting at a desk all day. But you can tuck away a photo or piece of artwork in your scrub pocket or have photos on your phone. It helps to have a way to remember that at the end of the day you've got that cutie waiting for you. Some working moms also like to look at pics as a reminder of why you're working: to provide for your little one and to set an example of a badass mom accomplishing your career goals.
There's no doubt that the balancing act of a new mom is difficult in veterinary medicine, with our long hours, sometimes unpredictable shifts and the already emotional nature of our work. It takes determination and a positive attitude to take control. Empower yourself as a new mother and prove that you can be an exceptional veterinary professional and an awesome mom!
Oriana Scislowicz, BS, LVT, is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a technician in Richmond, Virginia.