The biggest regret of my life: Going back to work after 3 months

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When the mister and I decided to try for our first baby, I honestly thought that it would take the best part of a year for me to get pregnant. Therefore, I didn’t see the fact that I co-owned and ran a media start up as a much of a biggie.

Two months after we made that conscious decision to start trying, BOOM! I was pregnant. My business partners clearly a wee worried at the speed of action of sperm, I brushed off the reality with easy-breezy pre-baby attitude, thinking I would merely pop her out, have a 3 month maternity break and jump back in the saddle, and be ok with it all thereafter. HA!

Boy was I wrong.

I’m definitely not one for regrets – I don’t really see the point of lamenting over what was – but finally I have one nice big juicy regret in life; leaving my baby in what I now deem to be the crazy age of 3 months in someone else’s care – whilst I got back on the self-employed hamster wheel. Otherwise known as the micro maternity leave.

Funnily enough, the micro maternity leave is on the rise – sometimes it’s a choice, for others, there is no other option. In some countries, it is the norm. In my case, it was my only path forward at the time. In my naïve pre-mum days, I could never have fathomed the internal wrangle I would face on an hourly basis; but going back to work at such an early juncture ripped my heart and mind apart on a minute-by-minute basis.

I began to become insanely riddled with jealousy. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that someone else was going to spend every minute of the day with my little one – who only a few months ago was living inside me – where I would not. My whole body ached for her when she was not in my arms. Worse still, my feeling a lack of control over the situation and as if I had failed as a mother by spending my days working – not being a mum – at such an early juncture, invited the control freak banshee to come out to play.

Jealousy went hand in hand with a resentment that I started to feel towards my work, fuelled by the fact that this was the thing that was separating me and my little girl. No longer did I feel like I was that go-getter entrepreneur…my priorities had changed, and I had to fool myself into the fact that I was “doing the right thing” to try and appease that hateful feeling directed towards what had once been my “first baby”.

Obviously, the above maketh for a happy mum not, and so slowly the rot of stress set in. Stress about work; stress about work plus the endless sleepless nights and screaming thanks to being handed every sleep regression in the book; stress about trying to keep up a pumping and breastfeeding schedule inbetween running off for meetings or during Skype calls…a slick operation this was not!

I look back at all of this and wonder how things would have been different if I could have enjoyed the first year with my baby in its entirety. I look back at myself during those times and wonder who on earth I was, trying to keep it all together and not being able to be at peace with myself for one moment as I switched from mum to entrepreneur and frontwoman of a media entity. I look back on those times and wonder how, now knowing that little E is a Highly Sensitive Child (read more about that in Well hello there, Highly Sensitive Child), and wonder how my constant state of flux and her being in the care of another – not her mother – affected her during that first year.

Needless to say, after a year, the balance tipped and my mind snapped. NO MORE!!! I know some mums are quite happy to go back to work early, and some simply have no option, but for me after a year, I just couldn’t hack it emotionally or mentally any longer. I just wasn’t able to be that mum, I wanted to be with my girl, and for the mere possibility that as even an option for me, I feel hugely privileged.

I often say this – being a stay at home mum is in my book, way harder than being a working mum (not that it is a competition), at least in those early stages; but now having done both, and now that I have it, despite there being no ‘off’ button and its relentless demands and challenges, I’m so happy that I have it I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The sad thing is, I don’t know if there is going to be a number two, so I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to immerse myself in those first year moments without having been totally preoccupied by work.

Interested to hear if anyone has had a similar experiences? Please do leave a comment and share…

Mami 2 Five
Let's Talk Mommy

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42 comments

  1. I haven’t experienced this yet but if we have a 3rd then I will only be able to afford 6 months off as my husband is a SAHD. I’m already worrying about how that will feel. I think we all regret aspects of our parenting and I hope you feel proud that you made the decision to change your life and stay at home with your baby. Hugs.

    • Ah thanks Morna! I guess it’s hard to know how you feel until you get there…sometimes we have to choose that which we do not want to..I hope you will feel ok about it all…one thing I certainly don’t regret is making that decision which is probably the best decision of my life! Hugs back

  2. Wow such an honest reflection! It must have been super hard only after 3 months! My mummy went back to work after 7 months and felt guilty as hell. Time heals and even though you may not get another chance with a baby no.2, just enjoy the time you have right now with your daughter xx no regrets x life makes us stronger x

  3. I returned to work when my eldest was just 10 weeks old because my maternity leave (in the days before more generous terms) had ended and hated it. I soon changed jobs to a part time role until he was older and I increased my hours again. I am glad that I am now in the position to be a sahm to his siblings. It’s not for everyone but for me it is the best possible scenario. #sharewithme

  4. I returned to work when my eldest was just 10 weeks old because my maternity leave (in the days before more generous terms) had ended and hated it. I soon changed jobs to a part time role until he was older and I increased my hours again. I am glad that I am now in the position to be a sahm to his siblings. It’s not for everyone but for me it is the best possible scenario. #sharewithme

    • Oh my gosh 10 weeks bless you! That’s so early..that must have been so hard I don’t blame you for hating it! It’s great that you were able to be a sahm to his siblings though. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. I am currently on maternity leave and I am so grateful that I have this time to be with baby E. I had a hard enough time leaving him with my husband last week to go to the hairdressers so I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you to return to work when your little one was so, well, little! A very honest post. #sharewithme

  6. Great post – really interesting. I took 9 months with my first which felt manageable – but it was still hard. Can’t imagine 3 months – and to be honest with me I’m not sure it would have given me chance to bond as it took a while first time around. I was a slow adjuster I think! Now on mat leave waiting for number 2 and I don’t know how long this time will be. At least 9 months I’m thinking. But we’ll see. x

    • In hindsight, I think anything under 12 months to me would feel too short, I didn’t even end up weaning my one til gone 14 months! But everyone is different and you have to do what is right for you. Good luck for no. 2 and your decision! x

  7. Must have been a crazy time talya! Im so glad this super juicy regret has a happy ending. Miss you and hope things are rosy and good !!

  8. I had nine months off and even then it felt too early to be going back! Little one is two and a half now and I still hate that I have to work and I do kind of resent my job from taking me away from my boy! You’ve definitely made the right choice 🙂 #sharewithme

  9. What a moving and well written piece. I was a career girl through and through I was so naive. I couldn’t fathom not going back after my son was born and went back later than you – he was 10months. But I found I had monumentally changed. 18months later after finding the juggle, I quit. I took a year out had another baby and just now doing a small amount of work from home around my children. I can never see myself going back to the career mill while my children are growing. I never thought I would say that. I really enjoyed this piece thank you.

  10. When I had my 1st child I had all intentions of going back to work; I couldn’t do it; I can understand how you felt. I couldn’t even make it as far as the front door to leave my son for hours everyday and go do a job I would have half-assed because I was thinking of him.

  11. I was so lucky that I had the 12 months maternity leave (some paid, some unpaid) and then gave up work after this. I’ve been a SAHM since. However its not all plain sailing and easy, but I don’t know whether I would have coped well having twins and working. Can understand your decision and hope you enjoy every moment xx #sundaystars

  12. It’s hard to look back and reflect on our decisions sometimes. In America we only get three weeks paid and three weeks unpaid sometimes depending on the company. I have many friends that feel the way you do looking back. I don’t think it does anything bad to our children my mom went back to work right away and I am no different today. But I can imagine it is hard for you at the time. Bless you. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. Happy Easter! #sharewithme

  13. Oh bless you. My heart was aching for you as I read your words. What a downward spiral you found yourself in. And all because you were trying to do the right thing initially. I would have loved to be a SAHM – but equally I like the disposable income we have to play with too. I do feel like you’ve made the right decision though – resentment and then stress is and evil thing – I have had it too (I’ve just had to do CBT to try and re-evaluate elements of my life). I envy you that you are now with your precious Little E (mine is a Little E too!) – but mine is at nursery – though I did have a year off for both girls. There seems never to be the right does there! Great post again. Thanks again for linking it up with #SundayStars Steph xxx

    • Ah..thanks for your lovely comment. Yup it was a pretty trying time but so happy to have balance now…everyone needs something different and you just need to stay true to you and your needs…think it’s great that you did CBT to try and work things around. Thanks again for hosting! x

  14. This must have been so hard for you. It was very nearly me – but then I had to leave my daughter’s father when she was 3 months. As result I was able to stay with her and I consider myself lucky in that respect. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

  15. oh gosh sorry you felt like that for the first yer must of been so tough, I fell pregnant with my 2nd when my eldest was just 5 month old – Iknow mental! anyways I quickly panicked about work and went back full time to ensure id get maternity leave again.. I lasted a week it was torture being away from her I’ve been a SAHM since and have had number 3! thanks for linking up to #sundaystars x

  16. I went back to work when my first daughter was just three months old as well, and I felt very much the same as you. I was in a constant feeling of guilt and a tad jealous of my baby’s carer 🙁 Luckily for my second and third daughter I have had the chance to be a stay at home Mama (and still am!). You’re right there is no competition between SAHM and working Mama’s-it’s just whatever suits you and your family best! Thanks for sharing xx

    • Gosh you’re pretty much the only person I know of who went back so early so it really helps to hear that you went through the same thing – whether I’ll have the rest of the pleasure only time will tell! x

  17. I can so so relate! My #2 came earlier than expected and I was right in the middle of a project which I had to finish so I had very little time with her the first couple of months. I was back working (from home) on the second day after I had given birth. I had wonderful help but I was insanely jealous and worried that I was the one NOT doing everything for her. She is older now and I’m not sure if our relationship would have been any different if I had done it differently. We can only learn from the past and concentrate on the present. Thanks for sharing- great post!

    • It’s literally like talking to myself hearing this…I wish I knew you back then we could have cried into our cake together x

  18. I can totally relate to this. I went back to work after 3 months when my first daughter was born. Our office had closed, people had been made redundant, I was kept on to work at home, I had a point to prove, a job to keep and we needed my salary. After 3 months I was back at my desk trying to juggle a full time post, breast feeding at my desk and praying the phone wouldn’t ring while she was crying. It breaks my heart to think now how much I missed with her. My partner was her carer along with my mum and a nursery so she was well looked after and loved but it nearly destroyed me and still does. You can’t ever underestimate how hard that first year is and trying to work too is a nightmare. I just wish we could have afforded for me to take longer off. For the next two I took 6 months off because we were able to take a mortgage break. Although still hard it was much better than 3. The best thing about subsequent maternity leaves is the time you get to spend with the older ones. They are old enough to appreciate you being around so I guess it all works out.

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