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Going Back to the Office

Desiree Lenard
Wenatchee WA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 2, March-April 2003, p. 53

My husband and I were overwhelmed with joy when we welcomed our baby daughter, Karin Elizabeth, in May of 2002. My husband and I were thrilled with the timing of her birth because both of us are teachers and we looked forward to spending the entire summer with our precious newborn.

After returning from a trip to Spain in July, my task was to find a day care provider for Karin. After learning that several people we had considered did not have room for a newborn, I called a referral service and found a wonderful woman, Lucy, who only cares for one other child.

In August, our school district hosts workshops for professional development and I teach one on computers each year. My husband went out of town for two days to help his parents prepare for an interstate move and it was a great opportunity for Karin to go to her day care for half of the day until my husband returned home.

Karin and I had a typical (sleepless) night and woke up for the final time at around 5:30 am. We played, I fed her, and she fell asleep. I took a shower and began to get ready. As I reached for my makeup, I could hear Karin stirring in the next room. Tears flowed as it began to sink in that I would be returning to work and the days of me attending to her every need would soon be over. I applied my makeup and when I was almost finished, Karin really began to cry. Little did she know that her mother was crying, too. I thought to myself, "I'm almost done. I just need another 30 seconds." I went to her and held her tight and we cried together for several moments. I nursed her and all was right, mother and baby as close as can be, the way it should be.

Soon we were on our way to Lucy's house. I could hardly gain my composure to talk with Karin on the way and by the time we arrived, I was a mess. I explained how to heat my frozen milk, but I was such a wreck that I could barely communicate. I quickly kissed Karin and hurried back to my car. I cried most of the way to the workshop and finally pulled myself together a couple of blocks before I arrived. I saw many colleagues in the halls and everyone was quick to ask about Karin. Each time I was a mess all over again.

At about 9:30, I thought Karin might be getting hungry so I took a break and went to pump my milk. This, too, was hard because I wanted her to be with me. I looked at a few of my favorite pictures of her and my attitude began to change. I thought of how grateful I am that I am able to give Karin all of the benefits of her mother's milk even though, for financial reasons, I must return to work. I thought of some songs I usually sing to her and imagined myself holding her in my arms and nursing her.

I cleaned up and stored my pumping paraphernalia and prepared to go back to work. As I walked out of the room carrying my pump and my milk, I felt like a person who drives an armored car and transports money to banks. I thought to myself, "This bag contains liquid gold."

In the weeks since then, even though I have seen this emotional response repeat itself several times, I can reassure myself that I am doing something very important for my daughter, even when I can't be with her.

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