how I really feel

February 23, 2018

Fine.  I’m anxious about going back to work.

It has taken me a bit of time to admit it to myself, but — there it is.  It’s not the work itself I am concerned about; it’s just plunging in after so much time off, and of course the blasted pump.  Which I’ve already written about, weeks before actually needing to pump regularly.  (Because, anxious.  What can I say?)

On my list of anxiety-fueled concerns:

(since it seems healthy to just GET THEM ALL OUT THERE!):

1) Upon re-entry, I will be immediately overwhelmed by patient care issues (mostly due to being away for 12 weeks!) and my brain, soft from less sleep and raging hormones, will not be able to keep up

2) GME responsibilities will come to a head at the same time, and I will not have enough time to get my work done over the course of my (purposefully shortened) 4 day work week.  I will be frantic and in catchup mode forever, falling farther behind by the day

3) All of this will lead to a lot of stress, and my milk production will be negatively impacted, which will only ADD to the stress

4) G will prefer the bottle to me, and we will not have the nursing relationship that I want to enjoy

5) I will be arriving home from work every day grumpy and stressed and will not be the parent I want to be for my kids.  This will negatively impact their behavior, making things worse.  I will not have time to give them the individual attention that they need

6) I will no longer have time to read, write, exercise, or do anything fun EVER AGAIN

7) Climate change

8) This utter @*&@#


OKAY.  Now that we have all of my biggest worries stated outright, I can sort of maybe possibly perhaps see how I am catastrophizing just a bit (except for #7-8, but we won’t get into those today).  On the 100% flip side of #1-2 above, I am actually looking forward to seeing patients/coworkers and using my medical brain.  I’m very excited about the GME portion of my job (which is going to officially expand to 25% in July!) and I am hopeful that my 4 day work week will make pumping and having time for the kids (and other pursuits) just a bit more manageable.

As for #3-4, the worst case scenario is formula/a shortened nursing phase, which would in the end NOT be a true catastrophe, and I’d get over it.  And #5-6 is just not going to be true, because no matter what there are still 168 hours in the week, and while I may have LESS time, it’s not going to be zero.  And all of this is temporary — at least the pumping/baby part.

Temporary, and worth it!!



Aaaaand, with all of that out of there — happy Friday!  Whew.  I do feel a bit better 🙂

Other random notes since this post clearly needs more:

1) I have discovered that you can listen to podcasts at 1.5 speed and it has CHANGED MY LIFE.  I thought it would sound like chipmunk voices (huge turnoff) but the apps correct the pitch, and the brain seems to quickly adjust.

2) I went to book club last night for the first time in months!  I left a bottle for G, but ended up feeding her at 7:45 pm and that was it until I got back.   It felt odd to leave her, honestly, but I had a nice time and it was probably good for me.

3) I AM GETTING MY HAIR STRAIGHTENED TODAY!  Yes, I will have to pump (and dump, since I don’t want to save the milk after having chemicals slathered all over my head).  It will be worth it.  It has been over a year!

4) I am working on my back-to-work wardrobe.  I’ll have to do a post on this next week.  I really want to go back at least looking like I have my head in the game . . .

5) This chicken biryani recipe is fantastic.  I love cardamom.

6) Last chance to get your planner survey in — I will pick the 3 candidates this weekend!!  There have been 99 responses to date so I really really want one more 🙂


  • Reply Alexis March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Hey. Going back to work is rough. You”re not alone!!

    I”ll say that after my second I went back 4 days a week instead of 5 and it truly made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. I hope that is the case for you too.

    Can”t even think about 7&8 these days. Ugh.

    Thinking of you! You will rock it.

  • Reply Sophia March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    You can also listen to audiobooks at 1.25 or 1.5 speed.

    Exited to read about your re-entry to work as I go back in April after baby #3. especially looking forward to the work wardrobe. I’m back at target weight but still living in leggings here…

    As for your #1, I was really anxious about this after my daughter was born intern year and thought I’d be so far behind my colleagues after taking time off–much less 12 weeks. In reality, for you, 12 weeks is a short amount of time compared to how long you’ve been in your field. I returned to night float and felt like I had my bearings immediately. I bet you’ll feel back to normal (i.e. using your clinical brain) fast.

  • Reply Omdg March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I think you will be exhausted for a week or two and then you”ll get back into your groove. #8 ugh.

  • Reply Simi March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    I”m a new reader (thanks to lagliv) and I”m wondering as I try out planning in advance of a week into the month and quarter, what”s the difference between a goal and a next action item?

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    awww. hugs. And agree that totally normal to feel anxious and mixed about returning to work. and AAAGH #7 and #8. And of course, you know #5 and #6 are NOT true (maybe for a week or two while you find your groove but NOT as a long term situation). Best of ALL the worlds!

  • Reply Jessica March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    1.5 speed is my amazing. Now my kids can’t even listen to their podcasts (Wow in the World is #1) on regular speed:)

    as for #5 (the first #5)- I would strongly encourage you to have another adult at home for the first few months after you transition back. Sure, you *can* do dinner and bath and bedtime with 3 kid on your own, but it’s no fun. The extra person (husband, nanny, babysitter, MIL) can do whatever you need, they do baths so you can nurse, or they do dishes while you do the bath and reading.

    At some point it does get easier. My older 3 kids (10, 8 and 6) can all put themselves AND each other to bed, and they can even put the 3 year old to bed!

    Mom of 4, soon to be 5!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      ooh I wish I could, but don’t think we can necessarily justify the finances. We’ll see how things go though – if I’m desperate I could look into this!

      CONGRATS on #5!! Amazing!!

  • Reply Racheal March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I am now 2 months back to work after my third baby and can tell you from the other side it is hard, but, for me, the easiest transition of the three. This was in part because I listened to your podcast and became motivated about my career again. Thank you so much for that!

    Also, thank you so much for posting that biryani recipe – I have been looking for a good one.

  • Reply Rinna March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Sarah – I (and so many others) can relate to most, if not all, of your worries. I know you didn’t really ask for advice, but I’m going to give you some anyway 🙂

    #7-8 – Honestly, it’s HORRIBLE. But you have to separate between micro and macro issues. These two are macro issues that, sadly, you really can’t impact. (Not advocating for doing..just not stressing about it now.)

    #1-2 – Women in Canada routinely take 12 months of mat leave! (In some European countries, it’s longer.) I took almost a full 12 months with kids #1 and #2 (6 months for #1, born in the US, and 7.5 months for #4). While it did take a bit of time to get back in the groove, it wasn’t long AT ALL, especially as I still kept connected to major developments during that time. Honestly, this will not be an issue for you. I can virtually promise. You will, however, fall behind on certain things, and you won’t catch up, well pretty much ever. But some of those things on which you were behind will end up being relatively unimportant, so consider this a sort of weeding out process.

    #3-4 – This is a possibility, I will admit. I had that issue with my daughter. Ultimately, however, you are doing all the right things to try to prevent it, and that’s really all you can do since extending mat leave is not a possibility (per what you mentioned in a previous post).

    Thinking really, really good thoughts for you. I have total confidence that you will rock it! (Except when you don’t, which is fine too!!) Kiss that cutey cutey baby for me.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      Rinna thanks so so so much! You are the best <3

  • Reply webdesign company March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    A doctor mom here-going back to work is hard!

  • Reply Natasha March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Sarah – I am a regular listener of your podcast.

    That photo!!!! Makes me want to have another baby!

    Good luck with your return to work!

    Your items #4 and 5 – yup, can definitely relate.
    A phone call with a lactation specialist helped (this was back with my first child) – she was very calm (I was nearly hysterical when my 12-week baby refused to nurse), and just kept saying that babies can switch between breast and bottle without a problem, and that I should just keep offering the breast, and all would be fine… Listening to her made me calm down – and it all worked out, after a few minutes of fuss he was back to nursing happily ever after.

    #5 is is a work in progress… Hope to get some advice from you!

  • Reply BRS March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Never commented before, but re: #8– I’m glad you mentioned it. And I disagree with the commentator who says you can’t affect these macro issues. I was just abroad and so many people asked me about this– and I was shocked at myself to realize I had gotten so used to this sort of violence, that I hadn’t even discussed the shooting with my friends and family. I don’t want to be resigned to this for myself or my children, and I think even talking about it is part of the fight!

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