On coming back to work: Life after maternity leave

I didn’t read anything on my maternity leave. I didn’t listen to podcasts. I didn’t check my email. I’m not even sure I turned on my computer, and if I did, it was probably to order diapers. It was sublime—for these and countless other reasons, such as the adorable goober below. Coming back to work, then, has been quite a transition.

Maternity leave was the best 15 weeks of my life. I thought I might miss work and the stimulation, get stir crazy, or crave adult conversation. But I fully succumbed to days with a newborn. I embraced that it took 12 hours to get enough sleep. I would gloat to my husband if I both went for a walk with the dog and took a shower. The days passed surprisingly quickly, in a blur of naps, feedings, diaper changes, snuggles, and stupid, made-up songs about poop. And toward the end, I got less and less done around the house, as I insisted on holding June as she slept and soaking up every last bit of the freedom of unstructured days.

The first few days back at work were difficult. I cried a lot—a little at work, and a considerable amount at home. I thought about June constantly and demanded hourly updates from my mom, who spent my first week back with her. I questioned the meaning of life. And then I started to fall back into the rhythm of work.

This transition was made slightly easier because I have had the benefit of coming back to a place with an extremely supportive culture. Leff has done a great job of ushering me back in with kindness and understanding. They’ve tentatively asked how I’m doing. They’ve asked how June is doing. They’ve shown enthusiasm over photos. They’ve eased me back into projects. They cautiously and without judgment asked if I would like the office to rent a breast pump. They installed shades in the conference rooms so I can pump throughout the workday. And they’ve allowed me the flexibility to work some days from home—helping me squeeze in a couple extra hours with June and sometimes, if she allows, get a decent night’s sleep.

Major life events have a way of making you think hard about both your priorities and how you spend your time. Becoming a mom has definitely had this effect. If I’m not spending time with June, I had better be doing something that feels worthwhile, something I enjoy. I feel fortunate that Leff checks those boxes.

Still, it’s a change. But then I throw on a record, light up the incense, insult Jake, crack a La Croix, and dive in to the next project. And I take comfort in knowing that before too long, I’ll be back at home slinging diapers and cherishing every little giggle.


Annie Mullowney

As a senior editor, Annie focuses primarily on developmental editing and drafting, helping clients sharpen their stories and tell them in a compelling way.

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