I don’t really know if this is true (this, BTW, is where my editor starts to sweat a little) but I remember being told about a prominent female lawyer who went back to work within three days of having a child. Three days. If I recall correctly, on day three I was still in the hospital, practicing my best swaddle and wondering how the heck I was going to do all this.
Day three also marked the longest time I had gone without checking my BlackBerry. Ever. This radio silence on my part, I found out later, was so distressing to my co-workers, and so out of character for me, that they thought something had gone wrong.
Although some will say I have a BlackBerry addiction, I prefer to say that I just really like my job. But I had made a conscious decision to try and focus on the task at hand (read: Archer), so other than checking in to see all the nice congratulatory emails, I was pretty good at staying away from all things TELUS (well, other than introducing Archer to all of the cute critters in our advertising — he loves the pygmy goat in particular).
But sooner than I thought, day three turned into month three, and as many new parents will tell you, month three is a pretty good month. It’s a month when, if you’re lucky, your baby may actually start sleeping though the night. Combine this with some napping during the day and all of a sudden you might have a little bit of free time on your hands.
It happened for me and that’s when I started “checking in” with the office.
My “checking in” started innocently enough — I was meeting co-workers for lunch so they could meet Archer and I could visit the nearby Joe Fresh (the single best thing in years to come to retail, in my humble opinion), and although the first 20 minutes of our lunch was all about Archer, I soon started asking about some of the projects we had been working on.
And then it was like a floodgate had opened. Both during and, more notably, after that lunch, I asked more questions and started offering advice. I asked people to send me some contracts to take a “quick” look at and although I didn’t actually attend any meetings, I marked up presentations, wrote some emails and gave some comments on potential deal points, all in preparation for meetings that others were having.
In short, I was working. So much so that I called a meeting with my boss to talk about officially working at home on a contract basis so I could actually make a little money while having all this fun.
But right after I had that conversation, things changed again.
Babies are funny like that. Just as soon as you think things are going your way, they pull a fast one on you. All of a sudden, they develop little personalities and are no longer content with just sleeping while looking adorable. They want to move around and play and do stuff. Then they start teething and eating real food, which for us meant sore tummies and no sleep (for him and us).
And they start communicating to you in their own little baby way.
And Archer’s message came to me loud and clear on one particular phone call I was having with a vice-president about an issue at the office. People who aren’t parents, please be warned: this is about to get graphic. (Parents know what I’m talking about.)
While I was on the call with the vice-president, making a very well-thought-out point on the topic at hand, Archer decided to tell me what he thought of all of this working-while-caring-for-him…ermm..crap. All over himself, me, his playmat… everywhere. And although I was able to end the call without the vice-president knowing the better (I even changed a diaper during the call — which I’m not sure is something I should be particularly proud of, though it is, you have to admit, pretty impressive), it was then and there I vowed to maybe not talk so much to the office.
Although I really hold no judgment against lawyers who go back to work a couple days after having a baby, I did not want that to be me. While the official decision to stay at home for a while to be a mom had been made while I was pregnant, really the decision had been in the making for years. And it has been my best decision yet.
Christina Litz is a lawyer on parental leave from working business development at TELUS. She’s guest blogging for us this month about life with her son, Archer.