Thought I'd jump in since this is a topic that often plagues me, day and night! Like many other posters, while prego I thought I would be different and not mind going back to work after dd was born. Everything changed during my maternity leave. I was able to get 3 months, paid, leave, but it was not enough. I also felt betrayed by myself, hating to go back to work but knowing that I had to.....dh was unemployed and I was the only breadwinner....we had nothing else to fall back on at the time. I feel that it has taken me the last 8 months to reconcile myself with being a career WOH mom. The operative word here is "MOM". I realized that although my job was great, my co-workers were great, the pay was very good, the hours were decent, the fact of the matter was that I was irreplaceable as a mother to my dd. Although someone else could step in and do my job and the world would continue, nobody could replace me at home with dd. The time I missed out with her was, simply put, time lost forever. Going to work with that knowledge made me crazy. I literally spent days simply sitting at the computer and going through parenting web sites and boards in an effort to console myself and to feel connected with dd. Work definitely became less of a priority and more of a necessary evil. I cut my hours to the barest minimum, without getting in trouble. Fortunately, I work in a small office with good co-workers and a wonderful boss who was very understanding.
Well, dd is now 12 months old. I feel slightly better about working and juggling motherhood. I think my ideal situation would be if I could work part-time. That would be nice. Right now, that is not an option. However, our goal is to get to a position where I can go to part time, at least, by the time #2 comes.
For now, I run home for lunch just about every day to either nurse dd or simply to see her. It is a strain, since I work about 20 minutes away, but one that is soooo worth the stress. I also stretch my arrival time in the morning and ditch the office as fast as humanly possible in the afternoon. I am the Queen of leaving earling and have been known to simply sneak out on occassion. Do I regret it? How can I when I walk into our home and dd has the biggest smile on her face when she sees me!!The
Because I couldn't stay home, and we didn't want dd in dc, we made a huge financial sacrifice to have a woman come to our house and care for dd. That way, dd gets lots of one on one care and is in her own environment. Also, dd works out of home and is in and out of the house during the day. That way, she sees him and he is able to keep an eye on what is going on. Most days, I am gone a total of 7 hours....not too bad considering this includes transportation to and from work as well as coming home to see dd during lunch.
I think the key is finding a balance that works for you and your family. I am still working on it, but I think I am getting close. I don't know if it is possible to have a perfect situation, but I guess you can strive for one that is best for you. Good luck to all of your WOH moms!!