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Going Back to Work

My daughter is three months old, and I’m going back to work. How did you cope?

Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: I went back to work when my son was five weeks old. When I left him with the babysitter for the first time, my knees were shaking. It was very tough.

One thing that helped a lot was we had a one-week overlap. The babysitter started working for my last week of maternity leave. That helped me to get to know her better. It’s very scary to leave your baby in the hands of a stranger. You wouldn’t give your most valuable diamond to a perfect stranger. Yet, we turn over our most prized things, our babies, to babysitters we barely know. Our babysitter proved to be very nice and caring, but you never really know until you get to know a person.

Another thing that helped was my ex-husband is a musician, so he spent a lot of time at home. It was comforting to have some kind of family presence there. I asked him to keep an eye on things.

I also tried to come home early from work whenever possible, and I called home a lot. I gave our babysitter very detailed instructions on what to do, and what not to do. That made me feel better. It’s like when you tell someone, “Be sure to look both ways before you cross the street.” People know to do that, but saying it makes you feel better.

Judith Hellman, MD, a mom of one 13-year-old son, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mt Sinai Hospital, and a dermatologist in private practice, in New York City




Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: My biggest challenge during my baby’s first year was going back to work full-time. I started back part-time for two weeks. During that time, I was so happy, and I was thinking, This is easy to be a mom and work! But when I was full-time at work again, whoa…..a different story!

I felt like I wasn’t able to fully focus on either of my jobs as a doctor or as a mom. I felt like I could never finish anything, like laundry or dishes. I’m not the best house-keeper as it is, but it was so bad that I was scared for my daughter to crawl on the floor! I overcame these challenges by focusing on what’s most important and letting the other less important things go. So I don’t have the cleanest house in the world, big deal. When my daughter grows up, she’s not going to remember me for the clean house, she’s going to remember me for the time I spent with her and the things I taught her.

Also, I tried to focus on the “here and now” and stop worrying about what came next. If I could focus on work while I was at work and fully focus on my daughter when I was with her, my life was a lot better! I felt like I could be successful as a mother and successful as a doctor.

Melody Derrick, MD, a mom of one 17-month-old daughter and a family physician in private practice with Central DuPage Physician Group in Winfield, IL

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.