Balancing Work & a NICU Stay

May 24, 2012

One week after my release from the hospital, I stopped at the office and made arrangements to come back to work only two short weeks after the birth of my daughter.  I was lucky that I was able and my only restriction was not to use stairs. With only four weeks of leave time, this would leave me with time to spare when Roxy came home from the hospital.

After spending two weeks seeing my daughter for hours every day, the adjustment back to work was hard. I checked in as much as I dared – once every three hour period. I left work each night and traveled to the hospital to spend what time I could with her. I tried to adjust my schedule around the hour each night we were shooed from the room while the nurses changed shifts so that I could spend the maximum amount of time with her. I tried to be there for her care. I always found out which night was bath night and stayed later if necessary to do it.

Most nights I ate supper while traveling home. Straight to bed and then up again to do it all over.

For almost seven weeks, it was routine. My saving grace those weeks was Saturday and Sunday when I could be sure I would get to spend quality, uninterrupted time with my baby girl.

Nobody understood why I felt the need to go back to work after only two weeks when I had more time to take. To me, it made absolute sense. There was no medical reason I couldn’t go back to work and when my baby came home, I had two weeks of uninterrupted time to spend with her. I had time to bond with my baby outside of the hospital before I had to entrust her to another’s care.

Did my daughter suffer from my decision? I don’t think so. I was still there for her every day. We just adjusted the time that I arrived and left the hospital. Because I called throughout the day, I still knew what was going on with her when I wasn’t able to be there with her.

I think when we are thrust into these situations, we as parents make the best choices we can for our families. For our family, this worked. For another, it may not.

Did you return to work during your child’s NICU stay?  What motivated your return?