Working Mother Guilt

I went on leave today.

At 39 weeks I just could not physically deal with being at work any longer.


Constant pain, constant exhaustion, constantly having my work life together but home was a wreck. I just couldn't do it anymore.

How on earth am I supposed to roll up to the hospital and have a baby when I feel like nothing is done. It's not how I live. I'm very much someone who needs things done, and if all the talk about how mental going into labor is... home being undone is a big enough mental block to keep that at bay.

So now I'm at home. With my bag in my living room and not in my car.

No more fear of going into labor at work. No more stopping in the hallway because I'm in pain. No more wincing while I try to work with students because my contractions are a killer at that moment.

Nope. Now I can adequately get ready for this next baby phase.

But in that... why is there so much guilt?

Why is there this whole idea that we need to work until the baby is crowning?

I recently asked a question in a teacher mom group I'm in on Facebook about who went into labor at work and you'd be shocked at the answers. Many teachers told me that they continued to have contractions at work but stayed to get copies made and plans finished for the sub... then they left for the hospital.

Um, what?

What is this pressure?

Is this something we should place blame on that 1960's group of feminists? We are already told as women that we should work... now we should work through labor. Or we at least feel the pressure to place work above our own well being.

You see it from other women though, many thing you should just work until it all comes to a close and the baby falls out during your lunch break.

Maybe my last birth and postpartum period was just more difficult than some of the women I talk to.

This particular birth and postpartum might not be as bad, but I'm preparing for the worst again. I'm afraid of the emotions, not because I can't have them, but because it's just such an inconvenience for this new mom to now be the happy hostess when people come over. I should be happily handing my baby off, feeling great, and cleaning so others don't have to.

But I can't very well expect to be jumping out of that hospital bed again known where I was last time. Because of the trauma of suddenly not having any core strength and a pelvic floor that was ripped to shreds I couldn't do much on my own that first week. Jeremy had to help me out of bed. He had to hand me the baby. He had to help me get to the bathroom at the hospital. And at the end of the first 48 hours I was such a wreck that I just cried.

I cancelled hospital photos because I just had to get out.

Then when I was out I sobbed at home that first whole night with Jeremy holding the baby.

And you know what... we had visitors the next morning.

I needed my husbands support in everything at the time but we were being spread thin to visitors.

This time I can't do that. I can't feel bad that I do need time to get things in order before I have the baby, no matter how long other women work. I need time after having the baby where other people don't expect me to be some welcoming hostess, when what I need is to be taken care of.

I'm putting my foot down. Regardless of the fact that I've felt a basket of guilt for doing it. But this time I can't give in to peer pressure and just bounce back. No, I'm going to do what my body wants so that when it's time to return to the real world of work I can stand up without my pelvic floor wanting to come apart. I can feel like I've got things together somewhat.

So I can't spend the next 6 weeks making sure everyone else around me is happy and I definitely can't give into the guilt of what working moms are expected to do these days.