I’ve been back to work for a whole month now, and I moved two weeks ago. And somewhere in there, I’ve been raising a daughter too. I don’t exactly know how I’ve managed thus far, but I’ve pulled through. Raising a baby? Hard. Raising a baby alone? Really hard. Raising a baby alone and working full-time? Nigh impossible. Raising a baby alone, working full time, and having any sort of a social life? Preposterous.
I should tell you a little bit about my first day back to work, since my last post didn’t really give you any details. If you’ve read my other blog or followed me on Facebook, or even just held any smidgen of conversation with me in the past 8 months (REALLY??? 8 MONTHS AT THAT PLACE??), you know how I feel about my job. I was forced to return to work a week earlier than anticipated. My first day back, albeit ridiculous, was exactly what I had expected.
I dropped Sol off at daycare. That part was surprisingly easy . The only part that I actually ended up dreading was spending the next 9 hours at my job. I arrived to work just shy of 8am. After 6 weeks off, I couldn’t remember my code to get in the building, so I had to wait for someone else to let me in. I arrived at my desk (it was depressing, gray, and cold… as always), sat down, attempted to log in, but apparently couldn’t remember my password either. My supervisor came over and began to tell me all the problems our department had been having with a sister plant in another state. And while I was watching her talk, all I could think about was my daughter, and how much I didn’t care about what my boss was telling me. I was watching her talk, but couldn’t focus on anything she was saying (sort of a “Charlie Brown adult” voice… “wawa wa wa wa.”)
She then told me I had a performance review at 9 and I should get some things prepared for that. (Uhh… lady, I’ve been off for most of the year. Aside from delivering a baby, I don’t have much performance to review. And as far as getting things prepared… I don’t even remember my network password). So I scrambled around to grab anything I could find that gave an inkling of my “performance” over the last few months. My supervisor helped me log in to my computer (she had changed my password), and before long I was sitting in my manager’s office going over my review. It went well enough. But I was hardly prepared to sit through a performance review after 6 weeks off!
I returned to my desk and began going through my 600+ emails. Scattered through there were important HR emails that I had not seen yet (because my supervisor had changed my password and I was unable to log in from home). Also in my inbox was an email from my supervisor. And I want you to pay close attention to the content of this email: “Dear Melanie, I changed your login password. It is now temppass12.” Now, I want all my readers to think very hard about that email... Here’s a tip: Don’t change someone’s password, and then send them an email to tell them you’ve changed their password. HOW are they supposed to get it??
I spent most of the day going through emails, sitting in meetings, and—oh yes—“pumping.” Yes, I’m a new mom and I’m nursing. I had hemmed and hawed over how I was going to ask for time to pump. That morning, I finally decided that I was not going to ask – I was simply going to tell my supervisor what I needed to do, how often, and what I would be requiring. After all, I have my rights to do that… right? I should’ve expected what was to com. My supervisor was fine with it when I first discussed it with her. She offered me the use of the conference room in our office area (with a door that locks – awesome). I went in to pump for the first time that day, and had used taped some sheets of paper together and taped them over the window in the door. I had also printed up a sign that said “Conference Room In Use” (as an extra precaution) and taped it up on the door. I left the pumping session thinking that it seemed too easy.
Yeah, it was indeed too easy. I got back to my computer and opened my inbox to find an email from my supervisor: “Melanie, I see that you are using a sign on the door. I would like to remind you that all postings must be approved by management. I would also advise you to put this sign at eye level. Also, I have stick-tak you could use instead of tape – it is reusable and will not mar the finish on the door. Thank you for your cooperation.” SERIOUSLY?
I made sure to follow all the rules for my afternoon pumping session. However, when I left this session, my supervisor was standing outside the conference room holding a notepad and a pen, armed with a million questions. How long will you be doing this? How many times per day? How long will each session take? I assume you’ll be making time up? We can’t just give you extra time – otherwise, everyone will want it. Really, lady? You’ll have tons of other people asking for spare time to pump breastmilk?
I agreed to make up my time, which would mean skipping lunch for the next… 9 months? HOW will I stay sane at this place if I don’t ever get a lunch?
Calm down, HR buffs… I went to my HR contact and asked her specifically about my rights as a nursing mother. Turns out our company is required to supply me with a room and adequate breaks to facilitate my nursing needs. Awesome. I went back and told my supervisor (IN YOUR FACE!), and she agreed to relay the info to our manager (who scares the bajeezes out of me, by the way). I saw Supervisor go into Manager’s office to share the news. Manager’s door closed (I assume they were bashing me and my pregnant/nursing self, though I’ll never know). Manager’s door opened, Manager left the office. Manager looked at me and rolled her eyes. Great. Thank you for being both unprofessional and immature.
I’ve been back to work for a month. How have I survived this long???