A day in the life of a working mom
It is midnight.
The monitor lit up, the crying starts, which turns to screaming really fast. The husband (on night duty) gets up while I turn around to try to continue my sleep. I’ve been sleeping really bad lately due tummy aches (I blame it on the brown rice and rye bread I ate after a 12-km run) so catching a bit more snooze is a matter of life and death.
Fast forward to 20 minutes later, the baby is still screaming and the husband sounds like he is about to reprimand her for this behaviour. After all, it’s bad manners to wake your parents up in the middle of the night just when they’ve entered the deep sleep zone. So I get up of bed, put my kimono on and zombie walk to the bedroom next door. The baby probably smells me so she crawls to me right away, hugs my neck and sobs on my chest. And stops crying.
“Dat meen je niet (You’ve got to be kidding)!” exclaims the husband. The kid usually settles down when the husband pacifies her. But not this time. She is inconsolable. Which is odd, because she’d been sleeping through the night for the last three months (except when we are with the in-laws, in a nice hotel or during the day). Or at least until 5am, when she would cry for the breasts.
Tonight is just a nightmare. Was it the sweet potatoes and pineapple chicken I gave her for dinner? Or that she was 30-minutes behind her bed time? Stomach cramp? Why is she suddenly screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night? Nightmares?
No one knows.
I give her the boob, she settles for a few minutes until I took it back and she starts screaming again. I am starting to get annoyed. So I send the husband down to make a bottle. We’ve stopped the night feedings when she was 6 months and we don’t want to give her the idea that she can wake us up again in the middle of the night for a feed. But my nipples are sore and for Pete’s sake it’s one in the morning!
She drinks the whole 120ml bottle. (In case you’re thinking I put her to bed hungry, she finished a 180ml bottle before bed, like 3 hours before the screaming, on top of a huge dinner). She seems really hungry.
When she fell asleep, the husband tiptoes back to bed, crawls under the blanket and we tried to sleep again.
Ten minutes later she starts fussing again. It’s 1:30am by the way. So husband gets up and attends to the baby again. She fell asleep on his legs so he couldn’t leave her until about three in the morning.
I set the alarm to 6:30am instead of the usual 5:20 so we can get an extra hour of sleep. But the kid wouldn’t have it. She starts fussing again at 5am but settles back to sleep quickly. Husband couldn’t sleep anymore so he shower while I try to get some more snooze. At 6:30am the baby is fully awake, ready for her morning breast. By 7am we’re in the car on the way to work.
The first part of the day goes well. I am running on reserve energy and the baby is happily entertaining herself around the office, chewing used papers, turning the printer off, marking her face with pens or shouting for mama behind the baby gate.
Until 12 noon.
Fatigue is quickly setting in and I am starting to float. Probably the reason why I bit my lower lip so hard I must have consumed human flesh (mine, thank God).
The baby is hanging on my tit for her siesta (yes I use my breast as sleeping tool!). At the same time I am rushing a couple of documents for some shipments, which will be collected in about 30 minutes. I am about to crush but just not yet. I have to get these shipments out.
When I thought she’s sleeping, I try to put her down but she opened her eyes (as if on cue) the moment her back touch the bed. So the fussing begins again. I’m frustrated, tries to keep my cool but this one colleague makes a remark I did not like. So I snap at him.
It’s now 4:30pm.
The husband texted to let me know he’s left work early and he’d pick us from the office. I’m so relieved because there’s no pre-cooked meal to heat up tonight. I finished them yesterday. I’m planning to order dinner from Burger King but there’s a nice piece of entrecote in the fridge and I’m kinda hoping he’d cook that tonight.
In the car on the way home, I’m too tired and weak that I can’t even lift my hand to massage my throbbing head. I’m also about to throw up, which I did the moment we stepped inside the house. I crash on the couch, throw up several times while waiting for dinner. The husband made me tea, the daughter hold my hand, wanting attention from mama.
At 6:45PM the husband serves me a proper medium-done steak, which I devour with a generous serving of liver sauce. He also pours me a nice glass of Valpolicella Ripasso. But after a few sips I choose to be wise and skip the alcohol since my stomach is still acting up.
After dinner, I feel like a human being again. So together we bath the baby and put her bed, this time with no drama. She fell asleep while finishing her bottle.
We are in bed at 7:30PM. I am so looking forward to this moment the whole day, in my silk pyjamas, under the warm blanket, beside the most caring man in the world. I can now doze off.
But where’s sleep? Nowhere. Ok then, I’d read this article about the pathetic paternity leave of 5 DAYS in the Netherlands, the un-emancipated Dutch women who’d rather be stay-at-home moms or work part time (the State provides anyway) and find their husband unattractive if they start becoming “domesticated”.
At 8PM sleep finally finds me.
It’s 12 midnight. The monitor lit up. Then the baby screams…