I’m About to Become a Working Mom

11 weeks and three days ago I unexpectedly went into labor. (I say unexpectedly because it was four weeks before my due date. Yes, I plan on harping on that detail for awhile because I still can’t believe he came four weeks early.)

If you do the math, that means I have four days left of my maternity leave. Four. FOUR!

katiework3As cliché as it is to say, I am not sure how that is even possible. In fact, as I type this, I feel that god-awful weight settling in over the center of my chest. You all know what I’m talking about.

I remember when the first week was over and my husband went back to work, I cried because it went so fast. In my mind, the first week was over and he was going to be preparing for college soon. While he napped, I was crunching numbers in my head to see how much our lifestyle would change if we went down to one income – or at least cut back my hours – while simultaneously making a case for WHY I should stay home while my husband worked every day.

After awhile, my hormones settled down, I stopped keeping vigil over Henrik while he slept and slowly became comfortable with the IDEA of leaving him for nine hours a day. The idea was one of those things that was a long time away. So far away that it will never come. Kind of like how I felt when I found out I was pregnant – the end of nine months would never come.

And now I’m starting sentences with “When I go back to work next week…”

There are a lot of opinions on “stay at home mom” vs. “part-time working mom” vs. “work from home mom” vs. “work full time mom”. All of the above requires a lot of sacrifice. After the pregnancy hormone haze lifted, I realized that right now in our lives, the best thing for Henrik is to go to an AMAZING in-home daycare, with a provider we know and trust. And for me to get back into the workforce.

katiework2My feelings right now are jumbled. On one hand, I feel just a tad bit excited to get up every morning with some place to go. I am not good at getting up early just to be up early – I need to have some place to go. On the other hand, I am nervous and anxious. I know Henrik will handle daycare like a champ, he is a super chill little dude (unless he’s hungry) and he adapts well to wherever he is and whoever is holding him. I am nervous about how I am going to juggle it all. For the past 12 weeks, my sole job has been to feed, change and bathe a baby and if I have time, make dinner and try to keep the house somewhat clean. I’ve had 14ish hours a day to do this all in. Now I have to squeeze in all of the above as well as an eight-hour workday, plus a 20-mile commute.

Oh and somehow manage to sleep.

That’s another thing. Sleep deprivation. The sleep deprivation has been manageable and dare I say, even non-existent thus far. If Henrik had a bad night, I got to nap all day the next day. Now I not only won’t get to nap, I somehow have to leave the house and have coherent conversations.

To ease my anxiety, I have put together a game plan. I’ve mapped out when I’ll get up and how my husband and I will share getting the baby ready and out the door. I’ve put together a plan to simplify dinnertime and how I can squeeze in three to four exercise sessions a week. I am even toying with the idea of getting someone to come in and clean our house a couple of times a month, but we’ll see how this all goes first.

Above all, I keep telling myself to be flexible. If I don’t get a run in during the week because my baby needs me, it’s OK. I’ve got the rest of my life to run. If we end up eating Papa Murphy’s more than once during the week, that is OK as well. Sometimes you know making dinner will be the thing that sends you over the edge that day.

katiework1I know that everything is going to be fine. This is not nearly as scary to me as the anticipation of actually having a baby. I know and work with tons of working moms and I am lucky to work for an organization that values family. I am also lucky that I have an amazing husband who is a very hands-on dad and is always there to relieve me when I give him my “I need a break” look. We are both fortunate that both sets of grandparents live in town and are literally chomping at the bit to babysit at a moment’s notice.

I know it will all be fine. And it doesn’t hurt that I can drink wine and eat cookie dough again! …I am sure going to miss this face, though.

Katie Ripke
Katie is a mama of two rambunctious, sweet, cuddly and highly energetic boys. Growing up in Mount Vernon, Iowa, she briefly left the area to attend college at the University of Northern Iowa, had a brief stint living in Chicago before settling down in Lisbon with her husband Bryan. Katie has been in the marketing field for over 10 years and is currently a marketing manager for an area health care organization. When she is not balancing life as a working mom, Katie enjoys binging on Netflix/Hulu, learning about all things boy and squeezing in a workout from time to time. Her current addictions include coffee, LaCroix, and cookies.


  1. I love this post SO much. I almost cried, as I thought about all three times I went back to work (the first time I had an entire year off, the second time four months, and the third time just seven weeks!!). Prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster next week, Katie. And just let it be OK. That’s the best advice I can give.

  2. Thanks Sara! Sometimes I think the last week of leave has to be worse than the first week back, just from the shear anticipation of it. I kind of just want to get the first week of it over with. I figure it can’t be as bad as my last week before he was born because I was MISERABLE and beyond tired that week. At least now I can have coffee!


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