You are not alone today and neither is your child. You have left her safe and she will be fine.
The first time is the worst, subsequent returns to work will not be as scary as the first one.
Most people won’t remember how long you’ve been gone, so don’t remind them that you took your full year plus 7 weeks annual leave from last year and another 3 weeks from this year. Whether it’s been 26 or 62 weeks since you last held a knife, you’ll be feeling nervous.
Your childcare arrangements have to be surgery proof. If you start at 8am and frequently work until 7pm don’t use a nursery that shuts at 6pm unless your other half is the one doing the pick ups.
Work like you did before. I don’t care that you have been up with a teething baby and are tired. Nobody asked you to be a surgeon and a mother, you’ve made your bed so now you have to lie in it.
Christmas does not mean any more to you than anyone else. Just because you have children doesn’t mean you can leave early on Christmas Eve either; take a day of annual leave if it’s so important. Ditto the on call arrangements over Christmas; you will have to work Christmas sometimes, kids under 5 have no clue when it really is Christmas Day so consider moving it to the 26th; I’ve done this to great success.
I would not recommend returning to work whilst breast feeding if you are able to. I did it once and came back when I was down to just the pre bed time feed and frequently found myself stuck late at the operating table with milk leaking out of me and soaking through the gown. Not good for anyone and it made me feel like a bad mummy.
You don’t need to use the children as your reason to say no to things. You can say no without giving a reason. I watched a friend walk out of a meeting that ran late, which had been arranged to finish at 12.30 to fit in with her part time hours. She stood up and excused herself and walked out of the room saying she had another meeting, I knew she was going to school to collect her son. Never explain and never complain, as Kate Moss says.
Ignore all articles about guilt, about stressed out working women, about bad mothers, good mothers, stay at home ones; basically avoid the Daily Mail. Also ignore those images of a woman in an ill fitting food stained suit balancing a briefcase and a baby and talking into the phone. Who are these women?
You used to be really good at this. It is still there, you are still that woman. Welcome back! Xx