I talk to a lot of nurse practitioners or aspiring NPs who are pregnant or at some point in the future plan to have children. Naturally, these parents to-be have questions about how their careers will mesh with family life and what to expect when their little one arrives. Well, I’m excited to say that my very own little bundle of joy, “Whit” arrived on November 19th at a small but healthy 4lbs. 9oz. Here are a few insights from my first weeks as a nurse practitioner mom.
1. You Might Doubt Your Choices
About an hour after Whit was born, I started to receive email notifications and calls from work. He arrived 2 1/2 weeks early, so I hadn’t cleared my schedule in anticipation of a hospital stay. In that moment, these work reminders seemed so trivial compared to caring a baby and simply taking in the novelty of the tiny human that was my child. I would much rather watch his little yawns than respond to a hospital administrator’s request to complete a patient’s chart, of course! In fact, I thought I might want to hang up my career for good right then and there. Fortunately, I had promised myself I wouldn’t make any rash decisions in the midst of a major life change, and went back to work. It’s clear now that a balance of time at work and at home is better for me…although I do miss those precious yawns while I’m away!
2. You’re Busy Doing ‘Nothing’
My initial thought before Whit arrived was that he would sleep a lot as newborns do, so I would have plenty of time to get things done around the house along with my computer-based work. And, I was right – sort of. Whit sleeps a lot during the day, but it’s tough to use those hours productively. I didn’t anticipate that while he was sleeping, I would want to have plenty of time to hold him, stare at him and have some newborn snuggles! Separating my time has been the most effective way for me to balance work and motherhood thus far. I head to the office when I need to get things done so I can be 100% present at work. Then, hit my couch when I’m at home and devote my attention to the baby.
I was admittedly nervous to have a newborn. I was actually planning for the absolute worst. Basically, the aggregate picture my friends created for me when it came to life with an infant was one of myself sitting at home wearing worn sweatpants with tangled hair all while crying and probably peeing on myself simultaneously. While I can say that my tresses may not be as shiny on a day-to-day basis as they once were and that I do still enjoy athleisure, overall I’m still the same person just with another being to prioritize (and by ‘prioritize’, I don’t mean it feels like a chore).
Over the past month, my husband and I have gone out to dinner on numerous occasions, car seat in tow…and had enjoyable conversation. We’ve met up with friends. We’ve strolled the mall, peppermint mochas in hand, to take in the Christmas season. I’ve toted our tot to BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) yoga class. Sure, the timing of our dinners out must be more carefully planned. Fitting in a workout involves a little coordinating of schedules. But, you can still make time for what you enjoy and for your spouse – even with an infant. It might look a bit different but it doesn’t have to be a complete 180.
A mentor told me to expect that a few things in my personal life might slide with a kid. She cautioned that the amount of laundry an infant creates is unreal. Dishes and tidying up would be difficult to find time for as a working mom, she noted. Well, she was right. My work gets done at the office. The baby gets fed, changed and cuddled at home. The chores, however, don’t seem to get prioritized as much as I’d like. To help overcome the mountain of laundry in our home, we decided to pay babysitters a little extra to help out with housework when they’re on duty.
Balancing my priorities as a new mom and nurse practitioner does pose a challenge, but in some ways is easier than I anticipated. I’m sure with each phase both my NP career and our child’s life the balance will shift one way or another and that some phases will be more challenging than others.
Do you have any insights to share as a working NP mom?
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