I’ve been back at work almost a month and I’m mostly back in the swing of things. Mostly.
I suppose the first, most obvious, thing a new parent has to get used to when going back to work is the initial separation. When I left Felix that morning it felt horrible. I played with him, chatted to him and listened to him chat back in baby language. He beamed with a grin and did his silent laugh which I always find hilarious. And then I kissed him goodbye. I left him with my dad who had timed his retirement so that he could be Felix’s carer while I was at work every day. This had been the plan since we first started discussing surrogacy a couple of years ago.
I work for a law firm in the City of London and walking back into that modern, minimalist tower of glass and metal on the first day was strange. It was like I’d never left, yet it was all new. People there are very nice and I knew I’d be greeted warmly by every person I passed in those halls, but I just wasn’t in the zone yet. So I used the same technique I do when I’m hungover - I ran to my office and shut the door.
Needless to say I did gradually check in with all my colleagues over the course of that day and in the weeks that followed. It’s now been three weeks and the initial excitement from my colleagues upon my return has subsided. The new dad is old news, which is fine, but I now find myself working as hard as I had before I became a dad, yet my separation anxiety is as raw as it was the first day I kissed goodbye to Felix and set off for Mordor - I mean work.
Sometimes I sit there worrying about silly things like my dad forgetting Felix on the bus. But sometimes it’s harder. When I sit there and think of him it’s like I have a craving. I imagine kissing his head and I can actually smell it. At that moment I feel as if I NEED to hold him, like an addiction. And when I realise its several hours till I get to hold him again, it aches.
Sometimes I drift even deeper. I imagine a life where I go home and he isn’t there anymore. What if I lost him? What if someone hurt him? I’d cross the line into that dark place that none of us ever go, the place where you do things you regret.
But then I snap out of it and I see my computer staring at me, a document onscreen requiring my attention and an inbox filling up, and I know I need to focus. Work doesn't pay me for separation anxiety (just work anxiety).
I made a little shrine on my wall to my family for when I get lonely. As if I have time to get lonely! I’ve been crazy busy lately and a couple of nights I worked late in the office and got home when Felix was sleeping. I was gutted! I want him to see me every day, even if just for a little while in the morning and evening. I have this fear that he’ll start to forget me if he doesn’t see me every day. Is this normal?? I don’t want to become the ‘second parent’.
My way of overcoming this is to make weekends count! I’ve spent loads of time taking the little one to parks and I love it! It’s so much fun spending quality dad-son time with him. I push the stroller through these various London parks chatting to him while I walk and enjoy the women swooning (and wish they were men). I find chatting to him so cathartic. Sometimes he stares at me intently while other times his eyes wander out of complete lack of interest in my waffling. He seems relaxed though as he often falls asleep from the motion of the stroller (yes the motion, not my talking!).
Hopefully there are many more outings to look forward to as summer’s round the corner and the weather’s getting nicely mild here in the capital. Watch this space for countless summer selfies…