First week of work

I guess it is typical during the first week back to feel very out of synch with everybody else.  I learned it after my first mat leave that the world moved on without me, and I need to put in the effort to catch up.  

New technologies were implemented and new policies were brought in place while I was away.  I had to learn some really basic things like how to make a phone call with the new system, and some really annoying things like how to fill out a gazillion new forms and get multiple approvals before I can do any work for a client.

If you told me 4 years ago I was going to have two kids, and that I was going to be crying in my office because I missed them, I’d tell you that you’re nuts.  My career was everything to me, and I would gladly sell my soul for it.  How things have changed!  The little buggers in my life got me wrapped around their little fingers.  I missed both kids all day.  With Joshua, I feel like at least I can explain to him where I was and he would understand.  It’s hard to explain to Savanna where I’ve been all day.

Cliff was fantastic with the kids and making all the meals.  I never doubted his ability to make everything work.  I was surprised, however, that he was very determined to get Joshua to eat some vegetables.  If you know my struggles in that area, you would know that I’ve given up and often make a separate meal for Joshua because he won’t eat what we eat.  Cliff told Joshua the theme of the week was carrots, took him to buy carrots, and made all sorts of dishes with carrots in it.  Joshua actually ended up eating a bit of carrots this past week.  That was a huge accomplishment.

Savanna obviously bonded with Cliff this week.  When I was holding her today, she actually reached out to Cliff and wanted him to hold her.  She has never done that before. While it broke my heart a little, I actually feel much more comforted by the thought that she’s bonding with daddy, and that she’s just as happy being with him.

Joshua-2-2 Joshua-2 Savanna-6939 Savanna-6989 Savanna-7024


Returning to work

Regardless of how hard I tried to slow down time, to savour every minute with my kids, to kick and scream and fight my internal emotional battles, it’s time for me to go back to being a tax accountant next week.

It has been an eventful year.  Savanna’s arrival gave me a year to be with away from work and spend it with people I love the most.  I always feel so grateful for the opportunities she has given me.  The year gave me a lot of time to evaluate my life, and make some changes I have been wanting to make.  We had time to spend a week in Whistler, go to Disney with my brother’s family, and to visit my family in Taiwan and friends in Hong Kong.  I have gained a few new valuable friendships.  I also had the time to finally launch the photography business I’ve been thinking about for many years.

I have grown so attached to my kids; it would be really hard for me to peel myself away and go to work everyday.  And knowing the nature of the job, I am bracing myself for the stress and long hours.  My only consolation is that Cliff will be staying home full time with the kids and I have no worries about them being well cared for.

A lot of people have asked me, “So what about photography?”  I will never stop being fascinated and challenged by all aspects of photography for as long as I live.  In terms of the business aspect, I plan to keep shooting.  The photography diploma courses may be put on hold for a little while, just while I get a feel of this new arrangement on the home and work front.

I will try my best to keep up with the blogging.  To get in touch, you can always email me at, or follow me on Twitter (angela_chang).

Ups and downs

The last few of weeks have been brutal at work.  A slew of things all came up at once, one more urgent than the next.  Some days it seems like nothing is going well, and the amount of stress will never end.  I would come home exhausted, spend some time with Joshua, and stay up to work a few more hours until there’s nothing left in me.  The next day is just a repeat of the same motion.  Even when I do spend a couple of hours with Joshua in the evenings, I’ve often fallen asleep watching him play or in the middle of reading a book to him.  Sometimes I can hear him say, “Mommy tired”, but just couldn’t manage open my eyes.

Every morning I think to myself, ok, just X more weeks left until the maternity leave.  Yet it doesn’t make me feel any better.  Just the thought of the stress at work makes me want to just throw up my hands and hide from the world.  I was just exhausted and irritable.  I took everything personally.  Any comments about how “big” I’m getting made me feel more depressed.  It doesn’t help when I’m getting ready to leave each morning, Joshua does his little whiny “Mommy no go work”, sometimes with a few drops of tears served on the side.  I felt like I was drowning and have nothing to grab onto to help me keep my head above water.

Today, Cliff went to Steveston with a friend in the morning for a couple of hours, so it was just Joshua and I at home.  We had breakfast together and had no other agenda.  So we sat on the floor and played with his toys.

I know this is not very significant to sit and play with my son, but I can’t remember the last time it was just the two of us sitting and hanging out.  He gave me some blocks and asked me to stack them up, so I did.  He would then knock the pile down, and ask me to stack them again.  We played this over and over, and each time he knocked the pile down, he giggled and looked at me with his bright smile.  He picked up his monster truck and gave it a hug, which I thought was really cute.  He stuffed his little frog toy with wooden blocks.  He shredded up some toilet paper.  He sat on the window ledge and repeatedly asking me to go outside with him and make bubbles.  He brought me his dump truck and asked me to fix the truck bed that fell off.  He put a bunch of toys down his onsie and walked around for the next hour with a bulge in his shirt.  As we played together, he was telling me his plans for the day.  He will go see Darcy today, give a balloon to Darcy, and share his toy with Darcy.  Darcy is a little friend from music class, and his parents invited us over for dinner tonight.  He also recounted events from last night, that Amelia came for dinner, he played with Amelia, and Amelia went home.  Amelia is the little girl of an old friend of mine.

While watching Joshua do his silly little things, it was the first time in weeks I felt a sense of peace.  I really needed this–just some time with my son, not rushing anywhere, not trying to cram in more work, not trying to accomplish anything but to be in the moment.  We were in our pyjamas, sitting on the dog hair covered floor, with toys strewn about, and just enjoying each other’s company.  It was the most heavenly hour I’ve had in a long time.  I wish I could bottle up this time and savour it when I need it later.

I am still not 100% excited about the next (and the last!) 4 weeks of work, but I feel a bit more ready to face the ups and downs.

Being back at work

I went back to work in early November last year, a week before Joshua turned 1.  Since then, many people have asked me, “How has it been, going back to work?”

To be honest, that’s a loaded question.  How has it been?  In what sense?  I contemplated for quite a while how I answer that question.  It’s been almost 4 months now, and I figured it’s time to come up with an answer.

In terms of the work schedule, I’m back full time, but not exactly.  I had a lot of vacation days accumulated, so I take every Friday off as a vacation day.  So technically I’m back on a full time basis, but I’m only in the office from Monday to Thursday.  I am in the office from 7 am to 4:30 pm.  I’m definitely not in the office for the same amount of hours as pre-Joshua!  It gives them the impression that I’m not around as much as before.

Transitioning back into work was not very difficult.  I was worried that I would have forgotten everything in a year.  Of course, I did forget some of the details of tax law, or specific percentages of something.  But the general principal hasn’t changed and I can quickly look up the details or specifics to have an intelligent conversation with a client.  Most of the people I work with are still the same people, so it was quite easy to pick up where we left off.

Some things have been easy, like getting re-aquainted with my colleagues, or getting into the groove of working. 

But then, some things are really hard. 

One early morning Joshua woke up crying, and I went to get him from his room.  I picked him up from his crib, and as he leaned his forehead on my face, I can feel that he had a high fever.  He was clingy and whiny, and didn’t want me to leave.  I had to go wake up Cliff and hand Joshua over to him, so I can make it to work in time for a meeting.  When I left, I can hear Joshua crying after me, and it just about killed me inside.  Some nights when I come home from work, it takes Joshua some time to warm up to me.  It’s almost like he’ll need to be around me for 15 or 20 minutes to then all of a sudden remember how close we are. 

When I was on mat leave, it was a no brainer that Joshua preferred me.  He wanted me to comfort him when he’s hurt, he wanted me to put him to bed, he wanted me to play with him.  But now often he’ll choose Cliff to put him down at night.  Sometimes I walk out of his room leaving Cliff to put Joshua down, and I’ll go and turn on the shower to drown out the noise of my sobbing.  Those are the nights I wonder what the heck I am doing with my life.  Everything inside me screams that I want to be home with Joshua everyday, but the reality of life is not the case.

So, how has it been being back at work?  The answer probably varies depending on the week or the even the day I’ve had.  I do enjoy the work I’m doing, but I’d be kidding if I tell you I don’t think about Joshua all day long and wish to be home with him.

It’s not that I am competitive

Very early on in our marriage, I learned that I cannot play video games, or a sport game, or be in direct competition of any sort against Cliff, if I wanted to keep our marriage afloat.  Every time I do, we end up fighting.  I’ll admit, sometimes I’m a sour loser.  So we eventually figured out that to keep peace at home, we need to play on the same team.

But that doesn’t stop me from finding other things Cliff does to compete with.  I think it’s some sort of disease I have that cannot be cured.  I just can’t help it.  I know my doctor doesn’t have a prescription for me on this!

If we’re both trying to lose weight, I’ll get so mad that he’s losing weight faster than me.  If we have friends over for dinner and they only praised the dishes Cliff prepared, I’d be upset all night.  If we took separate cars and left some place at the same time, I’d be miffed when he beats me home.  Yes, stupid little things…but please tell me I’m not alone!!

Where is Cliff in all this, you might ask?  Oh, he has no idea we’re in a competition.  Often he wonders why I was upset with him.

The point is, I can’t stand losing.

While I was on maternity leave, often Cliff comes home from work and I haven’t showered or prepared dinner.  Toys will scattered about, I might still be in my PJs, and laundry might be overflowing.  I always told him that it’s not easy taking care of a baby and try to get things done, and he was always accepting of that fact.  Before I went back to work, I told Cliff to be prepared mentally for staying home with Joshua, and that I would be completely accepting to get home from work to see no dinner on the table.

Now that Cliff’s the one staying home with Joshua while I go to work, I was totally expecting to come home to a messy apartment and sobbing husband.  I expected him to text me and ask me what Joshua’s routine is, or where can he find the kind of tofu Joshua likes, or what to do if Joshua fell and cut his head open.  I expected that nothing will get done at home like cooking or tidying up or laundry.  I expected to come home after a long day at work to step on some toys when I walk in the door and scramble to put dinner on the table.  And I would be ok with all that, because I know it’s not easy to get things done when you are taking care of a baby, right?

The first week I went back to work, I came home each night to find the living room in a orderly state.  Not spotless, but at least not a disaster.  And dinner would be roasting in the oven or already made.  I figured, ok, Cliff was just trying to impress me.

The second week, same thing.  Now I’m getting a little annoyed.  Not only did he never text me out of panic, he sent me 3 or 4 pictures each day of him and Joshua having fun.  He managed to go to CostCo with Joshua and brought back a truckload of groceries and supplies.  Again, I go home each night and dinner was all ready.

The third week, same thing.  No panic phone calls or text messages.  No messy disaster at home.  Dinner is ready.  Laundry had been done.  They went to the neighborhood family place to play and borrowed toys from the toy library.  They crossed the border and brought back things we purchased on-line.  Cliff even managed to have a play date at our place and made sushi for his friend!

Ok, I know it’s not a competition about who’s the better parent.  But come on!  Why does everything have to be this easy for Cliff?  So I asked him how he managed to get all these things done, and he kind of looks at me like I’m asking something very obvious.  He shrugged and nonchalantly said something like “it’s not that hard.”  Oh, that just about sent me over the edge!

No, I’m not competitive, damn it!

Alright, all jokes aside, I am very impressed with Cliff.  We’ve been married for 8 1/2 years and he just continues to amaze me.  I always knew he would be a great dad; I just didn’t know he’d be this amazing.

Babe, I think you’re the most loving and kind person in the world.  You’re an awesome dad!


Last month of maternity leave

As hard as I tried for the past 11 month to stop the clock from ticking, time just flew by.  I look at the little boy Joshua has become, and it’s bittersweet for me.  I love how he interacts with us, crawls around, causes chaos, whines, giggles, and chases Sam.  But I also miss the tiny little baby I held in my arms all hours of the day and night.

A month from now, I’ll be returning to work.  The type of job I have doesn’t allow me to work just 9 to 5.  In addition to the long hours I have to work, there is a lot of stress that comes with the package.  I have no idea how I am going to maintain the level of output at work and still spend as much time as possible with Joshua.

I have imagined many times in my mind of not going back to work at all.  But the reality is that financially it makes more sense for me to go back to work and Cliff staying home to take care of Joshua.  Cliff’s work has been part time for almost a year now.  Keeping Cliff’s current hours and putting Joshua in daycare just doesn’t make any sense, so we decided that Cliff will reduce his hours and stay home with Joshua 4 days a week while I work. And on my 1 day off, Cliff will go to work.

It is very hard for me to imagine not being with my baby 7 days a week.  I am starting to feel the separation anxiety already.  I’ve grown so attached to being with Joshua everyday.  We have so much fun together.  Some working moms tell me that it’s very nice to go to work and have adult conversations, and be able to drink a cup of coffee quietly without a baby tugging on your legs.  But honestly, I don’t feel like I lack adult conversations, and I really don’t mind Joshua tugging on my legs when I drink my coffee.

My career is all I cared about before I had Joshua.  The moment I found out I was pregnant, my world changed.  I knew that Joshua had to be the priority now.  It will take some time for me to figure out how to adjust my working life and family life so that neither has to suffer.

I have exactly 1 month left of the maternity leave.  1 month left to be with my son everyday.  1 month left to breastfeed.  1 month left to enjoy the stress-free days of parental bliss.

Another doctor’s appointment and health update

This week’s appointment with Dr. L was uneventful. I was glad to find out I dropped a pound. It must be all the long walks and cutting back on starch/sugar. Other than that, everything was normal and on track.

Starting last week, my right hand became constantly numb. I googled the symptom and it appears normal as a part of the pregnancy. I did ask Dr. L about it, and she said that it’s likely carpal tunnel caused by nerves being pinched during pregnancy. She wasn’t too concerned about it. I do hope that the symptoms will go away once the baby is born.

My lower back pain seems to be under better control because of the daily walks. Walking seems to loosen up whatever was causing the pain. I also noticed that my calves have not cramped even once since I started the long walks. I enjoy going for walks with mom. We chat, check out shops, and stop for coffee. It makes the walking seem less like an exercise but more of a fun thing to do with mom.

When I walk uphill, I often get the Braxton Hicks contractions. Sometimes it makes me a little nervous, wondering if it’s a real contraction. Nevertheless, walking feels really nice, even when I’m huffing and puffing going uphill. I hope Joshua will enjoy sitting in a stroller and going for walks too, because I do want to go for daily walks when I’m on maternity leave.

Despite the discomforts, thankfully, I do sleep quite well. I have so often heard of pregnant women not getting good quality sleep because of all the discomforts. For me, other than getting up twice a night to go to the bathroom, I sleep quite well. Once a while I would wake up because my arms are numb or my calves cramp, but other than that, I’ve never been woken up by Joshua kicking or from other discomforts. I guess I’m lucky in that regard.

It’s now the start of my third week off work, and I’m really enjoying this time. I’m getting lots of rest, exercise, and relaxation.