Lily at work

 

At the end of April I went back to work at Slikkepotten. The last two weeks of April and first week of May mark the start of our highest season of the year, kicking it off with three weeks of confirmation cakes and then flowing right into wedding cakes for the rest of the summer. Even though Norwegian maternity leave is typically 10-12 months (I know, right??), there was no way I could stay away that long and still return to a functioning business with loyal customers. We did hire someone to take over orders for me during our slow season between Christmas and April, but she’s not experienced enough to handle our high season on her own. So I went back to work after 3 months of maternity leave and Lily came with me. Unfortunately, it was also high season for Chris and they had an exercise going on right when I went back to work. That meant long and inflexible hours for Chris as well. Not ideal.

 

I get asked all the time how it’s working out having Lily at work with me. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It has been extremely difficult. As you can imagine, it’s insane to try to accomplish anything significant during the day with a baby that young and as a result I’ve had to work many long hours and many late nights. It has been hard for me, Lily, Chris, and the other gals at the bakery to cope with it all. We set up Lily’s pack-n-play in a back room and I try to get as much done as I possibly can during her naps. Sometimes we are blessed with 2 hour naps, but more often than not I get 40 minutes tops to work on cake before she wakes up again. It was a cycle of nursing, sleeping, baking, playing, changing and then nursing again for 8-10 hours, then we picked Chris up from work just in time to get Lily home to bed. Again, if we were lucky she’d go right down, but more often than not she wouldn’t go down until 9 or 10. Then I would head back to work until 2 or 3am to pick up the slack on all the tasks I wasn’t able to finish during the day. The first month back especially was really, really tough.  Poor Lily was so overtired from not napping well at the bakery and Chris and I were overtired from not getting much sleep at night.

 

Part of the reason it was so tough was because Lily refuses to take a bottle. We were so worried about breastfeeding not working out in the beginning and had read so much about “nipple confusion” that we waited too long to start giving her a bottle. She therefore won’t go to sleep for anyone but me and during those early months I couldn’t be apart from her for more than 2 hours at a time. We had many offers to babysit from our friends at church, but unless they wanted to come hang out at the bakery the whole time we unfortunately couldn’t take them up on the offer. In fact, during our craziest week, Chris thankfully had a week in between his back-to-back NATO exercises so he took work off and hung out with us at the bakery the entire week so he could take over Lily duty while she was awake. He had to be there the whole time apart from the occasional walk around town in order for me to feed her when she was hungry, which was incredibly boring for him. He’s definitely my hero!

 

After those first 4 or 5 weeks back, things have become a LITTLE easier. Now that confirmation season was over I have been able to take on more of an admin role. On an average week I am able to spend Monday, Wednesday and Thursday doing administrative work at home, and then I spend Tuesdays and Fridays at the shop. It has helped Lily to be able to nap at home so much, but she still hasn’t been able to get on much of a sleep schedule and therefore sleep is a constant battle. After spending all day Tuesday at work, I still typically have 4 or 5 consultations in the evening. I have also had to teach multiple evening classes and spend many late Friday nights finishing up cakes in order to get them done in time for delivery the next day. While Chris usually comes to the bakery with me in the evenings when I have consultations or classes, it still means Lily is frequently up way past her bedtime and therefore has an erratic schedule. Poor Chris has had to come with hours of walking up and down the streets near the bakery to attempt to help her sleep without nursing and suffer through a fussy, overtired baby.

 

So while the frantic craziness of the first few weeks has subsided, the day-to-day is still really difficult.  I can’t even begin to describe how much it tears me up inside when my poor baby is exhausted and upset and screaming and there’s nothing I can do about it because I HAVE to finish these cakes on time. The picture below was taken on the way home from a delivery at 9pm on a Friday night, when poor Lily was so tired she just couldn’t cope anymore. It sure makes you feel like one rotten parent.

 

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder if I should quit the business. I’ve worked so hard over the past 4 years to get to this point and I don’t want to leave it behind when it’s making so much progress, but I also don’t want there to be permanent consequences for Lily in the long run. It’s a constant battle in my head and emotions over what makes a good parent and what is ultimately best for Lily and our family.  I have no answers and probably won’t for a while so for now we’ll continue praying and trying to figure out a way to make it work, whatever “it” is.

 

As difficult as owning a bakery and having a new baby is, I do feel extremely blessed that I have the opportunity and capability to bring Lily to work with me.  Overall Lily likes the bakery and has been such a little trooper! She’s getting exposed to new sights, sounds and people on a daily basis and there are so many things for her to touch and feel and learn. It has allowed us to continue successfully breastfeeding, which was really important to me and I know that having her here with me has allowed us to form a bond that would have been more difficult to form if she was being raised by a nanny. I have been able to be there for her as she learns and grows each day. I’m blessed to have a business partner with kids of her own who understands how difficult it is and is willing to let me adjust my schedule and work flow to make these kind of concessions in order to make it work. I’m blessed to have a husband who supports me in this endeavor even though it means so many sacrifices on his part. All of it is a huge, huge gift.

 

 

 

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