I'm 35 weeks pregnant and I will be able to take 12 weeks off before returning to work. However, i'm Certain I won't be able to make it. The hospital I work at does 12 hour shifts. Has anyone gone back to work but went back to something that wasn't as demanding as being a NICU nurse?
Why are you 'certain' you won't be able to do it? I went back to NICU 3 weeks post c-section. Not ideal, but here I am, 37 years later, still alive.
12 weeks is the standard minimum for FMLA, so what you've described seems fairly typical (unless your hospital has a very generous leave policy). I've known plenty of NICU nurses who have come back after 12 weeks. It does seem to take a lot of planning and time management, especially if you're hoping to pump/breastfeed. You'll want to make sure you have at least 12 hours worth of pumped milk at home for the baby when you leave, and make time to pump at least a few times during the shift (usually stepping out in between your cares). Hopefully your coworkers will be supportive/understanding and gladly cover for your during your pumping breaks. TBH, it seems that NICU would actually be one of the least demanding hospital specialties for new moms (compared to, say, med surg). It also seems like starting a new job in a new specialty would be equally, if not more, stressful.
Congrats, and enjoy your new baby!