Before I had my first kid, if you had asked me if I would ever want to be a stay-at-home-mom, I would have laughed at you.
Then I had Irene.
I did everything I could to take as much time off as possible. I was lucky that I worked for Yahoo! at the time. They were very family friendly and the HR department worked with me to find a way that I could take a full 6 months off after giving birth. The first two months at home were a blissful blur of sleep deprivation and awe. By the end of the second month, the stir-crazy-cabin-fever started to set in. By my third month, I desperately began looking for a mommy group to join. (Thank GOD I found the one I did, as those women were amazing and are still a part of my life).
By my fifth month, I felt like I was ready to go back. Don’t get me wrong. I loved being a mom. I loved my daughter. I loved spending time with her.
I just felt myself slipping away.
I didn’t want to define myself as just Irene’s mom… I wanted to be the full cliche and “have it all”. I wanted the kid, the house and the career. So, by the time Irene was six months old, I returned to work.
It was blissful.
For about a week.
Then the reality of commuting an hour each way with a baby in the car hit. Something had to give – and that was my job at Yahoo! After three months, I found a new job closer to home and the greatest nanny EVER. Things were perfect.
And that’s when it hit me. I wanted more. I wanted another kid.
The issues I had getting pregnant and staying pregnant are far too many to go into in this post. (You can read a brief summary here.)
By the time I was pregnant with Sam I had moved on to a new company and was very well established in a pretty senior level role. It looked like I really was going to get it all: two kids, nice house, and a career on the rise. That all came crashing down when I suddenly found myself in a hospital L&D bed at just 23 weeks and 4 days pregnant. My company was very understanding. They left me alone and allowed me the time I needed while Sam was in the hospital. Then, they gave me more time – nine months in all, before I finally had to make the decision to either return to work or resign.
Sam was home and stable, but the thought of leaving him was more than I could take. I redefined what “having it all” meant to me and resigned my job. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of being a stay-at-home mom still made me a little sick inside. In fact, not long after resigning, I contracted with my former company to produce two major videos that would keep me occupied for six months.
I guess my new “having it all” was the nice house, the two wonderful kids and working out of the house three to four days and spending two days with my kids.
This freedom allowed me to be more present for Irene, driving to every single field trip her class took, chaperoning every class party, taking her to piano lessons, and generally spending more time with her.
It also made it easy to get Sam to all his various doctor’s appointment and spend oodles of time with my precious little anti-preemie. Plus, the few times Sam had to be re-hospitalized, I didn’t have to get permission to miss work, I was just able to be there.
There are downsides. Again, I am not a very good stay-at-home mom, so those days I do have Sam to myself, unless I have an out of the house activity planned, I am usually pulling my hair out by 11 am. Plus, the hit to our income has been deeply felt. There are some weeks when I have more work than I know what to do with, and then there are some weeks where I don’t have a single billable hour.
Either way, this is the life I have found myself living, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
What about you? Did you go back to work after your preemie or baby?