When I was pregnant, I had no idea how I would feel about leaving my baby and going back to work. At the time I was in Graduate School and I discussed the idea of how I would care for my baby with my classmates. When they asked what I planned to do, here was my standard speech:
“My parents have agreed to split the babysitting duties with my boyfriend when I go back to work. They live close and my boyfriend works nights.” This usually shut people up.
After I gave birth to my son, I loved every moment I spent with him. Even when I was delirious from lack of sleep (so exhausted that I was hysterically crying) I still wanted nothing more than to be home with my baby.
I was granted three months maternity leave from my job. When the three months were up, it was understood that I would return to work. But towards the end of my leave, I abruptly changed my plans. I quit my job and took a job closer to home so that I could be near my baby.
I was in a funny predicament. I resigned from my job and was going to start a new job in the same field, with a three month old baby at home. At the time I didn’t realize just how crazy this situation was.
The first day of my new job was really lonely. I knew no one and was expected to share an office with a complete stranger who was noticeably resentful of my existence. I was a graduate school intern, and this woman had shared office space with the previous intern. All she could talk about was how much she hated the last intern. Man, I thought to myself. I don’t stand a chance with this woman.
I was breastfeeding my son, and wanted to continue this practice despite the fact that I was working. So every three hours I had to duck into a disgusting bathroom to pump my breasts and pray that no unsavory characters walked in while I was engaged in this activity.
Most of the day, I spent either:
1. Pumping or
2. Spacing out and thinking about my baby at home
Each day I would arrive home and (I know this sounds crazy) but my son looked bigger to me. Every day he looked as if he’d grown just a little bit more. I couldn’t take it.
After a week of being miserable in this new office situation, without consulting my boyfriend, I hastily quit my job and decided that I was going to stay home with my son. It felt strange at first. I’d been working since I was 14 years old. When I found myself staying home, it was completely foreign to me. I kept thinking to myself: Is this allowed? Am I doing something wrong?
In time, I stopped feeling guilty about staying home, and realized that I really enjoyed it. I was getting to know my son, Ari. I am so grateful that I made the decision to stay home. When I think about the fact that I could’ve spent the majority of the first year of Ari’s life in an office, it makes me cringe.
Now my son is almost two years old. I started working again (on a per diem basis) when he was just over a year. I am so happy that I had the privilege to spend his first year of life with him. Not all mothers in the United States get to do this! I got to see him smile, laugh, sit up, crawl and walk for the first time.
If you’re going to have a baby, and you are considering staying home, I suggest you try to stay home for at least the first year if you can. You will have a chance to get to know your baby and learn more about yourself.