My twelve weeks are almost up.
My baby isn’t old enough to sit up, she’s exclusively breast fed and has eaten from a bottle only four times in her little life. She’s just starting to laugh and really chat it up with the goo goo gaga business. I’m mostly healed from pushing a 10 lb baby out of my nether regions and feeling almost back to myself.
All of which seems to mean I’m about to face one of the infamous lose-lose moments of motherhood.
Going back to work or staying home.
Either way, the moral of this story is that you lose.
Looking back 3 years ago, Christian and I decided to start trying for a family. Over the course of our journey to get pregnant we would discover I have PCOS, endure all sorts of hormone treatments (which weren’t a walk in the park), suffer a miscarriage and weather through the tears each month when my period showed up instead of those two little lines.
The day I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor I was ecstatic while also feeling an equal measure of fear. Nonetheless, my pregnancy progressed pretty normally and being pregnant was even better than I had imagined it to be (most of the time). Throughout each day I’d be met with questions about my pregnancy, about the baby – each holding a air of excitement and wonder. Everyone is excited about pregnancy, everyone is excited about babies.
Fast forward to the present. No one is excited about a 3 month old (well except me, her dad and probably her grand parents). My profession tells me it’s time to give up the goat. Go back to work. Leave my baby – the baby I fought so hard for. The baby that believes I’m her entire world.
And if I do? If I go back to work full-time?
I’m a bad mother.
In fact, I’m giving up precious time with my child, I’m leaving my child at her most vulnerable stage, I’m leaving her when she needs me the most. I’ve been asked “do you want her to be bonded to you or to a nanny”? Isn’t the answer clear and more importantly why is this even a question in the first place?
On the flip side of this argument, I can stay home.
When you check out the other side of the highly judgmental Mommy wars – this is what is supposed to happen. This is nature’s way. I can breastfeed on command, I can snuggle that sweet little baby when she needs me and clearly she will be bonded to me… and not a nanny.
What do I lose in the process?
I lose the last 8.5 years of work, I lose the salary I worked so hard to earn and I mostly lose any future job prospects once I’m out of the work force for a couple of years. I went to college, I’ve worked hard, I have dreams.
I’m not special, this story isn’t unique and neither are the anxious feelings I’ve been fighting. The problem is bigger than me. It’s bigger than the atrocious maternity benefits my company offers. It’s systemic and it’s a shame.
Right now, I don’t know what to do. The only thing I do know is that either way I lose.