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One Year In

March 2, 2010

Today is an important day for me. This is the one year anniversary of my return to work after Piper was born. Today is the one year anniversary of Piper starting daycare.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a few readers that don’t know me in real life, and so don’t know how that all came to be, or why it was such a big deal at the time.

I don’t talk about my job on this blog, or on Twitter, or on Facebook, and I’m not really going to start doing so in any detail partly because I don’t want to get Dooced and partly because I want you to stay awake and keep reading. As basic background, I work for a large company but there isn’t an office in our area. I’m in sales and cover a large territory. On days I’m not calling on clients in their offices, my office is here in the house. On days I am calling on clients I can be on the road anywhere between 4 and 14 hours. I rarely have to stay away from home overnight.

Two months before my scheduled C-Section, my husband was laid off. The job market was unkind, and he did not find employment quickly. As the date loomed closer, we intentionally scaled back the search, which wasn’t hard as it was the end of December and there wasn’t a lot going on but he continued to interview as opportunities presented themselves.

And then Piper came, and we were three and we were perfect. We came home to our little cocoon. The world kept spinning through the new year, family and friends went back to work, but we just stayed quietly here. We camped out in the master bedroom with the tiny diapers and the bassinet and the sweat pants and the camera and the remote control and the frozen casseroles. We watched a lot of infomercials during overnight feedings. We bought a shamwow. We were so happy in our quiet little world, with our perfect daughter.

By the time Piper was 4 weeks old, our plan was clear. Christopher had no job and I did. I would go back and he would stay home with the baby. It was going to be incredibly tight. Alternative sources of income would have to be found, many many sacrifices would have to be made, things would have to be sold, help may have to be sought. We weren’t sure how long we could make it last even with all of the sacrifices we could come up with. But he wasn’t unskilled, there would be a way for him to generate some income, and anything would help. We just had to relax and have faith. He would continue to look for full time employment.

But the two of them would be home together. This meant that at least several days a week, we would ALL be home together. She would be cared for by her Daddy, not a nanny (ha!) or a daycare center. On days I wasn’t on the road we could still nurse on demand. We wouldn’t have to worry about commutes and drop offs and pick ups. I couldn’t imagine a better way to ease back in. Our cocoon could still protect us.

Three weeks before my scheduled return he went out for another interview, from which we expected nothing. Two weeks before my return he got an offer. We couldn’t turn it down. There were a lot of things happening in the economy at that point, and no guarantees that my job was secure. My industry, among others, was being rocked very hard. It felt irresponsible as parents to not do everything we could to ensure that we could provide for our child.

Overnight we went from “working mom and stay at home dad” to ” two working parents and holy shit we don’t have daycare OF ANY DAMN KIND”. The emotional issues of making the mental leap from my daughter staying home with Daddy to having to scramble for full time daycare notwithstanding, it was nothing short of a logistical nightmare.

We’d been on the wait list at the center Piper now attends since my first trimester but they wouldn’t have a spot for her until June. Upon reflection our backup felt like the daycare equivalent of leaving her in the backyard with the dog. I called the center we were on the waiting list for and asked for suggestions. They had a recently opened franchise center within 10 minutes drive from Christopher’s new office. We toured. They had a space. We met the teachers. Miss Joan was the Grandmother I never had. We had totally scored and we were “covered”.

I missed her. I missed them both, a lot. Christopher’s time at home coincided nicely with my taking myself off the road for my longer distance clients because I was getting so very pregnant. We had basically been together 24/7 for four months at the time he went back. He’d been a shout down the hall away and now I could barely get him to return a text. Since her daycare was by his work he did drop offs and pickups. I Watched him visit her at lunch on the webcam the first week. He texted me everyday to tell me her moods when he dropped off and what time she’d eaten last when he picked up.

When I went back to work a year ago it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’d heard such horror stories about that first day, week, month back at work. How sad I would be. How the guilt would be overwhelming. How I’d cry for days and not be able to get anything done. Frankly, that wasn’t my experience.

Perhaps it’s because I’m in sales, and am a competitive person by nature. Perhaps I felt like I had something to prove, that I could have a baby and still maintain the level of productivity and professionalism that I always had and then some. It definitely helped that I had some big deals closing around that time, and as my sales cycles are quite long, these were deals I’d been working since some time before I even got pregnant. I wasn’t about to let them get away. I got back on the road within the first two weeks and just put my head down.

The transition to the second daycare was easier than I expected. It’s only a few minutes from the house, and Miss Elvira is a lot like Miss Joan, except South American. In both of the daycare centers Piper has attended we’ve been very fortunate. When she left the first center in June Miss Joan cried and asked us to send pictures. Piper’s had a total of three sets of teachers between both centers and has been with many of the kids in her “class” now since June. She’s happy and safe and they truly care for her. Yeah, they have flash card issues, but since I know that they know that I don’t give a crap about their stupid flashcards, I’m fine with it.

My working mom “issues” came later, as the year wore on. As the routine has become routine and I’m not so frantically trying to keep everything together with dental floss and sheer determination, I’ve had more time to breathe and reflect and think beyond survival.

I’m exhausted. I miss my daughter. I live for weekends. Whatever I was getting from the job before, I’m getting less of it now.

It’s been a year. And it’s time to start thinking about change again.

Note: All of the photos in this post were taken within days of the transitions mentioned.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010 11:14 pm

    it is important for you to be happy. i hope you can figure out some “change”
    um and…baby Piper…i die…so friggin cute…must stop looking…or i will need to make baby #2 sooner than we are thinking!

  2. March 3, 2010 8:14 am

    Mae, It’s like you’re reading my mind. I too am in sales in an industry that has suffured greatly due to the economy. I’m contemplating change and slowly implementing steps and strategies to do so. It’s tough. Teva’s only 5 months old, but every day she gets cooler and cooler and I don’t want to miss out on her awesomness. Hang in there. I hope everything works out the way you hope.

  3. Elisabeth M permalink
    March 3, 2010 8:58 am

    Hi Mae, I found your blog via Mandy and Blair. This is my first time commenting. I’m right there with you, although my daughter has only been in daycare for two months, it has already been the hardest two months of my life. I keep thinking about change as well, but so far nothing has come my way. I hope you are able to find a solution that meets all of your needs! Piper is beautiful!

  4. Brook permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:59 am

    I’m exhausted. I miss my daughter. I live for weekends. This is SO the story of my life right now. I’m only 2 months into it and I just don’t know if this is going to work for me! I just don’t know what the right choice is and I feel so torn. Working is providing us with a better life, more options and so on. Not working would make life so much more enjoyable for all of us but do I want to live pay check to pay check? I wish I knew the right thing to do!

  5. March 3, 2010 1:01 pm

    I get this. Exactly. I’ve only been back for 3.5 months but already the determination I had to never be “the chick that was better at her job before she had a kid” has now been replaced by “eff that. my kid needs to be on a nap schedule so I’m staying home for three days to put her on one – deal with it.” Good luck as you begin thinking of/looking for new options.

  6. thenextmartha permalink
    March 3, 2010 2:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. You seem to handle transitions with such grace and I’m sure any decisions you make will be what’s best for you and your family

  7. March 3, 2010 3:01 pm

    Ditto Elisabeth, Brook & thenextmartha.

    Also: You’re so eloquent & I love you. I am inspired. Baby steps toward the change… but GOD do I miss maternity leave.

    My best, Sister Wife

  8. March 12, 2010 11:10 am

    I went through a struggle very similar to this six years ago. My oldest was eight months old. My husband and I became so desperate for change that we were willing to do just about anything. We made some radical changes, but I’m so glad for them now! Cheering you on as you seek your own change.

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