Something I have considered from seemingly every angle before getting pregnant was whether or not I’d want to return to work after having kids. I forwarded Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (The Atlantic) to my working mom friends, or friends of child-bearing age, followed the Yahoo CEO story closely and am looking forward to reading Lean In when time allows. Love these discussions, whether I’m talking to a SAHM or a single woman who never sees themselves having kids. Now that I’m pregnant, it feels like I’m admitting to a crime when I say that, while I can discuss my opinions about maternity leave pay in our country, or gender-specific expectations around child-rearing, etc, etc, the deep down truth is that I always wanted to work after kids (and still want to return).
Of course, an angle I didn’t quite consider is that I might have twins, and have the daycare costs for twin infants, the emotional impact of leaving behind TWO infants and perhaps double the sleep deprivation to contend with in the early days back at my desk. When we started trying to have kids, I was in a very stressful, unhealthy work environment, and it only took about six unsuccessful months of trying for me to question whether my stress level was impacting my fertility. I started looking for jobs elsewhere, took a pay cut and began my work in an area in which I was less passionate, but allowed me to get out to the increasingly frequent reproductive endocrinologist’s appointments and take more time for myself.
I felt guilty taking a new job, knowing that we were actively trying to get pregnant, and decided to tell my boss about our fertility treatments early on. I do recall her giving her support, as long as I was planning on returning to work. (Of course, this was probably unnecessary, as it still took another 8 months to get pregnant.) While I occasionally miss some of the more passion-driven days at my old job, I definitely have settled into a new role where I can do things like (ahem!) write blog posts in my down time and relish waking up a little later and still having time to do yoga before work. Upon finding out I was expecting two babies, some questions started popping into my head: If this doubles the cost of daycare, is it worth it to still work? If we break even with my salary and day care, is it STILL worth it? I don’t know any moms of twins in my life who returned 5 days per week (well, ones without ample help). Am I crazy for considering this? Will weekends and minimal time at night during the week feel like enough time with my little ones?
I have always worked two jobs. Like, for the last 14 years. (Don’t worry-I only have three weeks left of job number two, and will only be returning to one after the babies arrive.) While I absolutely strive to maintain other parts of my identity (artist, aspiring chef, yoga enthusiast, world traveler, wife in a healthy marriage) other than employee, I am not going to lie: I enjoy working full-time, being needed in a work place, and possibly most importantly, feeling part of a community, both in the sense of working people in the world, and also in my small non-profit. I decided to commit to returning full-time, taking comfort in the fact that I now have a VERY short commute, have found a nanny who is amazing, and have a very laid-back work environment.
In the eight weeks or so since I announced that I’m pregnant at work, my boss has resigned (the head honcho of our agency) and more recently, the chairperson of the board that oversees our whole agency announced his plans to step down. My perfectly-laid plan of returning to a stress-free environment seems to be crumbling before my eyes. I’ve questioned whether I may want to apply for said head honcho role, to ensure the laid-back attitude prevails. And I’ve questioned whether I will be able to get through if someone new is hired who cracks the whip a little more… Yes, of course, another lesson in, (big shocker here) things I cannot control! I feel pretty certain I’ll return either way and see how things go…
I realize there are previous HDYDI blog posts on working moms. I’d love to hear from working moms, especially those in leadership roles, who have thoughts about returning to work after 12 weeks off.