Can Moms of Multiples Have It All?!?

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Categories Ask the Readers, Balance, Parenting Twins, Perspective, Pregnancy, Working

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.

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8 thoughts on “Can Moms of Multiples Have It All?!?”

  1. Hi there,

    I am in Canada so I returned to work after 13 months…I am thrilled to be back, but the amount of illness that we encountered in the first 6 months back was brutal, especially when it hits two babies, I don’t know if I could have handled the stress of a new leadership role with the added stress of being away from sick children, maybe with the right nanny?

  2. I never considered giving up my career to became a career mom. I actually feel that my personality is one for which working full-time outside the home makes me a better mother. I’m more patient with them for having time away, and I’m more likely to look to their needs instead of having them validate mine.

    It’s not perfect, of course. I miss them. They do their homework at afterschool care instead of with me. I missed J’s first steps. I couldn’t keep up with exclusive(ish) breastfeeding after I returned to work. My body just didn’t like the pump. However, when my husband left me a year ago, I was SO GLAD I’d never become financially dependent on him!

    My ambitions definitely changed once I became a mother. I spend my home life managing little people. I no longer have any desire to go into personnel management of adults! Fortunately, although the default career path where I work sees “upward” as “management,” there’s a great deal of respect of people who choose not to take that path. I’m not the only one who would rather be the expert in my area over becoming a manager, and there’s power in numbers.

    I had to go on modified bedrest at 31 weeks, and my girls were born at 33, so I ended up returning to work when they were 11 weeks old and under 5 lbs. (I’m a Brit, but I live in the US). It wasn’t easy to leave them, and daycare was NOT cheap; in the months between the end of maternity leave and a promotion, I was hardly breaking even on daycare costs. The balance that working brought me, though, (especially with my husband in Iraq and me raising the babies with only daycare staff for help) was well worth it.

    I do feel like I have it all. It’s just that “all” isn’t what I imagined it would be when I was a single woman in graduate school planning to live life as a professor of linguistics. Instead, I am a MoM who LOVES being a mother, an IT professional who loves her job and coworkers, a divorcee who loves being single, and a sometime choir geek.

  3. I stayed at home with our twin boys for fourteen months. I work in a school district and was very fortunate to be able to take a year-long leave of absence. I loved being home with them, but I also love working. They are learning so much at their daycare plus getting socialization. It was the right choice for us.

  4. Sadia, the way you phrased the likelihood that you’d look to fill their needs instead of validating your own if you could work and fulfill yours elsewhere was so poignant.

  5. I was extremely career driven for almost 10 years before the girls were born. While it had always been my plan, I surprised the socks off most everyone who knew me by announcing I was not coming back to work. (I plan to return when the girls start kindergarten.)

    While I didn’t consider returning to work when my girls were infants, I was still apprehensive at how I would adjust to being outside the work force. It was all I’d ever known as an adult. I, too, was very passionate about my work…I loved the drive, the challenge, and being part of a team.

    I share this only to say that I have been very pleasantly surprised at how I’ve been able to satiate that part of my personality within motherhood. I didn’t “lose” that part of myself by leaving work, as (honestly) I feared I might.

    Best of luck with your decision!

  6. Hi there, I have 2 yo twins and a 4 yo girl. I returned to work after 6 weeks with my older, and after 3 months with the twins. I never wanted to be a SAHM. I love my job, and it keeps me sane. I’m really lucky and I can work from home part of the day, sometimes the entire day. It’s hard, really hard, but it was my decision. We have a nanny, so it’s easier for me to be in and out when I need to. I couldn’t work without her. It was really hard to go back to work after, but I don’t regret it. Good luck with your decision!

  7. I teach kindergarten. I returned to work when they were 8 weeks old. I was on bedrest for several months and they were born 8 weeks before school started, so I went back to start the school year. It was hard, but fine. My husband works shift work and was away at night often, but we managed and I never had extra help.

  8. I have 14 month old g/g and I work 2 jobs, combining to 45+ hours a week outside the home. I have no help other than my amazing husband (who also works full time) and we manage to get it all done and still find time to love our daughters. There are days that are hard but all seem to be worth it. I do not think I would be as good a mom as I am with out work. It is a very personal decision and unique to your family. I was back to work at 8 weeks full time and believe it gave us balance and schedule that I would have struggled to find otherwise.

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