WM vs SAHM

Bella over at Scrambled Eggs just posted about her opportunity to stay at home and weighing in on going back to work. She commented that she is not in love with being a stay at home mom and missed going to work, and her guilt about those feelings. Bella, I raise my hands and whisper, “amen.”

Not that I’m a SAHM. But for the last couple weeks and the next couple weeks I have the opportunity to be at home with Jackson more than I am used to, until my position in the clinic starts in October. I love him more than anything, and he chooses me over any one most of the time, but I’m not really his cup of tea all day long. We’ve had some, for a lack of a more politically correct term, daycare drama for the last 3 weeks, causing us to switch day care providers fairly suddenly. (This switch also contributed to more at home time with my baby). Anyway, the new DC provider texted me Friday, which was Jackson’s first day with her, and said, “He’s so perfect, I’m so glad he’s here, he just plays so good.” Huh? You mean he’s not following you from room to room, pulling down your yoga pants, begging to be held, attended to, and adored?? At home, I’m the source of fun, comfort, and food. I am the Alpha and Omega. BUT at daycare he is entertained by older kids, learns from them, and works really hard to keep up with them. He’s too busy to be needy.

these are some of our stay at home shenanigans from the last 2 weeks:

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If I was a full-time SAHM I think I would figure out a routine that involves a variety of things and seek out outside-of-the-home opportunities for socialization. That is the only way I would survive.

But I always knew I would be a WM. I grew up with one, and it was okay. There were times I was insanely jealous that Blythe’s mom could come and get her at the drop of a hat if she was sick, while I schlepped on the vinyl couch in the principles office with a puke bucket until my mom (or dad) could figure out a plan for coming to get me. But our family got through it with 3 kids, and we all pretty much are no worse for the wear (hehe, I think anyway).

I am an insanely competitive person (mostly with myself). I thrive on social contact and pleasing others. Sometimes this serves me well, sometimes this is my greatest fault in life. I know I am capable of juggling a family and career – not to say that SAHMs aren’t. We can’t financially swing me being at home, especially when these grad school loans come due… but I’ve said, even if we won the lottery tomorrow, I’d at least need to work part-time. My career is a part of me – I am a nurse, always. Even as a mom, I am a mom-nurse.  A wife-nurse. A runner-nurse. A friend-nurse. It’s me, part of my being and soul. Sometimes I don’t even realize “nurse” speak is coming out of my mouth until someone points it out to me. Yikes.

The point of this being, Bella, I think about dressing up for work, too. It makes me feel needed and kinda awesome to have a career that I like and that likes me back. And, every woman who is a mother picks. Some pick because they have to, some because they can, some because they’ve never thought about doing it any other way. I love my friends that stay home, or even homeschool their kids, just as much as I love and support my friends that do the daycare drop-off song and dance 5 days per week. They are all awesome. And they are all doing what they need to and what they feel is best for their family and kids.

I will cherish the next three weeks at home with JackMack. I will take extra pictures and baby-momma  selfies. And then, October 1st I will put on a kick-ass dress that I have already picked out (kinda like the first day of school) and go to work. It is my calling and my sacrifice, and I picked it. I pick working mom.

~

And WTH, Jackson turns 1 this week? Excuse me while I go to the corner and cry a little more.

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breastfeeding & pumping & being a working mother

My goal when Jackson was born was to breastfeed him for one year. I didn’t really know what I was asking of myself, my emotions and my body, when I set that goal. I was lucky. First of all, I had helped so, so many women start breastfeeding when I worked L&D, so I understood the basics and knew the tips and tricks for starter success. Secondly, I was anatomically set up for breastfeeding success – not too big, not too little. And lastly, I made plenty of milk.

The first three months of Jackson’s life I was tremendously busy with school, but was on maternity leave from work, and a significant amount of my pumping went into the freezer, because I was able to feed him at my lunch breaks when he was at home with the nanny. When I went back to working 12 hour shifts at the hospital and Jackson went to daycare, I had to learn a good pumping system. I’d pump right before I left for work, and twice during each shift. Some days it was easy to slip away from the activity of the hospital floor to pump, other times it took a little more planning and sometimes I just had to say things had to wait, because pumping was really important. Like most pumping mothers of today, I spent my pumping time catching up on FB, blog reading, and making phone calls home to check on my baby. I also tried to eat a snack every time I pumped, making the most of my time. I’d pump about 10 minutes, which really isn’t a significant amount of time, but it was enough time to pump more than enough for Jackson to eat. While pumping gets old quickly, it has been worth all of the headache. It really has.

Now, Jackson is 10 months old (let’s be real, almost 11 months old 😦 ) and my body is no longer over producing. I’m making just enough to send to daycare the next day. When this first started to happen, I began to panic, even though I find it nice to not be freezing milk constantly. I have a stash in the freezer, too, should I start to not keep up, but I think I’ll make it through the next 2 months. Then I get to start the process of weaning, which will probably be equally hard on both Jackson and I. Jackson still nurses 3 times in 24 hours directly from the boob during those day when I have to work – evening, mid-night, and morning, and gets 2 bottles at daycare. Once he’s a year old I’ll keep that up until I dry up, but I will not keep pumping. Will not. I’m proud of myself for providing this for Jackson for a year, even when I couldn’t always be physically present. It’s been one hell of a committment. And, it’s been worth it.

The days I stay home with Jackson and I don’t have to pump are awesome (like today!!). It’s just us, and I love it. Women who are afforded this luxury full-time are lucky, and I am jealous. I am excited to move on with my career and the next steps that are in my path… but I also wish that we could afford to have me stay home. I wish I didn’t miss those little moments and was afforded the ability to fix every problem throughout the day. However, this is the life I knew I’d have. These are the sacrifices I knew I’d have to make. And I’m really excited to be a nurse practitioner!

I have made a decision and accepted one of the positions I wrote about, and I will fill you all in soon. I am officially done with all of my graduate school commitments. ALL OF THEM. I just have to attend my hooding ceremony in August. And take boards. My life has made some of the most dramatic changes I’ve ever encountered in the last 12 months. It has been amazing, exhausting, and crazy.

I now hope to have a smidgen more time to blog, and I hope to provide an interesting and somewhat original insight into working motherhood. And make some mommies out there feel okay that their child watches Frozen at least once per day, eats Gerber graduates snacks instead of organic, and has more toys than he knows what to do with… but is SO, SO loved.

dear daycare lady

jackson starts daycare monday… we managed to find a different in-home daycare than the one that i was originally uncomfortable with… so i feel better about this transition than i did a few weeks ago.  however, i am also sad, and scared, and miss him already. i always knew we’d do daycare, and i am okay with it. i was a daycare kid, too. but, something only a mom can explain is the inability to trust that anyone can do good enough job with your child… and that ever-present guilt of not being there every minute of every day.

Dear daycare lady,

Thank you for opening your home to small children. For providing a warm, loving, safe, and fun place for babies to grow. May the first thing I always get across to you is my gratitude for what you do.

Please remember this is so very hard for me. I’m a new mommy, dealing with a multitude of emotions. My baby is the best (best, best, best) thing I have ever done. He is my world. I know you understand this, because you’re a mommy too.

Please don’t judge my choice to work and go to school. I judge myself enough for both of us. I’m only doing what I feel is best for my family and our future. I need your encouragement and support, because every day is a battle in my mind, every day I make a hard choice to move forward with my education and not stay at home to snuggle my baby.

Please respect my choice to breastfeed, it’s one way I can be with him even when I am not able to be with him. Three times a day I hide in a bathroom and pump for my baby. Please treat that milk like the liquid gold that it is. I know it’s not easy to deal with all of the “rules” that feeding pumped breastmilk entails, and that, for you, formula would probably be easier. BUT, breastmilk is one of those things that is really important to me, so I hope you will be willing to be flexible and work with our choice.

Please don’t tell me if he takes his first steps at your house. Let me think I saw it first when he does it again that night. And please just giggle when his diaper bag has three extra pairs of pants but no shirts, or when his outfit doesn’t match on the days his daddy drops him off, and try not to judge us based on those silly things that embarrass me that must happen to everyone.

All I can really ask is that you take care of my baby like he’s your own. Protect him. Nurture him. Teach him. Read to him. Play with him. Be fair with him. Kiss his boo-boos. And love him. Because we love him with every fiber of our beings.

Thank you so much for what you do,

The McMillans

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