17w, 5d. Sorry once again for the radio silence—it’s been a bit hectic around here. We just returned from a family reunion at a North Carolina campground (a big change of pace for this city girl), and I’m starting my first full week as a stay-at-home mom once again. Yep, I left my awesome job last week—largely because of the blood pressure problems I’ve been having in this pregnancy.
While I had always thought that I would likely leave my full-time position as senior editor at Parenting.com some time shortly before this baby arrived, I didn’t think I would do so five months before my due date. While I loved my job, one of the things that drives me completely batty in this country is our incredibly crappy parental leave system. Yes, I would have had job security for 12 weeks—which means a lot in this economy, I know—but returning to that job would have meant leaving my 12-week-old at home and trying to juggle a full-time job, two additional kids at home who still need their mom, and pumping several times during the workday, all while running on virtually no sleep. I’m incredibly lucky that I wouldn’t have had to go back to work right away—we have the financial stability that allows me that flexibility—but few employers in the U.S. will hold a position open for longer than those 12 weeks, giving new moms few options in this arena. (I should add that this isn’t my first SAHM rodeo—I was at home for three years after having our first son and went back to work full-time when our second son was 13 months old.)
And given that I had already come to terms with being at home full-time again at some point in the near future, when my midwife discovered I have high blood pressure, the maternal fetal medicine specialist she sent me to told me that I was at high-risk for preeclampsia, and nothing I was doing was helping to bring my BP down, my husband and I had several long and difficult talks about what to do. While I don’t know for certain that leaving my job will help the situation, I know that avoiding two stressful subway commutes a day and relieving myself of a lot of job-related stress surely can’t hurt (although listening to two kids whine and scream at each other this morning hasn’t really helped either). Ultimately, it just came down to the fact that if I didn’t do everything I could to try to make this pregnancy a healthier one for the baby and me, I wouldn’t forgive myself if something happened. I’d like to avoid preeclampsia, bed rest, going into labor prematurely, having a stroke… all of the things that have been looming over me for the past several weeks.
My kids are delighted to have me back at home, as is my husband. I’m still figuring out exactly how I feel about all of it—I miss my colleagues, I miss some parts of the work, I miss people not whining at me for large portions of the day—but I think that making this sacrifice for this baby felt necessary for me. And I know it’s just the first of many, as parenthood seems to be largely about making sacrifices—or at least compromises.
All that being said, I’ve got to figure out what to do with my kids (ages 3 and 5) for the next month, lest I find myself pacing in front of my old office building, fighting the urge to beg for my job back. Tell me what I should put on our summer bucket list!