So glad I’m here
Ruby is four months old. She is so sweet, cooing and gurgling at me through her big gummy smile, grasping eagerly at toys and fingers and pulling them into her mouth, pulling up to a stand holding my fingertips, and waving her arms and legs excitedly as people talk to her.
She is so much like Quinn was at this age. But my life is so different this time around. Back then, I was racing to get everything “ready” before I went back to work. Every day brought a fresh wave of terror, as my childcare fell through, the schedule I’d tried to get Q on just kept falling apart and Quinn STILL refused to take a bottle.
Not to mention that none of my work clothes (or shoes) fit, I was still leaking everywhere, and was getting at most three hours of sleep in a row and six hours total a night. I was fried and harried and not enjoying my baby as much as I could have been.
About a week before I went back to work, I found out that my breastmilk had excess lipase, a condition that makes your pumped breastmilk taste rancid unless it’s boiled before freezing. Those 64 ounces of frozen milk I’d worked dilligently to amass were useless, and I felt horrible that I’d been force-feeding my kid a bottle of bilous milk every day. I sobbed as I poured the milk down the drain, hating myself and my life, wondering if this was really what all women went through as they tried to re-enter the rat race just months after giving birth.
Throughout all this madness a chorus of doubt was building: Should I really go back to work? Why was I doing this? Could I be happy staying home?
I ended up going back to work with just a day’s work of frozen milk in the freezer, a piecemeal childcare plan, and a baby who STILL wouldn’t take the bottle. My bosses and colleagues were amazing, but they couldn’t hold a candle to my cooing little being back at the ranch. Too-tight work clothes, pumping my milk in the bathroom, and the million other crazy things working mommies live through every day did not sweeten the deal. I quit six weeks in and, though I was really nervous about it at the time, I have seamlessly and happily melded into a stay-at-home mama. I can’t believe I ever thought I could do otherwise.
This time around, I get to enjoy my baby. Yes, I am frazzled and exhausted taking care of her and my toddler. Our finances are a lot tighter and I make two meals a day for the three of us (well, actually the four of us ). I have very little help and way too much laundry and dishes to wash and I never, ever get a break (yes, sitting in a quiet office checking email seems like a break to me ).
But I am right where I should be. I can nurse my baby whenever I want, not force her up at 5:45 so I can nurse her before catching my bus to work. She still hasn’t taken a bottle and that’s just fine. My hair is a mess and I can’t find my lipgloss and my socks don’t match but I hardly notice my yoga pants being tighter.
This time around, my heart goes out to all the mamas moving mountains to make an impossible situation work every day. This time around, I coo back at Ruby, put my finger out for her to grab, and let the clock tick in someone else’s life.