My maternity leave ends in six weeks, and I’ll probably spend at least four of those weeks stressing out about what to do with the baby when I go back to work. (I’ll spend the other two ignoring the issue completely.)
When I went back to work after my first son was born, I made the switch from full-time to part-time (in the office Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and my husband was also working part-time then (Tuesdays and Thursdays), which meant whoever wasn’t on the job that day was the stay-at-home parent. Bottle-feeding problems aside, this was a wonderful solution, since I didn’t have to go through the agony of handing my baby over to a caring but paid stranger until said baby was a year and a half old.
This time around, my husband is working full-time and, between steady contracts and freelance gigs, so am I. I could probably give some of that up (and likely will have to), but for now I’m researching solutions that will allow me to keep the jobs I love without sacrificing quality time with the baby I also love (and happen to love more than I love work, for the record).
The good news is I work entirely from home, so I have a lot of options. We don’t have any family in the area who could help, but the next best thing might be hiring a babysitter to come in for a few hours every day, so at least the baby could stay at home. There are also nanny-shares in the neighborhood, as well as in-home daycares and more formal ones not too far away. (My older son’s awesome daycare doesn’t have room for more infants right now, so we have to wait on that.) I’ve also thought about just trying to do it all, all by myself, but having been in this position before, and I know that I’ll only be making a hard situation harder, and that all bets are off once the baby figures out how to move himself across a room.
I know there’s no option that will make me feel happy to pass my newborn over to a stranger at this point, but I also know that it’s probably necessary and definitely worth a shot (especially considering that sending my older son to daycare was one of the best things we ever did, for him and our family).
Here’s my call for advice and words of encouragement and/or warning. What did you do when you went back to work while your baby was still a baby? Did you find a solution you loved? Did you suffer through one you hated? Did you figure out something that felt sort of in between–maybe not ideal but a good enough fix for the time being?