In December of 2013 I lost my job while 31 weeks pregnant.
Being that pregnant, finding a job wasn’t a priority or a possibility. So I served out the rest of my pregnancy at home. Then, as previously documented, I had postpartum depression and had a lot of help at home for the first month or two after Madeline was born. My mother and mother-in-law pitched in. Also, Todd was in the midst of a career transition, so he was home studying for licensing exams. We basically lived in our own little new family bubble for a few months.
Once the postpartum lifted, things were pretty easy. As the mother of a two year old, I can confidently say the newborn stage was the easiest. Newborns eat, sleep and poop. Their needs are simple to understand and attend to. And Madeline was an easy baby.
Just before she turned five months old, I got a job. My first day going to work was hard and all I wanted to do was come home and see my baby. I lamented the fact that we weren’t in a position financially for me to stay home with my baby. Still, we found someone lovely to watch her in her home and I continued working and enjoying every moment I could with my baby in the evenings.
Then, the woman who had been watching her got pregnant, and let us know that as she got close to her due date she wouldn’t be able to watch Maddie anymore because she, understandably, wanted to focus on her toddler and her newborn. As Todd and I searched for a daycare for Madeline, a thought that I loathed, I again cursed my bad fortune at not being able to stay home with her.
We ended up really liking the daycare we decided on. She was placed in a social environment, she was learning things and she seemed to be thriving. Still, it was summertime and I wanted to be home with her, to be able to go swimming, take her to the zoo, or go on adventures at the park.
I had tried for close to 10 years to have a child, with many heartbreaks and losses along the way. And now that I had her, I wanted to be home with her to enjoy her.
Mid October of 2015, I lost my job. Understandable I was upset. It’s never a good feeling to lose your job and income. But, I was finally going to get to stay home with my baby. I mean it didn’t make sense to keep paying for daycare. For about the first month and a half, she and I had plans every day, from meeting friends of mine for lunch to having play dates. It was great.
Then, around the holidays, things started changing a bit. Her nap schedule was changing. We were home more. And I think I became overwhelmed. She’s a toddler and she’s a pretty good kid but she requires A LOT of attention. She’s not yet at that age where she plays independently too much, and she always wants me to play with her. And she likes to test her boundaries and challenge me. And if you take away the nap some days, well then I had no down time and no chance to decompress or catch up on things I needed to do.
On Tuesday, January 5, Todd left for work and Maddie and I were watching Dinosaur Train. I went into the kitchen to make her breakfast and as I was standing there making her some eggs, I got hit by a BRICK of panic. I was having a full-blown, out-of-control panic attack. I literally felt incapable of taking care of my daughter. And I didn’t want to.
I know how that sounds. And if you don’t have anxiety disorder and have never experienced a full-blown panic attack, I don’t expect you to understand. I live with this and don’t always understand.
I’ll spare you the details of the anxiety that gripped me for the next couple of weeks. In the interest of helping me heal and making sure Madeline was taken care of and that life could move forward as normally as possible, we put Maddie back into her daycare.
Turns out, I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom. Maybe I’m oversimplifying and I’m certain there were other factors that led to the relapse of my anxiety. But the fact is, as much as I do love my daughter, I don’t want to play with her all day long. I’m not interested in Play Doh, I can only color for so long, and I’ve done her puzzles 5000 times. Todd tells me that it’s ok. That he also is not interested in living in a two year old’s world all day long.
I don’t feel guilty about her being in daycare. I know it’s good for her. She is socializing, she is learning and her world needs to be broadened beyond just her family. I do feel guilty about the way I’ve been feeling, about not really wanting to play with her. But I do a lot with her. We go to dance class, we go to swimming class. We have Friday night family date night where we go to Gymboree and play for a few hours and then get dinner as a family. I read to her and I cuddle with her when she lets me. And she and I frequently duet together on “You Are My Sunshine.”
I’m trying to work through my guilt and a lot of it has to do with the lingering anxiety. I’mm getting better but I still have my moments. Like at the tail end of Maddie’s birthday party where I had a panic attack.
I’m doing my best and hope it’s impacting her as little as possible.
There’s a saying floating around Facebook: Find your tribe, love them hard.
My “tribe” is getting me through this and for that I am forever grateful.
Now, I just need to find a job so I don’t feel guilty about the financial aspect of her being in daycare.