Joe and I met through mutual friends, but I was initially not interested in going out with him. I had just moved back to Chicago from Germany, and he lived in Wisconsin. I ran into him again later that year and decided to give him a chance. Within a year, I moved to Wisconsin, and we were engaged shortly thereafter. A few months before the wedding, we moved to Minnesota for my now husband’s job. And, we recently found out that we will be moving to the Chicago area next year. After we got married, we enjoyed our time as just the two of us, traveling, going to football games, playing golf. After two years of marriage, we decided to start trying to get pregnant. We were both in our 30s, so we figured we should do that sooner rather than later. After a year of trying, I finally got pregnant on my fourth cycle of Clomid.
My pregnancy was very smooth. I felt good, did not get sick at all, and we continued traveling and doing our other regular activities. I stayed active throughout my pregnancy, running until the fifth month and going to barre classes right up to the end. Ten days before my due date, as I was crawling into bed, my water broke. I was so thankful this did not happen at work! We ended up walking about three miles around the hallways of the hospital that night and the next morning, trying to get my contractions to progress. The contractions eventually fully came on, and I was able to get an epidural. After 45 minutes of pushing, Luke arrived, happy and healthy. All those barre classes and abdominal workouts definitely helped me to push him out.
After Luke was born, and we returned home, he developed a small case of jaundice and spent three days wearing a bilirubin blanket. We were fortunate that his levels were not so high that he did not have to be admitted to the hospital and could use the blanket at home. The first few days, he did not latch well. We supplemented with formula and donated breastmilk, and I used the breast pump to make sure my milk came in. It took almost two months, but eventually, we both became very comfortable with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is extremely difficult, and I certainly felt the effects of this stress. I also feel a great sense of accomplishment now, looking back at what I was able to do for my son.I do understand how breastfeeding impacted my day-to-day life, and it was a sacrifice, to say the least. My love-hate relationship with my breast pump came to end after six months, when we transitioned Luke to formula.
I work for a software company with great benefits, so I was very lucky in the US to be able to take 14 weeks of maternity leave. However, while I was on maternity leave, I almost felt a sense of boredom some days. I even got to the point where I was jealous that my husband got to go to work every day, and I had to stay home.
This was how I knew that I was ready to go back to work and not stay home with my son.
I work in accounting and finance, and when I returned to work, it was our busiest time of year. At the same time, we were preparing to take our company public on the New York Stock Exchange, and I was heavily involved in that process. Amid all this work, I was running to the mother’s room to pump breastmilk twice a day. This was another reason that I chose to stop breastfeeding at six months.
My husband also has a very demanding job, frequently traveling out of town for meetings. It was stressful in the beginning, being the sole provider on those days he was gone. I got used to the routine, and it was a routine! Doing daycare pickup, feeding dinner, bath time, putting on pajamas, and getting Luke to sleep. The biggest point of stress for me was whether or when Luke would wake up in the night. Once Luke went to bed, I would do the (endless) dishes, get everything ready for the next day, catch up on work, then have a few minutes to myself before heading to bed. This continues to be my routine when Joe is out of town, but it has gotten easier now that Luke sleeps through the night consistently.
I really do enjoy my job, and I’m grateful for our wonderful daycare providers. It is difficult to think about Luke spending more of his waking time at daycare than he does with us during the work week. But, I know that I’m much happier and more sane by continuing to work. And, I fully recognize this is different for every mother and situation. We are now starting to try for baby #2, and my company is coming out with a new parental policy which allows for six months of leave, an incredible benefit in the US!
Kate - Mom of 2 boys - Chicago, Illinois, USA
(Kate shared this story back in 2018 and has welcomed her second son in the meantime.)