Saturday, September 29, 2012

"So, will you stay home?"

I have been asked this question a lot lately, mostly at work. For reference, my school is in a very wealthy suburb of Boston, and for the most part, women (although we have a couple of stay at home fathers) stay home when they have children. Not to say there aren't any working moms, but even those women usually stayed home for some extended period of time when they had babies. Additionally, there has been a series of teachers at school who quit after their maternity leave. So, I get it. They are asking a logical question. Often, it is even followed by a heartfelt expression of how disappointing it would be if I did stay home. It is meant to be an earnest question and one that is even a compliment.

But, here's the rub.

It's starting to become a painful topic, and one that brings regret and guilt to the surface. For KG and I, it is just not an option for one of us to stay home. Financially, it would be disastrous. I've discussed here before how we have been on our own (money-wise) since we were 18 and each brought some debt to our relationship. In the 11+ years we have been together, our debt grew. We have spent the last several years chipping away at it with moderate success, both working full-time, medium-ish income jobs. But, there is still a long way to go, and that isn't even touching my education debt, which I'm pretty sure I'll have until I'm 80.

We are not lazy, careless, or extravagant people. We rent, we have taken one major vacation in over a decade, KG drives a '97 Camry, and I'm in an '03 CRV. High rollers over here. But, it seems like no matter how conservative we are, we can only get so far. There is no possibility of family help with things like a house, etc. It's just us, trying to make it work. So, living on one income just isn't an option. Do I regret not being more careful with money in my late teens and early/mid twenties? Yes. Do I wish one of us made a lot more money (i.e. went into a more lucrative career path?) Yes. But, we are where we are.

Even when I fantasize about being able to stay home, I get a crushing blow of reality. For example, I was in the car trying to imagine a scenario where it might work, i.e. "What if I never ate out again? What if we rented for another 5 years?" Then, it hit me. ALL of our benefits (medical, dental, retirement) are through my job. KG works for a small company that offers none of these. So, even if we figured out some hypothetical way to make being a stay at home parent work, it would not be me that got that opportunity. That brought a wave of sadness. This is a done deal.

The kicker is that BOTH of us would kill for the CHOICE to be a stay-at-home parent for any significant length of time. I've mentioned how head-over-heels in love with this baby KG is, and I'm pretty sure he would carry the baby and give birth himself if he could. He would be an incredible stay-at-home dad. And I have no idea how I'll feel during my maternity leave. Maybe I'll be dying to go back to work, or maybe I'll feel crushed at the thought. There is no way to predict that now, with no experience in this area. But given the current economy, and the lack of governmental support for new parents, this is the way it is. There is no choice for us.

Sometimes I think people (those I work with, and even some commenters on this blog) assume everyone has this choice. Some have even insinuated that I am selfish or strange for going back to work and leaving The Nugget in daycare (and with my father-in-law 2 days per week) this spring. I get those questions like, "Are you sure you want to do that? I would never leave my baby with strangers," and my heart sinks. They just don't know how lucky they are to be able to make that decision purely based on preference, and not on survival.

Is their perspective skewed? Don't most people have to work when they have kids? 

There's another layer to this. The infertile layer. I had to work for years to have this baby. We went through so much pain and disappointment to get this far. And yet, because of our financial situation, I am sacrificing some really important time with the baby. I suppose I am luckier than most - I get 8 to 10 weeks off in the summer to be with The Nugget. But still, it feels like after all we've been through, it feels like a loss to not get to be with him 100% of the time.

These are the times when I wish I had a rewind button and could make different choices at ages 20, 21, 22... which might have left us with more options. But, instead, I've got to come to terms with the place we are in, which compared to many isn't so bad. Right?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

MIA, Back To School madness, and Dr. Seuss

That's me. Ever since I set foot back in school, I've been completely MIA from the blogosphere. I feel incredibly guilty about this, and I miss you all, but something had to give in September.

Every start of school is stressful - the setting up of the classroom, faculty meetings, lesson planning, parent meetings, Back To School Night, and everything else take an incredibly long time to get under way. I knew that this school year would be tough being pregnant. But, the baby isn't even an issue. It is really all those normal factors, combined with the addition of a brand new math curriculum (nothing like making a teacher with 8 years of experience feel like a rookie) and an iPad pilot project in my classroom that makes me feel like I'm drowning. All I can do is make it from work to home, eat, and go to sleep at night. I've been waking up at 6, arriving at school around 7am, leaving around 5pm, and in bed by 9pm. Trying to squeeze in time to cook, keep our place clean, spend SOME time with KG, and you know, breathe, has been tough. I won't get into how much work I'm bringing home and how my Sundays are spent making Smartboard demonstrations for math class. These are the times that people who criticize teachers for having 8 weeks off in the summer can suck it.

In the middle of all that, I flew home to Los Angeles for my first baby shower.

I was thrilled to go, but missing work this close to the start of school just added to my anxiety. Putting that aside, while I was there, I hit 100 degree weather, saw some friends, spent time with my family, and slept like a baby. My best friend, her partner, and my mom hosted this awesome Dr. Seuss themed brunchy shower and it was wonderful. The BFF and partner did all the decorations, delicious food and drinks, and handled the RSVP details. It was intimate (only about 10 people), mellow, and was sans embarrassing taste-the-baby-food games. Just what I requested.

Then, there was the cake. 10 years ago, my mother made my sister's wedding cake, after taking Wilton classes and practicing for months beforehand. Because I got married in Boston, she couldn't do the same for me. But, guess what she did for the baby shower?

Can you believe it?

The Cake Boss would be jealous!
Mom, me, and my sister

While I was gone, KG spent hours starting the process of physical transformation at our place. He scrubbed, labored, sneezed, and moved Mt. Baby (as we are calling the huge collection of baby gear donated to our cause) into the beginnings of our new office so it doesn't take over our living room. Soon, we'll finish cleaning out the old office (aka the future nursery), move our wireless access to the new office, clean the carpet in the nursery, build the crib, pick up the changing table/glider/ottoman/dresser from SIL, organize Mt. Baby, and make a home for this little guy. I know theoretically we have time for all this, but the weeks seem to be flying by, and the to-do list just seems to grow. Have I mentioned we haven't started looking for a pediatrician yet?

Every time I get overwhelmed with these details, I try to take a breath and remind myself of how fortunate we are. If you told me at the beginning of my infertility treatments in January of 2010 that I would be lucky enough to even HAVE a baby shower, I would have laughed in your face. I can't describe the deep feeling of gratitude I have for every single kick, nudge, and flip The Nugget does in my belly. I also ache for my blogger friends who have experienced a recent loss, have ended their journey, or are still trying for a BFP. Belle, Sometimes, Trisha, ToniMo, Sunny, Cristy, Detour, and more. I hold you close ladies and send you whatever support I can.

I leave you with the new Mumford and Sons song that I am obsessed with, "I Will Wait." This song could have been my anthem during treatments. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

True Life fans?

I am completely overwhelmed with the beginning of the new school year, so I have been a bad, bad blogger. I'm behind reading, writing, and generally keeping up. I will be back soon, but for now I'm trying to keep my chin above water at work.

In the meantime, I wanted to spread the word about a media call that RESOLVE put out. I'm too much of a geezer to participate, but maybe some of you are spring chickens:

MEDIA ALERT: MTV is doing a “True Life” show on infertility. RESOLVE staff recently spoke to the producers, discussed their approach, and advised on how to address infertility. Now MTV is looking for people to share their stories. Have you always wanted to have a baby and are finding out that getting pregnant isn't as easy as it seems? Do you plan to seek help from a fertility clinic? Has trying to have a baby left you emotionally, physically, and financially drained? If you want to share your story, are age 18-29, are currently struggling with fertility issues, please email your name, story, location, PHONE NUMBER, and photograph if possible to