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Mothering › Groups › October 2012 Due Date Club › Discussions › Trying to figure out the work thing for down the road

Trying to figure out the work thing for down the road

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I'm a first-time mama, and next week I’m planning to tell my students/parents that I’m pregnant. I’m trying to figure out how long after I give birth I can tell them I’ll be available again. (I'm a private college counselor for high school students.)

Normally, because I’m self-employed, I would take as much time as I wanted, but since my due date is October 10, right in the middle of college application season, I’m thinking I may need to return to some part-time work by the end of November/beginning of December. 

The upside: I wouldn’t have to travel — I’d be editing from home and meeting students via Skype or having them come to me — and I definitely wouldn’t work more than 20 hours/week. In fact, I'd probably keep it down to 10-15 hours.

Am I going to be really sorry that I tell my students I’m available for that last month before applications are due? I imagine I’ll probably be feeling fine physically after 6 weeks or so, but I’m thinking more about how I probably won’t want to separate from the baby any earlier than necessary. 

On the other hand, college application season is the time of year when I make most of my annual income, and I'm already losing students by telling them they have to finish their applications by the end of September since applications aren’t due until the beginning of January; they just feel too rushed/unprepared. Also, someone else told me not to work in September since I'll need the rest, but that's just impossible for me financially. God knows with a baby on the way we can’t afford to miss out on income.

Just trying to weigh out the issues here. Would love to hear your thoughts based on your experiences.

post #2 of 4

IME, it depends...mostly on things you can't predict. (Frustrating answer, right?) I don't think I could have done it with DS at 6 weeks, for the following reasons:


(1) He was a high-needs baby, so I would have needed childcare to cover my working time, and at ~15 hours, I would not have netted any $. There is absolutely no way I could have worked without childcare. Some babies do sleep peacefully or hang out happily in their bouncies while a parent works...but not mine. Even when I wore him, I needed to be in motion. No sitting down.


(2) Physically I was not fine 6 weeks postpartum. I had a birth injury that made it difficult to sit comfortably that I did not have properly diagnosed or treated until about 12 weeks pp. (My idiot GYN told me it was hemorrhoids - um, no). My baby was tongue-tied and we did not get THAT diagnosed or treated until 6 weeks, by which time my nipples were...um,in horrific condition. (I went on to nurse him until age 3, so don't worry, it all worked out fine.) I was very fortunate to have an easy pregnancy and delivery so those things were more painful to me than anything else.


(3) I was averaging 4-5 hours of broken sleep per night at 6 weeks. It's also a growth spurt time.


Your experiences, of course, may well be vastly different. My friends have had all sorts of experiences, ranging from more challenging than mine to mellow baby sleeping through the night at 2 months. I think, all things considered, if I absolutely had to, I probably could have dealt with working from home ~15 hours a week. And sadly many, many women do not have any choice. (Technically I had no time off at all, and was expected to resume working immediately after giving birth - I just took the semester off at my own cost.) But if there was any matter of choice involved (as I had), I would not recommend committing to returning to work so soon. Maybe others will say the exact opposite! I have a feeling your motherly intuition will end up telling you what to do.

post #3 of 4

I agree with gozal, its very hard to predict how you will be so soon post partum..

With my first I HAD to go back to work at 6 weeks PP, I was active duty military and had no choice (well I could have gone UA but then I would have ended up in jail). It was hell! I was not physically ready to return to work. I was an emotional, hormonal wreck. I was exhausted from not enough sleep. Luckily I had a great boss and my infant refused a bottle so he let me check in then go home to do the rest of my work. It was still hard to deal with a crying baby and work (my daughter cried ALOT when she was a baby, skyping with her as a newborn wouldn't have worked)..


Another thing you can't factor in is what happens if you end up having a C-Section? I know NO ONE wants to think they will end up with a C-Section but things happen. A good friend of mine refused to plan for one and they lost the baby's heartbeat, ended up being born blue. Scariest thing in the world for her and she had no plans as to what she was going to do in case of one. Its always better to plan just in case.


Also, what would happen if your child required a NICU stay? Another thing no one wants to think about but you have to. My middle was full term and ended up in the NICU for complications for a week. By 6 weeks PP we were still working our the finer points of breastfeeding (she had issues with nursing) and I spent probably 45 minutes of every hour teaching her to nurse.


Will you have any help after the baby is born? Family, SO etc to come and give you a break so you can get some rest. It will be hard to work if you are so mentally and physically exhausted you can't string a sentence together.


Unfortunately there are so many variables its hard to say "do this". Maybe you could plan to return in November with the option of pushing it back if needed.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

These are all great points. Fortunately my husband is very likely going to quit his job halfway through this year to work on a big editing job with me, so the plan is for him to be around. I would only return to work if I had help, of course. I think what I'm going to do is just tell my students that I will plan for an additional 5 hours of help for each of them in December if they absolutely need it. And I'll only tell this to a few students. That way I can just plan for about 15-20 hours of work TOTAL during the month of December. That's very, very doable spread over the course of three weeks, since I'll insist on my students finishing their work before Christmas. 


Thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated.

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