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This one is our first. I work full time (and about a half, in all honesty) and DH works full time. My job's schedule is not flexible. We're open 365 days a year, it is just the nature of where I work and what I do. Which I love. Dh's job as a programmer is a bit more flexible, but not extremely.

I love what I do. But the idea of daycare in the first year makes me nauseous. It has been weighing on me a lot. We found a place that we like, they are cloth diaper friendly, have engaging activities for the infants (baby yoga, stuff like that), and are in our budget, but I can't imagine leaving my three month old there.

Financially, we could swing me not working for a while. But from a mental health stand point, I don't know if I could stand not working. I've worked since I was fourteen and when I'm not busy with things outside the home, I feel very disconnected.

I'm scared about fitting pumping into my work schedule.

I just....other folks who have worked with infants, tell me your kids are happy and well adjusted and I am not absolutely just terrible!

Ahhhh!

</end hormonal freak out of the FTM>
 

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Hugs. First of all, my kid is happy and well-adjusted, and you are not terrible!

I was in Canada, so a different mat leave situation. I was a grad student, and my fellowship funding did not count for federal mat leave pay, which meant that I took time unpaid, but I was entitled to the time and they held my spot for me. Due to finances, and the fact that DH wanted to take leave and was entitled to federal parental leave, I went back when DS was 6 months. DH stayed home with him, and then he started daycare at a year. In a lot of ways, it was a terrible time to start daycare (hello, separation anxiety.)

I had other grad student friends who couldn't afford the year, and went back when their babes were younger (usually 2-3 months old), and they had a far, far easier time.

I know that some people feel really strongly about SAH, which I totally respect. And you will probably hear a lot of, "wait until your babe arrives, you may change your mind," which is absolutely true. You may also want to consider whether or not it's possible to stretch your leave a little, e.g., 6 months. You're likely to still be pretty sleep-deprived at 3 months, which may impact on your work performance in a way you dislike.

However, as someone who was in a similar situation (long term SAH was just not an option I was interested in; I feel really called to my work), I can tell you that you are not terrible at all for wanting to work, and that lots and lots of children grow up perfectly healthy and well-adjusted with working parents. In fact, if you look globally, most parents work. (And that whole, 'they take the kids with them to the field' is a myth. The reality is that most kids stay with someone else, or are unsupervised from a very young age.)

This is just my personal opinion, but I think that kids are way stronger than most parents in developed countries give them credit for. I have a super-sensitive kiddo who was a very intense baby. Transitioning to a non-parent care provider was brutal, and I doubted myself daily. But four years later, we have an incredibly happy, attached kid who is having a great time in school, whom we love madly, and who returns the feelings. If you have a generally good situation (good parenting, reasonable life situation) putting a kid in a high quality daycare is not going to hurt them.

We did home care for the first year, and then a center. We still keep in touch with the women who helped raise DS into the great little person that he is, and I feel so grateful to have that kind of community around us. Having other people love him and care for him was amazing. I think that it's a real gift to have a child experience how different people can provide valuable interactions.

One thing I will mention is that typically, the first year of daycare means illnesses. (Kids who aren't in daycare usually have a harder time health-wise in their first year of school, assuming they attend school, of course.) Just something to be prepared for.

I can't comment on pumping, as I didn't do it. I was able to work from home a lot, and even when I was on campus, DH would just bring DS to me when he needed to nurse. From a year on, he drank water for thirst, ate solids for hunger, and reverse-cycled pretty hard until he was 18 months or so. I do know plenty of women, though, who have pumped at work successfully, despite a crazy, unpredictable schedule. One of my current mentors did that. My impression is that it's tough, but doable.
 

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I too have IRL friends who pumped successfully, most doing one pumping session at work (for which they arranged a private, lockable room) and an early morning pump, which they kept up over the weekend for backup supple.

If your work is not flexible, you should have backup babysitters who can come care for your child at home/ Chances are if baby is very ill one of you will want to stay there, but then there are the days of recovery when they are not yet ready for daycare but generally okay (24 hours fever-free or digestive trouble free, usually... the last 24 hours they are usually tired but no longer sick).

I have been a student all my time as a momma and have not had to work full-time, nor is there any way I could have afforded more than very part-time care. But I also like what I do, and though it was partly out of necessity, when I went right back to school after #1 (took one week off... THAT was not enough, more like 4m with #2), I did enjoy having that part of my life as well.

I think that countries where you can have a year of mat leave are much more civilized! I would also see how much can you stretch your leave? Can you go back P/T for the first 3 months? Etc. B/c I think its quite different to leave a 6mo than a 3mo.

And kids are so different. So its not just your feelings that may change when you have a baby... your baby may have different needs. Separation from me was a HUGE issue for #1 (and still is). #2 is much cooler about it, much more flexible, easier going. I don't know- I think I've done things very much the same, and still, now that she is 2yo, I am surprised every time I leave at her ease of separation!
 

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You & your little one will be fine!

I went back to work around 3 months after DD was born. What helped me is going back somewhat gradually - the first time I left her at daycare for an afternoon, then a whole day, then 3 days a week, etc. etc. Honestly, I think it might be easier to leave them at daycare for the first time at 3 months than it would be at a year, since they don't cry because you're leaving or anything. It will be way harder on you than it will be on your DC!

We love our daycare situation. The women who work there are so loving and gentle and being there provides DD with so much educationally and socially and DD loves going to "school". I know many amazing SAHMs and kids of SAHMs, but for us this works better both financially and emotionally. I think in my ideal world I'd work part time, but it's not in the cards anytime soon.

Sleep (lack of it) will probably be a problem at least at first, but you learn to function on much less. And pi & emmaegbert made excellent points about illnesses. DD was sick a bunch the 1st winter of daycare, but last winter she only got sick once. My work has a good sick leave policy, so it wasn't a big deal, but I definitely missed a bunch of days the 1st year.

Pumping didn't go so great for me, but I had major supply issues to begin with that made it hard to keep breastfeeding going for long after I went back to work. However, my boss kept up pumping for almost a year & still BFs at night at a year-plus, so it can be done!

My kid is awesome & well-adjusted and yours will be too!
 

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I went back to work when DS was 12.5 weeks old. He went to a daycare center and we felt very comfortable with them. I pumped until DS was 14 months old (so for about 11 months) and honestly just treated it as though it was non-negotable with my employer (which in my mind it is.) I had to pump in the beginning one one side in the morining when I got up and then three times during the day. I dropped sessions over time starting with the early morning one, then lunch, then the morning, and finally the afternoon. DS is still nursing although we are working on weaning now due to this pregnancy, but I believe without being pregnant (and possibly even with) he would nurse for a lot more time. Also DH washed all the pump parts and packed my pump bag everyday and I really credit this with helping me make it!

The big issues we faced in the first year or so were me being tired, some illness, and self-doubt that I had made the right choice (I too could stay home but want to work) due mostly to outside influences (surround yourself with support, I believe this is important no matter which option you decide WOHM, SAHM, or WAHM). A book I really liked was Getting to 50/50, it hit home that to make this work both parents have to pull their own weight at work and home although it won't always be 50/50, it works out that way over time.

DS is two now and loves school! He loves his teachers, his friends, and talks about school when he is at home. He is attached, loving, smart, and a very typical 2 year old in every way.
 

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DH became unemployed shortly after we found we were pregnant with DS, so he has been a SAHD. I went back to work at 7 weeks PP, 2 days in the office, 3 days at home. I am so thankful to be able to have that sort of flexibility! However, had DS had to go to some sort of care, I far prefer either a nanny sort or home daycare. I think mulit-age group settings are the closest to a family setting and kids of all ages can benefit from it (but that is just my opinion, of course). No matter what, I believe if you find the right care provider, your LO will be fine.

As for pumping: that will depend partly on your schedule, and partly on what you and and baby need. I had an adequeate to abundant supply. I could easily get by some days with just one pumping, provided DS was able to nurse before I left for the day, and I could nurse him immediately upon arriving back at home. (otherwise, hello! engorgement!) but most days I did 2 pumpings. Often DS was still asleep when I left for the day, and I pumped once in the morning and once mid afternoon. One of the things I noticed, from other working mamas who pumped and whose kids were in daycare, is a tendency for the DCP to overfeed. which leads to stress for the mama, who is trying to pump more than she really can supply, and DCP have a tendency to waste the precious BM. (this at least seems to be the case where we are). A general rule of thumb is an ounce per hour you are away. Now, some babies reverse cycle and will take little or nothing while you are away, and make up for it when you return. If your LO is one of these, it helps to have a care provider who understands that this is very NORMAL.

so much of this you just won't know until after baby is here, and in daycare. The longer you can make shift to be with the babe at home, the better I think, but if you need the stimulation of being outside the home, then that is ok, no shame or blame in that. In the event you want to scale back your hours though - is part-time at all possible? It is good to know what options are available.
 

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Could you start off working part time, so ease into it? Thats what I did for both babies. Although pumping didn't work for me the first time, it has been working good for the past 5 mths for my second.
 

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I've been a SAHM for a few years straight. It does truly take a special person to be a SAHM just as it takes a special person to be a Working Mom. After being on both sides of the fence I do not ever want to be a Mom working away from my kids again. Yes, it's hard to be a very attached sahm and can be challenging some days but so can being a Working Mom. I'll tell you want though, even on the worst days I never ever say "I wish I was working!" I can relate to what you're feeling though because earlier this year we opened a small business. The nature of the business is one in which we can bring the kids but after the first two months I dropped my hours significantly from 5 or 7 days there to 2 or 3. We're going on six months open now and, even with working there 2 days a week for 10-12 hours something had to give because me being there and the kids being there just wasn't working for any of us, I couldn't meet there needs like I could while not at the biz and on top of the stressors of having the kids there I had the business related things I HAD to do is really what it boiled down to. I'll tell you what, if you think working outside the home is hard or being a SAHM is hard trying working outside the home with your children at a biz you own. Out of each of those things it's by far the hardest and most challenging. I chose to further reduce my hours at the biz. Daddy does a great job and is really the face of the biz. As much as I would love to be involved and be known right along side him as owner my children are my first priority. Yeah it may be easier if we just shoved them in the daycare down the road which would allow us to run the biz together but when I look back, I know I will miss not having that time with them (I know this because I feel that way about the older two that were in daycare for a period of time when they were younger) them even if the business turns out to be a huge success. The way I look at it, is (unless I homeschool which I probably won't do past Preschool), I have 5 years with them exclusively at home. They're worth utter and complete dedication from me for those five years which as also the most crucial to their development and a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.
 
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