Author: Amanda Chifos, MS LMHC; Substance Use Therapist
I became a mother on August 23rd, 2018 to a beautiful and adventurous baby girl, but getting her here was no easy feat. I’m sure most mothers can say this to some degree about their pregnancies and/or birth stories. My own story, though, is that I had to be scheduled for a labor induction because my blood pressure was getting too high (which was understandable, considering that I was the size of the Goodyear Blimp in the middle of a burning hot Indiana August). So, my husband, mother, and I went to the hospital one evening to prepare to bring our little “bun” into the world.
Twenty-four hours of labor later, nothing had happened except for several scares as both our blood pressures and heart rates bottomed out (and we had zero luck with sleeping!). My OB/GYN (whom my husband refers to as “Dr. Sexy” because, in all honesty, he really could have been on Grey’s Anatomy with those genetics!) discussed our options with us:
Option 1: Keep waiting and see what happens;
Option 2: Stop the induction, let me have a meal, and start the induction again tomorrow (they almost had me on the whole “have a meal” thing!)
Option 3: Get this show on the road and have a C-section.
We went with Option 3. I got dosed up with more epidural anesthetic and wheeled into the operating room. My C-section experience was ultimately unremarkable except for being able to feel them cut into me just before they pulled out our little bundle of joy. I do not jest! It really felt like I was in the movie “Saw” or something! But they quickly knocked me out completely, and I woke up to my beautiful little mini-me.
Once we were home, I was lucky enough to have my wonderful husband home with us for a month as we got into our new routine as parents. But eventually, my man had to go back to work and it was just me and this tiny little human being. Things didn’t exactly go as planned (when do they ever?), but ultimately, we got through my eight weeks of maternity leave. However, I experienced a whirlwind of postpartum depression, with crying and anxiety spells every day. I informed Dr. Sexy of my problems, and was matched up with an amazing therapist whom I still see to this day, eight or so months later.
When I was asked by Families First to write a blog about what it’s like to be a new mother and balance motherhood and work life, I hesitated for all of 30 seconds before I signed on, because I decided to be entirely honest about my experiences. New motherhood has been hard and intimidating because it brought to light all my own personal things that I need to work on, as well as a general “What the heck am I doing?!” feeling that I’m certain will never go away. But it’s also been such an amazing, fun, happy, “There’s not enough adjectives to describe it” experience!
When I had to return to work two weeks before Halloween, I planned our routine and our route to the babysitter’s as well as I could, got there early--and then cried in my car for about 20 minutes. Each day I felt both excited to be back to helping adults (adults!) with their concerns, as well as sad. At times it was completely heart-wrenching to leave my baby girl behind. But I am incredibly fortunate, for I leave her with family each working day, where she is cuddled and loved every moment.
So, to answer the question of how to balance work and family life: I don’t really have a profound answer to give you. All I can tell you, friend, is that it gets a little easier each day, even if certain hours are incredibly hard. And that it is so important to practice good self-care. As I said, I still meet with my therapist weekly to work on personal stuff that I want to have a handle on as I help shape my little girl into the woman she will become. I also laugh with my family and friends, have date nights with my husband, and try to acknowledge that it’s okay that I was, and am still, a complex human woman who wants to be present for everything in my life.
So, take it one day, one hour, one moment at a time, friend. Talk to the people who love you. Ask for help. All the “Mommy Club” are here cheering you on! Happy Mother’s Day everyone!