Struggling To Keep Up – PPD, Anxiety and Back To Work Blues

I knew going back to work would be hard, but I didn’t think It would hurt this damn much.

Thursdays and Fridays are the worst days for me.

Every Thursday I wake up and cram as much “special time” in to the two hours before we leave that I can, in between getting clean and dressed.  I’ll feed Bean his favorite breakfast of grapes and crackers and turn on a bit of Pocoyo so he’ll sit in my lap and munch happily away.

He’s so excited when we get ready to go out the door.  He holds my hand and laughs as he half walks/half jumps down the stairs to the car.

He’s content and happy and silly and everything I love until that fateful right turn.

The right turn down the street towards his caretaker.

I try not to look in the mirror.  I try to ignore his little whines and cries as his face scrunches up in anxiety and sadness.

By the time I get him out of the car he’s sobbing, his body shaking.  I make it as painless as I can.  I hand him off, dig out his current lovie from his bag, give him a hug, tell him I love him, then head out the door.

I can hear his cries until I’ve pulled out of the driveway and driven away.

The last image I have of Bean as I head into work is a look of total…well…betrayal.  I’ve betrayed his trust.  I’ve made my child cry.

I hate it.  Most of the time I spend the drive to work near tears and coiled in taut anxiety.

I don’t even get to pick him up as my shifts are long.  I don’t see him again until the next morning, repeating the same from yesterday only I’m more beaten down and bone-tired from the previous day’s 10 hour shift.

I get three days with him a week and one of those days I spend wound up in extreme anxiety over the Thursday morning that will inevitably come.  That look on his face, those tears in his eyes.

It breaks my fucking heart.

Before I went back to work I was told by a woman at the local drop in that “You could stay at home if you tried.”  What a damaging comment for me to hear.  She has no idea what kind of anxiety and sadness and guilt her flippant remark caused.

See, my husband’s in school.  It’s his last year and he needs to concentrate.  I’m making just enough that we are scraping by.  Of course the childcare subsidy hasn’t kicked in either (thanks ultra slow government) and I am working two of my four days just to pay for childcare.  Seems stupid to me.

And it’s not, as people keep complaining, that childcare is “too expensive”.  It’s not.  In fact it’s downright underpaid.  If I could give the woman who takes care of the most precious thing in the world to me the money she deserved I would.  The problem is that those of us needing childcare the most – the ones who don’t have a “choice” – the ones who have to work to eat and put a roof over our heads – don’t get paid enough.  We scrape and save and get by on minimum wage while people who don’t understand turn their nose up and say we have a “choice”.

Right now the stress in our household is at an all-time high.  Hubby’s got some anxiety and depression issues coupled with some hard-core schooling (it’s hard going back after so much time away) so I try my best to give him some slack.

I’ve got some post-partum anxiety that kicked into high gear a few months ago (remember when I disappeared from the blogosphere and then wrote a cryptic message of sadness?  Yeah, then.) and has only started to get better the last two weeks (and by better I mean I can function day-to-day without weird and scary bouts of anger and panic attacks).  We are getting buried underneath a mountain of unorganized stuff that we had to throw as high as possible when Bean hit all his crazy growth spurts and began to walk.  And climb.  And grab.

I just can’t seem to catch up.  It’s overwhelming everyday to say the least.  Often I walk into a room and just stand there.  My apartment is a jumbled mess of disorganized chaos – I guess it’s kind of a reflection of me these days.

Things will get better, logically I know this.  Just how I feel, right now, in the moment is somewhat hopeless.  Bean is my only ray of light during my day to day and not being around him very much four days a week weakens me.

I’m not even sure where this blog post is going.  It’s a bit of a jumbled mess, like me.  Guess I just needed to vent a bit.  Thanks for listening.

Going Back To Work – Decisions, Decisions

I wish someone had told me that I would need to start looking into daycares so early.  Like before I even healed from the c-section early.  The waiting lists are 3 mths long at least, even more so for us (since we are applying for subsidy).

I don’t have a lot of time.  My maternity leave will be up in May (my apologies to my US readers for what will seem to you like a whiny-bitch rant from a lucky Canadian) and I need to figure out a source of income fast.  I would also like to give my previous awesome workplace an answer to “when/are you coming back?”.

Ideally I would be a SAHM.  I’d wear adorable aprons and back goodies while nurturing my growing boy with fun outings and nutritious homemade food.  Also the house would sparkle and the dog would be content and my lipstick would always be perfect.

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A cake made with love. Or poison. Or both.

Are you laughing at my delusions yet?  I am. I’ve had 8 months to perfect this but my house is SO not clean, Fred cooks many of his own meals, and I don’t even remember how to apply lipstick.  Arthur is happy and nurtured though and that’s the major hurdle, right?

Truthfully though the reason I can’t stay home has nothing to do with nurturing or the ability to make my bathroom sparkle.  It’s money.  Money to buy gas.  Food.  Pay for electricity and internet. House payments. What with hubby in school full time we’re walking on glass as it is.

Also ideally I’d be a WAHM.  I’d find a job I could do over the internet with my mad google-fu and facebooking prowess that would pay the bills with a little something left over for the occaisional cupcake treat.  Granted with this added responsibility my housekeeping would take an even worse nosedive but hey, that’s the price I’d pay for the chance to be with Arthur all the time.  And any other little ones we are planning for in the near future.  Which we are.

So if being a stay or work at home mom (or fantasy 50’s housewife) isn’t a reasonable option for me right now, what is?

Go back to work.  This option depends on many factors – me having the car, having very specific shifts, not working weekends, finding the right daycare, getting daycare subsidy (because if we don’t then i’d be working to pay for daycare with a take home of $20 a day).

Become my own daycare.  I could take a couple kids into my home through the week.  Arthur would have playmates and I wouldn’t have to leave him.  A few things hinder this plan but on the whole there are more positives than negatives to it.  I’d have to get an updated first aid and a police check.  And completely re-arrange and de-clutter the apartment.  But this option is more and more doable the more I think about it.  I would only take two children on top of Arthur – one infant, one older.  I live close to a park and library and early years center. Pretty ideal location actually.

Another option has me looking after furry four-legged children.  Dogs.  I could dog sit or dog walk.  I have a friend who does this (both walks dogs and takes them into her home for a weekend or so) and would be fully capable of doing both.  I’m going to explore this option more as well.

Are you a stay at home mom?  Do you work from home?  Look after children?  I’d love to hear other stories – may give me a clue to make up my mind about what to do.  I hate having everything up in the air like this.  I’m open to suggestions to find my ideal solution!

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Everything I do, I do for him.