I was pregnant with our first baby and I was looking at day care facilities. I would have 15 weeks of maternity leave, but I planned to return to work after my leave for financial reasons. Also, I liked my job. My work was challenging. I was good at it. People respected me. I studied hard in school, got my degree, and was now doing what I was supposed to do - something that I enjoyed. But I had no idea how hard it would be to leave my baby once he had arrived.
I was lucky. My office shared a parking lot with several other businesses, one being a child care facility. I was about six months pregnant when I met with the director, had a tour of the center, and visited the infant room. The infant room visit was the last thing that we did, and one image still stays with me. I didn’t remember the eleven cribs in a row. I didn’t remember the babies swinging with blank expressions in the swings. I only remember that there were two babies being fed bottles by strangers in matching aprons.
I am not sure why, but watching the babies being fed by women that weren’t their moms made my chest tighten and a lump form in my throat. I quickly thanked the director and told her that I would speak with her again soon. I heard the security door lock behind me, and as I turned to walk back to my office, the first tear slid down my face. They continued to fall until I reached the end of the sidewalk, and by then, I was sobbing. My baby wasn’t even born yet, and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him.
But I did it. I dropped my son off every day and went to the challenging, stressful job that I liked. I continued to work because my husband and I had become accustomed to living a two-income lifestyle. Without making serious cuts in our expenses, we both needed to work. Still, it was extremely hard for us to be working parents.
We would get up and get ready for work at 4:30 a.m. so that when the baby woke at 5:00 a.m. or 5:30 a.m., we would have some time in the morning with him before my hour drive to his day care and work. Nearly every day, I would race out of my office at 6:20 p.m. to allow myself only 10 minutes to get him before the final pick up time.