Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

I wasn't working full time when Axel was born, but when an editor I'd worked with several times before reached out to me when he was around two weeks old and asked if I could commit to a project that began a few months later, I said yes without much hesitation.

It's not that I feared being at home alone with a baby. It was complicated. I had been out of (solid) work for most of my pregnancy, and we had just purchased a new home. So the idea of contributing financially made a lot of sense to me, and it seemed like all around me people had plans to go back to work once their 12 weeks leave was up.

The project I signed on for soon dovetailed into other projects and it turned out that I worked full time, in an office, for a year. I learned a lot from working as a parent. Like that 11 weeks is waaaay too early to go back to work.

I'm ultimately glad I said yes, and took the challenge, because it gave me a great deal of insight into the trade offs that come with working when you have a small baby at home. And we got incredibly lucky with our nanny, and with Axel, who is an outgoing, happy guy, who has never had much in the way of separation anxiety. Some days I loved it. I think having more than just Will and I in his life has helped shape Axel into the sunny, flexible little person he has become. I dutifully read Lean In.

But the first few months were harder than anything I'd done before. Harder than labor, than waking up with a newborn, than all of the psychological ups and downs that come with pregnancy. I felt totally disorganized on the homefront, most days. I could get to work, and get home again, and give Axel some time, but after that, there was nothing left.

Now that I'm back at home, I miss work, but I'm also aware that if I were to start almost anything before my due date, I'd be lucky to get 2 or 4 or 6 weeks off, let alone 12 (you only qualify for FMLA if you have been in a job for a year and the company has more than a certain number of employees.) To me, having been through all of that once before, that just seems untenable.

So, this time, in the interest of having at least six months off with baby #2, my plan is to take whatever assignments may come my way, of course, but not to look for work in earnest until early to mid-summer, with the hopes of beginning something next fall.

Until February, that means I'm sort of in limbo, but I'm trying to make the most of it. I just wish that it didn't feel like the choice had been made for me.

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