The past year has been so exciting, but prior to that, I was relatively off the grid. I was “here”, but with very limited capacity. I wasn’t on social media much, I wasn’t at WordCamps (before Covid times), and I wasn’t really socializing. I made a choice to pause my career.
Recently, I’ve begun sharing my career journey. From college to the classroom, and then freelancing, I’ve had a lot of different roles. But the role I most wanted was that of a mom.
When Life Becomes Too Much
My partner and I wanted to start a family. We faced 3 miscarriages, and during our fourth pregnancy, life got to be just all too much. The up side: we made it past the point of all other losses.
At the time, I had picked up work as a technical document writer. But personally, I wasn’t well. I had all the signs of preeclampsia and the doctors were very concerned. I had so many “no stress tests” during the 8th month of pregnancy. I could not keep up with my hourly work duties, could hardly stay focused, and had carpel tunnel as well as numb fingers. Typing was terrible.
At just 33 weeks, I attended one more doctor appointment. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be returning home after. Instead, we were whisked 90 minutes away to a hospital better equipped for life in the NICU. The hospital kept my son in and my organs safe for a week using a lot of medicine. I detailed the day to day on our family blog.
We spent 3 weeks in the NICU with our older son and just 4 days with our younger son a little over a year later. In between, my c-section incision was open for a month, and then surgically reopened for a month on a wound vac. Our son was colicky. He has silent acid reflux and has gone on to receive diagnoses of Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and Autism. Whew.
To say that our introduction to parenthood was exciting would overlook the reality of our situation. We needed professional counseling combined with medication, help with meals, physical therapy (my back has seized), and so much more.
In all of that, I was underperforming at work. I couldn’t keep up with expectations that would be reasonable for most. I was an hourly employee without benefits, and had downgraded my availability to part time hours. I remember my husband messaging me to check how our day was going while he was back to work. But my employer required I run screen capture software on my personal laptop when I was on the clock.
Ultimately, I felt very very alone in the role, not connected to peers to gain a deeper understanding of what clients needed to know, and also alone and misunderstood as a mother.
I also felt that our local community questioned mental health. We were told we need more spiritual healing and that the counseling and medical supports were temporary band-aids. You know, when life is in such hard place, bring on the temporary band-aids to help us get to the next phase.
Very few of us have that many miscarriages, experience a NICU stay of a few weeks, and then have the equivalent to another c-section a month later. Why was it this hard for us? Why was it so hard to have the brainpower to also work around naps?
Withdrawing To Focus
I was let go from the job. I took a few months to just heal, recover, and focus on the role I really wanted, mom. When I finally started feeling functional again, I accepted a role that I was able to manage well around nap times.
I tried attending a few events around a newborn, but when our 5th pregnancy and 2nd son arrived, I really couldn’t manage to get out to events, hang out in Twitter, create any non-work content, or do much.
It’s NICU awareness month. We’ve had 2 in the NICU. It was a rough season for us. If you are in the same journey, reach out. I’m listening.
If you’re going through a season of withdrawing to focus, it is okay. It will be okay. You will get through. And we’ll be here when you are ready.