Will I regret my decision?

“The what-if’s and the should-have’s will eat your brain”

– John O’Callaghan

Returning to work after having a baby is hard and poses so many questions. Will my baby know me? Will he feel abandoned? Will I feel guilty? Will I be able to leave him? Am I going to feel empty- handed or hearted without him? Am I making a mistake? This time is so precious and he is my last baby. Will I recover from this decision?

I will be going back in about a month and even the thought of returning is overwhelming and fills me with fear. I was able to stay home for the most perfect year with Emily and I was able to be the mom I wanted to be. I was there for all the firsts in the first year. I bonded with her as I breastfed exclusively and talked with my baby girl as if she was my only friend. We laughed and played and our mornings weren’t rushed and full of frustration. I was crafty and creative. I took so many photos. My daughter was happy and I thrived on that joy. I had time to exercise and meal prep; we ate better. As a working mom, I am scrambling to just get something on the table.

However, money was tight and I couldn’t always keep busy. During a deployment, I definitely want to stay busy! I already miss my coworkers and I love the work that I do. I also want to be able to shop! I enjoy some good retail therapy and I don’t like feeling guilty for spending money I didn’t earn myself.

I keep telling myself that I am going back, but will it be that easy? Will I be able to walk out the door and trust that the strangers at the daycare center will be able to meet his needs? He is my last baby. How will I cope? Will I spend the first weeks back sobbing in the lactation room? Will I envy every mother who is staying home with her babies?

I am struggling to answer these questions and I know that many of them stem from anxiety. Anxiety that is steadily increasing with each passing day. And I know I need to remain mindful. I want to be present with my son during the precious time that we have left. If I am reading a story or singing him a song, I will do only that. I will try to stop my mind from wandering. Of course, this is easier said than done. As moms, we can only hope we are making the best decisions for our families.

I cried today…

I tried to return the Owlet baby monitor this morning, the one that monitors baby’s pulse and oxygen and costs an arm and a leg. I was past the 45-day window, but I asked for an exception to be made since Carson will not be able to use it with his brace. His clubbed foot is being corrected and he will need to keep his brace on during nights and naps for his first couple years of life. The woman on the phone asked her supervisor, but was unable to receive authorization for the return. Tears immediately filled my eyes and I rushed her off the phone. Normally, I would have asked to speak with her supervisor and continued to attempt to retrieve a refund, but I couldn’t. I began to feel those hopeless feelings that usually accompany depression. The word depression is one that puts a sour taste in my mouth. I try desperately to stay far away from it and keep those feelings and thoughts stowed away. Unfortunately, so many of us know the symptoms. We know what it feels like to start slipping away when those feelings begin to consume us.

Yesterday I had plans to attend a work baby shower and introduce my coworkers to Carson, but I came up with four excuses not to go. That’s how it starts. We would rather be alone, avoid all contact with the outside world, and then we stop getting out of bed in the morning altogether. But as a mom, wife, and individual, I know I have to find the strength. The strength to talk to a professional. The strength to possibly take medication to treat an imbalance. And the strength to use the tools and skills that I teach at work.

It can be difficult to ask for help. I have definitely struggled due to stigma and shame. But we all need to take care of mental illness just as we would physical illness. It takes time and effort and some days you may feel too exhausted to cope with the sorrow, but it is treatable!

It’s okay to not be okay.