I still can’t believe I’m having a third baby! Life was so crazy after my second that I wasn’t sure it was in the cards to have a third baby as a working mom. We are so excited though, and it is so fun to have a little bit older kids this time who are thrilled! My 3 year old frequently reminds me that she’s not changing any diapers and my 5 year old tells me daily, “Mama, your belly is getting fatter every day!”
Even with the excitement and this planned pregnancy, there are still a lot of questions. Mainly, “How the heck are we going to do this?”
You know, just that little concern…
As a mom with a job outside the house, there are more questions than answers for me still. We have another six months to work on them, but there are four things that I had a good idea about before we even started trying. Here are some things I’m doing to prepare for baby #3 as a working mom!
No joke, this is one of my biggest fears of having another child. If you want to read about how my children tried to kill me by never sleeping and what we finally did about it, you can go here. Jokes aside, sleep deprivation hits me HARD. I think it is a huge trigger for my postpartum depression/anxiety. As a woman and a mom, I just kept trying to push through. In early newborn life, it’s normal for the whole family to be in survival mode. But as it dragged on without any improvement, just about every aspect of my life was falling apart. I can’t overstate how finding our sleep coach changed my life.
So with this baby, I am prepared! Two kids have shown me that Ryun and I just don’t know how to do this on our own, so we’ll be enlisting the help of our wonderful baby sleep coach again. Just much sooner this time! Hopefully the early help will create good sleep patterns right from the beginning, so it doesn’t get as horrendous as it did before.
Postpartum Mental Health
So obviously my postpartum mental health was rough with my first two pregnancies. We moved out of state 3 months after my first was born. She was a terrible sleeper and I thought I was just depressed from sleep deprivation. I figured as she got better, I’d snap out of it. Not the best train of thought, especially because her sleep didn’t improve until two weeks before baby #2 was born. We moved out of state again when she was 3 months old. This time I started working 30 hour weeks and then 6 months later I moved to full-time. Then, with my free tuition, I applied to grad school and started a Masters, with the thought to get it out of the way when they were little. Sleep deprivation really hinders my decision-making skills.
This did not go well for me and after my first year of grad school (where I felt like I had to prove myself by getting a 4.0 for some reason), I was a wreck. You can read more about it here and here, but I realized something was very wrong and went to a therapist. I was diagnosed with PTSD and postpartum anxiety two years after my last delivery.
Nobody should wait that long to get help. Nobody should have to wait that long for a medical provider to check in and say, “Hey…maybe you need some help.” That never happened for me; I recognized it and got the help for myself. Think of all the women who struggle alone with this. It’s awful.
The 6-week postpartum doctor appointment where they say “Hey, are you depressed?” doesn’t cut it. PPD/PPA can show up a while after the baby was born. My first intrusive thoughts started after we moved to Utah, so my daughter was already over 3 months old, well past the time any doctors cared to see how I was doing. So, I’ll again be taking my postpartum mental health into my own hands, but very proactively this time. I will have an appointment set up with my therapist one month after delivery, and plan on a monthly visit for several months after that unless I need more.
I’m hopeful that all the work I’ve done in the last three years to deal with my PTSD and PPA will make it so this postpartum experience goes much better, but I can’t risk just assuming it’ll be better. I don’t want to do that to myself or my family again.
Ok, I am pretty excited about maternity leave this time. I had 7 weeks off for my first and 6 weeks off for my second, which was so short. I know many women go back even sooner, which is heartbreaking. My current employer provides 6 weeks of paid maternity leave, which I’m very grateful for. My first leave only used my PTO and then I applied for disability, and I worked part-time for my second, so that was completely unpaid. I also have excellent PTO where I work, so I already have 6 weeks of PTO saved up so I can use my full 12 weeks of FMLA at full pay. This is huge for us!
Also, Ry will be done with school and working, so this is our first new baby where we both have full-time incomes and/or one of us isn’t quitting immediately after the baby was born/I return from maternity leave. This is our best financial situation yet, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m excited to not stress about bills during my leave.
Third bonus, during this time my older daughter will be in full-day school and my younger one will be in daycare still, so I’ll be able to have a lot of time to just bond with this baby and hopefully sleep. I have no idea how moms with multiple children recover from childbirth, take care of a newborn and watch their other small children on their own during this time. It’s baffling.
Ladies…this one still sucks. I’ve written a LOT about childcare and what we’ve learned through our experiences thus far (this post has links to a bunch of my childcare posts). We make a lot more money now than we did when our other two were born. We’ve learned what’s important for us to look for and how crazy mornings can get with multiple kids. Figuring out childcare for my third baby as a working mom should be cake, right?
But none of that really matters because we still live in an area with limited options for infant care. Our current daycare doesn’t take kids under 18 months. There aren’t many around here that do that I trust. In almost 6 years of wrangling childcare, it’s not any better than when we started. And that’s frustrating.
However, before we started trying for another child, I told my boss that if I ever got pregnant again I would use this “working from home with kids during covid” craziness as bargaining power. He’s totally in support of that. My plan is to use my 12 week maternity leave, and then work from home until the baby is at least 6 months old. I’m hopeful for longer, but we’ll see how much I’m able to do with an infant at that point.
That will give us some extra time to figure out a more permanent childcare situation, and feel a little more comfortable than when we put our 3 month old in daycare last time. Our older daughter was about 15 months when she first went to daycare and 3 months felt SO soon. I think it would also help any potential postpartum anxiety to have a bit more time.
My Future Career
Man, sometimes my brain still can’t wrap around having a third baby as a working mom. I don’t know what work will be like for me with three kids. Working full-time with little kids wasn’t in my plan, it’s something I fell into and have greatly appreciated. I don’t know if I’ll continue working full-time throughout my children’s little years. There are a lot of mixed feelings about that. I could keep doing what I’m doing and we’d figure it out, like so many do. Or I could work part-time at my university, still keeping my foot in the door. I could quit for a while and work on a masters in school counseling. That would give me some SAHM time, but move forward with a career change that provides a better schedule.
I don’t know exactly what it will look like. Sometimes that makes me a little anxious, but I have to remind myself that things have worked out thus far. I have faith that things will continue to work out. I can’t see myself just quitting and not working until my kids are adults. I’m good at what I do, like having money, and like showing my girls I’m an individual outside of them. I’m so much more confident in my abilities than I used to be. Plus, I super don’t want to be a 75 year old Walmart greeter because I ran out of money. Working because I’m bored is fine, but not because I’m broke.
I know I can’t control everything that will happen in the next two years and that there will be a bunch of surprises. I’m glad that doing this a third time brings some experience to help me focus on what few things can have a big impact on my postpartum quality of life.
Anything you’d add to help working moms prepare?