Mother and Child, Mary Cassatt 1897
I was working as a high school librarian, with an easy 20 minute highway commute, when I discovered I was pregnant. I happily applied for a maternity leave and told my principal I’d be leaving a week or two before my mid-March due date. And by that time – with my big belly – it was getting difficult to fit behind the steering wheel. (Against school policy I kept my keys!)
My husband Danny and I had dutifully attended a Lamaze class, and were anticipating a natural childbirth, but apparently the baby had other ideas. He was in a breach position and had to be delivered by Cesarean. (See My Brown-Eyed Girl)
Back then hospital stays after childbirth were several days long, but after C-sections or other complications the stay might be as long as a week, and that was the case with me. Of course I was anxious to get home with my new baby boy, and at the time I probably didn’t appreciate those extra days of hospital rest.
Thankfully once we got home – despite those middle-of-the-night feedings, the lack of sleep and irritability, and all else new parents are heir to – all went well and we had the spring and summer to show our little Noah the world. However I had every intention of going back to work in September, and so over the summer I weaned the baby and we had the good fortune to find a wonderful nanny. (See Our Noisy Nanny)
And in September I did go back, but it was exhausting – driving to school in the morning after too little sleep, coming home tired every afternoon, taking over the child care and household chores when the nanny left, making dinner, and then the bath-time and bed-time routines.
We were living in Westchester then, and Danny’s long work hours and his train commute to his mid-Manhattan office often brought him home too late to be of much help. So after one semester – although I loved being back at work – I was a nervous wreck and felt I needed to take a child care leave. It was the right decision and I was able to enjoy several wonderful years parenting Noah full-time. (See Stay-at-Home Mom)
One day during those magical years I remember sitting in the park as I watched Noah play in the sandbox, and wishing that precious time could stand still. But of course it couldn’t, and all too soon he started kindergarten and I knew it was time I went back to work. I wasn’t apprehensive about leaving him, I knew he’d be in good hands with loving grandparents nearby and a wonderful nanny.
Nevertheless, I dreaded how I’d feel when the day finally came. When it did I kissed Noah good-bye, and carrying my school keys and a paper cup of tea I headed to the garage for my car. Then starting off on that familiar early morning commute back to a job I loved, I actually felt pretty good!
– Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!