I started this blog three years ago. My thoughts were to have a place to document our house, have a creative outlet, help others… and something I’ve never shared with anyone, to make a career out of it.
Mike started SongMeanings when he was a teenager and has worked diligently on it for over 10 years. Once it became profitable, (many many years into it) we knew that when we had kids, Mike would quit his full-time gig and be a work-at-home parent. I wanted something like that for myself and I knew that the only way to get there was to not sit around and complain about it, but to bust my ass for it.
So I did something about it and started this little place on the internet three years ago. At the time, I had no clue there were other home blogs out there– I was seriously living in a hole. It was only after I started this that someone told me about Young House Love. It discouraged me at first, but Mike has been my biggest support system from day one. He told me that the beauty of the internet is that there isn’t just one site on a topic– there are many and many can be successful. So I kept chugging away and loved it more and more each minute.
The first day that I had 100 visitors I got a little misty eyed. I remember running up the stairs and telling Mike that people liked it– I could not believe that strangers were finding me. It was and continues to be incredibly rewarding to write this blog. The high I get off of coming up with a great idea, finishing a project or seeing one of my projects pop up on Pinterest is more than enough to keep me going. Which is good because as anyone who has a blog knows, it takes a long, long, long time to make any profit off of it. I knew this, as it took Mike probably a good 6 years of hard work and dedication to ever see a paycheck from SongMeanings.
Last summer, Mike and I decided to have a baby way sooner than we thought we would. The decision is another story for another post, but it also happened way sooner than we thought it would. Suddenly I was left with a semester of graduate school, pregnant and trying to keep up with this blog. I knew my dream of working on this full-time to be home with our future children was slipping away. Okay, it took a giant plummet.
I was, and still am, okay with that. My mentality has always been that I chose the career I have now and if I want something different, it’s up to me to change it. It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I’ve been discouraged a lot, but my forever confidence boosting husband has assured me that writing this blog is good for me. It has become so much more to me than a website that I make (very) little money from.
With all of that out in the open, we obviously welcomed Easton in May. I was fortunate enough to have 12 weeks home with him, since I got the standard 6 weeks of disability and NJ is 1 of 3 states that offers an additional 6 weeks of paid maternity leave (don’t even get me started on US maternity leave…) Which means I went back on Wednesday of last week.
Walking out the door that first day was beyond painful. I cried through the morning rendition of “If you’re happy and you know it” (Easton still laughed, he had no sympathy for me), I cried as I handed him off to Mike for his morning nap (which used to be my extra 2 hours of sleep with him), I kissed him and stared at him about 20 times before I actually got out the door.
Then I got to work…and I felt okay. I know how lucky we are. I didn’t have to drop Easton off at daycare. He is home with the only person who loves him just as much as I do and I couldn’t ask for more. Mike sent me texts, pictures and videos all day. There wasn’t a minute of the day when I didn’t know what Easton was doing. The first day I went home a little early and I left at 2.
That night when I got Easton to sleep, my ribs hurt. Then my back hurt. I figured I was just completely drained from the day, but the next morning, I was still dragging myself around in pain. First I thought I must have pulled a muscle, then I thought I hurt myself carrying Easton in the Moby wrap the day before, then I thought I must be getting sick, but I had no other symptoms. Throughout the day, I was told I looked like a tired new mother, which couldn’t be further from the truth because Easton was sleeping 11 hour stretches at night. Then one of my coworkers brought up the idea of mastitis.
By the next morning, I couldn’t lift Easton out of his crib and I knew that was what it was. I didn’t pump much over those 12 weeks at home since I hated it and it was easier to feed Easton myself. The last several weeks, I made it a point to have Mike give him a bottle a day so that he’d be used to drinking from it. He did well and my only concern all along was him. I never thought of the effect that pumping would have on me. It was only my third day back to work and I had to take a very precious day off and lay in bed all day.
All of the progress I felt like I made that first day back went out the window. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to continue to breastfeed, which then would give me even less time with Easton. I never thought I’d be one of those people so incredibly attached to nursing my baby and the thought of losing it was depressing, on top of feeling like crap all weekend. Many tears were shed about whether I made the right decision returning. I was mad at myself for not working harder at this blog to get to where I wanted to be.
Ever the supportive husband, Mike told me numerous times in the past week that he would go back to working a 9-5 job in addition to working on SongMeanings at night. But that is not the answer for us. The arrangement we have now works best for ALL of us and not just me. It’s not about me– it’s about Mike’s happiness and Easton’s happiness as well.
I had to start the return to work process again on Monday. This second time around was worse than the first. On top of the usual stresses, I had to make sure I was taking care of myself and pumping often.
It’s hard to keep my health in mind when my days have been non-stop. I try to get up before Easton does (around 5) to get myself completely ready so that I have time to play with him before he gets sleepy again. Once he starts rubbing his eyes, I pass him to Mike for their morning nap together and I leave. This works out well because Mike usually works until 2am and he’s able to catch an extra hour or two of sleep. I try to get out the door by 7, to get to work by 7:30. My job has an 8.5 hour workday to account for lunches. I skip lunch away from my desk and instead pump 3-4 times a day. One of my coworkers came by yesterday and told me how nice it must be to come to work and have a break. Yeah, some break!
I leave by 4 since Easton goes to bed at 7. I get so excited driving home and he has been so excited to see me. Really, I had no clue a 3 month old would react with giggles, flying arms and tight hugs. When bedtime rolls around, if he’s not in bed by 7 he gets pissed. We didn’t set the 7pm bedtime, he did. If I don’t leave by 4, like if I get in later than 7:30 in the morning, I miss precious afternoon time with him.
Which happened yesterday since I ended up having to pump at home in the morning. I got home around 5 and Easton was crashing by 6:30. I gave him a bath and rocked him to sleep. Once I put him in his crib and looked down on him, I cried my eyes out. There was just not enough time with him.
So I walked down the stairs and Mike saw me crying… again. He once again offered to go back to working an additional 9-5, but I told him to stop being ridiculous. I told him just need time to be sad, and I don’t know how much time. Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe 18 years.
I got up and repeated the process yesterday, despite the fact that Easton has started waking up in the middle of his 11 hour stretch of sleep (bad timing, buddy). It was a little smoother and I got home early enough for loads of play time and cuddles.
As I left work, I ran into my boss’s, boss’s, boss. Yeah, someone quite a few levels above me. She asked me how it was being back and I said it was good, but I missed Easton. She told me that one of the VPs of the company said that when her son was born, she would go out to the parking lot to cry.
Ever since then I feel better. Often times, people think of a mother returning to work as a black and white issue– either you can or you can’t, you want to or you don’t want to, it feels right or it feels wrong. In reality, the issue is one giant grayscale full of emotions and even the most successful of women are not immune. Just because it doesn’t feel right doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Just because some days you can, doesn’t mean that some days you can’t.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to make some tweaks, build my own business and work from home alongside Mike. Until then, it’s okay to feel sad and cry every now and then– I think it would be strange if I didn’t.
I know this wasn’t very house related, but I hope that sharing my experiences helps someone else out there. We’re hoping to get back on the project wagon once things calm down a bit. Until then, you can follow daily Easton pictures over at Macky & Co (which Mike finally caught up with!) and follow me on Instagram @lilhousecould. Thanks for reading