When I got pregnant with the triplets, hundreds of thoughts and questions ran through my mind. Would they be healthy? Could I carry 3 babies at one time? What are the risks? But after the initial dust cloud had cleared, I was faced with another totally different question - Who would take care of these babies? (Duh, I know my husband and I would, but I meant who would take care of them while we worked!) At the time I, like most married and childless women, worked a full time job. I enjoyed my job and what it entailed. In addition, I had been lucky enough to have parents that could afford to send me to great high schools and colleges and I had taken advantage of that luxury. I had then attended graduate school (kind of by accident) and earned yet another degree. Surely I couldn't "waste" all the time, energy and money spent on those degrees in order to ultimately become a stay at home mom, could I? So there I sat, pregnant with triplets and wondering what I should do about this next step in my life.
When it came down to it, the decision really wasn't too hard. Actually, having triplets made it a WAY easier decision that if I had just had one baby. Do you know how much a good daycare or in-home nanny costs? Multiply that by three and that's what we were talking about. It wasn't like I was bringing home six figures at my current job, so the astronomical price of three kids in day care quickly trumped the small benefit my salary would give us if I continued to work. Also, deep down, what mom doesn't want to stay home and raise her kids? Don't get me wrong, it's not for everyone, but I think every mom wants to be there for every moment of their children's lives to help teach and guide them along the way. They change, learn, and grow SO much those first few years, and I did want to be as much a part of that growing and learning as I possibly could.
So the decision was made, I would stay home with the trips. When people found out I would stay at home, most were supportive and gave me words of encouragement. Well, encouragement may be a slight euphemism for statements such as, "Well, better you than me", or "Good luck with that." Thanks guys, way to lift my spirits. But seriously, most people assumed I would stay home so it wasn't a big deal. I still had a nagging pang of guilt in my side about it though (or was that Sam kicking me for the 47th time?) and I carried that with me all through the pregnancy. Once the babies were born, it was a whirlwind for the next few months. They were in the NICU for a month and my husband continued to work during that time so he could use his days off for when the babies came home. Once they came home, the first couple months were just a blur of feedings, diapers, and laundry that my husband and I tackled together with lots of help from friends and family. But I do distinctly remember the day when he finally went back to work full-time and my new "job" began.
At first, I still felt really guilty. My husband had to go to work and then come home and essentially "work" all night as we took care of three babies who still didn't sleep through the night. I, on the other hand, got to stay home in my pajamas all day and play with the babies. But, as time wore on, I really began to see that this staying home business was just as much of a job as I had ever had. I did tend to wear my pajamas most of the day, but it really wasn't worth changing them when I woke up because chances were that someone would spit up on me within the first hour and there would go my outfit. I told myself I was practicing laundry conservation at its finest. When you do a couple of loads of laundry a day, you'll make sure something is good and dirty before you throw it in the hamper. I became the master of the sniff test to make sure something was truly dirty before giving it up to the washing machine. I also learned that being a stay at home mom is never ending. There is never the 15 minute break or lunch break that you get at the 9 to 5 job. There is never the occasional afternoon without meetings where you get a chance to catch up on email or chat with your co-workers. My co-workers now consisted of three helpless little beings who expected me to solve all their problems even though I had no idea what they wanted. My time to breathe was during the afternoon nap and most of that time I just spent catching up on the day's chores anyway. Not much of a break. What I'm saying is that the transition was HARD and very difficult to get used to. I remember craving adult human interaction to break up the baby-ness of my days. I think it was hard at the beginning because I could not get out with my babies for the longest time. They were preemies born during flu season and it's just plain hard to try and take three babies out of the house on your own. Thank goodness for family that helped me through those times and made me get out with the kids as much as we possibly could.
Fast forward 2 years and one more baby later and I am still a stay at home mom who is happy to say she is still sane. I can truly say that my job is the most difficult one that I have ever had. I know other stay at home moms can attest to this. We never get a day off, there are no sick days, and sometimes the week days seem to blend seamlessly into the weekends because we work 7 days a week people! I clean up vomit, make meals, and pick up countless amounts of toys all with the theme from the Wiggles Show endlessly playing in my head. After 2 years, things are manageable because I am a schedule Nazi and I have made my kids adhere to one. At this point in my life my only marketable skills are my ability to referee fights between 2 year olds who don't understand sharing and being able to change 4 diapers in 2.17 minutes. I am hoping that if I go back to work once my kids are in school that my potential employers will look over the slight (ahem) "gap" in my resume. This is actually my biggest fear of choosing to stay home; that I will have a fairly impossible time trying to break back into the workforce if and when I decide to return to work.
Please understand I am not trying to come across as a complainer, I just want to explain myself and what I do. It's hard to explain to anyone who has never done it. If there are any Friends worshipers out there, it's kind of like having Chandler's job. If you remember, not one of his friends is ever able to identify exactly what he does for a living. In fact, when asked to name his job during The Game (Season 4, The One With The Embryos - I'm a dork, I know), Rachel, clearly flustered, blurts out that Chandler is a "Transponster!" To which Monica replies, "That's not even a word!" That's what I am folks, a Transponster. You kind of have a general idea about what I do, but when it comes down to it ... You. Have. No. Idea. Staying home is not for the faint of heart, so choose carefully. Some people are not made to do it while others seem to flourish in the role. I think I'm somewhere in between and I'm still trying to figure it out. But, in the end, my hope is that my kids will remember me being with them while they were growing up. That I was the one to kiss every boo boo and receive every hug. That I was always there for them when they called for me. That I loved them so much that I stuck with them through everything that happened in their little lives. And I know that one day I will look back on this decision I made to stay home and I will KNOW that it's the best decision I've ever made.