Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm a Stay At Home Mom, but Not By Choice

Recently, one of my friends finally got to become a stay-at-home-mom. She'd had an in-home day care for years. She'd basically worked since she was 12 years old. Now she doesn't know what to do with herself. Granted, she is also preparing to move, so things aren't so calm yet. But I imagine a few weeks from now, she'll find herself not knowing what to do. That feeling won't last though. I know. At least her and her husband are in a place financially for her to do this. Not many of us are.

There are so many of us out there who are forced into stay-at-home-mom-hood  Some of us are forced because they had a premature baby. That was my reason. When you have a very premature baby, like Princess was, born before 37 weeks, you are pretty much told that you can't put your child into day care for their first two years of life. Why? Germs! If your child is in day care, they are exposed to every bug known to man! If a preemie gets sick, sometimes even a simple cold can send them back to the hospital. It all depends upon their immune system and what other complications they have.

And then, let's talk cold and flu season. To most of the general population out there, it means getting your flu shot and suffering through at least one or two colds. To a preemie parent, it means one thing RSV. It is talked about on every preemie page, board, and book out there! You definitely don't want your preemie to catch it! They WILL end up in the hospital, on a ventilator, in PICU. At least, that's the big bad scary picture everyone paints. Granted, yes, it does happen. And no parent wants to go through that. So most preemie parents (or other kids with immune system issues or heart defects) will go into quarantine/hiding for the 4 to 6 months that is "RSV season." Some preemies are lucky enough to get the Synagis series. Princess was. But believe me, it's NOT FUN! Every 28 to 29 days we were in the doc's office and she was getting another shot. It delayed ALL our vaccines because we were told we could ONLY do it by itself. Literally, we were in the pediatricians office the day before her birthday doing a Synagis and were back the next week doing her 1yr shots! So yeah, you want to work during RSV season? You want to come and visit during RSV season? Sure. Here's a change of clothes, leave your shoes outside, and go scrub and sanitize. THEN you have to sit ACROSS THE ROOM from my baby! Better yet...Skype or FaceTime us!

And speaking of complications, if you have a medically complex child, as preemies usually are in the first two years of life, you spend your time shuttling your little one back and forth to various doctors, specialists, therapists, and other people who are there to help your child. When are you supposed to have the time to work? And if the preemie isn't your only child, you can just add on the appointments and sports practices and lessons and everything else that the kids get into. You might as well just call yourself a glorified taxi driver!

And being preemies are likely to be readmitted, usually within the first few weeks of being discharged from the NICU, you can probably just forget about work. When your child goes BACK into the hospital, you pretty much have to live there too! Get used to hospital food and sleeping on crummy chairs or couches and being woken up every few hours too!

So how are you supposed to work when you are more terrified about germs than Howie Mandel?

The simple answer is...you don't!

So may of us who are forced into stay-at-home-mom-hood worry about the finances too. We weren't stay-at-home-moms before our child put us in this situation. Our plans were to take our 6 to 8 weeks of maternity leave, put the little one in day care and go back to work. Well, those plans changed.

And if by chance you have found someone who is willing to scrub like a surgeon upon entering your home and they will care for you child, more power to you! Then maybe you can go to work. Or maybe if you are a stay-at-home-mom, you can go take a shower or go to the grocery store!

I am a stay-at-home-Mom. But it's not my choice that I am one. I'm also a single mom, so you can imagine how this works financially. We are very fortunate that we are able to live my mom. Otherwise living on a $670 a month budget plus food stamps is virtually impossible. I thought I was going to have to go back to work this spring. Princess is now 2 and has been cleared to go into day care. Yes, I will be looking for an in-home day care setting so she's not as exposed to germs. But, as it turns out, when I met with my Welfare-to-Work counselor, of course my only barrier to work is Princess. We still have multiple appointments and some of them are out of the area, which essentially means even if I had a job, I couldn't work that day, except for maybe evenings and weekends. So they suggested I get another caretaker exemption. (I've been on one for the past year and a half.) So now I am again a stay-at-home-mom. I SO want to go out and work again. Maybe some day.

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