Aurelia asked if I really consider needing daycare a defeat. Yes and no. I have no problem with daycare – I think socialization for babies and out-of-home lives for parents are good things. Thing is, we don’t have that much money, and trading off care was a way to preserve the 50% of my pre-tax income it will cost to put the Baby Man in daycare a measly 2 days a week to pay for food, heat, electricity, water, the occasional burrito. [I am in the process of improving the anonymity of my blog so everyone will be getting pseudonyms except for Natan. I already have one. Somebody found this blog by searching a way that I didn’t like, hence the need to change things.]
So it seemed to make sense if JJ and I could trade off days—that’s been the plan since before we got pregnant the first time, to do that for the duration of our studenthood.
Natan’s death took a lot of things away, beyond the big obvious one, getting to know him and share a long life as his parents.
His death extended the time it took to get our degrees. It meant that my next pregnancy was a high risk one. Neither of us finished and got on the market as soon as we’d planned, or are as well prepared as we’d planned. We’re spending an extra year making very little money.
Forget the extra year. Despite that, I thought I’d be fine working on my dissertation after a baby (any baby!) came. Because I have always been able to work well while busy. I used to handle pressure well. Actually, the busier I was, the better I worked – I could focus intently during whatever hours I had.
Of course a dissertation is hard. But since Natan died I have a new trait. The stare at the wall trait. I need more time for the random and unexpected bouts of sadness and grief that occur. I need time to process what has happened to me over the past 18 months. I can’t do it while with Baby Man, obviously.
My current schedule does not allow me time to do much for myself, or if it does, it always means I’m shortchanging something. I am always behind, always rushed, always forgetting something. If I take a moment to do anything not related to work or caring for Baby Man, I always know I should be doing something else. Among many other things, I want some time to sort through my feelings, to talk to friends, to be there for so many of you who were there for me.
I just can’t push myself as hard anymore. Or perhaps the problem is what I’m pushing against has gotten much more difficult. I’ve found my own personal solid wall and smacked into it, hard.
I just can’t do it without more help.
One good thing, though, that Natan’s death taught me was how to ask for and accept help. Help this time might cost us almost $800/month (for 2 days a week—wow this town is expensive!) but I really, really need it.
There is cheaper care available, but I will not hire a babysitter. I want a licensed provider I have vetted well, and a stimulating environment for him. I toured two places with part-time openings for infants (the only places not ridiculously far away). After the first I thought, “Well, this will be ok,” but knew it was going to take time to assuage the guilt. The second, I actually felt like I would feel happy about leaving him there. I knew he would be well cared for as well as happy and might learn something. It would cost $1600 more for the year than the other place, but it’s not Baby Man’s fault I’m overwhelmed. I’m still waiting for JJ and my mom (who is visiting this weekend) to see if they feel the same.
I can’t make him compromise.