By Guest Blogger April Prioleau
I spent my entire pregnancy working from home during the pandemic. I remember it like it was yesterday. This was the first time that I was able to be home with my girls. I was kind of a stay-at-home mom, but I wasn’t. I worked full time, yet I was able to spend more time with my children than ever before. It was a breath of fresh air for us to have this abundance of time together. I made the meals, I helped with schoolwork, I was tech support, I solved math problems, I cleaned, I did laundry, all while working, all while pregnant. Maybe it was not the easiest, but it was rewarding. I bonded with my children and husband. We stayed home and we spent time together as a family.
I was excited, a little nervous and anxious to meet this sweet little boy. We knew that he would be our last child and he was also our first boy. He joined three older sisters who also adored him before they ever laid eyes on him. We could not stop talking about him. Every evening, we discussed what he would look like, who he would act like, what his likes/dislikes would be. The anticipation was almost unbearable. I just wanted to hold him, to kiss him, to love him. When he was born, I was an emotional mess. How could God bless our family with such a perfect gift? He was 8 pounds 5 ounces of pure joy. I remember leaving the hospital and crying on the way home. I just had these intense feelings of gratitude and happiness that our family was complete. I did not want this feeling to go away.
The first couple of months with a newborn were great. My husband and I joked that we have twins, so we can take care of one baby with our hands tied behind our back. We were always the type of parents that said we would not hold the baby while the baby slept, but we did anyway. We held the baby all the time. We just stared at him, sang to him, and kissed his delicate skin. We agreed that he would be spoiled because why not? He is the last baby and we wanted to enjoy this moment forever. Everything seemed perfect and we were getting into a good routine as a family of 6. But everything wasn’t perfect, life is never perfect.
I was struggling with the thoughts of transitioning back to work after just having our last child. I love my job; I love what I do and I absolutely love the company that I work for and my team. I was just sad that I would have to leave my baby. I had more questions than answers. Where would my son go to daycare? Would he go to a regular daycare? Should we look for an in-home daycare? What would Covid protocols be like? Would my baby be safe? There were so many things to consider during the pandemic that we normally would not even worry about. When we finally found a daycare that seemed to be a good fit, I was not allowed to go inside. Imagine sending your newborn baby to a brand new and very much unfamiliar place that you can’t tour. I had so many mixed emotions. I knew that going back to work was necessary, but it just felt different this time. Maybe it was different because he is my last baby, or because of the pandemic. Either way, my thoughts had me in a bit of a rut. I had so much to be grateful for, but I just felt overwhelmed with guilt that I had to send my son to daycare and that he would not be with me.
Returning to work during a pandemic has been one of the most challenging things that I have ever had to do. I did not realize the emotional, mental, and physical toll that this would have on me. I miss being available for my kids and home with my baby boy. Twelve weeks is not enough time. It is a very delicate balancing act to do so many things and to do them well. We really must be patient with ourselves. I have taken this journey one day at a time. As I mentioned before, life is never perfect, and I knew that I must change my perspective. I am learning that my baby is okay in daycare, he is probably having fun and making friends. He has wonderful teachers who love him and play with him. My job is a blessing. They do not expect me to be an emotionally detached robot. It is okay to express how you feel and work through those emotions. My girls are thriving and doing well with in person learning at their school. We are all navigating this pandemic and, in many ways, facing unexpected challenges. Our feelings are valid and should not be taken lightly. This experience has made me just a little stronger, slightly more resilient, and eager to be the best parent that I can be.
*Photographer credit: Meg Whaley Stamler with “Memories By Meg Photography”
Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to Triad Moms on Main’s free weekly newsletters here.