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Before I got pregnant I fully intended to work through my pregnancy, take a short maternity leave then head back to work. I enjoyed my job and they gave flexibility to my coworkers who were working mums. It was a seemingly ideal situation. We had also recently become owners of a great home with a mortgage that absolutely required both of our incomes so our fate was sealed. I’m sure you can guess what comes next.
At my first doctor’s appointment my lab work came back with levels so high they decided to do an ultrasound to “make sure there’s just one in there.” (Insert nervous laughter here). That first ultrasound showed that we were expecting twins. We were thrilled with the news and went right along planning as we had been with a way-too-early stop at the store for a set of matching newborn outfits.
A few weeks later I began having complications and was rushed in for another ultrasound. I remember driving to that appointment promising I would do anything under the sun if these babies could just please be okay. My fear for their lives soon turned to fear over everything the future had in store for us when the doctor told us that those twins were actually triplets (insert maniacal nervous laughter and husband being fanned by ultrasound tech). The rest of my pregnancy continued on as rocky as it began. My job allowed me to work from home and then from my hospital bed. In the meantime, my husband and I began crunching the numbers and discovered that daycare times three for infants might cost my entire salary. Our life as we knew it was changing drastically in more ways than just bringing home three babies.
Fast forward a few weeks and we were the scared new parents to very premature, very medically fragile children and our decision was made for us. There was no way I could return to work while our babies were in the NICU. They may have special needs for months or years to come and one of us needed to be home to manage their medical requirements. Before I knew it I was signing for oxygen tank deliveries at home and carting babies to cardiologists. We were going to be a one income family whether we had planned for it or not.
In the blur of a high-risk pregnancy and caring for babies who were fighting for their lives, thoughts of maintaining a big house and an upper middle class lifestyle became nonexistent. We were living on a day-to-day basis and in many ways we continued that way for years after. We sold our home, rented a home for quite some time and moved twice after that, still adjusting to the income changes we had to make.
I further sealed our barely-breaking-even lifestyle by homeschooling our daughter when her medical and educational needs couldn’t seem to fit together. There are days when pinching pennies gets exhausting and I really just want to buy those shoes that will never ever go on sale. Despite the lack of holidays and spending money, I’ve never regretted our decision to become a one income household. Sure we’ll be broke until the day I can work again but we did what we needed to do at the time to meet the needs of our family.
I don’t think any one decision is better than the other– being a working mum or a stay at home mum. What I do think is that we all need to do what works for us. Make a decision and make it work for us and our families and not cast judgement on each other for whatever we’ve chose. It’s definitely not easy to juggle this mum thing, some of us go to work everyday, some of us stay home, some of us are broke no matter which choice we make. The best we can do is make peace with our own path and help our fellow mummas as they drive that food-crusted minivan down theirs.
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