Stay at Work, or Stay at Home?

Before I went to college and found my happy place with a career in veterinary medicine, I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I didn’t tell many people that because I felt like it was expected of me to go to college and get a job. And, some view stay at home moms as lazy–which they totally are not! Far from it actually. Someone told me I was lazy for wanting to stay home and raise kids. That really stuck with me. It made me keep that desire to myself because I thought everyone would judge me for it.

Dyllan knew that’s what I wanted and was more than supportive, but he was supportive of whatever direction I decided: career mom, or a mom with a career outside the home.

Well, long story short, we adopted a dog from the shelter that ended up being heart worm positive. During her treatment I became interested in the field and started school to become a veterinary assistant. Finished that and went to school again to become a technician because I wanted to do more than an assistant could. It was the best decision I could have made.

I excelled in school. I graduated with an A in every single course and got an A on all my tests. It made me feel so accomplished and I loved it. I truly enjoyed school and the more I went, the more I realized I had natural skill. And the more I fell in love with it.

I found an externship at a clinic and that turned into a job which turned into something that I LOVED. The more I worked, the more I felt torn. My strong desire to have kids and stay home to raise them and my newly found love: my job that I was good at, that made me feel good about myself.

I would have moments where I questioned myself. Should I work longer to “get my fix” before staying home to have kids or just keep trying to have kids as we already were with fertility treatments? We were already struggling and if I put it off more, it could take years, so we kept trying.

I ended up getting pregnant naturally and then came the decision I had to make. Quit my job and stay home like I had always wanted, or be a working mom. What I was not prepared for was the internal struggle I faced every day I was pregnant. Quit or not… I didn’t think the decision would be as hard as it was.

One day I’d made up my mind; I don’t want to come back, my baby needs me yada yada, I had a million reasons and felt confident in my decision. But then an emergency would come in, or that one patient comes in and makes you remember why you love being a tech and makes you question your decision and you go back to square one.

I wrestled with this literally from the moment I found out I was pregnant until God made the decision for me–which I’ll get to in a minute. To this day I wonder if the decision would have been that hard if it had been any other job. It couldn’t have been because I loved it there and I loved being a tech so much. It was more than “just a job” it was home away from home. I didn’t want to leave.

Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. True story.

Then I would think about someone else watching my baby and not knowing what was going on when he wasn’t with me, the things I would miss out on, if my parenting decisions would be followed by a baby sitter, and how I hated day care and didn’t want my son to hate it too… the list goes on. Here we go again, split decision.

I remember crying several times over the fact that I had to make a choice and I had a time frame to do so. It put so much pressure on me when I seriously had no idea what to do.

One day, it was a Saturday, at work, Dyllan came to pick me up and drop off our dogs for the weekend to go on a short trip before baby came.  We were done for the day and I went to the back to say bye to my dogs one more time. That’s when I saw Montana, a big black lab who was boarding with us and he was far from ok. I said his name and nothing happened. His face had that “far away look” then I noticed his belly was huge. He had GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)  which is a life-threatening emergency and he needed us right then. We all start to get things ready to stabilize him and we’re all working together to help him. I’m 18 weeks pregnant holding his snout shut around the tube that’s down his throat with his stomach contents coming up into the dog bowl I’m holding in my other hand thinking, “There’s no way I can leave this.” Odd time to think that, right?

Well if I hadn’t walked back to say bye to my dogs and we all left for the day, Montana could have died back there in his kennel by himself. Right there in that moment, holding that bowl full of nasty stomach contents, I chose to stay at work. I loved what I did way too much to leave and I kept that decision for a while.

Then a few weeks would go by and I would change my mind, until another Montana situation would happen where my tech-ing would just kick in and adrenaline get going making me go back to “nope, can’t leave.”

Can’t leave. Can’t leave. Can’t leave.

In an appointment, a Rottweiler kicked me right in the stomach at 28 weeks pregnant and I started having contractions. I stayed in the hospital over-night just to be monitored  and even then I didn’t want to leave. All the doctors and nurses got a kick out of the story (see what I did there?) I told it only about 50 times at the hospital…”it’s just a part of the job,” I would say. Because it was! I’d gotten hit, scratched, bit all over, including the face twice. Oh, the list could go on for days, you get beat up being a tech, but it was still fun to me.

Eventually I started to kind of resent my pregnancy because I was forced to make such a hard decision. Maybe that’s where some of my post partum depression comes from and my struggle to bond while I was pregnant. Then to make matters worse, I felt like the world’s shittiest mom for struggling with the decision at all! I’m blessed with the fact that I didn’t have to work to make ends meet so truly the choice was all on me. So if it wasn’t a matter of finances and paying the bills, then choosing my son over work would be an easy choice. But it so wasn’t. And I felt awful for thinking maybe I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant so soon when in reality we’d been trying for a long, long time and our prayers had finally been answered.

Now I’m not shaming any mom who works outside the home because we all have different needs and wants and opinions about the subject so please don’t think that I think working moms are selfish or stay at home moms are lazy because I do not think that at all. Being a mom is hard whether you work or not. But for me, I wanted to stay home with my kids and be barefoot and pregnant… before I fell in love with my job.

Dyllan kept telling me he supported whatever I decided but man was I struggling. I started praying for God to just give me a sign, tell me what the right decision is, You know my heart even better than I do to know what’s best for me.

The internal battle went on for weeks until one day when life got a little crazy.

Dyllan got orders for us to move to Texas. Being a prison guard, he has to be stationed somewhere with a military prison unless it’s a special spot. We anticipated staying in Kansas for a long time so this was a total shock. His report date was November 10 and I was due November 16. I started panicking about delivery, and moving, but honestly, you can even ask Dyllan this, I cried more over having to quit my job than I did about moving in general.

So my decision was made for me. And let me tell you, I was not happy about it for a long time, but looking back on it now, I’m glad God moved us because I couldn’t make the decision on my own. Once there was a decision (a reluctant one) I could start to process it and work towards coping with the change that was about to happen. So. Much. Change. New baby. No longer working. Staying home. Moving across the country with a new born…

We were able to push back his report date long enough for me to deliver in Kansas since my due date was so close to the report date. Up until I was just a couple days shy of 38 weeks pregnant I worked. It did get harder to move around and I was more and more uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to leave because I knew it was more than just a maternity leave… I would never come back. That was incredibly hard for me to accept.

Then I had to start training the girl who was going to replace me. It added another sense of realism to the situation that I had to deal with. It’s odd working with the person who is going to “be you” in a sense. Especially when you don’t want them to because you don’t want to leave…

It was getting hard to move around the bigger I got. The physical demand of the job was getting harder and I had to take care of myself for Malachai’s sake so I made the decision that Halloween would be my last day, I was almost 38 weeks pregnant at that point. I had a definitive end point and it hit me like a ton of bricks. When I was super tired and it was slow at work, or my boss said it was okay to head home, I really didn’t want to because my days were numbered. I wanted to soak up every last minute, every last blood draw, surgery, IV catheter…

We had an emergency, another GDV on a poodle this time. I was super pregnant but I waddled around getting things but I ended up sitting on the floor in front of the dog prepping her for things and I got handed an 18 gauge IV catheter to put in her leg. That’s huge, and I’d never done one that big so I was nervous, especially because it was an emergency situation and we needed IV access as soon as possible. I’d put in catheters in emergency situations before, but not one that big. No time to panic or doubt myself, I just had to do it. So I asked God to help me hit the vein and I got it no problem. Then a few minutes later I was told to put another 18 in on the other leg. Again, I got it no problem. I was so proud of myself, it seems like a silly thing to be proud of, but I was. Then to get praise from your co-workers about putting them in made me feel good too.

When everything calmed down when she was stabilized and being transported, I was sad. I wouldn’t get to do this anymore. This thing that I am so good at that I loved so much, I wouldn’t get to do anymore. You couldn’t find those co-workers and boss anywhere either, they were all great and we had fun together. They even threw me a surprise baby-shower. To this day I am so grateful for that, I felt so loved, it just made it harder to leave because I knew what I would be missing out on.

As soon as we got the orders to Texas it wasn’t even a thought to try to find a job there, nothing would be the same and looking back at it now, we moved here so I could be the mom that I wanted to be.

God knew my heart, so he moved us to Texas so I could be a mom.

I wrote everyone at work a letter before I left and my last day… when I got in my car to go home, I bawled. I ugly bawled the whole way home. Snot, puffy eyes, broken blood vessels, crocodile tears, the whole nine.

I have days where I miss it so much. I think about it a lot too, but I’m thankful for my time as a tech because I had a blast and it helped me get through the time Dyllan was in Afghanistan. It was a distraction from the worry.

I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be if I was working. And now that Malachai is here, I’m glad I am home with him because I don’t miss anything. There will always be jobs, but he will not be little forever and he won’t always need me the way he does now.

I also am struggling with post-partum depression and anxiety. I am afraid to leave him anywhere, even with Dyllan sometimes. I couldn’t imagine leaving him.

Sometimes God does things we don’t understand at times that seem extremely inconvenient to us at the time, but it ends up being what we need in the bigger picture of life.

Thank you Dyllan, for supporting my career as a tech, and helping me transition into this new career of mother hood. But I’ll never forget, garlic garlic garlic. 😉

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