I’ve been home with Henry for a year now… accidentally.
What? How? Why?
Allow me to explain.
I was lucky enough to have had a lengthy California maternity leave. One day I was working a normal day at my job (July 3), and then the next, my son was born at 5:19am. It jumpstarted my maternity leave a whole week and a half. (I was pretty much game to work up until I gave birth… mainly to make the most of my leave rather than sitting on my couch counting down the days to giving birth.)
Anyway, July 4 my leave began and those glorious 16 weeks the state of CA gave me carried me to early November. From there, I decided to use some personal time I had saved up to get a couple more weeks out of it.
Some highlights of my maternity leave with Henry include: Baby & Me yoga classes, 4th Trimester Group at Play Lab, lunch and coffee dates with my mom friends, walks around our neighborhood and to Whole Foods, outings at The Americana, and park hangouts.
This was all-in-all what I call ^ Phase 1: Home With Henry (Length: 4.5 months).
I remember returning to work on a Tuesday and Henry starting daycare with a woman named “Auntie Lulu.” I felt weird about it. I felt he was too young to be watched three days a week by someone I barely knew (and truthfully, didn’t really feel fond of as the weeks went on). Luckily, our California relatives wanted to watch H on Thursdays, so that gave me some much needed comfort and relief. And, I somehow worked out a schedule to work remotely Fridays so I could be with him more (little did I know how tricky working-from-home with a baby truly was). Selfishly, I just wanted more time with him alone. Even though 4.5 months home was tons and I felt lucky to have the kind of bonding time many moms would do anything for, it still somehow wasn’t long enough (for me).
When I returned to work just days before Thanksgiving (talk about a nice short week to return to full-time work!), I was already making moves with my new job search. We knew we wanted to move back to MA, so toward the end of my leave, we were both looking for new opportunities back east. You can imagine how surprised I was when my current company reached back out to me not long after my job application was submitted. I can’t tell you how many jobs I applied to… maybe 15-20? No one was taking me seriously living so far away. Until this job. They really seemed to want me. And things were moving fast.
About two weeks after I was getting back into the swing of things (at a company I had worked at for over 5 years), I had to take a deep breath, walk in and tell my boss I was leaving for a new job across the country.
Two weeks later, I said my goodbyes to so many dear colleagues and friends, packed up my desk and found myself home again with my now 5.5 month old. We were together again! I was elated. I missed my buddy.
I took him out of daycare and we enjoyed the next month-and-a-half together in our small apartment (well, as much as you can when you’re preparing a cross-country move in record time). The next month was spent enjoying the holidays (kind of… it was a stressful time), selling some belongings on OfferUp and Craigslist, weaning off of breast pumping (which honestly was one of the hardest times of my life. If you were/are an exclusive pumper, you get it), and preparing for our biggest move yet.
I call this ^ Phase 2: Home With Henry (Length: 1.5 months).
On January 9, we flew from Burbank to Boston. We reserved a whole row for the three of us. Best decision ever. Even though Henry was the best little guy on the 5.5 hour flight and we probably didn’t need it. I was amazed. Relieved.
For the next couple of weeks, we’d have to get our lives in order and settle into a much bigger apartment. All the things that come with moving your life over, we did. It was overwhelming at times but it meant more time at home with Henry. I wanted that more than anything.
I call this ^ Phase 3: Home With Henry (Length: 3 weeks).
On January 27, I began my new full-time job. I felt more ready this time, hugely because Henry’s daycare felt way different to us this time around (community-like, amazing staff, close to home) and half of his week would be spent with his grandparents. So ideal for us.
Then, COVID happened and by mid-March, I found myself working from home like so many others. Juggling playtime and Zoom calls. Crafts and social media posts. Backyard time and team meetings. Our families helped watch him too which allowed me to focus on work—but I missed him a lot. Fast forward four months, and there I was… still home with my now one-year-old… by accident. A blessing. The silver lining.
It’s been the most change all at once. Yet so much stillness in just one place, our home.
I call this ^ Phase 4: Home With Henry (Length: 4 months… so far).
I never thought for my son’s first year on this earth I’d have the opportunity to be around him so much. It was going to be him at daycare and me at work, but this last year has really surprised me in so many ways. It’s wild to think that I got what I wanted — due to the oddest of circumstances, life changes, and life decisions. Our bond is so deep and I really do feel it’s because I’ve had the privilege of being around him so much. I’m forever thankful for this time together.
So that’s how it all happened. That’s how I’ve been accidentally home for almost a full year with my son Henry.
(Ask me if I would have ever believed that this would have happened to me, and I would have said “NO WAY, NEVER!”)
P.S. The feature photo for this blog post was from August 2019. Little H was just shy of a month old and still so teeeeeeny. I almost forget what that was like now that he’s 1 and just about 25 pounds!