If you're just starting to read here, you'll want to read Part One and Part Two. This is Part Three of the story of how I decided to stay home with our children; I don't know how many parts there will be- maybe four? five?. It seems to grow longer with each detail I recall... but I'm trying to give enough context to help share about our lives, so that it's not some one-dimensional "life", but the real picture of how things were for us, then.
So, now we're up to Spring 2002. We lived in Washington, D.C. We had our jobs (both great), we had our plans (me continue working), and I was about halfway into my second trimester.
Living the Big Time
I remember one day, the President of Mexico and the Governor of Texas (my boss, at that time) were invited to the White House for a consultation with President Bush about border and trade issues. My boss came in with a smile a few days prior, and said he had 5 invitations to the South lawn of the White House, and would I like to go? So, that day, I stood beside the bandstand, pregnant, grinning, on my feet the whole time. Peering over the crowds, I saw President Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Vice President Cheney, and President Vincente Fox, among others. It seemed that nothing could top this!
Each day, on my way to and from work, while sitting down on the metro ride into work (because I was showing, someone would almost always offer me their seat), I would crochet one square for the baby blanket I was making.
Doug and I would talk about anything and everything while I stared and worked at my little pastel squares. We didn't find out if it was a boy or girl (it was a boy, Ethan, to the right), so I'd chosen neutral colors. As time progressed, I could sometimes manage one square going, and one square coming back home. I had to complete something like 100 squares, I think.
Doug still gets tickled when he remembers watching me pregnant-waddle my way down the sidewalk to work. After the metro ride in, we'd walk together to a certain corner where we had to split up to get to our work places. I always thought we both just kept walking after that initial goodbye. At one point, he told me he often stopped to watch me walk... not crossing the street right away, but just watching me pregnant-waddle on down the sidewalk. He says it with such affection and adoration that I could never get frustrated about the fact that he used the word "waddle". :)
Like I said, we had made our plans. Doug was applying to grad schools; I was banking up time to take once I had the baby.
Working for the State of Texas gave me fairly good benefits... I had up to twelve weeks off, much of that with pay because I'd saved up my time off. Our plans were logical, and even the timing was good. I had responsibilities tied to the legislative sessions in both TX and DC, and linked to the calendar year (lots of end-of-the-year reporting from Nov-Dec, and year-in-review stuff at the beginning of each year as well) . So I had a heavier work load from October to May... but our baby was due in late June, so my maternity leave would come at a perfect time.
We knew that initially, Doug would be able to stay with the baby, but if he got accepted into graduate school, we'd have to find a day care or work out some kind of childcare/nanny situation.
And then, one day, while Doug & I were talking, it just came out-- suddenly-- surprising us both with the force with which I felt it. Basically:
"I can't keep working! I don't want to miss our baby's first steps... have him or her smile and do cute things at someone else all day long while I have a one-dimensional picture on my desk... have his or her cries go unanswered or artificially pacified... I don't want someone else to know my baby the way I'm meant to.
Twelve weeks off can't possibly be enough time! I'm the one who should be there... snuggling, reading to him or her, telling them "night-night", the first face they see when they wake up from a nap, able to pick them up when they cry, give them my affection, and pass on our values... I don't want to miss these things! God made mothers to be there with and for their children. I can't keep working, Doug."
And God bless him, he listened. I know some husbands don't. I know some people (men and women alike) pass these sorts of feelings off as emotional, prenatal, post-natal, hormonal, or what not. Maybe you think that of me... and that's fine, I don't care. The thing I love is that he listened.
His response to me? "Okay. We'll make that happen."
Thank God for that response, and for this man! Our whole family is the better for the way Doug listened to my heart as a woman, as a mother, and as his wife, and the way, from that moment on, he led our family into (what was then) the unknown.