"Return to work after baby was born or stay home? How did you make your decision?"
This is PERFECT seeing as I have three children and with one I went back to work full time and the others I stayed home/worked part time. This is a simple answer, for me at least. I made my decision by trial and error!!
With my oldest son, who is now 7, I worked a full time job before I had him and while I was pregnant with him. After much contemplation and tears (I literally cried the whole first week after I went back to work) I went back to work full time. We looked at daycare and found the one we thought was best. At 8 weeks, my new little baby went to daycare while I went back to work. It was so hard! I was a new mom, had no clue what I was doing, trying to nurse, manage hormones returning to normal (that no one warned me about by the way!!), being a wife, working, there was just so much new in such a little amount of time.
The daycare was great at first but then the baby started getting "older" and a "newer" baby came to the daycare. I started noticing my son was not getting the attention/care he once was. My employer did not hold my sons health at the top of their "lists" like I did. And obviously when he was sick, one of us parents either my hubby or myself, had to stay out with him. With me trying to nurse, I had to pump when I was away from him, which meant every 2-3 hours. Here I was at work and every 2-3 hours, like clockwork, I would have to disappear off into a back room to "take care of my motherly duty". I know they say employers have to cooperate with you about such a matter, but their attitudes did not do anything to communicate they were "cooperative".
Fast forward a few months-I quit nursing because I HATED pumping! No bonding going on with that thing-I wanted my baby! Baby was getting less and less attention and more and more sickness at daycare so I moved him to another center. This daycare was great! It was a larger center and it was faith focused, which was important to us. But then the sickness started occurring more frequently- which meant more time out of work! Employers do not like employees out all the time so it put a strain on my work life, with grumpy bosses, and on my home life with sickness and worry! (And for the record I am not putting down on my past employers at all. I know that a business is not a business if it is not making money. I would not want my employees to be out all the time if I was an employer either. My point is you can not be there for your kid like you need to be and meet the attendance requirements of full time employment too- or at least I couldn't. Remember this post is just my personal opinion. I am not saying it can not be done, I am saying, it did not for me.) Finally, we left our son in the care of nothing but family. But after a while, even family get tired of having kids all day every day! I continued working full time until I got pregnant with my second son. That is when I realized something had to change!
Pregnancy with second son was a challenge! I was sick as a dog and had a crazy work schedule, along with a 4 year old son already. I knew it was not going to get any easier with another child. After much talking and prayer, I turned in my notice at my full time job and went to a part time status. At my job they are flexible about letting me pick how much I wanted to work, so at the end of my pregnancy I did not work much at all! Once my second son was born, because I was not a full time employee, there really was not a huge "rush" for me to hurry up off of maternity leave. So I enjoyed the new baby stage with less stress.(The stress of getting used to having two kids was still there but it was not multiplied with outside circumstances!)
Now I did not have to get off work for doctors appointments because I was off- most of the time anyway. When I did have to go to work, I waited for hours that I could go in and work after my husband got off. Now the only one watching the kids (except for rare occasions) was the husband and myself. I nursed our second son for 8 months because I was actually nursing him and not pumping! I got to see all the firsts with my second son that I had missed out on with the first son.
Fast forward 2 more years- pregnant with my third son. I never went back to a full time status at work after the birth of our second son so I am still part time and working evenings/nights after the husband gets off from working first shift. Baby boy # 3 arrives. This time I have figured out how to be a mom, do not get worried over every little thing and I am truly enjoying my "baby" time. (Pretend there is a smiley face here cause I am smiling!) Baby # 3 is now at the time of this posting almost 7 months old and things are working out well. I am still nursing him and he has only been to the doctor sick once since he was born! (Praise God!!) We have had to make a LOT of sacrifices as far as things go, but I would not trade if for anything. We took a newer car we still were making payments on and sold it, $17,000 of debt gone! Now we drive a paid for used van- it is a 2002, so not completely out of date. We cut back on our non essentials, fancy cell phone plans, television subscriptions that we didn't have time to watch anyway, and our "running around". We saved hundreds of dollars every year just on car insurance premiums alone because we went from a new car to a used, paid for car. We keep track of where the money is going to go before we get it and stick to the plan. Budgeting is very important to a stay at home mom and their family!
All those years I made good money working. And with that money I bought a lot of stuff. I can not remember what I bought with that money except for one thing- an Ipod. However, everyday of my life I remember the days I missed out on with my oldest son! I can not get those days back. The Ipod I remember buying- it is already outdated and I can not even use it to download new apps. Things that are "important" today will be outdated before you know it! Kids will not! And on the side note- the husband was completely against me staying at home and said I needed a full time job with "benefits" with our first son. Now, after all the trouble we went through with son #1 and seeing the difference with son #2,and now son #3- he says we should have done it before. Our family life is so much more relaxed. The house runs smoother, I feel like doing "wife-y" and "motherly" things where before I was so tired! I even home school our boys now!
My advice to you if you are trying to figure out what to do: list your pros and cons. List your gas cost for travel, cost of your lunches, cost of the clothes you are required to wear at your job, list your expenses for daycare costs, expenses for doctor visits and medicines (because if you have a kid in daycare they will get sick! That many kids together can not help but share germs!) and any other things you can list. See how much money you are actually bring home. Then ask yourself this: Is that amount of money worth someone else getting to raise my kid and have all those "firsts" that I will miss out on? That, my friend, is only a question you can answer! But remember, later, when the kids are older and grown, you can then work on your career. If you work on your career now, the kids will not stay little and will grow up while you are preoccupied else where.
Let me know if this post helps you in any way. Are you trying to make this decision for yourself? Let me know what you decide!