Work Saved My Mental Health


“You’re a machine- everyone was like, ‘she just had a baby- why is she at work?!’ “

workThat was me. I went back to work two weeks after having my third baby. I know, I know. It was crazy. And “poor me”, right?! Like…who does that. Who goes back TWO WEEKS after having a baby?! Especially when…

it was a choice. 

Our third baby, Emery, was born in late December, and I was back at work the second week of January. Emery was born the third baby in three years to a family that was excited to have her, but a little unsure of how to manage a 2 year old, 1 year old, and newborn. And by “family” I mean “mother” and by “excited” I mean “terrified.” 

(but also excited). 

Long before she was born, I thought a lot about how to handle having a baby in the middle of a school year. I’m not a teacher (anymore), I’m a doctoral student at IUPUI. Knowing I couldn’t afford to work full-time anymore with two babies, getting pregnant with a third pushed that decision from a “maybe” to a “definitely.” I decided to go ahead and start a doctoral program because, hey. Why not just add as much chaos as possible? No, but seriously- I didn’t want to give up forward momentum in my career/needed a way to defer my student loans. I started the Fall, 2015 semester as a full-time student, part-time. The Graduate Assistant position helps me afford tuition, pays a small salary, and is a part-time. 

I work with an amazing organization focused on protecting students’ Civil Rights. My co-workers were completely accommodating to me having a baby. They gave me a massage gift card as a gift (which was awesome- they knew I didn’t need baby stuff, but could use some “me-time”), and I was even welcome to bring her to work with me.

And I did. At two weeks old, she came to work with me (no, I wasn’t worried about germs- she was my third baby, get real). My co-workers would help hold her while I went to the bathroom, soothed her while I made or heated her bottles, and I was even able to nurse in the office or in a nursing room on campus. I wasn’t at all upset about coming to work so soon after  having her.

Actually, and here’s my secret: I needed it. 

If I’m honest, during that time, my home wasn’t a peaceful place for me. I had two babies who wanted me to put down the new baby so I could hold them instead. My house was chaos, and I wasn’t coping all that well. Post-partum depression/anxiety/sleep deprivation/never being able to shower or put one/all of the babies down. It was so hard. Don’t get me wrong- my two “older” kids (we call them “The Bigs”) we were actually really amazing at being older siblings at such young ages. But it was just so chaotic to me- during those days in January, I just didn’t have an easy time coping in my own home. I really loved having somewhere quiet to go, where I could put my baby in the Boppi on my lap, and focus on something. 

And,  yeah, I would have loved to sit and nurse and binge watch a series on Netflix, but that wasn’t going to be my reality with a third baby. Everything felt so out of control, I depended on that routine. I needed my (cubicle) space to breathe, I needed the quietness, the conversation, and I need to have some work to do: I needed to feel like I had a responsibility because the ones at home were just too overwhelming. 

I’ve had awesome, supportive co-workers through every pregnancy, but in a way that just wasn’t the case with my first two, I needed my job after Emery was born. And, truthfully, I still do. Not because I need to get away from my kids, necessarily, but because I need a focus and a routine. And don’t get me wrong- paid family leave is imperative moving forward in this country. I don’t think this is right for everyone, and it was right for me because I had the right work environment and the right kind of job for it. And honestly, I think it’s what saved me. work work work

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Nickie is currently an Urban Education Studies PhD student at IUPUI. As co-owner of Indianapolis Moms Blog, she is interested in not only supporting and encouraging fellow mothers, but supporting the small businesses of Indianapolis. She also works for a Civil Rights organization, working specifically with Civil Rights in public schools. She is Mom to Charlie (3), Ivy (2), and Emery (1), and married to her baby-raising partner, Clay. She loves to travel with her littles and husband, walk the Monon, City Market, hikes, dogs, and barbecues. You'll find her with coffee in hand, likely talking to anyone who will listen.