Working Moms

Can I go back to work after having a baby with CHD? This is a common topic among heart moms. The answer is going to be different for every family, but it seems the vast majority of moms choose to stay home (or feel like that is the only option they have). With good reason though, right? After your child has gone through open-heart surgery it’s hard to imagine anyone else being able to give them the care they need. But, I want to consider the other side of the coin here. Going back to work might not be as out of reach as you think.

As a quick note, I have a crazy high amount of respect for stay at home moms. You work hard, love big, and receive very little thanks. God seriously has an extra jewel for your crown in heaven. This post is not intended to put down the choice to stay at home in any way. But, for you moms who have a desire to go back to work or need to go back to support your family, this post is for you. You may be feeling completely overwhelmed or like you’re a “bad mom” for going back to work and that’s simply not true.

Grace over Guilt

Let’s extend ourselves, and fellow heart mommas, all a little grace here. We all love our kids and want the absolute best for them. That’s still true whether we stay at home, work from home, or go back to work outside the home. For my working mom friends, I think it’s easy to feel guilty when you see so many other heart moms staying home with their babies. I want to offer you another perspective. You are not a bad mom for wanting (or needing)  to go back to work. 

I actually feel like working makes me a better mom. When I have a few hours away from the kids on a consistent basis I come back home with more patience for them. Plus, I put in a lot of time and energy (and money!) to have a job that I love. I spent 4 years in college and 4 years in graduate school working towards being an Audiologist. At the time Calvin was born I would have been doing my family (and my school loans) a disservice if I didn’t go back to work. It was a hard choice. A big part of me wanted to stay home, but in the end it just didn’t make sense for our family. As a side note, Calvin ended up LOVING school. He learns so much everyday and really enjoys being with his classmates. He gets to experience to many fun things at school!

My son with CHD enjoying school after I went back to work.
Calvin enjoying school-wide water day this summer!

Finding Childcare

This is the big hurdle, right? If you need to go back to work you also need a very special person to care for your baby. This person doesn’t have to be special in their current skills necessarily, but simply loving, attentive, and willing to learn. I knew nothing about caring for a child with CHD when my son was born, but I learned! It’s the same with any caretaker. Find someone you can trust and train them. Ask your cardiologist what kind of childcare situation your baby is cleared to participate in.

At home while interstage before going back to work.
Enjoying some bright sunshine together while interstage.

For the first 4 months of my son’s life he had a shunt and was somewhat fragile. We were told to keep him away from crowds and take extra precautions to keep him from getting sick. Our doctor recommended that if I needed to go back to work then an in-home nanny would be best. He ended up having so many scares with fluctuating oxygen levels that I did not feel comfortable training someone else to take care of him at that time.

Once he had his Glenn surgery he was much more stable. About 8 weeks after his Glenn our cardiologist cleared him to go to a regular daycare. Eeek! I was so nervous! But, we found a wonderful daycare near my office that actually had a nurse on staff. I think the first few days were actually harder on me than they were on him. He did so well!

Going Back to Work

There are so many emotions around going back to work after having a baby with CHD. There’s no ultimate right answer or wrong choice. There’s just what is best for your family as a whole. Sometimes there may be seasons where you just have to stay home when you have a medically fragile child. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to go back to work, it may just a be a season.

If you are struggling with feel guilty going back to work, remember this: no one else can meet a need in this world like you can. Your exact life experiences, gifts, and  talents are unique to you alone. God has a plan to use you and your unique gifting to achieve His will whether you work at home or in the office. Having a baby with CHD has probably changed your whole perspective on life. It certainly did for me. You now have the opportunity to go out in the world and love others and meet their needs like no one else can. Go get ‘em.

Be on the lookout next week for my blog all about sending your child with CHD to Daycare.

Also read: “Does my Child with CHD Qualify for Make-a-Wish?”