The birth of a child may be the most life-altering experience available to humankind.
Somehow, you grew this tiny seedling into a functioning, living, breathing, crying, totally independent – yet totally dependent – being. You have been the source of life to this child for 9 months. Now you have 6 weeks until you have to hand this baby over to someone else. WHAT?!?
That’s the first thought I had after the birth of my first child. How in the world was I going to give him to someone else to “take care of” while I went and worked on cows and horses? Who in the world was better qualified than me to provide love and nourishment and care to this helpless creature? He was MY responsibility, not someone getting paid minimum wage to group care for him like a farm animal.
I know that seems irrational, but that’s how I felt. I didn’t want someone else to see his first smile, the moment he discovered his toes or the first time he rolled over. I didn’t want someone else being his primary caregiver. I wanted to be the source of his brain development, his cognitive reasoning skills, and the security only a loving parent can provide.
But I was stuck. I had huge student loans to pay back. I had a boss and an entire clientele waiting for me to come back to work. I had always assumed that I would simply put him in daycare, like everyone else did, and continue on with life as before.
I absolutely could not do it. Like anyone who has a passion for a cause – recycling, being a vegetarian, not wearing fur, saving the whales, or a plethora of other “causes” – I simply could not allow someone else to raise my child.
My dear, understanding boss, Dr. Knight, was afraid I wasn’t coming back. As I have mentioned, he had daughters. He watched them give up their careers to raise their own babies, and he knew what I was feeling. However, I could not stop working. Did I mention student loans? Debt is a huge part of why veterinary graduates are not happy in their careers. The income-to-debt ratio is insanely wrong. Veterinary School is outrageously expensive and new grads make very little compared to the education they have received and paid for.
There’s also the problem of sleep depravation. New moms are full of stress and worry over everything. Is the baby ok? Is it eating enough? Sleeping enough? Sleeping too much? Are the diapers good? And breastfeeding is an entirely separate issue. There are so many things for a new mom to unpack. 6 weeks is not even close to enough time to process and recover.
Now – what to do…
Well, I found someone to keep him for me 3 days a week – my youth pastor’s wife whom I trusted and was home with her own 5-month-old. Once I went back full time, a few months later, I found a stay-at-home mom who had older children. I still was not happy. I hated dropping him off in the mornings. I was miserable until I picked him up in the evenings. I would make excuses to simply bring him with me instead of taking him to the sitter.
I definitely wasn’t adjusting and didn’t plan on doing so.
I sat with my husband to figure out what could be done. Well, if I opened my own practice, I could have him with me all day, every day. My “office” would be his nursery and playroom.
We lived very rurally, and there were no other vet clinics nearby. We had 10 acres of land, so we portioned out 1 acre and started on plans to build a small, mixed animal clinic. It was completed, and we opened the week before Sept 11, 2001…
Welcome to small business ownership.