I don’t know what to do with my life. Yep, I’m one of those stupid millennials that everyone loves to complain about. I grew up thinking that I could do “anything” and have realized how both true and false that really is. Since graduating from college in 2008 – F-you “great recession” – I have had various administrative type positions in several different industries. I took a detour back to school to be nurse and then remembered I was pushing 30, about to get married, and nursing school was going to take another 4 years. So I went back to the corporate world, had a baby, and then moved back in with my parents. Yep, I’m also one of those millennials. I like to think we’re in a multi-generational living situation rather than thinking I’m married, with a 9-month old, mooching off my parents for free rent while we figure our shit out.
To really understand how we got here I have to go back a bit, to 2008, when I graduated from college and my then-boyfriend now-husband and I decided to move OUT WEST. Yes, that’s some intentional caps lock right there. When you grow up in the midwest all of those west coast states are OUT WEST. Anyway, we made this decision to move to Portland, Oregon right after I graduated from college. We visited once and loved it but this was before Portlandia and the idea of “where young people go to retire” so don’t think we’re followers like that, it’s important. Anyway after a year of planning, hemming and hawing (on my part), and lots of saving, we packed up a rented SUV and drove across the country in June of 2009. The first year in Portland sucked ass. I won’t lie. I was miserable and depressed and I missed all of the people I loved. We fought, a lot. I cried, a lot. We almost broke up, a lot. The second year was a little better but we had the added strain of my husband’s mother living with us, not that she’s not a lovely person it was just hard. The third year was ok. We had begun to make friends and feel more comfortable in the city; it finally started to feel like home. The fourth, fifth and sixth years were really good. We moved into an amazing neighborhood in NW, 10 blocks from downtown, and we made more wonderful friends. We got married in the middle of the Oregon woods in 2015 and it was a perfect handmade affair. In 2016 we decided to have a baby and in February 2017 we welcomed the most amazing, beautiful, hilarious, smart, curious little boy. And then the shit hit the fan.
We thought we were prepared for the level of upheaval that would accompany our son, but we weren’t. I had 10 weeks of maternity leave after his birth and it was great. When I went back to work my husband Andre was transitioning into a new position and ended up having about 8 weeks between jobs. At first we were great. I would go to work from 6:30am-3pm and Andre would watch our son, Owen. When I got home we would all hang out together and it was wonderful. Then Andre started his new job, I got a full load at work and we started our new schedule. Andre watched Owen, alone, until 3:30pm when we would switch and I would be with him, alone, the rest of the afternoon and evening. Andre was a Sous Chef at a new restaurant so that meant 50-60 hours a week and working until 2-3am. I was a Project Manager at a software company working 45-55 hours a week. As you can imagine, getting up with a screaming infant 3-5 times in the middle of the night was torturous. We also lived in a one-bedroom apartment, because of course we did. We were so confident, before Owen was born, that we were going to be in that apartment for at least a year. We told everyone “oh yeah, it’ll be great because the AAP recommends sharing a room with your baby until at least 6 months.” And then we actually shared a room with a baby for 8 months.
It was ok in the beginning, actually to be fair, it was good in the beginning. We only stayed in the hospital for 24 hours after his birth so our first night at home was with a 27 hour old newborn and it was terrifying. We took turns holding our tiny sleeping baby the whole night. The second night we put him in his crib but I slept on the floor next to him and jolted awake every 20 minutes to make sure he was breathing. The third night we bought a rock and play bassinet and I pulled it as close to my side of the bed as possible and then still woke up every 20 minutes to check on him. He slept in the rock and play until he was 4 weeks old and I read an article about how it can cause plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) and was panicked that he would have to wear a helmet. So we moved him to the crib where he slept happily and safely, waking every 2-3 hours, for the next 7 months. But I digress. If you’ve stuck with me this long, know that I’m sure I’ll talk about this whole baby sleep thing again because now that we’ve done it, I have opinions. Anyway, we thought we were hot shit and had a great plan for “LIFE” after O arrived but in reality we didn’t know anything and everything fell apart, quickly.
The biggest issue, bigger than sharing a bedroom with a baby, was the fact that we couldn’t really afford childcare (in Portland it’s typically around $1,500/month for infant care at a licensed center) and had to work opposite shifts to make it work. Now please note, we had been working opposite shifts like that for the majority of our relationship – almost 10 years – so we really and truly thought it wouldn’t be a problem. But we didn’t account for how hard it would be to be alone with a baby and a dog, in a 5th floor apartment, in Portland (where it rains A LOT), for hours at a time. We also didn’t account for how little we would actually see each other when we were both conscious, nevermind have productive and pleasant conversations.
Ok so I recognize that this is the part of the story where the internet trolls say, “well duh, they’re so stupid, of course that’s a bad idea. Why would they even have a child? They’re so irresponsible. If they can’t afford it, they should never have had a baby.” And to that I say, blah, blah, blah, go fuck yourself. Our species will die off if only the people who can truly and confidently afford everything that comes along with having a child, have children. Life is expensive. Life, particularly in this country, is expensive. Outrageously, ridiculously, stupidly expensive. Again, this is definitely a topic I’ll cover in the future because as you might expect, I have opinions.
Anyway, we had a baby because we had good jobs, a car, a place to live, supportive people who love us, and we wanted a family. Owen is amazing and we don’t for one split second regret our decision. But it had a cascading effect. We tried to get into a good routine but we were riding the struggle bus SO hard. We were exhausted constantly which meant we felt like we weren’t able to give it our all at work or at home. We were trapped in our one bedroom apartment because we couldn’t afford a two bedroom downtown ($2,000/month) and needed to be close enough to our jobs to make our one car situation work because we couldn’t afford a car payment on a second car. We were burned out from constantly being home alone with Owen and paying for childcare wasn’t a viable option so we couldn’t change our work schedules. It was a vicious circle of impossible solutions.
So we did the only thing we could think of that might work, we decided to move back to Michigan and in with my parents.
And that’s where we are now…living in limbo and trying to figure out our next step. So I thought, why not? Why not finally start that blog that I’ve been talking about doing for YEARS. I certainly have a lot of opinions about things and I feel like our current life experience is pretty relatable for a lot of people our age. So this is it, please join me if you feel so inclined. Just don’t be too much of a troll or I’ll block your ass because I don’t have time for shitty people 🙂