Bloomin’ Moms: A Later Mom Shares
By Laurel Steinberg, Psychotherapist, member of NY Chapter of Motherhood Later, and a Contributing Blogger for MotherhoodLater.com
Being a new mother at 35 is challenging on many levels. Like many of you, one thing I have had to contend with, that perhaps some younger women have not, is the need to maintain an already established career while simultaneously bonding and getting the baby off to a great start. For those of us in the workforce for years before motherhood, we have typically invested time, energy, and resources into acquiring the requisite education and training and then nurtured our growing businesses. Often, we have to be able to continue to do so while balancing our many obligations.
I work as a psychotherapist in Manhattan and share relationships of understanding and trust with my patients. I specialize in anxiety and personal, marital, and business relationships and people rely on me to see them through difficult times. Although my patients have all been very understanding and have wished me well with this thrilling new aspect of my life (and have sent beautiful gifts!), they have come to me needing help to live happier and more fulfilling lives, and I both have to and want to be there for them.
My husband and I were living in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan when I became pregnant. Though the apartment was very beautiful, it was small and I knew we would have trouble selling it once it was filled with all the furniture and equipment we’d need for the baby. The rush was on to make the transition to a larger space before I gave birth and despite the nosedive in the real estate market, miraculously we were able to both sell the apartment and close on a new house on Long Island on the same day.
With my due date still four weeks away, I worked all day despite a nagging backache. I went home to cook and was astonished when mid-recipe, my water broke. My mother, who was visiting from Florida, assured me that it must have been a false alarm, since we had just been to the obstetrician that day, and he assured us I would be full term. I knew they were both really wrong and realized that the backache I had all day had more to do with my front than my back.
Because I wasn’t expecting the baby to arrive so soon, I didn’t have my hospital bag ready. We quickly packed (which explains why, in our haste, my husband threw in the dressy outfit I had worn that day rather than a robe and pajamas). Within minutes we were off to NYU Medical Center in NYC to begin my 18 hours of labor after which I gave birth to a beautiful baby.
As planned, the first three months were a hybrid of work and maternity leave which enabled me to maintain my practice while spending lots of very high quality time enjoying the role I had always dreamed of. I signed up for local classes that the baby and I attended most days. We went to music, baby gymnastics, and story time at the library, and we had play dates at the park with other thirty-something moms and their babies. When the baby was sleeping I wrote articles, worked on a book I am writing on factors enabling divorced women to resume dating and sex and to remarry, and kept up with the current literature in my field. On the evenings when my husband was home to care for the baby, I conducted sessions with patients via Skype or telephone.
Eventually, when the baby got a little older (now four months), I hired a nanny who had worked for many years with neighbors whose children outgrew the need for childcare. She is a gem, and on the days she comes to care for my child, I commute into the city to continue my practice. Some patients who work in high pressure jobs found Skype and phone sessions to be more convenient than coming into the office so my practice has changed to accommodate them.
I did find myself conflicted about wanting to be home and wanting to work. I came to the decision that in order for me to be both the best mother and therapist I can be, I am going to be 100% focused and in the moment. Time at home is about being a loving mother and wife, and time at work is only about providing my patients with the highest quality care. However, I do have a big twinge of separation anxiety as I step out of the house to go to the office, but I am confident that my child is good hands. I am told it gets easier, so by the time we are planning a high school graduation party, I should be fine (here’s hoping anyway).
I am honored that Robin, the founder of MotherhoodLater.com, invited me to share my story in this edition of Baby Bloomer because I have found the Ezine, with its articles by experts and stories about other women’s experiences, to be so very useful and reassuring. I have also enjoyed attending Motherhood Later events and meeting other moms like me who are confronting many of the same challenges.
Laurel Steinberg is a Licensed Psychotherapist practicing in Manhattan. She completed her graduate studies in Applied Psychology at New York University after graduating from Johns Hopkins University. Her training continued at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Columbia University’s Obesity Research Center, at the Albert Ellis Institute and at the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists after which she became a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexologists. Laurel contributes frequently to news articles, web articles, and books. Her areas of expertise include anxiety and personal, marital and work-related relationships, couples and sex therapy, infidelity, self-esteem, dating and pre-marital issues. To learn more about Laurel’s work, you can visit her website at: www.LaurelSteinberg.com.