Last May, when Matt and I got serious about pursuing gestational surrogacy, we started having a conversation about what we’d do about childcare when our child was born. Would we hire a nanny? Would one of us work part-time, perhaps from home? Would one of us stay home full-time?
We did some quick math, looking at the cost of childcare compared with our incomes. Basic arithmetic quickly revealed that, after taxes, if I stayed at work I would essentially hand all, or the vast majority, of my income right over to our nanny. I’d still be working full-time, but it’d be like I was working for (nearly) free.
My job, working on the sales end of things at an academic publisher, also required about 50% travel. Would I really be willing to be away from our new baby half the time? And bring in little income after childcare expenses?
With that in mind, we decided that Matt would be the genetic donor for the embryos that eventually became our twins. The biggest reason came down to boring legal and paperwork reasons: if I were the genetic donor, and I left my job immediately after the birth, I’d no longer have insurance that would immediately cover our children. Since our marriage isn’t recognized federally, there were also big questions if insurance would cover our child(ren) even if I were on Matt’s insurance.
When we’d originally looked into starting a family, we thought we’d adopt. The question of a genetic link wasn’t at all a primary concern for us in becoming a family. As Oprah Winfrey famously said, genetics is the least of what makes someone a parent. So when we figured out the legal/health care implications of genetic parentage, especially keeping in mind that I would probably stay home with the kids, figuring out who’d be the donor in a surrogacy situation was actually pretty easy. We didn’t want to mess around with any potential insurance issues when we had squalling newborns newly at home.
For a while I did some wrestling with how I felt about leaving my job. I liked my position, I’d worked hard to move up in my company, and I’d recently had a banner sales year. I also liked the people I worked with, and didn’t mind the travel, especially with all the airline miles and hotel points I’d been able to save up for use with Matt. But things became even more clear when we found out we not only had a pregnancy on our hands, but a twin pregnancy. I didn’t want to work for nothing, and I certainly wasn’t interested in work travel that’d take me away from our twin newborns 20 or more weeks a year.
As the birth of the twins approached, something interesting happened at work. Nobody even seemed to consider the fact that I might not come back after the birth of the twins. There seems to be a fundamental gender assumption that if you’re a dad, you’ll be back at work a few weeks after a child is born, and that’s that. With a pregnant woman in the workplace, some may wonder, even openly, if she’ll return after the birth.
But me? Not even a vague feeling or question from anyone about if I’d be back after the birth. It was just assumed that I’d be back.
Well, surprise! 😉
I couldn’t be happier with the decision to become a stay-at-home dad. Every family has to decide for themselves what works best for them, and Matt and I feel like this is the right decision for us. I’m looking forward to entering the (somewhat rarified) world of the stay-at-home dad. I’m sure there’ll be a learning curve, and I’d bet anything that raising twin newborns will be way more work than any job I’ve ever had.
But, conversely, I also think it’ll be more rewarding job than I’ve ever had.
In the end, I’m pretty sure that’s what matters most.