N is for Nurture

Being a parent is hard. After I had my first child, I thought, "Wow, how on earth can anybody have more than one child?" It was by far the hardest thing I had ever done.

Because we live in the United States and I was a key employee for a very small company, I was given six weeks of maternity leave — half of it paid. Because my baby was 12 days overdue, I decided to start my maternity leave somewhere in that second week of counting the seconds until labor. And because my baby had breathing difficulties after he was born (along with a litany of doctor-imposed issues), we spent 4 days in the NICU. I returned to my job part-time when my first baby was five weeks old.

My husband, Matt, was starting his second year of law school. We were living off student loans while I was woefully underpaid at my job. Over the next few months, I worked my way back up to full-time, but it was still not enough to support my family. So we raked in more student loans just to afford the astronomical prices for full-time childcare.

With the loving support of our family, friends, and neighbors, we got through the first few hard years. Matt graduated from law school and got a judicial clerkship. At some point, we got used to the difficulty and reached the point where we stopped thinking it was crazy to have more children.

So we tried and tried and eventually, we found out I was pregnant with a second baby!

Matt has always said that having a child is like holding a bucket of water. At first, you think it's not that difficult, but when you realize you can't put it down — ever — you start to panic. You can hand it to someone else if they are willing to help. And when you do, they think it's not that hard to hold the bucket of water. After all, they can just give it back when they're tired of it. But for us parents, there is a fatigue that quickly overtakes us when holding the bucket or thinking about how heavy that bucket is.

A new panic set in when we thought about the realities of what having two buckets of water would be like. We only have four arms between the two of us! And how will we be able to afford daycare for two kids?

Thankfully, I was able to secure three months of maternity leave — again, half of it paid. To my surprise, having a second baby wasn't as hard as having the first one. I suppose I had already become adjusted to my "Mama" role. I flourished in my newfound love of having an infant. We spent our days cuddling, reading, napping, nursing, playing, and exploring our community. We spent our nights crying, nursing, changing dirty diapers, and trying to catch a few winks of sleep. It was delightful.

When I returned to work, my baby started full-time daycare down the hall from his big brother. I thought it would be easier this time. Boy, was I wrong! The kid was not interested in drinking from a bottle. At all. After several long months of him simply not thriving in that setting, it was time for us to look for a solution.

About the time that I found out his growth had plateaued, I found out about Nido. A coworking space with built-in childcare? A dream come true.

Emotionally spent and supremely sleep-deprived, I arrived at Nido hoping for the best. I continued to work full-time, while also working on my baby's weight gain and my own mental health. My mornings were once again filled with cuddling, reading, nursing, and playing. I found spare moments here and there — and during his naps — where I could do my job. My mom and mother-in-law volunteered many mornings over the last six months so I could work.

My afternoons have been magical. Just down the hall from a quiet work space (where I can do my job!), my child spends his time with other children. With the loving guidance of his teachers, he has learned how to play with others, feed himself, drink from a sippy cup, walk, put on a necklace, dig in the sand, make art, and be loved. I can pop in to nurse him on the days when he needs that. I can also spend hours of uninterrupted time on work.

Nido has exceeded my expectations in every way. I can't come up with the words to describe how much this place has meant to me. On the surface, it has provided a safe and nurturing environment where my now-toddler was given the needed sun, water, and love to grow. I have had a place where I can get the majority of my work done.

But more than that, Nido is a safe and nurturing community for all of us grown-ups too. I work alongside other parents with the same struggles, goals, and joys. I am constantly impressed by the accomplishments of other members at Nido — entrepreneurs, students, and remote employees alike. There is a powerful energy that comes from people working hard towards a common goal. In this case, pursuing personal goals that include career and family, without having to choose between them.

At Nido, I have also been given the needed sun, water, and love to grow. The members are gentle, kind, caring, and giving. Without question, they have given me the space to be myself, the encouragement to pursue my dreams, and the anchor to remember that parenting is hard — but we don't have to do it alone.

As my time at Nido is coming to a close, I am so thankful for the friends I have made here. I am heartsick to be leaving the nest. But I feel much more equipped to fly.

-Alisa