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I was fortunate enough to...

I was fortunate enough to be able to take an extended leave when my first son was born without it affecting us too much financially. By the time I was pregnant with identical twins who suffered from Twin to Twin Transfusion (when my oldest was 18 months) we were starting to realize that something had to give. With three babies in just over two years, there was no way I could go back to work. Even as a massage therapist, without a college degree I was finding it difficult to find reliable work that would not only pay for reliable, safe childcare, but provided me the flexibility that i needed should the need arise for me to be home with my son or premature daughters.

Quite simply, it was more financially sound for me to remain home - and for us to remain eligible for welfare services - than it was for me to attempt to return to work.

Eventually, we found our groove (through what the recession-affected folks are discovering today: cooking all foods from scratch, wearing hand-me-downs and buying thrift store clothing, using freecycle and craigslist instead of Target and the mall, and never, ever using credit) but it was ridiculously hard when it seemed all our family and friends had money to burn, buying new cars and taking vacations.

My husband was fortunate enough to make some incredible leaps in his career, and now, with four children under the age of 8, we are finally comfortable enough that I can return to work part-time without my entire pay going to subsidize the cost of a babysitter that costs more hourly than I earn. I still won't be able to take full-time work; with four young children, a stomach flu puts me out of being able to leave the house for over a week as all four work it through their systems - sometimes one at a time.

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