My maternity leave is coming to an end — and I am about to venture into the world of working mom. The tears are coming fast these days and while I know Magnolia will be at a terrific daycare, the thought of not being with her every hour is heart wrenching. I can truly say I packed a lot into this maternity leave once I became comfortable with everything, but that’s not to say maternity leave has always been easy.
First, I’m a multi-tasker – I’ve been known to juggle multiple projects at once, but you know, when you have a baby that all goes out the window and that was a hard adjustment for me. I’d sit and breastfeed and try to read twitter or watch TV, but anything more than what was on Bravo or the Today Show totally toasted my mind. Also, now that the baby is almost 12 weeks old, she’s not sleeping as much during the day (or at all, hello team #nonap) so trying to do something that takes longer than a few minutes can be challenging. There are some days I feel like I’ve gotten a lot done and then I realize, nope, that to-do list is still a mile long.
The other thing I had to get used to during maternity leave was doing a lot of things by myself with the baby. After my husband went back to work, I was terrified. I was only about two weeks postpartum and everything still scared me and/or was hard for me – changing diapers, putting onesies on, and the car seat – oh how I cried about the car seat and making sure she was in it properly. I was still sore from giving birth and the carpal tunnel I had in my hands during pregnancy made things difficult. I was nervous how Tucker would handle everything. And I was tired.
There were some days that my husband would come home and I would give him the baby and tell him I need a break. A break from changing diapers, or from being the bartender at the milk bar or the soother in chief. A break from carrying the car seat on errands or setting up the stroller and going grocery shopping. When he first went back to work, I thought to myself – here I am, a college educated person who can’t figure out how to work a car seat — (and don’t even get me started on baby carriers) and I would cry.
The truth about maternity leave is it isn’t a vacation – not by a long stretch. It can be lonely and tiring and hard and if you are feeling that way, that’s A-OK. If there are some days you can’t wait for your partner to get home so you can get a break, that’s A-OK too.
Because here’s the other truth about maternity leave: I’ve had an amazing time watching this teeny newborn that I pushed out start to grow into a tiny infant. I’ve had 12 weeks to take her to new moms groups and story hour and music time. I’ve shopped with her myself and taken her into work a few times. I’ve snuggled with her and cried with her and played on the play mat with her. I’ve watched her smile when it hasn’t just been gas and I’ve made up silly songs. I’ve taken her on walks with Big Brother Tucker and yes – we’ve watched a lot of Bravo. Every day might not be a great day, but there’s great things about every day.
I so wish that the US would pass paid leave laws because I’m also aware that so many moms and dads don’t get to have the full experience of maternity leave I did – and frankly, my leave came with some sacrifices as well.
So now that work is getting closer and closer, I’ll have a new chapter to start. One that is also terrifying to me and will require some adjustment…but I think this will make me appreciate my time with her even more than I do now. However, with some more time to go before that next chapter starts, I’m off for some more baby (and Tucker) cuddles.