Returning to work: What I’m looking forward to. 

With less than one week to go until I return to work, I’m actually feeling alright about not only returning to work, but leaving T at nursery (maybe it’s because they’ll then be dealing with a teething baby).

Taking myself out of the role of ‘mum’, there are actually a few things I’m looking forward to when I return to work:

1. Hot drinks. 

I never thought I’d miss something so much as I do a hot drink. Drinks these days are either thermonuclear or luke warm, and are hardly ever consumed at a relaxing pace.

A poor excuse for a coffee

A poor excuse for a coffee

2. Completing a task.

I’m forever completing tasks, but never the original task I planned to do. Breakfast? In between that I would have diverted to put the washing up away, diverted to put a wash on, and walked T around the lounge a few times; thus leading to point 1.

Returning to work will mean starting something and finishing it without getting interrupted.

3. Adult conversation (that doesn’t include baby talk). 

I’m so proud of T, so of course I’m going to want to shout it from the rooftops, not to mention talk about the stresses of parenthood, but every now and again I miss chatting about non-parenting matters.

The other day, whilst chatting with friends, our topic of conversation went from feminism, to music, to our favourite sandwiches. It was brilliant. It gave me a break from being “mum”.

4. Me time. 

Although work will be work, so I won’t necessarily be able to think about much else, I know I won’t be thinking about what I’m doing for T’s dinner, or that I need to get that white vest out of the bucket of vanish.

5. Clean clothes. 

After a day with T, I often look like someone who’s just completed a bush-tucker trial; with debatable stains on my top, and crusty patches on my jeans that I can’t remember putting there.

I’ll be wearing a uniform at work which not only means that I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear, but it’s unlikely I’ll end my shift with sticky stuff on me (unless I miss my mouth whilst eating a jam doughnut).

6. Missing T. 

This sounds like an odd one, but hear me out.

At the moment I spend every day with T, so I don’t often get a chance to really “miss him”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t aim to get rid of him, but the only time we part ways is when T is in bed, and even that is short lived as he often still wakes in the night.

Going to work will give me a chance to miss him, and him miss me (hopefully).

******

There’s no doubt about it that the first few weeks are going to be tough, especially on days when T isn’t happy about being left, but thinking about the above points is going to make it easier (for me, anyway), not to mention the fact that I genuinely think nursery will be good for T. He’ll make new friends, and learn new things.

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How did you cope returning to work? What made it easier for you? What did you look forward to?

K

Maternity Leave: More Than Just Babies. 

With less than two weeks to go until the dreaded return date, I wanted to reflect on what maternity leave has been like for me (in a nutshell, mind you. We don’t want to open THAT can of worms).

Maternity leave. It’s a big one. Not just in time; although for some it isn’t, but in meaning. When you go on maternity leave there’s this HUGE expectation that you have, let’s face it, a lot of time off. Time off that you think will last a lot longer than it actually does. It doesn’t. Time off that you think will give you a chance to “get stuff done”. You don’t.

 

I just tidied up!

More often than not, there’s this assumption that maternity leave will be this magical time filled with Instagram worthy moments, and days that flow nicely from start to finish. Sure, some days are like that. Some days you will just “win”. But other times you’re just happy you’ve got to the end of the day.

Maternity leave is far from a holiday, which is why you have to take the little things as a gain, although for me they’re definitely not “little things”. Instead of thinking what you haven’t done, remember what you have done. 

Here’s what my maternity leave looked like in addition to, of course, keeping a baby alive:

Blogging.

I started blogging to document our TTC journey and capture T growing up. Little did I know that I would still be doing it years to come and that I would gain several friends from the process!

Babywearing.

Before T was here, babywearing was alien. A skill there was no way I’d be able to master. In fact, I thought the buggy would be my friend. But thanks to an idiot dog who likes to run in front of the buggy, and a Velcro baby, I quickly got into babywearing. So much so that I now hear myself telling S about the different threads and carriers, and how much of an “investment” they are.


My OCD

Before babies I had a strict routine. Not just related to timing, but how I would deal with certain scenerios. For some reason, with all the chaos that comes with babies, my OCD has been toned down a little which has been one of the biggest leaps for me. A relief, in fact.

It was a genuine concern of mine, when I was pregnant, that I wouldn’t be able to cope with having to prepare a baby bag as well as check that all the plugs in the house were switched off. I still have bad days, but more often than not I do ok managing a baby and my OCD.

TV

Oh the TV. Some would say the TV is counter productive but I love TV. I defend my opinion with the fact that I don’t watch trash TV. Sure, I don’t watch University Challenge, but I watch shows that require some thought (that’s my defence, anyway).

Over the past 11 or so months, I’ve watched several box sets (they’re almost like books, right?) as well as films I never got to watch the first time round. These are genuine accomplishments for me as I rarely got to watch much telly whilst working shifts. They’ve kept my brain ticking as well as let me escape back into the land of Kate for a while.

Reading

I LOVE READING. Like the TV (kinda), books let me escape for a bit. Not only do they take me into a new world, but they also take me to a hotel poolside or the beach. To me, books aren’t just about the subjects they’re about.

Thanks to my bucket list challenge, I’m trying really hard to make use of nap time and feeds to read.

Since T was born, I’ve read six books. SIX. Adult books at that. That’s not bad going for me considering I was regularly interrupted as soon as T hit 3 months or when I went weeks without out picking up a book because of other commitments.


New friends

This is a big one for me, and probably the most life changing one. Parenting can be a lonely place, despite being part of the biggest club in the world. You can go to all the groups in the world but as soon as that group is over, you’re back at home. Alone.

I’ve been very lucky over the past 12 months and have gained some genuine friends. Friends from the blogging and the “real” world. They have kept me company. They have kept me sane.

 

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New friends

So there we have it. My maternity leave. It looks pretty bleak in black and white, but it’s hard to put into words what it’s been like emotionally. It’s been one hell of a ride.

When I first started my maternity leave back in February 2015 I had no idea what to expect (apart from said baby… eventually). I didn’t think I’d be so busy, I didn’t know I’d doubt myself so much, I didn’t think I’d need more than S to keep me company – I’ve always been really independent.

I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard. But, if I’m being honest, I’ve enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve completed a dozen marathons and still wanting more.

It feels like an end of a era, but it’s only the beginning!

Do you agree? What else did you gain from your maternity leave?

K

A Month To Go

In a months time my maternity leave will be coming to an end and I will be returning to work.

The thing is, I don’t really know how I feel about it.

At this very moment, when thinking about returning to work full time, my heart aches and there is a lump in my throat. I don’t want to go back. There, I said it. I want to stay at home with my son and watch him grow.

I have been trying to convince myself that maternity leave is not “normality”. It’s just a section of leave after having a baby. For us, “normality” will be dropping T off at nursery and going to work. But I don’t want that to be our normality. I want to stay with T. But we can’t afford it.

What if I miss something? What if he misses me? Will he eat? Will he sleep?

I know that nursery will do him the world of good. It will socialise him further and encourage independence. For me, I will get some of my identity back. I can’t argue with that. However, the selfish part of me wants to stay at home with him and keep him all to myself. There, I said it again.

See, I’ve loved maternity leave. I knew I would. Don’t get me wrong, there have been hard times, moments of despair, occasions when I’ve been exhausted. But becoming a mother has been my dream. My goal. So maternity leave was my time to finally enjoy what I’ve been longing for for so long. Become the mother I always wanted to be.

But the trouble with maternity leave is that you fall into this sense of comfort. A routine. Every week is roughly the same. Baby groups, swimming, “play/coffee dates”, library visits. For some, this would be/is hell. For me, it was perfection. I was finally a parent, doing “parenty” things, hanging out with my baby. I loved it. I really did.


At the moment I’m trying to soak up every second, cherish every minute. Not because he’s growing up, that bit is quite exciting now, but because it’s all going to change soon. I wonder if he knows this time we have at the moment is going to end soon? I hope not, I certainly wouldn’t want him to feel the way I feel right now.

K

The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Lana Care Breastpads – Review

My war with breastpads pretty much started a month before T was born. I leaked. A lot. So it was vital to wear something comfortable and discreet, but putting those two words together with normal, disposable breastpads didn’t compute. It really didn’t, as explained here.

So when the guys from Lana Care were offering free samples of their organic, reusable breastpads as part of national breastfeeding week I couldn’t resist. I’d been recommended to buy reusables anyway but I never knew which ones to get – or which size. Plus, I had so many donated boxes of breastpads I wanted to use them first.

A few days after chatting with Lana Care, I received my sample breastpads and sample nipple cream:

IMG_8226

When they arrived I was immediately taken back by how soft the pads were. Made from organic wool, they don’t feel like cotton wool – they’re softer, but still quite absorbent. They feel like soft blanket wool – almost fleece-like, but not that fluffy where you would expect loose fibres.

Upon wearing them; it felt like I didn’t have a pad in! I also couldn’t hear the pad rustling, nor did it look like I had a pad in despite it’s thickness. It shaped neatly around my boob and, if anything, kept it warm – something that I imagine will deter mastitis. My nipple sat cushioned into the pad as apposed to it being crushed/bent, and the pad stayed put.

After a few feeds I saw that the pad had kept it’s shape and didn’t clump together in places like regular pads do after a few up and down motions of a bra – it felt like the pad was a part of my bra.

I haven’t had the opportunity to wash them yet but the advice is to gently wash them in lanolin soap in luke warm water and to leave to dry on a radiator. Simple.

I really like these pads and actually can’t think of a bad thing to say about them. The pads I received were the perfect size for me, but I’d probably still like to try different sizes. Lana Care provide pads that can come in six different sizes ranging from mini to large, there’s also an oval shaped one.

I’ve only used a tiny bit of the sample cream, just to see what it was like, and so far I’m impressed. It smelt nice and you don’t have to remove it before a feed.

These pads have nicely introduced me to the world of reusable ones. I was reluctant at first as I was concerned about the extra washing but these ones certainly don’t require any extra effort – it’ll be no different to me having to soak a stained vest and if anything, it’ll be a lot less painful!

K

These pads were offered to anyone who applied for the free sample via Facebook, and not for the purpose of this review. 

Hospital Bag(s)

I’ve probably packed and re-packed these bags half a dozen times, and even after packing them for what I think is the last time, I still panic that I haven’t got everything and unpack it again.

You can find lots of help online as to what to take, but here’s what our bags look like:-

My Bag

My Hospital Bag

1) Baggy T-Shirt and Shorts
Although I’ll be wearing my normal clothes to the hospital, as well as taking a change of clothes for when I go home, I thought it would be useful to have something more comfortable to change into and wear around the hospital for check ups, etc. I purposefully went and bought something new (and cheap) so that I didn’t have to throw anything I liked away.
2) Leggings
Again, something more comfortable to wear but more so incase I get cold / don’t want to wear shorts.
3) Underwear!
Mainly for when I go home.
4) Socks (Grip socks and a change of socks)
5) Nursing Bra
6) Slippers
Incase I want something warmer.
7) Disposable Pants
I’ve heard you need a lot of these…
8) Maternity Pads
As above…
9) Toiletries
My toiletry bag includes:
– Shampoo & Conditioner (you never know).
– Shower Gel (you never know).
– Flannel.
– Towel (not in picture).
– Hair Product.
– Hair Brush.
– Toothbrush & Toothpaste.
– Moist/Clean fresh wipes
– Anti-Bac Gel.
– Tissues.
– Fan.
10) Breast Pads
See 7 & 8 – I’ve decided to grab all the freebie ones I’ve received in Bounty Packs and from Baby Shows. This means I a) don’t have to open or take a new box and b) they’re pretty sterile already.

Baby’s Bag

Baby's Bag

1) Nappy Bags.
2) Sensitive Wipes.
3) Nappies.
4) Vests in varying sizes.
5) Mittens, Booties/Socks, and Hat (incase it’s cold).
6) Going home outfit which can be amended depending on weather.
7) Muslins (not in photo).
8) Blanket for going home (not in photo as S was still deciding which one!)
9) Our Snugglbundl (not in photo as last minute grab).

S’s Bag / Misc Bag

1) Books.
2) iPad.

3) iPod.
4) Chargers for said electronics.
5) Speaker for iPod.
6) Camera

7) Colouring Books and Pens/Pencils (you never know!)
8) Food (I know S won’t eat if she has to stay with me at the hospital; and hospital cafes are extortionate, so even though these are provisions for me, I based these to feed S as well)
– 2 x soft drinks
– 2 x Glucose based drink for energy (Lucozade)
– Bottled water (with straw style cap for easy drinking) 
– Mini Cheddars (was thinking of something small but filling, but not too greasy).
– Jaffa Cakes (as above).
– Skittles.
– Boiled Sweets.
9) Neck Cushion for S.
10) Pregnancy Pillow for me.
11) Hoodie.

We’ve probably packed way too much, but going on a couple of other blogs of recent; where ladies have had to stay in for days, I’m not taking any chances! Hopefully, by packing so much, it’ll mean I’m in and out in a jiffy.

Finally, don’t forget the car/seat! Most hospitals won’t let you leave until they’ve seen you with the car seat – some even come out and check it’s been installed correctly.

Am I missing anything? If you have any other hints and tips re what to pack in the hospital bag(s), let us know!

K

Maternity Leave

I’ve been on maternity leave for two weeks now and still have a week and a half until fidget’s due date. I thought I would go stir crazy, but it so far it’s not been too bad.

Maternity leave is still such an alien thing to me as well as not going back to work. I’m used to having 3-4 days off from work in a row so it’s not the time off I’m not used to, it’s the fact I’m not going back at all for at least a year!
I’m also so used to cramming jobs in on my rest days that I’m finding it difficult to now spread the load so that I don’t a) over do it early on and b) have nothing to do by week 4!

So far, the last two weeks have consisted of;

Cleaning (Of course it would consist of cleaning – you all must know me well enough by now). Apart from days when I need to hoover; which is sometimes an all day task if I do the whole house as well as the dusting/polishing in between, I’m making myself spread out certain yearly tasks (like clearing out the cupboards and cleaning them, cleaning the extractor fan above the oven, etc.) to throughout the whole week so I give myself just the one thing to do in a day.

Writing
Out of nowhere I’ve found things to write about as well as the time to do it.

Reading
Again, because I now don’t have to cram housework into my rest days, I have time to read. At the moment, I’m reading the second Game of Thrones book and A Casual Vacancy.

Cooking
To keep my brain active, I’ve been regularly raiding our cook books to find new meals to serve the wife for when she gets home from work. So far, I’ve cooked a range of soups, pies, as well as played/improved old recipes.

Packing
I think I’ve probably packed, unpacked, and re-packed my maternity bag a few times and to be honest, I still don’t know if I have everything. I also have a bag for fidget, as well as a third bag that contains snacks, books, iPad, iPod, and stuff for S.

Catchup TV
When I’m not doing the above, I’m simply trying to catch up on boxsets that I’ve never got round to watching and should do. So far, I’ve watched Season 1 of The Wire (the remaining seasons were then deleted when our Sky box got upgraded – ARGH! – and now I can’t get them back because Sky have deleted them from On Demand – ARGH!!), Seasons 1-2 of Sherlock (still waiting for Season 3), Season 9 of How I Met Your Mother, and I’m currently watching Hannibal. Any recommendations would be great. I’m quite keen to start Downton Abbey and Broadchurch.

Over the next few weeks, so I don’t go stir crazy, I also hope to also pop out and see some friends and family.

After all this, I should have then finally passed my due date. With this, I will no doubt want remain inside… just incase. Maybe I’ll re-pack my maternity bag again.

K