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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?