After 12 months of gestating, birthing, recovering and learning to mother, my maternity leave period is coming to an end. This time next week I’ll be sat back at my desk at work and striving to find that sometimes seemingly impossible balance between being a wife and mother, having a career and maintaining a sense of self…
Maternity leave has been, at times, completely overwhelming. During those first few weeks you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy. You’re big, tired, sore and so ever keen to meet your baby. But you’re also nervous (or at least I was as a first time mother) at how you’ll handle labour and birth.
Then your little person arrives and you’re thrown into the loveliness of that newborn bubble – full of snuggles and looking lovingly at this little person who you’ve been growing in your belly for nine months. But you’re also recovery from the enormity that is birth. You’re bleeding, your nipples are chapped and leaking, and you’ve discovered a level of exhaustion you never thought possible.
Slowly but surely you gain your confidence and start venturing out into the world again and watch your newborn start to grow, change and develop new skills. You become that little person’s entire world and begin to discover their personality: likes, dislikes, what makes them smile, what scares them and what strategies work best to calm them down when they’re teething and wake up at 3:40am screaming.
My maternity leave has also obviously coincided with the arrival of COVID-19. While it’s meant Adam, Paul and myself have been able to have some wonderful family time, it’s also meant Paul’s not spent as much time socialising and being away from us as he would’ve perhaps otherwise. It’s why I think daycare will be important for Paul and I hope he’ll enjoy making new friends and embrace the learning and development opportunities professional care offers.
Paul started at his daycare last week and I’m not afraid to admit I shed a few tears after I dropped him off. His first few days are the longest he’s ever been away from Adam or I, so it was huge shake-up in his little life. He seemed to get better as the week progressed, staying a little longer each day and it was so lovely to eventually see some genuine smiles from him in the pictures our centre sends to us daily.
While I adore motherhood completely, I also enjoy having a career and using my brain in a different way. I worked professionally for more than a decade before taking my maternity leave and carving out a career and establishing myself in my industry is something I’m proud of. For me, not returning to work after having a baby, was something I never really contemplated. I am nervous about how I’ll marry the two together, as well as tending to my relationship with Adam and doing a few things a week, just for me. I’ve decided to return to work in a part-time capacity for the next year, so I’m hoping that will help in transition to this new normal.
Some days it feels insurmountable, but I know somehow things will fall into place and soon our family will establish a new rhythm, just as Adam and I adapted when Paul arrived.
So here’s to this next, crazy chapter in life.
Have a wonderful week.