So it’s nearly all over and in 6 working days (sob!) I’ll be back at work! Actually, I kind of feel ready this time and I’m not gonna waste any time on that completely unnecessary emotion: Guilt, because I’ve realised it doesn’t achieve anything good.
Which is a far cry from how I felt returning after maternity leave round 1, which prompted me to write this because it’s been such a different experience from start to finish. Here goes…
Round 1 (ding ding!):
Attend NCT antenatal class, and preggo yoga. Make lots of lovely new friends to hang out with during maternity leave.
Mat leave BEFORE baby actually arrives:
YESSSS I’M ON HOLIDAY! Lie in until 10am every day, eat lunch out, have pedicure done ready for the birth (Still not sure who that was for the benefit of? The baby? The midwife? Totally ridiculous!)
Month 1 (post Birth!):
Ah! Shit! I’ve just spent 35 hours in labour and not only have I now got to stay awake most of the time so I can keep this (precious and very gorgeous) human alive, I’m so tired my eyes are going to recede into the back of my head. Cry a lot. Feel like I don’t have a clue what I’m doing and think I’ve messed my whole entire life up. Can’t see an end to the 2 hourly night feeds.
Despite all of the above, fall madly in love with my baby boy.
Eternally grateful for NCT buddies and the late night textathons…. knowing we are all in it together and finding it tough is strangely comforting.
Months 2 & 3:
Still so tired could (and do!) cry at any moment but baby is smiling now and it suddenly feels better just because of that. Plus lots of very necessary lunches, coffee and cake hang outs with new maternity leave buddies.
Discuss our birth stories in great and gory detail.
Limp through to the MAGIC week 12, which is magic (for us) because baby STARTS SLEEPING THROUGH! Not that you should admit this on blogs or to other mummies, because as I discover, people will call you a bitch to your face. Probably some of you are doing it now (I don’t care!)
Rest of maternity leave….
Life continues to be pretty wonderful (most days)….
Daily dog walks, a whole range of baby related activities, baby sensory, baby swimming lessons, baby cinema and even a ruddy baby rave! And a whole lot of lunches, coffees, more cake… and then suddenly I remember I am on maternity pay and need to stop the majority of the above pronto!
Hubby calls it a holiday to wind me up, and looking back, I’m inclined to agree with him! A very precious time and I love it so much I want to do it all again, sharpish!
Returning to work:
Despite having used all 10 of my “keep in touch” days, it still feels like a really big deal! Find myself in tears in traffic queues at idea of leaving him. Feel guilt for no reason and convince myself I’m not doing a good job at home or at work.
Don’t attend any form of antenatal class, but do go back to preggo yoga. Discover all the other mummies are first timers and are categorically not interested in hanging out with any mums-with-toddlers any time soon. Ouch!
Desperately seek out women with toddlers who are expecting second babies for friendship, join some local Facebook groups, meet a few people on there. Some of whom turn out to be ok…
The bit before baby arrives:
Errr, so I was expecting the holiday part but my brain forgot I have an almost 2 year old to entertain and my body isn’t doing a great job of growing the baby it’s housing, so get sent for a load of scans, check ups and finally early induction.
Treat the day I’m actually in induced labour in hospital like I’m at a freaking health spa, because it’s a break from my toddler’s demands. I read a book, have a bath, sit in the sun….and then casually pop a baby out (much easier 2nd time!) all before the sun goes down. Well, pretty much.
Blimey, newborn babies are SO EASY. They literally just sleep and eat!
Toddler however….reacts badly to new baby. Throws self out of cot. Temporarily stops sleeping. Tantrums daily. Beats baby over head frequently.
Baby wakes at 11pm, 1am, 3am and 5am….and then toddler gets up for the day at 6. Feel like death, but even so, it’s easier than the first time because I know it won’t be like this for ever.
Bollocks. Baby is poorly. Really poorly. As per my post….Instinct and why you should trust it
Wonder why I was worrying about ANYTHING first time round. What was I actually doing on those days that I failed to eat or shower?
Ok, baby is no longer ill but is suddenly a lot more demanding and not the laid back baby of month 1 anymore. Readjust expectations massively.
Toddler is having daily meltdowns because I just left him for 3 weeks.
And I’m recovering from 3 sleepless weeks in hospital. Urgh.
Baby is still waking every 2.5 hours and I can’t see an end to it.
Week 12, I have high hopes pinned on you!
Not 12, but hey, who’s counting? Ta-dah! Calm and peace is restored and we’re all getting some sleep, YES!
Still not ok to admit this apparently, still get called a bitch to face. Despite what we just went through. Breathe deeply and remember that sleep deprivation is torturous and perhaps that’s why people have such short bloody memories.
What I have learned is not to comment on other people’s babies sleeping habits, because I have genuinely got no idea if we just got lucky, or if our kids just take after us and really enjoy sleeping, or if it’s because we didn’t jump up at every little snuffle or murmur. I don’t know and I don’t take it for granted, because it can quickly change.
Rest of maternity leave:
Start to finally enjoy it, albeit spend most of it in soft play, petting farms or play groups. Basically things that will keep the toddler happy, and drag the poor baby along for the ride.
It’s a LOT harder to get any sort of routine for the 2nd baby, but she’s a tough little cookie and smiles through it all. I learn not to get so worked up about things.
Venture back to baby sensory on the day the toddler is in nursery. Notice how glamorous all the first time mummies are and make a mental note to at least drag a brush through my hair next week.
Go to baby cinema occasionally, find it highly irritating and decide to go on an evening because I’d actually like to hear the film and not other people’s babies crying.
Less lunches out by a long shot, mainly because it’s too much like hard work with a toddler in tow.
Establish a couple of solid friendships, who I know will be around for a long time, and that’s enough. It’s not that I dislike first time mummies, I just gravitate towards people with toddlers and a baby because they UNDERSTAND (and are more likely to hang out at soft play with me!)
Returning to work:
Oops. Only manage to use 1.5 keep in touch days this time. Don’t feel guilty about that OR about sending my baby to nursery. Because I know she will be ok. I’m doing a great job as a mummy and I will continue to do so at home and at work. Take comfort from the fact I’ll be with the kids more than the 3 days I’ll be at work and know they’ll continue to be happy.
Ding ding, round 3?
Most definitely not!!! As much as I’ve loved all 78 weeks of two maternity leaves, like all good things, it must come to an end.
We have two happy, healthy children, thank god! Plus, we’re not about to push our luck, people told me baby number 2 would be the devil child, and she isn’t (not so far, anyway!)
Anyway, I could not do pregnancy again with TWO toddlers. Argh!
Happy days. Maternity leave, you’ve been a blast! Over and out…
….Although I’ve got one hell of a final week planned. As if I was gonna let this go without using every possible excuse to have cake and prosecco!
And finally, to those select few friends that have been there both times, whether you were a new “mat leave buddy” or an old friend from my life pre kids, I’m very blessed to have you. You know who you are and I love you! ❤❤❤