Can’t believe it’s already been a year since I wrote this! So at the start it’s all batch cooking, house cleaning and lunch with friends- then the baby arrives!
After the initial few weeks the visitors decline and your left with a special few- your real support, your real friends and your valued family.
Some ‘friends’ won’t even show an interest- will never send a card or see your baby; even friends that you really helped and supported through their maternity leave.
Then you’ll find some friends are angels- texts just when you need it, offers of a meet up with cakes and cuddles. These friends are often not the ones you expect it from- but really appreciate.
And of course there’s your new ‘mummy friends’ the ones you can compare with; night wake ups, nappies, weaning, funny stories- people you didn’t know before but now have the most wonderful thing in common with. These mummy friends are amazing- your lifeline in the middle of the night- the most amazing find.
You will think it’s all naps, cake with friends and baby cuddles- but it’s really not the ‘holiday’ your other half teases about. Each day will involves several loads of washing, lots of changes of clothes for you and baby ( a reflux baby doubles this) stinky nappies, episodes or crying for no reason ( both you and baby!) and desperately chasing your tail trying to keep the house clean!
You will do things you say you wouldn’t- you’ll co-sleep occasionally due to exhaustion, let your baby watch tv ( and grab a cup of tea), drop your regular workouts, stop eating salad, and not respond to texts and calls for a week or so!
The leisurely coffee and cake with friends- it’ll happen more at the start- but then you’ll realise
(a) coffee and cake is expensive- especially as your maternity pay dwindles and dwindles
(b) making a catch up longer than an hour is impossible with a Irritable baby or your friends active toddler
(c) finding a diary date is hard between yours and your friends baby groups, other appointments and returns to work.
Tiredness is extreme- but gets so mental that your ‘normal’ is just tired zombie! You will wash your hair once a week- with the support of dry shampoo, you won’t remember the last time you shaved your legs and will never paint your toenails! I thought I’d always paint my nails ( something I can’t do when at work as I’m a nurse) but nine months later and I have not done it once.
Your baby will have everything and you’ll forget yourself ( and others sometimes) you won’t mind the self neglect- but will often feel bad for the lack of attention your partner and the dog gets.
You will return to your pre-baby weight and size – I did after three months- but the consistency will never be the same; a strange wrinkly belly, inside out belly button and wonky boobs (from breastfeeding) you both won’t care/and will care massively about this dependant on how your feeling that day! This week I’ve decided I need to make and effort with skincare and makeup- but still don’t brush my hair much!
I’m sorry if I’ve made it sound negative- it’s not- I have the most wonderful little thing in my life! She’s always happy to see me in the morning(and the middle of the night), always accepts a cuddle, is happy to tag along on shopping trip, accepts any food I make with excitement, listens intently to everything I say or sing. We have the most wonderful days together ( if somewhat monotonous), have taken in a full range of baby groups, spent days snuggling, sunny carrier walks, special family day trips and a number of family holidays.
To be honest I’m both dreading and looking forward to my return to work- being a mummy is the most rewarding but tiring thing- but a day at work means I can be me- feel like a have a brain and feel valued. I will never gave this time again- never get so much time to see her change and grow hour to hour day to day- I will miss new skills and milestones- and I hate that.
See you maternity leave- you’ve been amazing!
Maternity leave- the reality