That Time I was Blissfully Ignorant about Maternity Leave

I don’t know that I’ve ever been more wrong about anything. Let’s laugh and sob as we review my naïveté:

1. It will be a nice break from work. I mean yeah, I don’t miss conference calls, commuting or having to dress up everyday, but this isn’t quite the vacation I imagined. Because now I work 20 hours a day, without pay, while being covered in vomit and poop.

2. It’ll be easy to get out with the baby. Except that it first involves packing for approximately two hours, changing the baby five times (who undoubtedly will throw up on herself while being changed), folding up the stroller using magic origami and using ninja skills to get it in the car, all while attempting to not get covered in baby puke as you execute prior steps.

3. I won’t need that much help. Unless you count always and all the time. I want help 24 hours a day. I want help for my help. I want constant assistance in all things.

4. I’ll fall in love with the baby immediately. I mean yes, there is an instant and inexplicable bond, and an awe-inspiring sense of wonder, but I think the real love comes a bit more gradually, as the terror subsides and you get to know the baby. It’s in full force now, and grows every hour, but the first few days and weeks were so ridiculously hard, that I think I felt the full spectrum of every emotion from love to hate to insanity.

5. Post-partum depression and emotions won’t be a big deal. Unless you consider debilitating sadness and despair easy to handle on no sleep.

6. The fatigue isn’t as bad as people say. No, it’s WORSE. As my brother reminds me, sleep deprivation is a form of torture for suspected terrorists. So, no biggie. You’ll just LOSE YOUR MIND.

7. I’ll be ready to go back to work. See #s 5 and 6.

8. It’ll be easy to get back in shape since I’m not working. Not only is there no time, there’s no energy or desire. I’ve been a fitness addict most of my adult life, which makes it even more alarming that I could not care less about it right now. I have zero desire to exercise, and if I did, I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do so.

9. I won’t be influenced by things I read online. This one might have stood a chance if there weren’t 20 hours a day spent feeding a baby where your smartphone is your only outlet to the world. Enter Google madness.

10. I will naturally be good at being a mom. Maybe on some levels I am, in that the baby is healthy and thriving (hooray!), but I doubt myself constantly and generally feel like a total mess.

11. Nursing will be magical. It was, and then it wasn’t. And ultimately it wasn’t the best choice for us. And that was a tough pill to swallow, since society kind of shuns formula. I was amazed at how supportive momma friends were about this though, and grateful for that.

12. I won’t rely on other moms for advice because I’ll pave my own way. Let me say this: I wouldn’t have made it without the love, guidance and advice of my friends and family. I mean that wholeheartedly. I am so, SO blessed to have a huge network of helpful moms and dads in my life, who have become the village I so desperately need to raise my daughter. They understand exactly what I’m feeling and fearing at any given time and are constantly offering reassurance. We all wear the same badge of honor and battle scars, forming a critical bond. I’ve also had amazing support from friends who aren’t parents, but still know just the right things to say and the best ways to help me feel better in the toughest moments.

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2 thoughts on “That Time I was Blissfully Ignorant about Maternity Leave

  1. This rings true of my wife who I knew was struggling with the lack of sleep when I kept finding bottles of milk in the oven instead of the fridge.

    And she only had 45 days (including weekends and holidays) which was so short it was actually painful.

    Cheers 🙂

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