When my Maternity Leave start date finally arrived back in December 2014 I was ready; Painful SPD making walking hard, a rapidly growing bump and even more rapidly diminishing energy levels meant I just wanted to rest. On December 19th I was relived to wake-up knowing that I had no imminent commitments to worry about. But I was in no way blind to the hard work that was due to come a few weeks in to the New Year. What I didn’t know though was what to expect; What would that work be? How hard and tiring would I find it?
I’ll be honest from the start, it’s been harder than I thought it would be. And in ways I didn’t think it would be hard. The sleep deprivation in the early weeks was debilitating (In my mind I have buried away those memories but when I dig them out I struggle to believe it was just a couple of weeks) and made all the worse by the inevitable physical discomforts that are left post birth. My immune system was in tatters and I got ill but couldn’t rest; It gave me a very real reminder that my needs no longer came first.
As time passed, lack of sleep became something I adapted to, even if I didn’t thrive on it. But as I am still reminded eight months on, when one challenge is conquered another comes to quickly take it’s place. Or more likely they all just come at once like buses…followed by more buses…until it’s like the M25 during rush hour but entirely with buses. I had to quickly accept that my natural preferences of order and control were going to be tested. My previous comment about my needs no longer coming first applied to pretty much everything: eating, sleeping, showering, exercising, reading, chatting to friends, cleaning, blogging, being able to just have five minutes of peace to clear my head.
That said, if it were all bad I’d have been a crying mess rocking slowly in the corner from about April this year. Of course I’ve had a few rocking / crying moments (see above if you need a reminder as to why) but it’s also a privilege to be able to spend every day with my little girl, watching her subtle but continually develop and growth. It makes me so happy when she discovers some new skill and turns to me with a big grin on her face. It’s a pleasure to be able to sit and play with her after she’s woken from her nap without having to clock watch (except for those days when we are keeping to her hectic social calendar!). No matter how good or bad a given day is, it’s nice knowing that the occasional grin or cuddle will – if even only for a moment – make the day all good again.
Being a parent, and especially a full-time one, is essentially like being a servant; Sure most of us chose to go in to the profession willingly, but it doesn’t make it easy to accept that you are the whims, beck-and-call and mercy of someone else ALL THE TIME. I have certainly struggled with this but I also know that when it comes down to it, I don’t want to be apart from H yet. I want to know she is getting everything she needs, the care and attention she deserves and the right lessons; Right now I think, aside from Sam, the best person to do that for her is me. So for this short part of my life (because in reality a year isn’t actually that long) I know I want to try and make the adaptations and sacrifices necessary to do the best for her.
So if I were to know what I know now at the start of 2015, would I still take a year off? Yes, without a doubt. I’d probably just feel less guilty about laying-in and lazing about watching TV in my last few weeks of pregnancy though!