It won’t come as any surprise that my intentions for maternity leave and life as a mother differed wildly from reality. I intended to breastfeed my child for 6 months. I intended to switch to a bottle thereafter (cos that’s what you normally do, right?). I intended to have a freezer perpetually stocked with delicious Annabel Karmel approved food. I intended for my child to only ever sleep in her cot, preferably in the beautifully decorated nursery after the age of 6 months. I intended to go back to work after 8 months. I intended to be able to leave her for a weekend by 9 months. I intended to be creative and constructive during my maternity leave – starting an incredibly witty blog was of course number one on that list.
What a muppet!
In fact, of all the intentions and promises I made to myself before my bundle of joy arrived, the only one I’ve stuck to was to have a shower each day. [Pats self on back]
An NCT friend of mine once said “we were all perfect parents before we had the babies.” No truer words were ever spoken. The information available to expectant and new parents is vast and often overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, then reading and gathering information provided comfort. I felt armed, I thought I was prepared, I thought I had a clue.
What I hadn’t foreseen, that in my case at least, the ability to make decisions based on reason and informed judgement would be replaced by emotion and intuition.
Here’s the reality, my daughter is 19 months old and continues to breastfeed up to 5 times a day (and that doesn’t include when she wakes at night).
She does eat homemade food most days of the week but I also have an entire shelf in my pantry that holds pouches and other pre-packaged baby food. Convenient for when out and about and for those evenings when you just. can’t. be. bothered.
There is a nursery, it is tastefully decorated with a “fly me to the moon” theme complete with glow in the dark star curtains. My daughter does not sleep there. She does however sleep in her cot… mostly. I took the side off and attached it to our bed, a recent development after months of co-sleeping (more on that in another post).
I loved my job, I loved my colleagues and the camaraderie, but I have a secret. Before I became mama I never expected to like being at home with the baby. I didn’t think there would be much to enjoy. I’ve always worked and before now I’ve never not wanted to. I thought I would be lonely. I’m also fairly sure I’m not supposed to admit that out loud. But I do enjoy it, I love it. Not every minute of every day, I’m not a bottomless pit of patience but this is probably the biggest surprise of all. So when the husband got offered a new job which would leave me no choice but to quit mine, I was relieved and elated that the new job also afforded us the amazing opportunity for me to not have to go back to work. Looking back, I know that I would have spent every minute at work wishing I was with my baby but I’m not sure that I would have spent every minute at home wishing I was at work.
I haven’t been apart from my daughter for more than 4 hours. Partly because of the breastfeeding… partly because it breaks my heart.
As for creativity? I’m an accountant, I’m a scientist.. It was always going to be a big ask…. But here I am, having a go – better late than never….
So the take away from all this? Read, plan – go ahead. But plan on being surprised.