Today is my last day of maternity leave. It is bitter sweet because I know “real life” begins tomorrow… juggling my little dude, daycare, work, housework, exercise, alone time, date time with the Mr. and more. The past year has been wonderful in so many ways, eye opening in many other ways and has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible.
As I reflect on the past year the number one thing that has changed are my priorities. Yes, I still want to wear fabulous shoes whenever possible… but somehow seeking out and finding the most awesome Paw Patrol lunch box takes priority over scouring the internet for the latest fall fashion trends.
I consider the past year of self discovery as a journey and not really as a “leave” – I left work for a year, but I did the most rewarding and exhausting unpaid work. I learned how to be a mom to the most handsome little dude in the world (I know, every mom says that about their kid… but look at him! He is pretty adorable).
The journey started a few weeks before my little dude was born. I was fortunate to have some “me time” before he arrived and since he was 11 days overdue, it was even longer than I had anticipated. During this time I made freezer meals, went for walks, did lots of colouring and really just did things around the house at my own pregnant/leisurely pace. I didn’t realize at the time that was the last time I would do things at a leisurely pace for quite a while!
Then it happened. After 41+ weeks of waiting, my little dude finally arrived! I will refrain from sharing the details about his birth as I would like to encourage others to have children in the future and fear my little dude’s birth story might deter you. All you really need to know is that we both survived, we are both healthy and he was/is worth it!
The next stage of the journey was leaving the hospital and being a mom for the first month. I tried breastfeeding for 3 weeks and with milk never coming in it was a lost cause. Little did I know that even though I was feeding my little dude every 3 hours for about 45 minutes at a time that he wasn’t getting anything. We realized when he was 5 days old and had lost too much weight – the nurse gave him formula as a supplement and he drank it in record time. For the 2 weeks after I kept trying to breast feed but was also supplementing with formula. After 3 weeks and still no sign of milk coming in we started feeding him exclusively formula.
What I want you to take away from this part of my journey is this: you always hear about the amazing breastfeeding moments between mothers and their babies and all the nutrients breastfeeding provides a baby. While I agree with those claims and encourage anyone to try it I have to say it was not for me. My case is a bit unique because it wasn’t working and I was never comfortable to breastfeed in public, so the day I stopped trying although I still couldn’t really go anywhere I felt free. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, I knew my baby was getting fed properly and if I wanted to go somewhere I had more than 2 hours to get there and back. For the first time in months I felt a little bit like myself again. The point of telling you this is for every mom to realize what works for someone else might not work for you and YOU know what is best for YOU! Make your own choices, be confident in them and be proud of what you are doing for yourself and your baby.
I found the first month to be the hardest in many ways –
- I wanted to talk about something other than the baby and that’s all anyone wanted to talk about with me
- I wanted to know what was going on at work and be involved
- I was bored, babies sleep a lot and you are busy but spuratically. I was used to a busy lifestyle and found myself wanting to do “my stuff” but yet couldn’t find time to do it. That was hard on the head for me… how can you be bored and not have time to do stuff you wanna do?
- I felt physically and mentally exhausted. I remember thinking I would exercise right away etc, when in the end it felt like a huge accomplishment to shower and possibly sit in a car and not look totally weird for that month and more.
Skip forward to my little dude as a 4 month old. He started sleeping 8-10 hours through the night all the time, he started sitting on his own, he became a lot more interactive and really developed into a tiny human (as opposed to a baby) at that age. Spring was right around the corner, the days were getting longer and I had lost 18 pounds making me feel quite a bit better about myself (again, both physically and mentally). Thankfully this joyful stage of my journey lasted quite a while. It was a fun time to be home, try new recipes, go for long walks during and time and enjoy playing with my little dude.
Then he started to move! From 8-11 months he was crawling… first only in reverse or in circles, then he figured out how to sit up in his own and finally discovered that if he used his toes he could move forward in an army crawl. It didn’t take long after that for him to master going up and down the step between our kitchen and living room and eventually crawl on all fours. From 8 months to 11 months I could see my “me time” slipping away again as he was on the move all the time and his naps were getting shorter. My saving grace was the exersaucer/activity jumper and that it was summer time so we could be outside a lot of the time!
Little dude as a moving, crawling, walking, climbing, exploring baby the journey has become even more crazy. Since he was 10 months I started to think “ok, this is what everyone meant when they say <you’ll be busy!>” and I started to think “I am near ready to go back to work”. And, no… that doesn’t make me a bad person or a bad mom. That makes me a mom whose loves her kid but also loves her sanity.
As I look back at the past year there were many highs and many lows. I don’t think I had post part depression, but I most certainly think I had the baby blues for quite a while. The Mr. now deserves an award for being the most patient, kind and loving person in the world! I know there were many days and possibly even weeks I was not a delight to live with, but he did and always with a smile on his face all while working a demanding job and also living with a newborn.
With new priorities, a new outfit or two and an office makeover underway I am ready for yet another fresh start as I head back to work. I look forward to writing about my experiences as a working mom and juggling real life… all while wearing fabulous shoes of course!
My shoes for that: Tory Burch Riding Boots (as worn in the family picture in this post)
Side note: This post was written while sitting in a parking lot waiting for my little dude to wake up between his vaccination appointment and his doctor appointment. Multi-tasking and making us of any “free time” at its best!