Goodbye Maternity Leave, Hello Working Mom Life

Today is the last day of my maternity leave and Henry’s first day at daycare. To say I’m feeling a whole lot of emotions is an understatement.

Though I’ve found things to fill my day and mind, Henry is all I can really think about, obviously.

We’ve spent mostly every minute of the last four-and-a-half months together. Feedings, naps, walks, play dates, outfit and diaper changes, tummy time, songs, books… over and over, and over again.

READ: What To Do When You’re On Maternity Leave

Some days I felt trapped in my apartment, especially those first couple of months when we were faced with weeks on end of 100+ degree temps, and couldn’t really do much outside with a newborn. The sleep deprivation was a mood killer, too. I never realized how much I valued/needed good sleep.

I had no interest in seeing many people. I was worried all the time and was just trying to manage my new life the best I could with my family living so far away. I had moments where I just cried and felt completely overwhelmed by my new experiences as a mom. I wished my own mom lived closer so I could have her swing by, even just for coffee or a shoulder to lean on. The monotony of it all was rough—especially as an extrovert who is used to being on the go 24/7—and I felt like I had completely kissed my former life goodbye.

When my parents and I got in a car accident on July 19 (the night they were supposed to return to MA after their week-long CA visit), just 2 weeks after Henry’s birth—my postpartum anxiety began. Luckily, Henry was home with Sam that night and we all were able to walk away from the scene okay. Nonetheless, we were all shaken up. Add to that that my breastfeeding journey was beyond difficult, my worries were piling, my sleep was non-existent, and trying to figure out my new routine was exhausting… it was no wonder PPA brushed up against me. Luckily, Sam was home with me for 2 months and we sort of got into a rhythm. I enjoyed our morning walks to get coffee with HJ—even if it meant just 15 minutes outside of the apartment.

Sam’s parents came to visit in August and I was slowly starting to feel more like myself. I had sort of adjusted to life as a new mom, and all the complexities and tasks that it included. I resorted to exclusively pumping to feed HJ, breast-pumping 7-8 times a day, including one middle-of-the-night pump which I DREADED because sometimes that meant setting an alarm. But… the fact that I was giving him my breastmilk made me proud but the pumping/feeding time took up a majority of my days and often left me stressed and running home to pump. Still, I kept on, and can say I am still pumping to this day to feed my boy, though I’ve cut the sessions down to 4-5 now that my milk supply has regulated.

READ: Breastfeeding’s Hard But I’m Keeping At It

Sam and I started to get more comfortable taking Henry out and about. We went to the beach, restaurants, and parks. We figured out his “routine” and we started getting to know our son in new ways—what his cries meant, when he needed a nap, how to burp him, and how to clip his nails… among everything else that comes with caring for a baby. 🙂 There was a point where we thought he was colic, but looking back, I can clearly see he wasn’t. He was just a newborn, crying often and needing our undivided attention and care.

During this time, friends reached out. I started to let people in. I accepted food deliveries, help, and comfort. As strong as I was getting, I needed it. New moms reached out with advice and special messages, and it really went a long way for me.

READ: Parenthood, The Glory And Lack Of Sleep

At the 3 months mark, things shifted. (People said things would.) Not only did HJ become more aware of the world around him and was moving out of that fussy newborn phase, but I was getting more used to this whole mom thing and starting to get a hang of the day-to-day stuff that made me more efficient, prepared and stress-free.

Oh, and he was starting to sleep longer stretches—like 5-6 hours—and that was a game changer.

I finally got out and started meeting people, too. As a social person, I was craving this kind of interaction—even if it meant I just got out once a day to meet up at a mommy group or Baby & Me yoga class. It gave me something to plan for and us something fun to do together.

I got to hang with some incredible women and their awesome babies. Some I had known before but this time gave me a chance to get to know them even more so, and some I had just met and got to bond with them over that #NewMomLife. To relate to other women on things like teething, night-time routines, and breastfeeding struggles went a really long way. I felt less alone.

READ: When Your Whole World Changes Overnight

Around this time, my parents came back out again to CA. They were a bit concerned about me feeling bluesy, and honestly, their help was so appreciated. Who knew a baby would just be so entirely consuming in all aspects of your life? I should have…

This trip was a lot of fun, much more relaxed than the first. We went to the beach, got some yummy food, Sam and I went out on a day date for sandwiches and beer, and we got to enjoy the outdoors with our growing babe.

As the months and weeks went on, I really was starting to feel like myself again. (I think the sleep helped a lot.)

Then the real fun began.

This whole stay-at-home-mom thing: I was really digging it. And I also had mad respect for all the women I knew who had done it before me, like my own mom and my best friend.

Man… it never really clicked until I was in it.

As a SAHM, I looked forward to our mornings together, our neighborhood strolls, getting coffee at Whole Foods and sitting outside, our meet-ups with other moms at random times, and looking forward to seeing Sam at night for family bonding (and for a much needed break which usually looked like a hot shower with essential oils).

Don’t get me wrong, there were days where I wished I had non-baby stuff to do, or more time to myself or a wine night with friends, but at the end of every day when I’d reflect on it… there was really nowhere else I rather be than home with my son and husband—even if dinner ended up being a weird mix of whatever was in the fridge, I hadn’t changed that whole day, or I had a bunch of texts to reply to from that morning.

Life has just turned a page. A chapter, even.

I’m a different person now. How could I not be?

I’m Henry’s mom.

My life won’t ever be the same. Work will feel different because of my little family to come home to. Outings will feel fun but, really, I’d rather be home with my guys.

It’s all in the simplicities. The little laughs that I love to hear. Story time at the end of the night, even if he just taps the pages and nods off to sleep. Bath time and kicking the water around with curiosity. Silly songs and even sillier smiles.

Having a son has enriched my world. To see him grow, smile and experience things for the first time is overwhelming in the best way.

I’ll never forget this incredibly special time we had. I feel very lucky to have had this much time off to bond with my son, get to know the awesome person he is, and even get to know the new me and all I’m capable of.

As I enter into a yet another transition—working mom life—I hope for balance, patience, and support. I know it won’t be easy but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find it all as the weeks and months move on…. once again… in a new way.

Life’s forever changing and challenging me. I’m growing just as fast as Henry.

Thanks for reading,
Ari

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s