This week, it happened. Twelve short weeks flew by and my maternity leave was over. I started struggling with the idea of sending my precious new baby to daycare at about 10 weeks in. Before that, it seemed so far away. Either that, or I was just too tired to really think too far into the future.
Maternity leave is interesting. You really spend the first month trying to recover from delivery. Regardless of the kind of delivery you had, recovery takes some time and some adjusting. Not only is your body recovering, but your family is too.
The second month of maternity leave is when it starts to get so much better. By then, you and your family have figured out how to get things done and the baby has developed some routine. This time around, I really soaked all of it in. I didn’t get much done around the house because I spent all of my spare time staring at him while he slept, rocking him while he nursed, and making silly faces at him when he looked at me. We really became an awesome team.
And then that last month is when the baby can respond to you and that amazing bond gets even stronger. You know what makes him laugh. You know what cries and sounds mean what. He starts to make the “poop face” and the “I’m about to lose my shit” face. But he also stares at you as if you are the most beautiful and magnificent person in the whole entire world. It feels wonderful.
And then the real world rips it away from you because you have to go back to work.
This transition has been absolutely heartbreaking. Because I knew this would be a struggle for me, Matt and I chose a very highly rated daycare which means it is freakishly expensive (and we totally can’t afford it but we’ll figure out a way to make it work). I guess I thought that would make this easier. It hasn’t.
Day 1 I cried all morning. Fortunately, Matt went with me for drop off. I sobbed the entire time and Matt pretty much had to drag me out of the door. They were super nice but it was terrible.
When I picked him up that day, they told me that he struggled taking the bottle and he barely napped all day. This made me start sobbing again. What kind of awful mother am I??!!
When we got home, the baby was ravenous and nursed like he hadn’t eaten in days. Then I stared at him for about 20 minutes and then he fell asleep for the rest of the night. On this terrible day when I was separated from my beautiful baby all day and cried all day and all I wanted was to stare into his big blue eyes, he was awake for 20 minutes. This sucks!
The second day, I was able to soak in the morning a little more. I stared at him and snuggled him a little too long before getting him ready. I drove a little slower on the way to daycare and watched him in the rearview as he giggled to himself. I made it into the classroom, calm and collected. I handed the baby to his teacher and l immediately lost it. I sobbed and sobbed and had to kiss him about 14 times before I was able to walk out the door. He did sleep and eat better at daycare that day so my evening was a little more pleasant.
The third day, today, was a little bit better (so far). I managed to get him all the way into his classroom, talk with the teacher a bit, hand him off, and I only turned around 3 times to kiss him “just one more time” before I left. I made it all the way out the door and into the parking lot before bursting into tears.
I am not sure who on earth invented this horrible ritual and who in their right mind thought that 12 weeks was long enough for maternity leave (unpaid by the way) but, as I said before, this sucks.
I never thought that taking a shower would be such an ordeal. I never imagined that along the way I would forget taking care of myself used to come so easily. But having a baby changes things.
Since I got home from the hospital with my perfect, healthy newborn, I have remembered that life with a newborn is always a new adventure to be navigated.
The shower, for example:
1. My boobs hurt! You would think that when the warm water hits my boobs that it would feel good. Lies! All lies. It hurts! In fact, when anything hits my boobs it hurts. It doesn’t matter if it’s warm water, cold water, or anything else, it hurts. Even when I dry off after the shower, the towel itself feels like sandpaper on my incredibly sensitive breastfeeding nipples.
2. My boobs leak. I forgot along the way, over the past five years, that any and everything makes my boobs leak. Just thinking about my boobs leaking makes my boobs leak. After the shower, if you wonder what that wetness is dripping down on your feet, it’s your boobs leaking.
3. I feel like I need to get permission to take a shower. I know that this is not the case. But in order for me to take 15 to 20 minutes off in order to take a shower, I have to check in with all parties to make sure that they can watch the baby while I take a shower. Then while in the shower, I hear the baby cry and I feel like I need to rush my shower in order to take care of the baby. My husband suggested, after I told him I felt guilty, that I wait until after I put the baby to bed for the night to take my shower but, that means I could sleep even less than I’m already sleeping. No thank you.
4. I just feel so gross. Between not being able to shower on a daily basis, wearing the same clothes day after day after day, and having another human being attached to me non-stop, I feel gross. There is no rhyme or reason to this, I just feel gross. Being pregnant sucks for a lot of different reasons, but at least I was able to shower on a regular basis. I might not have been able to see my feet or my downtown region but I was able to shower daily. Taking care of a newborn eliminates that possibility.
You never really think about the importance of a shower until you don’t have one. It doesn’t really feel like one of those first world problems until the ability to take a shower is a luxury. And then comes the mommy guilt because at the end of the day, I’m complaining about a shower when I’m responsible for another human being’s existence. I feel like a terrible person because I want to put the baby down and take a frickin shower. But then the baby screams and cries and wants to be on the boob and now I’m a terrible person who selfishly just wants to be clean.
Maternity leave should be called dirty mommy leave. Or something else similar because… I’m tired and dirty. What was I talking about?