Thank God for people who tell it like it is, no BS. Here’s lookin’ at you, Rachel Hollis. I listened to both of her books while I was pregnant and one of my favorite chapters from one of them (mom brain is real, guys), is when she says (and I’m summarizing here) “if all you do every day with your new born is keep them alive, you’re doing great.” She makes a point to say that the laundry can wait, cleaning the house and even yourself is no longer the main priority, and at the time, I was like… can’t you just put the baby down and go get some stuff done?
I had some big goals for my maternity leave. I was going to actually blog for the first time in.. wow, it’s been a whole year. A year ago I wasn’t yet pregnant and one of my best friends and I had started getting together to both work on our personal passion projects, both work on our own businesses (hers established; mine, not a business, just something I like to do). Well, life came, and unfortunately went and nothing got done. I have about 10 blog posts started about getting pregnant, being pregnant, food, and now post baby. But have you ever had an infant? Writing an entire post and thought in one sitting doesn’t happen. So by the time you return to the computer you forget where on earth you were going with that thought.
People said “enjoy your maternity leave!” on my last day in the office. I received a card with people who said “enjoy the summer off!” These people were adult males who have kids… did they not know that I was about the have the hardest, most exhausting, physically, mentally AND emotionally exhausting summer I’ve ever had? Forget a bad breakup, having an infant is earth shattering. I should also mention that it’s incredible. I love my son SO much. He’s 10 weeks old today, and those first 6 weeks I wasn’t so sure about what on earth we’d done. I cried to my husband that I wasn’t strong enough to do this. I think my most used phrase while in tears was “I can’t do this anymore” (which was about dealing with the exhaustion and the crying in that given moment.. not life). But now, the days he smiles and coos and tells me a bunch of stories and it gives me some little fragment of “I CAN DO THIS” even if he was up 7 times the night before.
I had thoughts of booming my BeautyCounter business when I started that because of my infertility journey, writing blog post after blog post about what I did to work on my infertility and change some of my lifestyle, then I got pregnant and had a great pregnancy, gestational diabetes, a smooth labor and delivery, and my brain space was occupied by what crib mattress, bottles, onesies, diapers etc. to buy. We did house projects, still had jobs, and a puppy that needed all of the spoiling before his life was turned upside down. How on earth to people find time for these side projects?! Well… I know the answer, it’s prioritizing. Not to keep tooting the Hollis horn, but I do genuinely love and appreciate her sentiments. Schedule your day and make. It. Happen. This season of life though, may not be the time to “make it happen,” and that’s OK too. For me, it wasn’t my season.
It was, however, a time for me to adjust to my new life. I learned how to function on 2 hours of sleep. I learned to ask for advice or seek therapy when I needed it. I learned to communicate with my husband and really understand what MY needs are and what’s important for our life together, and what’s just not. We’ve both had to adjust.
Some moms start workout programs and meal plans after 6 weeks (or sooner), some use formula instead of breastfeeding, some moms get to sleep through the night because their babies are Rockstar sleepers (note: this was NOT us) while others battle to get their kid to sleep for more than 2 hours straight. I should also point out, it’s been 10 12 weeks, and in the last 1-2 weeks we’ve started to get a routine down where he can nap in the swing and I can do things for 30-60 minutes like this.
…2 weeks later I’m coming back to this post. Once again not sure where I was heading in that last paragraph! I’m on my LAST FRIDAY of maternity leave and I’m UBER bummed. I’m staring at my sweet baby bear napping in his swing (yep, I let him NAP IN HIS SWING AND IT’S OK). I checked worked emails, and then decided to open my computer.
Let me be clear, I really don’t think I’m going to miss this when I head back to work – the PJ’s until noon, frantically showering/eating/getting dressed in 20 minutes and looking like a hot mess on the reg, being a little bored with the monotony of the same thing and routine every day, getting the sad eyes from my puppy because I can hardly find a minute to give him attention that’s not in the form of a family walk and I’m LUCKY if we can actually do that on the first try without the babes screaming for a block.
I am, however, going to miss this little one every single minute. His sweet snuggles, the insane amount of chatter and babbling on his playmat, seeing him change and grow literally every day in front of my eyes as he learns something new. I’m going to miss someone smiling at me just for walking in the room (because I’m sure that’s not going to happen at work!). I love him so much, and it grows every day.
I believe the original point of this is that no matter what you did or did not accomplished on maternity leave, you kept a HUMAN alive. In my case, for the first time ever, and it was terrifying, frustrating, exhausting, and at the same time empowering, motivating, strengthening and full of love. Let me repeat that, it was full of LOVE, not happiness and joy. Those were there, but it wasn’t all the time! Maternity leave is not vacation, it’s not something that you get to “relax and enjoy time with your baby!” – it’s stressful and it’s OK to not enjoy every single moment that happens.
So, mama’s, mama’s-to-be, and pro moms, remind yourself whether it’s your first or fourth baby, every time is different. You don’t master momming a new infant because they’re all different, your routine will always look different, and give yourself grace. Know that you are doing an incredible job even if you can’t fold your laundry that’s been in a pile on the floor for 5 days (guilty!) or if you haven’t brushed your teeth yet and it’s near noon. See that baby? Are they breathing, living, and happy sometimes? Yes? OK, then you’re a doing a great job.