Thursday, August 29, 2013

Maternity Leave

My maternity leave is winding down, I return to work on September 3, 2013.  As I get closer to my "return to work" date, I have been reflecting on how my leave has gone.

First, I have to say that I am thankful I was able to take 12 weeks off from my job.  I know that not all employers allow their working mothers to take 12 weeks for maternity leave, I've read on several mommy community sites that several women had to return after 6 or 8 weeks.  Frankly, I wish this country had a better attitude towards maternity and paternity leave.  In England, maternity leave is a year, which I think is wonderful.  It would be great if this country had an attitude like that about leave for employees.  I was saddened that my partner was not able to take paternity leave.  His employer let him take 1 week off to be home with us, which I just think wasn't long enough.  Granted, daddy has been able to bond with our son in the evenings and on weekends, but it just isn't the same.

Because I had a C-section, my mother took care of me while T was at work and I'm extremely thrilled that she did that.  I'm thankful that my mother lives in the same city as me and that she was in a position where she was able to spend Monday through Friday for 5 weeks with me while I recovered and got used to being a new mom.  There's not enough "thank yous" out there for what she did for me.

I haven't had very many visitors while I've been on leave.  Maternity leave, I've discovered, is very lonely, especially if you're healing from a C-section.  I didn't notice the loneliness when my mom was here, but once I was declared healed and cleared to go back to doing normal things (drive, workout, clean house, etc.) and my mom went back to her life, I discovered I was very lonely.  My days were filled with just the baby, which I would not trade for anything in the world, but it would have been nice to have a little more human contact.  Now, in reality, my whining is silly, because all of my friends have full-time jobs and I can't expect people to skip a day of work just to visit me.  That being said, it is a lonely thing being on leave.  I don't miss my job, but I miss the people I work with.  I have the great fortune of working with great men and women, people I enjoy working with and who I enjoy seeing every day at work.  I miss them and look forward to seeing them when I return to work in September.  I don't miss my job, it's not something that makes me happy and it doesn't pay me anything close to what I am worth, but at least I'm employed.  Having wonderful co-workers makes up for the fact that I received my first salary increase since 2006 and it wasn't much of an increase.

I've enjoyed watching my son grow from 1 day old to 3 month old and I think the next 18 years are going to be full of amazing things.  He is truly a gift.  Right now, T and I are trying to work on giving him belly time, so he can develop his ability to lift his head and chest with his arms.  This is all in preparation for him crawling in a few months.  This is something the pediatrician (and every baby book I've read) suggests we do and it's nice to try to help him work on moving.  He has very strong legs and is holding his head up fairly well, he can't sit up by himself, but he's a bit too young to have that kind of strength anyway.  At his 2 month check-up, he already weighed 12 pounds, and he's just getting heavier and bigger (at 3 months old, he's 14 pounds even).  I'm happy he is growing, the first few days of his life, he lost 14% of his birth weight, which is not good, and I struggled to him back to his original birth weight.  Thankfully, by the time he was 2 weeks old, he was .5 ounces over his original birth weight and he's been growing ever since.  He eats very well.  I breastfeed my son but I have nothing against formula.  I had to use formula the first 2 weeks of my son's life to supplement my breast milk, which was very slow coming in.  That's why he lost so much weight, I wasn't producing along the "normal" timeline, because of the magnesium sulfate I had been given during labor for preeclampsia (I talked about my labor in this posting  If it hadn't been for the use of formula those first couple weeks, he would have had to be hospitalized and given an IV.  I'm grateful for the fact that formula exists and that I was able to use it to help my son gain weight and nourishment.  I do not feel superior or believe I am a better mother just because I can now successfully breastfeed, I just am glad I can feed my son.  I tip my hat to all mothers who feed their infants, whether it's with formula or breast milk (this article made an impression on me:  August is National Breastfeeding Month and frankly, I think not only should breastfeeding mothers be protected, but formula feeding mothers should be protected, because they are looked down on and attacked more than the breastfeeding moms; formula moms are made to feel bad for not breastfeeding and frankly, until you know why that mother is choosing to breastfeed, don't judge her, cause she may not be able to breastfeed.  I'm stepping off my soap box now.

During my leave, I spent time looking for and researching day cares.  I researched 20 and narrowed it down to 9 to contact.  After contacting the 9, I interviewed 3 and chose 1.  I'm excited about the place we chose, it is on a quiet street, has a large staff and I think the baby will do well there.  I'm not looking forward to my first day away from him, but it has to be done, we need two incomes in today's economy.  I think he'll fair very well his first day of daycare, but me, well I will be a basket case.

We are also working on figuring out a sleep pattern.  Some nights, I can get him down between 9pm and 10pm, other nights it's 11pm by the time he's sound asleep.  Some nights, he goes down without a fuss and is perfectly content after nursing, other nights he fusses all through nursing and after nursing and needs to be walked around in order to calm down.  He takes about 2-3 naps a day but they don't last very long, maybe an hour if we're lucky.  I'm not sure how any of this is going to impact how he acts at daycare.  Hopefully, he'll do okay and the employees won't hate me when I come pick him up (I hope he doesn't earn the reputation of being a "difficult" baby).

I'm just a few days away from returning to work.  I need to get a few more items for the daycare (diapers and wipes) and I need to get things for myself for work (lunch items).  I need to get out the ironing board, which I haven't used since buying it, and I need to get my pre-pregnancy items ironed.  I need to figure out what I'm wearing my first day back after being gone 3 months.  I need to learn to breathe and not be hard on myself as I return to work.  I've been very hard on myself the past few weeks and I need to just calm down and move forward.  Here's to a calm return to work.