Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last Day of Maternity Leave

I go back to work tomorrow.

It hurts to even type that sentence because, as much as I truly am ready to get back into the real world, these 3 months have been the greatest months of my entire life, hands down. They were stressful, sleep deprived, and crazy—but also rewarding, breathtaking, and so, so filled with love.

There are some things I want to document here, so, in the event that Danny and I are fortunate enough to bring home another baby someday, I can look back at what I've learned over these last 3 months. I'm not referring to what I've learned with regards to love and life and how amazing it is to be somebody's mommy, because I don't have the words for all that. I'm talking about maternity leave, in general.

Here are some things I'm glad I did—and hope to do again:
  • Wrote Arlo's birth story. I wrote down the details while everything was still fresh in my mind, and this piece of writing, along with the birth photos we had taken, is my treasure. It's not literary genius by any means, but it's heartfelt, and I look back on it often—and have yet to do so without crying. I'm so happy I captured the day in words (or tried to, anyway), and that we had Brittany Graham capture it in photos. There have been moments where I was at my wit's end, and reading Arlo's birth story is like grabbing myself by the shoulders and shaking some sense into myself; it's such a good reminder of how special that day was and of what a blessing Arlo is.
  • Wore pajamas frequently. Arlo doesn't care what I look like, so I wasn't about to waste time getting pretty every day. 
  • Took Arlo out and about. It doesn't take long to get stir-crazy, so I wasn't afraid to haul Arlo around, even if it meant being kind of embarrassed in public a few times. Babies cry.  

Here are some things I wish I'd known:
  • You're not going to get anything done. Seriously, forget about organizing the basement/closets/5 years' worth of photos. It's 100% not going to happen. If you're able to load the dishwasher and take a shower, consider it a successful day, and tell yourself how amazing you are. Maternity leave exists for a reason; newborns are a full-time job.  
  • Have an open house. Everybody's going to want to meet your little miracle, and that's wonderful. You'll be more grateful for your loved ones than ever before, but it's chaotic planning your days around visitors (e.g., "Okay, the baby has to be fed, changed, and happy; and we have to make sure the house is presentable and the dog's not full of piss and vinegar by X:00!"). Don't let thoughtful gestures become a source of stress. Consider having an open house one day a week for the first few weeks, rather than having a visitor every day.
  • Print photos every week. They're everywhere:  on the camera, on our phones, in friends' FB albums, etc. Print them every week or so, because finding them all, printing them all, and putting them all in order becomes really overwhelming really fast.
  • Take time for yourself. You'll go crazy if you don't. The baby will be fine if you leave him/her with Daddy for awhile and go take a walk or get your hair done. Needing some alone time doesn't make you a bad mommy or wife. It just makes you human.
  • Take time for your husband. Your baby's awesome beyond belief, but don't forget how awesome your husband is, too. As exciting as the topic is, maybe he wants to talk about something besides cloth diapers sometimes.
  • Don't rely on breastfeeding for weight loss. It obviously didn't work. Make sure the fridge is always stocked with easy, healthy food. 
  • Go to bed earlier. Who actually "naps when the baby naps?" Everybody says the dishes can wait, but that logic doesn't vibe well with a Type A personality. Use baby's naptime as get-things-done time, but go to bed earlier! There's no reason to stay up until midnight every night, trying to catch up on housework or your Facebook newsfeed.  
  • Enjoy every single second. Even when the baby is crying hysterically and your head is about to explode, squeeze that little miracle tight and kiss, kiss, kiss him/her. It's amazing how damn fast these months go by. One second, you're smelling your baby's skin for the first time, and the next second, you're making sure your breast pump is all packed and ready for work the next day—and you'll wish you had your screaming baby in your arms.
Last day of maternity leave. That's kinda how I feel, too, kid.


Christina said...

Wow, it feels like it was just yesterday that I read his birth story (I'm sure you feel that way even more). He's so cute!!!

Emmett Katherine said...

Such a sweet post, I really need to print photos and put them in an album because they become disorganized so quickly. I wrote my birth story out too right away for the same reasons you did, I wanted to capture everything while it was fresh in my mind.

Good luck tomorrow


Nicole said...

Thanks for the advice ...perfect timing because mine starts any day now.