My maternity leave ended almost 2 weeks ago. I had mixed feelings about going back to work. I was excited but sad at the same time. I used to have panic attacks in the middle of the night while feeding Julia thinking how was I ever going to leave her at a strange place with strangers. I contemplated not going back to work, but that thought changed over time.
I am sure that almost every mom thinks how great it would be to stay home with their baby. I thought so too, but as my maternity leave progressed, things changed. The first few months were great since our family came to visit and stayed with us. It was busy and fun hanging out with them. But then everyone left and I was home alone… and I became very lonely. You would not think that would be the case… I mean, I had a baby and a cat in the house to keep me busy. And Julia was (and still is) a really good baby. She rarely cried and she ate and slept well. But even so, it was very difficult to do much around the house, since I never knew if Julia would nap for 20 minutes or 2 hours. Also, I used to have “this is a camp on the couch kind of a day” fairly often, especially in the beginning, since Julia would not want to sleep anywhere except in my arms. I also found it difficult to go places with her, since most of the time she would either nap or feed, and feeding was every 2 hours. I could never really plan anything since I did not know how the day would start. It all depended on when she woke up, since that was the first feeding of the day. I often found myself craving adult conversations and activities that I used to do before having Julia.
My mom was nice enough to come over to watch Julia for a few hours a couple of times a week so I can run. Running felt so liberating. It was my time and I was able to do something that I used to do before having Julia. I realized how important it was to do this, for my happiness and well-being, which in turn I believe affects Julia’s happiness and well-being.
I have a new respect for all the stay at home moms. I do have moments when I feel guilty for being at work and not taking care of Julia. I feel like I am not a very good mom since I am taking her to a school/daycare. I, of course, adore Julia and can’t imagine not having her in my life. But I don’t think that wanting to go back to work or to do things for myself makes me a bad mom. It goes back to the happiness and well-being thing. I think that doing things for me make me happy, which in turn will make me a better mom. I also think that her time at school will help her become more sociable, since she can interact with a lot more people, and independent, since she will have to learn to soothe herself and play on her own when the teachers are busy taking care of the other children.
As I already mentioned, both Julia and I have been at our respective places during the day for almost two weeks now. Last week was our first full week and we both did great. Julia loves her classmates and teachers. I often call during the day to see how she is doing and her teachers always state the same thing… “Julia is having a great day today!” That makes me so happy!! My time at work has been fine. It feels as though I have never left, which is crazy since I was gone for 12 weeks.
In the end, my maternity leave was fun, tiring, exciting, challenging, and nice. I do miss playing with Julia in the mornings and during the day. But we can still do that during the weekends, and that time will be even more cherished than before.