So the time has arrived for me to go to back to work, and it’s so sad! I have ONE day of my eleven month maternity leave left, and I can’t believe this time has arrived. I knew it would, but I think I was in denial!
It has, hands down, been the best time of my life. It’s not that I don’t like work, or that I don’t want to continue with my career; I do. It’s more a sadness that this time is coming to an end.
The past eleven months have been a real journey and learning experience for me. As Harry has grown, there have been different stages we’ve gone through. Here’s my take on it!
1. The Calm Before the Storm
You’ve finished work; there’s that feeling of excitement and a bit of fear. You happily leave work behind and spend the next few weeks relaxing and waiting in anticipation for a huge, life changing event. I spent this time going for walks, shopping, running errands. I didn’t relax that much! I had Ella for company and it was a really nice time.
2. Shock and Elation – The Newborn Stage
All of a sudden, they’re here. Life as you know it, has changed forever. You’ve given birth and can’t believe your luck. Relief and happiness just takes over. Sleep deprived and running on adrenaline, you try to work out how to be a parent while everyone you know comes to visit! You spend hours staring at your baby, marveling at this beautiful, tiny person.
3. The Hard Bit
The visitors die down, the sleep deprivation starts to get to you, your husband/partner goes back to work. This is when reality sets in. There was a momentary period when I felt a bit like everyone around me was going about their business and I felt I couldn’t do that. I had to get out, find things to do and find a new routine. When I did, things got so much better and I really started to enjoy every minute.
4. Joining the Mum Club
Suddenly everything is exciting and fun. Your baby emerges from the newborn stage and their personality starts to shine through. They smile, laugh, play with toys and love observing the world around them. You go for walks, to baby groups, to baby classes. You make mum friends and everything is a novelty. You try out soft play, going on days out, maybe even going on a short break somewhere nearby. You start to feel a little bit like your old self, but better – you have a baby now! You compare every little detail with your mum friends and chat at length about anything and everything to do with your baby.
5. The Settled Stage
You feel totally immersed in motherhood now. As though nothing else will ever matter again. You toy with the idea of not going back to work. You feel like you have found your true calling in life. Your baby is now eating real food and has gained a little bit of independence. You have settled into a nice routine (always subject to change, but nowadays you can handle that), and you could happily go on like this forever.
6. The Cherish Every Moment Stage
Suddenly you realise your time is starting to run out. You’ve been saying you had ‘ages left’ for a long time and now you’re realising you don’t have that long at all. You start to panic – you meet up with distant relatives and long lost friends and do lots of activities just so you’re sure you have ‘made the most’ of your time. Your baby starts to have their own firsts – first Halloween, first Christmas, for example. Time is starting to pass you by. You realise you ARE going back to work and that you better start preparing yourself!
7. The Dread before The Big Change
The last few weeks arrive and you start to mourn everything. Things start going wrong – your baby gets sick, stops sleeping through the night, becomes a fussy eater. You worry that you won’t be able to get out of the house on time in the mornings, that you have no clothes for work, that your baby won’t be happy without you. You get emotional and sentimental. Then you start to turn it around and accept your fate, and know, deep down that it will be ok, sort of.
And that’s the stage I’m at right now! Wish me luck!