Just like that, maternity leave is over

And so, just like that, my maternity leave is over. After 40 weeks off work I am going back on Monday morning, bright and early.

Peyton will be dropped off at nursery and our new normal will begin.

When people have asked me how I feel about going back to work, my reply has been "I'm really looking forward to it!!" The look I get sometimes makes me question whether that's the right answer, it's certainly not the answer I think many would expect, but I really am looking forward to it.

Don't get me wrong, I'll miss Peyton like mad. I'll miss spending all my time with her everyday, I'll miss watching her learn new things, and I'll miss the funny faces she has started to pull. But I do love my job, and I can't wait to get my teeth back into it. I'm excited to use my brain again, to throw myself back into the world of local news, and to have adult conversations. I'm excited to wear clothes that aren't gym leggings, and be confident that my outfit will survive the day without getting sick/snot/dribble/faeces on, and I can't wait to drink a hot cup of coffee.

My maternity leave has been everything I imagined it would be, and so much more. I've been so incredibly lucky to have been able to share the majority of my time off with my best friend, who had her gorgeous baby girl just 8 weeks after Peyton was born. To spend so much time with the two of them, and watch how they have grown and start to interact with each other, has been amazing. Maternity leave can be incredibly, incredibly lonely at times - I learnt this very quickly - but having Soph off too made the world of difference for me. You really realise who your true friends are when you have a baby. When I was having bad days, I knew she understood. When I told her how I'd spent the day previous with a cranky, grumpy baby who was a nightmare from waking to bedtime, she understood. When I told her that I spent almost as much time crying as she did one day, she understood. Having someone there who understands exactly what you're going through is invaluable. Even down to the post-birth changes to our bodies - the things you wouldn't be able to talk to anyone else about. Honestly, I couldn't have got through the last nine months without her.

Gosh, that got very serious very quickly!

I'm feeling all soppy now.

So yes, anyway, my maternity leave has been everything I imagined.

We've been on so many walks - whether it just be into town and back, or to a nice picturesque place - we have been to baby groups, to soft play, swimming, farms, aquariums, parks, shopping centres, and more coffee shops/cafes than I care to admit. I've watched This Morning religiously (I'll miss Holly and Phil when I'm back full time), become obsessed with the ITV gameshows (Tenable and Tipping Point are really underrated!), and watched a hell of a lot of Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom, Peppa Pig and Teletubbies. FYI, Ben and Holly is by far the clear winner out of the three. Peppa is just a brat and the Teletubbies are as annoying as they were in the 90s (seriously, why can't they just speak properly?!)

So yes, whilst I am excited to be going back to work, I do feel pangs of guilt, too. Yep, that bastard mum guilt is back rearing its ugly head.

Peyton will go to nursery three full days a week, which I know she will love, but I feel guilty that the staff there will get to see every development she makes before I will. They'll get to see her learning new things and growing and changing, and I'll just get a couple of hours with her at the start of the day and before bed.

I love my job, but part of me does wish that we were in the financial position where I could go part-time. I'm sure once I get back into the swing of it I'll enjoy full-time, but right now I am feeling guilty that we'll be apart so much through the week. I hope when she's older she understands.

However, I know she will love nursery. And I know it'll encourage her development even more. She loves playing with toys and she is obsessed with other children. She gets so excited when she sees them, she squeaks like a bird and flaps her arms and legs until she's put down to crawl on over. One of the things they said after her first settling in session was how confident she is - although with Tom and I as parents, it's no wonder really!!

She has done all her settling in sessions now and they've gone so, so well. The first one, I stayed with her and just sat at the edge of the room. Off she went playing, pretty much straight away, and only came back to me a couple of times. The second one, we left her there. The staff said she was absolutely fine until about 20-25 minutes in, when she realised we had gone, and she got a bit upset. They said they were able to distract her with books/sensory toys and she was ok. She'd missed her nap before we dropped her off, though, so I think tiredness played a part in that.

She's been for her final session today, where we left her again, and she had an absolute ball. She had her dinner there - today was cottage pie with veggies, followed by trifle - and the staff said they couldn't believe how much she ate. I'd mentioned to them we were doing baby led weaning and they could just put the plate down and she'd feed herself, and the lady said that's exactly what she did. She said they weren't sure how much she'd eat, but she cleared her plate! "She eats a lot for someone so small," was the feedback. That's my girl.

They said the only time she got a bit cranky was when they tried to clean her face - she hates her face being wiped - but other than that was a delight. That makes me feel so much better about leaving her full days from Monday.

I haven't felt teary leaving her yet, and I know I'll be fine on Monday so long as she doesn't cry. If she cries, then I definitely will.

I think, because I've left her for work when I've done my keeping in touch days, I'm more used to it than if I'd never left her before. I remember my first keeping in touch day I felt emotional when I was on my way to work. I remember having these awful butterflies in my tummy until about dinner time, and was desperate for my mum to send me updates throughout their day.

The only thing I am worried about with regards to going back to work/P going to nursery is how the hell we are going to get up, both get ready, and everything we need for the day ready and out the house by 7.45am.

Honestly, I don't know how I'll manage it. Tom is neither use nor ornament on a morning, it takes him over an hour just to get himself ready! Before Peyton was born I used to be able to get up, washed, dressed and out the house within half an hour from waking up. Tom would come in and say bye to me while I was putting my make-up on, saying he was leaving, and I'd still manage to leave the house before him because of all his faffing!

So I think mornings will be a solo effort on my part...! (Sorry babe!)

Maternity leave has been the most challenging, yet rewarding, nine months of my life. I've felt love like I never knew existed, but I've also felt frustration, anxiety, sleep deprivation and sheer desperation some days. I've learnt so much about myself that I never knew. I'm not as patient as I thought I was, something that I have tried really hard to work on since realising; I rarely put myself first; and I need to open up more. I do not cope well on little sleep, I worry too much what other people think, and I struggle to switch off and relinquish control.

I've fallen in love with this tiny little ball of chaos who, some days, tests me beyond belief. She forever keeps me on my toes and could cause mischief in an empty room, but she's helped me become a better - albeit more haggard - version of me. She's a whirlwind who lights up the room with her infectious smile, her babbling and her sheer determination.

I'm so unbelievably proud of the little girl that Tom and I have raised so far. It's been hard work some days, but it's all been worth it.

I can't wait to see what else is in store for her - growing up with a best friend in Olivia, making new friends at nursery, learning more new things, and enjoying a whole host of new experiences.

The world is our oyster, baby girl, let's go get it.

No comments:

Post a Comment