I’m only three weeks out from the end of maternity leave and it has already taken on a hazy sheen in my memory, the days and weeks blending together in a magical wonderland of time spent relaxing and snuggling my baby. One thing this tells me is that we were incredibly lucky to get an easy, happy baby. I actually got plenty of sleep during the first 12 weeks of Freya’s life. (Don’t strangle me, I did go through 30 hours of hard labor and almost died to get there.) And holy wow, it really does go so fast. That tiny, sleepy newborn has been replaced with a vibrant, smiley, drooly, squealy, strong BABY baby, with emerging opinions and bigger things RIGHT around the corner. If this has gone so fast, it will be mere moments before she sits up, sprouts teeth, becomes mobile, says words, eats people food. Seriously. It’s not that I didn’t believe it when people told me how fast it goes, but now I KNOW. Two of my friends have had babies in the last couple weeks and I just want to tell them “no REALLY, enjoy every minute!” but I know they’ve already heard it because I’m totally not alone in this.
It really helps to not feel alone in this journey, especially the working mom journey. I’ve always been pretty good at reassuring myself, but for this I really needed other women who have done this or are doing it to prove to me that it’s possible and survivable. Before going back to work I couldn’t even understand how Freya would survive without me right there to feed her at a moment’s notice. I mean, duh, I pump and she eats what I pump. She even gets to stay home with her dad every day. And I even pump extra so we can freeze it just in case she gets extra hungry or I die in a car accident on my way home. But I had to take that first step into the real world where my baby keeps growing until she doesn’t need me anymore. And I had to step back into that other part of my life where I’m a librarian with a career I love and an awesome new job, and I also have to work so my family can have health insurance and a place to live.
So now I have a new life at work and at home. New responsibilities, new office, new role, new relationships at work. New routines at home; I wake up way earlier and go to bed way earlier than I ever have before. I can hardly do more than have some focused cuddle time, eat dinner, feed Freya a couple times, put her to bed and make sure the bottles and pump parts are washed so I can go to bed and start it all over again. I don’t even have to DO the washing most nights, because Jed’s a hero and also makes sure I have lunch and dinner to eat. Most of the energy that doesn’t go into work goes into feeding the baby—I pump three times a day, she visits me at lunch so I can feed her, I make sure she eats twice before bed & once again before I go to bed so hopefully she only gets up once during the night to eat but sometimes it’s twice. The last thing I do before leaving for work is feed her. We exchange smiles and conversation in between.
One good piece of advice I got was to not tell people how tired I was unless I knew they cared. I think I’m doing ok on that front. The trying not to talk about it too much, I mean, not the being tired because oh MAN am I tired. And if I do mention the sleep deprivation too often I’m sure I’ll get better about it because I’m still new at this. I think it’s getting easier. And honestly? It hasn’t been torturous, and sometimes it’s sad and it’s always hard, but I pretty much don’t have time or energy to dwell on it too much and since time just keeps speeding by there’s always another weekend and another milestone right around the corner anyway.