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Thread: Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    73

    Default Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

    Hello, wonderful Mamas! I'm looking again for responses to this expectant mom's question that may be printed in an upcoming issue of New Beginnings, the National LLL magazine. Can you help her and other moms who have this question? Please feel free to be as detailed as you like - we'll worry about editing. Thanks!

    Here is the question:
    “I am pregnant for the first time and will be taking twelve weeks off with my baby after he is born. It seems like a long time to me, but others tell me it will fly by. I’ve never spent much time at home during the week, and I am uncertain as to how I will fill my time! How have other working women made the adjustment to staying home for several months with their babies?”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Upstate SC
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    30

    Default Re: Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

    Where do I begin...? Hehe
    I only have experience as an exclusively breastfeeding mama, and I don't know if you're planning on doing so or not, but if you are...for the first few weeks, you'll be nursing your baby, sleeping (when your little one sleeps-probably at random times of the day and night), eating, nursing, changing diapers (or letting anyone else who wants to help do that...), sleeping, nursing, taking pictures, asking relatives/friends/significant other to do the laundry or hold the baby while you shower or pee...
    Then, once the baby isn't nursing all the time and you start to really see his personality after a couple months, you'll realize you've killed an hour just hanging out, watching him or snuggling while he's sleeping! (The laundry can wait...)
    I guess what I'm trying to say is that you won't be too hard pressed to find things to do to fill your time for a while. And in my experience, after the first three months were up and I'd finally kinda gotten the idea that this kid wasn't going anywhere, I couldn't remember what it was like to have 3 part time jobs. This full-time-for-the-rest-of-your-life job is more work than I've ever done!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    2,214

    Default Re: Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

    Making the switch from working full-time to being mother of a newborn baby is DEFINITELY a transition, but in different ways than you might expect. I can only speak from my own perspective, of course, which is going from a professional woman used to working 80+/week (at that time) to 3 1/2 months maternity leave to back to full-time... and I've since done it two more times, though with shorter leaves (six weeks each). First of all, becoming a parent for the first time is a completely absorbing experience - just adjusting to the idea that this beautiful little creature is completely dependent on you - and that you are actually up to this awesome task - is mind-blowing in and of itself! Second, in the early weeks, breastfeeding is a truly full-time job. I've told many friends who got pregnant for the first time after me to expect that they will do nothing else in the early weeks. Someone else should go to the store, cook, do the laundry etc. - partner, mom, other relatives and friends, whoever. One friend told me that the best advice I gave her was that you may have time for one non-baby related activity each day - a strange notion when you're used to being a busy, productive, efficient professional.

    As your baby gets a little older and you get the hang of breastfeeding, the rhythm starts to change. I had healthy pregnancies and deliveries, so fairly quickly I started taking walks with baby. At first just a quick ten or fifteen minutes around the block; being outside during daylight hours also helps get the baby's clock into a day/night rhythm. Sometimes with baby strapped to me in a carrier, other times in the stroller. I was amazed that even at a couple weeks, babies start showing interest in the world around them, and you realize - wow! - this is a little human being curious about the world, already learning! Then the walks start to get longer. Nothing like a nice walk to soothe a fussy baby or get the baby to sleep, and for me, being able to get out of my apartment/house has always done wonders for my psychological well-being.

    Around six weeks baby starts to coo and smile, and you coo and smile back and it is amazing! As baby becomes more alert and attentive, I start reading to baby, making faces, singing. Baby will watch with rapt attention (at least for a few minutes) and you again realize how much you really are the center of his world.

    Also as baby gets older and you are less tired, you can start socializing more. Early on having too many visitors is tiring (though having a few close relatives or friends nearby can be tremendously helpful, both practically and for your emotional well-being), but as baby gets to be a couple months old, having friends by to visit and coo over the baby is a lot of fun. If you happen to have friends with babies, it's great to hang out, exchange tips, have someone to share stories with or complain to. If you don't have friends nearby with babies, a mother's group can serve the same purpose. You can also gradually resume your usual activities, for example taking the baby on errands (though most things take longer with baby in tow!).

    One thing I've always enjoyed about breastfeeding is that it gives me a lot of time to read, which is something I've always loved doing. Actually, you'd be surprised by all the different things you can do while breastfeeding! We bought our first house, in a different state, when my first baby was two months old, so I spent a lot of time online looking at houses. I've also studied for exams, emailed, and made phone calls, all with baby at the breast. Of course, vegging out in front of the TV or a movie is always an option too.

    For me, work is really important to me, more than just a way to earn money, so I've always had at least some level of engagement with my work even when on maternity leave. The baby and his needs definitely come first, then making sure that I'm staying healthy (for example, taking naps at least some of the time that baby is asleep). But I've found that there usually is some time to stay engaged with work, whether it's doing work-related reading (usually with baby at the breast) or checking emails, and this too has helped me maintain sanity during this time of transition - that is, staying connected to the person I've always been, which is a very hard-working, driven professional person. The person you were before the baby came doesn't go away, even as you grow into your new role as a mother, and staying connected to that person can help prevent the demands of motherhood from becoming overwhelming. In addition, if you are going back to work, maintaining some connection makes the transition back a little less jarring. But I think it depends a lot on the type of work you do. Many women want to forget about work entirely while focusing on their new role as mother. Each new mom has to figure out what feels right to her. (And you definitely want it to be a decision you make, as opposed to your boss putting pressure on you, for example.)

    All in all, the time does go by quickly, and then it's time to make the reverse transition BACK to work! Which has its own host of emotions attached to it - after bonding so intensely with baby, those first days back can be really hard (especially with a short leave), but on the flip side, it can be a way of realizing that though life seemed to flip upside-down with baby's arrival, it will gradually flip itself back to right-side up again, but now with the wonderful and wondrous addition of CHILDREN!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

    This question makes me laugh, as I wondered the same thing, and boy was I in for a surprise! I lined up projects to do and planned to spend lots of time practicing my guitar. I pretty much spent the 3 months nursing, pumping (I had some problems in the beginning, though), changing diapers, trying to get baby to nap (that was rough!), trying to eat and get some sleep myself. And my DH works from home, so he was even there to help out when I needed it. I don't think I picked up my guitar once. I did get about 5 minutes of knitting in a few nights, so I now have half a sleeve finished on a sweater that I don't think I'll ever get to finish. I watched a lot of TV while nursing and kept beating myself up about it (like I should be doing something more productive). I regret not just relishing in that relaxation! First-time mommyhood is about second-guessing everything, I think.

    But I do have to say maternity leave was the greatest -- I loved all the time with my baby and really had a hard time coming back to work. Don't worry about filling your time, because it will be filled for you. But make sure to enjoy it. I loved being able to play on the floor with my little girl when she wasn't nursing and looking down at how peaceful she was when she'd finally take a nap. I miss having all that time to be with her.
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Manhattan, KS...for now.
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    143

    Default Re: Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

    It's unimaginable now, but you will be amazed at how much of your day your LO will occupy! And yes, it will go by quickly. There's no way to describe how your baby will completely and wonderfully turn your world upside-down (and that's not to say it's all wonderful . It will seem unending, unbearable, and yet one day it will all be a blur that you'll paint as romantic in your memory.
    Daniel Keith + Rachel Joy = Leonel Dante [4/13/2012]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

    Thanks, Ladies!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    365

    Default Re: Adjusting to Maternity Leave question - for NB Magazine

    I fell in love with my son and am so happy to look back on our time together and feel no regrets. I sank 100% of my energy into caring for him, building a strong relationship, and I don't for a second regret stepping off a high-powered career track to do it.

    If I can offer one suggestion, it's to immerse yourself in your baby. When you truly love someone, the highs are higher and the lows are just a small bump on the road. Everything else in the world will still be there, but babies don't keep.

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