Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Maternity Leave and the Adjustment

I realized when I posted about going back to work that I never really got to share much about my maternity leave. Leave is supposed to be a time to rest and bond with your newborn, right? Well, that goes fine and well for your firstborn. . . but the second born? Not so much. I did rest when I could and I wasn't nearly as active as I was prior to Stephen's arrival, but I would say it was entirely different than the last time I was on leave.

My leave started abruptly as you may remember. Stephen was born two and a half weeks early. Chris stayed home with me and the boys for the first week and then his mom came out and stayed with us for two weeks. Those were my weeks of rest. Mostly that meant that William was entertained and I could handle all baby related business. Don't worry - they took great care of me too!

Shannon, Chris's sister came a few weeks after that and helped some more! And then after July 6th, I was home with the boys on my own, getting used to our new normal.  Except for one very important thing. A friend of mine gave William her spot at daycare for 13 days! We did half days since naps are still vital to his emotional health but having the mornings to spend with Stephen and nap was amazing. It also gave William a little break from me (who wasn't always the happiest mama).

Adjusting to two children was harder than I anticipated. All I felt like doing was cuddling with my baby and sleeping, but I had a little boy who would ask "Mom, can you play with me?" "Mom, I have to go potty." or "Mom, I'm hungry" "Can you read a book?" or try to communicate with tears and crying instead of words or try to get attention by hugging his brother too tightly . . . you get the idea. Thankfully I had healed quickly physically so I could do a lot. But emotionally I was feeling torn and exhausted.

It was really hard to divide my attention between the two and still is. It was hard to realize that sometimes I will need to put William's needs ahead of the baby's and my own.  (When William had gotten my undivided attention when he was a newborn.) It was another exercise in serving others and being self-less when everything in me screamed "what about me!?"

But then Chris did give me several opportunities to have "Me time" and "girl time" and that was wonderful and life changing. I had not noticed how desperate I had become for my friends!

I tried to keep William's schedule as similar as possible to before. We would go to the park and the library. We didn't go to the grocery store anymore or drive too far. We went to the zoo and the science museum. I had found a lightly used Joovy Caboose Sit'n Stand stroller which allowed me to take both kids everywhere! (It does have a few drawbacks in that William was a little too free to hop off whenever he felt like it or use the platform as a skateboard while I pushed . . . and tripped over him.)

Baby's first time at the aquarium!

Friends sharing a turtle -- at a park

We hung out with friends and had playdates as often as we could. Seeing other friends was a lifeline for me when I was on the verge of feeling sluggish or closed off. We made a few special outings happen as well. I took William to a place called "Fairyland" -- an amusement park just for young kids. He loved it and I loved seeing him have so much fun. Stephen put up with it too!


By the end of August, I was mourning the fact that I needed to return to work. I had adjusted somewhat and began to really love being a mom of two. Not juggling work. Just being home, managing the chaos. Having freedom to spend time with friends. I felt like I was given a glimpse of what that could look like and I loved it.

So, my maternity leave wasn't exactly restful, but having a baby rarely is! I found this time off to be refreshing in other ways. And also very challenging. . . oh so very challenging!

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