Wednesday 29 June 2016

Longing for Maternity Leave

When I was pregnant with Ebony, I started my maternity leave at 34 weeks. I was exhausted, uncomfortable and struggling, and maternity leave provided a much-needed relief. I was tired of commuting for two hours a day, sick of waiting in the rain for a tram and struggling to sit at my desk all day without ending up crippled. I was sad to leave my job, I hated the thought of missing out on a year of campaigning, but I was also ready to just rest for a little while. I felt heavy and tired and I was ready for a break.

34 weeks was early to start my leave, but I really didn’t feel like I could go any longer. I just wanted to stay home, bounce on my birthing ball and generally feel sorry for myself. There was a lot of anxiety and worry that came with being pregnant for the first time. I was worried about what birth would be like, nervous that I might not be cut out for motherhood and terrified of what the future held. I had pregnancy insomnia and spent most nights sat downstairs alone watching Old Jews Telling Jokes on catch up. That is a strange show, but weirdly comforting if you are unable to sleep.

This time, I won’t be starting my maternity leave until my due date and that means I have another six weeks of work left. Obviously, work is easier now. My commute involves a short walk down the hallway and it’s totally fine for me to turn up to work with pyjamas on and a birthing ball. And if I’m tired, I can just go back to bed for a nap instead. And I can catch up at the weekend if I’m behind (which I am, of course). And all of this is very freeing and modern and wonderful. But I can’t help but secretly long for maternity leave. I would love to have a six week stretch of nothing ahead of me. Time to knit the baby blanket I have only just started and definitely won’t have time to finish. Time to flick through Netflix and moan about how utterly crap the selection is. Time to slowly tick off jobs from my to-do list.

And yet, I must power through. I need to keep working hard for the next six weeks. I have already slowed down quite a bit, but I can’t stop just yet. I’m struggling to sleep at night, I’m starting to suffer from aches and pains in places I’d really rather not and getting off the sofa is proving to be virtually impossible if Laurie isn’t there to heave me up. I’m worried that it will be Ebony who bears the brunt of my newfound exhaustion. That because I still have to get up for the nursery run and work all morning, it will be my afternoon energy that is lacking. Already, I can feel myself shying away from long distance journeys and exciting excursions. I’m all about the movie afternoons at home instead. I just hope I can pull it together enough for us to have at least a few special days out before the new baby arrives and that Ebony won’t remember this pregnancy as being months of boredom.

I’d love to hear any tips you might have for juggling work with pregnancy fatigue with the undying wish to create some special memories with your firstborn before the new baby arrives. How do you have it all without burning out?

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