Maternity Leave — Expectation vs. the Harsh Reality

This blog post is taken from my blog — me and b make tea. You can view it here and read about all our fun times as first time parents!

Before I finished work to have my boy, I had this image of what maternity leave would be like. Basically a whole year off of work, time to relax, shop, meet friends and have fun with my new baby ! I had images of lunches with girlfriends and meeting a whole new crowd of mum friends.

The reality was very different.

I spent the first 3 months moping about, feeling sore, hormonal and sorry for myself. I mourned my old life for ages too. And then I spent a lot of time feeling guilty. Did you take maternity leave? Was it the best time ever or did you find it hard going?

Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of fun times but the reality was much different to what I had envisaged in my head. Being a mum was hard and I felt like I was doing everything wrong, all the time. And there are only so many mum, baby and cat selfie photos people want to see on Facebook.

Here is my month by month breakdown of how maternity leave panned out for me:

Month 1

This was a funny time because on the one hand I felt I should be feeling super happy. I’d just had a healthy baby boy! But on the other hand I felt so bloody exhausted and spent most days walking around in a complete sleep-deprived haze. Mr d was with me for the first three weeks and that definitely made things easier but it was such a huge change to our lifestyle and everything I’d ever known. For a recollection of our first pub lunch out, check out my new mum story here! Pooplosions and all.

Month 2

I still spent most of the second month walking about in pj’s and looking at the clock to see if mr d would be home from work. It was August so all the regular baby clubs and children centre groups were closed for summer holidays. I felt lonely, tired, hormonal and bored for the majority of summer 2013. One of my super happy, positive mum friends did a good job getting me to leave the house, but trust me, I didn’t want to. Having to faff with the pram, the car seat and changing nappies out and about just sounded so exhausting, that most times I’d prefer to stay home.

Month 3

The golden third month. My mate, let’s call her L, the super happy bouncy one, kept telling me it all gets easier at the three month mark. Hmm, the magic three months came and went. Not an awful lot changed! For either of us! I still felt crap and had no bloody idea what I was doing. The little man seemed happy enough though!

Month 4

October and finally the little man started sleeping better at night. We dropped our 3–4am feed and we’d manage to get a good sleep from around 11pm to 6am which really really helped. It is amazing how much sleep deprivation mucks you up, physically and mentally. I’d read this article on how sleep deprivation can shorten life expectancy and this really started stressing me out.

I was also worried about the amount of money I’d spent on Amazon at 3am. On items and various bits of crap that promised my baby would sleep through the night. You can read more about my useless baby items here. I also became obsessed with wool and making crochet blankets.

At month 4, I started venturing out — baby sensory and the under 1’s stay and play groups at the children centres. I actually started meeting other mums. Mums you could natter with in Costa — over my extortionately pricey sparkling water (I don’t drink coffee). That was fine with me though, it was simply something to do to waste time before Mr d got home.

Month 5

November consisted of baby groups most week. I tried to go to something every day just to keep myself busy. I found if I sat at home, I’d easily get bored and start feeling down and fed up. We started weaning b at around 5 months too so prepping purees and all that malarkey took up quite a bit of time. As you can see, he really enjoyed his tea:

Month 6

December was fast upon us and I spent most baby groups making Christmas cards. I’m sure poor b was sick of having his hands and feet dipped in paint. Christmas should have been super magical and all lovely — in my “everything needs to be perfect mum head”. The reality was different. B projectile vommed all over me on Christmas day, he had a high temp and we spent the entire day worried and panicked. We ended up at the A&E Christmas day night. Fun times. B was just fine and it was a case of first-time-parentitus.

Month 7

Once Christmas was out of the way, I continually had that Sunday night feeling. Work was always on my mind and I started worrying about nursery and other things that really didn’t need to be worried about so much. We planned our first family holiday abroad too — Lanzarote for a week in May before I returned to work. Exciting times ahead!

Month 8

February and my bubba is 8 months old this month. We are crawling and on the move and long gone are those quiet Costa mornings. Every stay and play is now spent stood up and trying to prevent my baby from getting into mischief. We were also very busy cutting teeth and b got his first tooth come through just before Valentines. I remember it well because I’d been struck down with a nasty cold and felt horrific for days.

Month 9

My first Mother’s day and we spent it down on the seafront. It was a super sunny day and this is one of the pictures Mr d took of me and b.

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Month 10

April saw Easter come and go and various more baby groups. I also started planning for our holiday! I also became obsessed with dog poo. Dog poo left outside the entrance to my bloody house. It used to wind me up no end and I spent many days contacting the council and plotting how I could catch offenders. It pissed me off so much.

Month 11

We had our family holiday. It was…interesting. Let’s just say we spent a lot of time at the hotel doctor surgery, trying to figure out various Spanish terms for anti-biotics, fever and chest infections. Fun times. I can’t say it was the most relaxing holiday — but when are any holidays now?

Although this photo doesn’t look like it, the little guy was really good on the plane. I stressed so much that he would be a horror but he completely surprised me.

And after our holiday, well straight back to work. You can read how I prepared for work here. And it wasn’’t all bad after all! I actually like being a working mum and you can read why, here!

It wasn’t time “off”

The year had gone and it hadn’t really felt like I’d had time off or that I’d particularly made the most of it. I’d spent most days moping about and feeling sorry for my tired self.

I don’t know what I expected from maternity leave. It was the longest period off work I’d ever had. Mr d kept telling me to enjoy it because, before I knew it, it would be over. I cant really say I overly enjoyed it though.

The first 4 months were spent feeling crap and worrying that everything I did was wrong. I also massively over worried small things. Things like parking the car, and sorting the pram and I became obsessed with things that didn’t need obsessing about — dog poo and whether our bin had been emptied or not. Basically everything was a big deal when it needn’t have been. In a lot of ways I regret worrying so much for most of my maternity leave. I wish I’d just relaxed and enjoyed it all a bit more!

Did you take time off when you had your little one? How did you find it? You can read more on my blog at me and b make tea. We don’t just make tea. We go out, we travel, we live. Join us on tweetter, faceyspaces and instamazinglife.

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