Before I had Ruby I had a certain amount of realism about what maternity leave would be like but to be fair no-one can really prepare you for new motherhood until you experience it. Here are 10 things I thought before I had her… which were utterly wrong…
1. I hope I won’t be constantly thinking about work – as colleagues waved me off on my “baby holiday” I felt such a sense of freedom, I worried I wouldn’t be able to switch off work or that I would be thinking about work while off but literally on day 1 of maternity leave I switched off completely. Genuinely I rarely thought about work and certainly wasn’t checking in about anything and after I had the baby no chance, I didn’t have time to think of brushing my hair never mind work.
2. It’ll be the only time in my life I get to take such a stretch off work and do nothing – I did think it would be so nice to be away from work and switch off for a bit but I didn’t realise I’d still be working really just a different kind of work. Don’t get me wrong, it was so lovely but it wasn’t me lazing about on the couch for hours on end (well not every day anyway).
3. I’ll have so much time to lose the baby weight – eh no, this one actually still makes me laugh, I expected I’d be out walking every day or doing a class – I did think about doing it every day but then a million other things happened to distract me or I realised I had no clean tracksuit or needed a shower before I went out and how could I shower when the baby was awake and and and
4. I’ll be popping into town to meet friends for lunch or visiting family and people I never get to see when working – nope, I managed coffee one morning a week with some other friends who were on mat leave too or the odd afternoon coffee but mostly I didn’t have my sh*t together by lunchtime to get out and about and I don’t mean in the first six weeks, I mean four months in
5. The first six weeks will be hard now alright but then it will be grand – the first six weeks are amazing and torturous all at once – amazing because you’re getting to know your beautiful little bundle but torturous because that little bundle is keeping you awake all night or screaming in reflux inspired pain or has chronic wind or constipation problems. The first ten weeks I would say are really really hard work and you feel utterly stupid and useless and then it doesn’t go away you just get used to it and your baby gets used to being in the outside world and best of all your baby settles and sleeps a bit more…
6. I’ll be tired alright I guess but it can’t be THAT bad – you will be utterly exhausted – I’ll say no more because I cannot illustrate to you how tired you will be, you need to experience this.
7. I’ll fall instantly in love with my baby – you will to some extent but really it’s after the first 8 or so weeks when your baby starts reacting to you and smiling and interacting, then you fall in love and then that love just grows and grows every day.
8. I know a lot about babies so I’ll be grand I think – nope, I do know a lot about babies and I did before I had my baby but I honestly believe no matter how much you know you will still doubt yourself and question every single thing
9. If the baby gets sick I’ll panic – you might a little bit but you’ll also cope surprisingly well, we were in hospital twice in the first 6 months, a thing I thought would freak me out completely but I surprised myself.
10. The baby blues last one day – eh noooooooooooo way – this one really shocked me, I cried for weeks on and off over nothing, literally nothing. Then it did pass.
I don’t want to scare you, it is an amazing time in your life and I wouldn’t change a single part of it but it’s definitely not what I expected…