“How do you spend your time during maternity leave?”
I was casually asked this question twice by two women in my life. After I picked up my jaw off the floor and brushed the surprised look off my face, I paused. I started to erase the ignorant assumptions from my mind and prepared my answer. I said, “I take care of Grace.” I rattled off the mundane details that will always encompass my maternity leave: nursing, diaper changes, nursing, diaper changes, attempting the “nap while they nap” saga, trying to stay sane, and maybe taking care of myself, like showers and eating.
Since that conversation, the question continued to weigh on my heart. As I sit here with two hands on the keyboard, one foot on the floor and the other foot bouncing Grace’s chair, I’m going to let you know what I do with my time during maternity leave.
This is my second maternity leave, but just like babies, no two maternity leaves are the same.
I wish I remembered more from my first maternity leave. Unfortunately, I don’t. Sadly, most of what I remember was unpleasant. I remember getting into the car with Mads for the first time. Terror and anxiety came over me. I made it to the end of the street before turning around and pulling back into my driveway. I remember the first day without my husband. I’m pretty sure my daughter and I stayed in bed all day while I was on the phone with my mom. Adjusting to a new schedule was hard. Listening to a baby’s cry at all hours of the night was harder. Not being able to figure out what I was doing half the time was hardest.
As I fast-forward to maternity leave, round two, the scene is much different. I’m no pro on determining what she needs on a minute by minute basis, but I walked into this leave with a bit more confidence. I am able to drive outside of our subdivision (I know, don’t feel like you have to hold in the laughter). I’m 120% aware that she will cry at nothing … or at something. I know the exhaustion will happen, and that I’ll say that I’ll try to take the nap when she naps and then do a load of laundry instead. We go on walks. Spit up happens more often than anticipated. We always cuddle every morning and send pictures to dad (and grandma and papa and uncles and aunts). I turn on Motown and 80’s music for our dance parties. I know that the early mornings are tough, and evenings are a bit anxious. I’m prepared for that lonely feeling of being at home with only her, but I’m comfortable reaching out to friends and family. The witching hour will always be a real thing .. and we will survive. But most importantly, I will feel like a human. I feel like a mom this time around. I feel like I can do this.
As she turns one month old, there are still things I’m still trying to understand. I still find it completely hard to accept how fast time flies. Blame it on the hormones, but knowing that time does not stand still and these precious moments are fleeting makes my heart ache. There will never be another time in my life where I can consume every waking moment with Grace. And that’s hard. I look at our first daughter and yearn for just a few moments again where she was so tiny, and I just stared at her tiny fingers, wondering how we made this human … and how she is mine. I’m so, so thankful that I get to do this again, but it’s painful. I’ll savor it. And I’ll continue to document it, so I can remember a better answer when someone asks me what I do on my maternity leave.
So much, friend. Oh, so much.