From the minute I found out I was pregnant I could not wait for maternity leave to start. I haven’t exactly been happy in my job for various reasons and the thought of having a ‘break’ and focusing my attention on a new chapter and a new challenge is what kept me going for the last 9 months.
I decided to take two weeks annual leave ahead of two weeks of maternity leave before my due date, giving me a potential four weeks off before baby was due to arrive. Four weeks seems self-indulgent, I know, but since I started working I’ve never had more than two weeks off at a time and I knew that this, if baby allows, would be the only chance I get to really switch off from work and take some time for myself.
I’m into week three of my time off and don’t get me wrong, it’s been lovely and there’s no way I’d manage still being in work at this point, but there’s a strange side to maternity leave which I didn’t quite expect!
If I weren’t pregnant and I had four weeks off, I’d be away on holiday, I’d be off shopping, I’d be knee deep in paint decorating the house. And that’s what I hadn’t quite got my head around for maternity leave… I’m too pregnant to do all of the above.
I’ve spent time catching up with friends and enjoying days out with my parents which has been really lovely, but there’s only so much of this you can do. Many of my friends who are off work are on maternity leave but have been in the same limbo as me, not able to make firm plans in case their baby arrived.
I’ve packed the hospital bag, arranged the changing unit drawers, done all of my baby whites washing, and done a few non-baby bits in the house. I know there’s more to do – cleaning, batch cooking and even finishing off the nursery I’ve been obsessed with for the past 9 months – but I just don’t feel like doing any of it. Surely a sign that nesting hasn’t set in therefore baby won’t be arriving any time soon?
I’m good in my own company and can’t remember the last time I was bored – I still wouldn’t say I’m bored but every time I find myself sitting on the couch for more than an hour I get the fear that I’m not making the most of maternity leave and this precious time before baby arrives. But the more pressure I put on myself to ‘make the most of it’ the more I can’t figure out how I go about doing that. Other than sleep, what am I going to miss when the baby is here, and how much will I care if I haven’t done it?
I even posted this Instagram image the other day talking about how I needed to make the most of the next couple of weeks, when I’d experienced some pain for the first time and it suddenly hit home that bump would become baby very soon, and I was actually going to miss having my baby wriggling around in there. But how do you make the most of that feeling before it’s too late?!
The lovely Wendy from Naptime Natter got it right in her post about the struggles of the heavily pregnant when she said that maternity leave is about us spending days/weeks just waiting to be in pain. Waiting for that first period-esque pain or back ache that could be the start of labour.
It’s such a strange time of feeling excited yet nervous, relaxed yet tired, prepared yet so unprepared, yourself but not yourself. I’m looking forward to meeting our baby but I don’t feel desperate for them to come now (as so many people seem to feel), in fact I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I will soon be having a baby, despite this being the only reason I’m off work and even writing this post! It’s maternity leave limbo, that’s the only way I can describe it.
Did anyone else have these feelings? How did you ‘make the most’ of your maternity leave before the baby arrived, and was it a time you enjoyed? I’d love to know if I’m over thinking this or not!