We've all read the story haven't we? The one about that amazing mummy who used her maternity leave to travel the world. What an incredibly bold and brave thing to do, to take your new born around the world for 10 months! To not have your family and health visitor on hand to help you through the challenges in those first months! I can't imagine it!!
I didn't do anything incredible with my 9 months of maternity leave.... Except I did. For 9 months, I dedicated my entire existence to caring for my child. I fed her, rocked her, changed her, introduced her to solid foods, kept her safe.... I devoted every hour of every day (and let's face it, with baby M, every night too) to making sure her needs were met and that she wanted for nothing. And I think I did it well. She is happy, healthy and confident. I think it's testament to the fact that I did achieve something incredible during my maternity leave. And when I think about it for long, I realise that I am mourning those months. I'm mourning my maternity leave.
Please don't get me wrong.... I remember how hard it was. The cluster feeding and sleep regression in particular. But when I think back to those hard times I remember how wonderful the challenges were too. I remember how those months were the most rewarding of my life.
I remember that every day I'd be at some mummy group or other (advertised as baby development activities, but really time for mummies to socialise!), where I'd be supported and counselled through the challenges. I miss those baby groups!
I remember that my NCT friends were always on hand for coffee and cake, a walk through the park, a look around Mothercare, and whilst they're still my lovely friends, I miss seeing them as much.
I remember how much quality time I got to spend with my parents. Just sharing baby M, shopping with my mum, being looked after and sometimes sneaking off for a soak in the bath whilst they took over the baby care. I miss seeing them so often.
I remember how, following a bad night, baby M and I would snuggle and snooze together on the bed during nap time. Face to face. Just us two. I miss those snuggly naps.
And I remember all the hours I spent walking with my pram. I loved pushing my pram so much. Just gazing down on my gorgeous girl. I'd waited so long for a pram of my own. I miss pushing my pram, admiring my beautiful daughter, the most.
It's a lot of things to miss about being with M all the time, and I guess it's a kind of grief that I'm experiencing. Mourning my maternity leave. But then, I'm so very grateful, that I have those things to miss. That I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a mummy, and to spend 9 blissful months with my girl. I think about the mummies in the USA who get a measly 12 unpaid weeks with their darlings, and I'm thankful for what we have here. I'm thankful for the time I had to enjoy baby groups, coffee with friends, time with my parents and long walks with my pram. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to do something incredible and experience a maternity leave worthy of being mourned!!
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