For 4 weeks I had no job to go to or even think about; and no babies yet. For the first time, probably since I was at university, I was completely free to do what I wanted for days on end. Of course, what I wanted most of all was to sit on the sofa like a beached whale - I was huge and had no energy. But still, the feeling of freedom was starting to take hold.
Nobody should ever judge mothers on the choices they make when it comes to balancing work and family life; it should always be a personal choice. But this choice needs to be a meaningful one, not simply picking the least worst option. Unfortunately, this still isn't the case for far too many women. We can and we must do better.
According a web survey by insurance company Aviva, 18% of couples split childcare responsibilities evenly, with 6% of men now the primary carer of their child. Pushing the figure from 6,000 in 2000 to 600,000 in 2010. And in a less scientific survey done by myself sat in the window of my front room at 3:30pm, more and more Dads are at the school gates.
So you have been through pregnancy, childbirth and the early months looking after baby. And when it is time to return to work you feel completely inadequate. All that occupies your mind is milk feeds, washing clothes, routine, and where the next unbroken sleep might be coming from. Fear not. Once the fog has cleared, you will go back a better worker. And the fog will clear within days of returning... For some the need to be flexible is paramount. The traditional 9-5 (or 8-7 which is quite normal in many jobs) is not conducive to looking after little ones.
Since its release just over two weeks ago, much has been said and written about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead. I am not one of Sheryl's haters, in fact, having had the opportunity to witness her speak on a number of occasions while we both worked at Google, I can testify that she is a truly inspirational woman. However, I feel that her story only represents one type of woman, the successful woman in business who also has children.
Four and a half months in and I am finding having a decent telephone conversation hard enough, never mind a full night's sleep. So why would a mere mortal mother bother to compare herself with a mumpreneur?
Clearly, biologically women's bodies have an obvious function: baby-making. Throughout history this baby-making facility of the female anatomy has become entwined with the nurturing of the whole family, and feminists (men and women) fought for a woman's right to have a career, if they so chose to have one.