I have read a number of blogs since I became a new mum, but felt that so many of them didn’t relate to my situation. I am self employed in a professional industry where the job likes coming first.
When I went on maternity leave earlier than I would have liked due to, lets be honest, over-working (it turns out that 80 hour weeks and 4 hour commutes each day don’t work when you are 8 months pregnant), I left work with mixed feelings. How was I going to feel out of my working “loop”? I was used to being super busy with constant challenges. How was I going to manage 4 weeks of rest before baby’s arrival? Of course the “rest” part of your third trimester is a white lie as it’s impossible to rest when you are heavily preggers and uncomfortable, something which certainly was not helped by a ridiculously energetic sprocker spaniel as my companion!
I was 12 days overdue, so by the time my baby boy arrived I was done with the whole pregnancy thing and glad to move on to the next challenge. Then the next 6 months went by in a flash. Suddenly my little boy was 6 months old and had to start his “taster” sessions at nursery. The dread starting kicking in and he seemed to me to be “too little”, something which the world and his daddy reminded me of at any given opportunity. Suddenly I had to wean the baby, who I had spent 4 painful weeks getting to latch on, onto formula and bottles. My body was not happy about this process and the hormones kicked in nicely to help me feel extra happy about leaving him. I was so frustrated that I had stop feeding him before both he and I were ready (my job makes it impossible to express) and frustrated that nursery would be the ones weaning him onto solids.
Turns out that the confident, hardworking professional I had been was still on leave enjoying herself somewhere else. In her place was someone who actually loved being on maternity leave. The first day baby spent 4 hours at his taster session I felt utterly lost, far more so than the day I turned on my out of office and stopped letting the emails ping through on my iPhone. This was not what I envisaged. I had lost my confidence, had no routine and my brain felt like mush. More importantly I was about to lose precious time with my baby.
When I started back at work he was just under 7 months, I seriously doubted whether I was doing the right thing but I didn’t have the support of maternity pay from an employer or the luxury of a back-log of annual leave. In my industry it’s very hard to get back into work once you have been away for some time. I remember a female judge telling me that she had 2 weeks off after her first baby because if she had any more time off back in the 70’s she would have lost her job as she was the only female in her offices.
I can safely say that with support from my husband, family and friends I was able to ignore the thoughtless comments- one of my favourites was “so he can barely sit up and your back at work?” and try to focus getting back into the driving seat.
To all the self-employed and employed mums who feel like this – you can and will get through it! I am still getting there, it takes time to adjust. Even though I have spent most of my maternity savings on the lottery, life being a working mum gives me focus and I love the balance between working and spending quality time with my son.
Most importantly of all, my son is absolutely thriving at nursery. He has already benefited from the interaction with children of various ages, different adults being in charge of his routine and the constant sensory activities he is involved with. It also turns out that combination feeding was a blessing in disguise and works perfectly for us. We decided to baby-led wean and with a supportive nursery I should never have worried about not having weaned him first, despite health visitor comments to the contrary!
I said to a friend the other day, not in a negative way, that “I just don’t feel like a mum” and upon discussing this further it’s because society, the media, and many adverts have this “mum image” that I doubt many women can actually identify with. In my eyes I am Amy, I have a career and a family that’s just who I am. So yes, I might be back at work but it really isn’t “so soon!”.
A Guest Blog from Amy Beddis
Amy is an almost mid-thirties self-employed legal professional who has been working in her industry for the past 4 years. She is mum to an 8-month-old baby boy, and a Sprocker called Ernie. Amy and her husband love living in Cheltenham having returned here after a few years away down south. Having had a number of adventures over the years the arrival of their son is still nothing compared to taming their crazy spaniel!
Enjoyed this read? Make sure you check out all of the CheltenhamMaman recommendations over at Maman Pages.