Comparing maternity leaves and deeming one the all-out winner feels a bit like comparing the children themselves. I am back at work after my second leave and feeling reflective on what has been the best three months of my life. The same cannot be said of my first leave, but I think I can make a pretty good argument that it was extenuating circumstances unrelated to child A or B that resulted in a very different experience.
First, I wasn’t interviewing for fellowship. As someone accustomed to multitasking long before mommyhood, I mistakenly thought I’d prepare for interviews in the few weeks after my daughter was born. Not surprisingly, this ended up not being a poor plan and I spent the interview season in a state of frazzled exhaustion. In retrospect I wished I had contacted each program, explained the situation, and asked if they could arrange a different day for me to interview while I was still pregnant. I don’t know if they would have agreed, but it never occurred to ask.
As if the pressure of interviewing weren’t enough, the perpetually drunk and/or high man who lived above our apartment flooded us when our daughter was five weeks old. Our apartment was uninhabitable for three weeks, a period during which we were set up with some of our belongings in an apartment close-by. I had to deal with the agents from our insurance company, his insurance company, and our property manager, as well as itemize and dispose of everything that was ruined.
I was determined that this time things would be different. Obviously there was nothing we could have done about some idiot who decided to make our apartment into a rainforest, but I would make a concerted effort to avoid multitasking if it meant making life more stressful. Formal baby announcements? I decided a Facebook pic was good enough. Baby scrapbook? He doesn’t have one. (Some people are good at the scrapbook thing and enjoy it. I’m not and found it yet another source of stress). Thank goodness I didn’t have any interviews. I told family and friends that if they wanted to see the baby, they had to come to us. I decided to expect very very little of myself on a day-to-day basis.
I am not someone who gets bored easily, so spending an entire day under the weight of my newborn son was pretty close to heaven. I did a lot of reading, writing, and listening to books while pushing the stroller. Dinners were simple.
And I just feel better about the time and attention my son got as compared to what I gave my daughter.
But life moves forward and it is time to get back to work. As a side note, I thought the comment thread after Fizzy’s 4/11 post was fascinating. I guess the question of “how much time is enough” is pretty mommy-and-baby specific. I myself would love a few more weeks, but I am far from dreading my return.
So lets hear it, ladies – the good and the bad of going back to work. What you did and did not miss about maternity leave.
I’ll get it started-
Looking forward to
More frequent adult conversations. Yes, I miss them.
Being able to eat, drink, check email, and use the restroom on my own schedule
Less back pain
Wearing normal clothing
Eating in the seated position while using both a knife and a fork
Screaming, red-faced men? Not as likely to be my problem
Not looking forward to
Pumping. As a resident I once spilled 4 oz of breast milk on myself at 2am. Arg.
Call nights and weekend workdays
The everyday drags of medicine that have nothing to do with good patient care
I will miss
Being present for every milestone (Gurgling! He gurgles! Brilliant)
Long mid-day naps under a heavy newborn
Blogging! (as frequently…)
Planning the week’s meals around the CSA box’s arrival
Walking my daughter to school in the morning
Mommy and me ballet (on hold at least until the summer)
Lunch with my husband, who works at home
I will not miss
Spending the entire day with no cause to wear a shirt. This gets old.