It's the last Friday of my last maternity leave. I'll head back to work on Monday and try to re-insert myself into life at the office. It's such a weird feeling- EVERYTHING has changed so drastically in the 13 months I've been off, and yet I have to just go back and organize my desk again as though nothing is different?
I was sort of dreaming of work about 2 months after Magic Sam was born. It was a really messy delivery and at the time, I didn't ask a lot of questions about what had happened. I foolishly thought that I'd be told everything I needed to make the recuperation as easy as possible, and unfortunately, that just wasn't the case. I didn't know when the normal fatigue of having 2 kids started and when the anemia took over, I didn't understand why I had to be put under general anesthesia and I certainly didn't understand how I was ever going to start feeling like myself again, which was maybe the scariest thing of all.
Luckily, PB is my guy. I have shared the worst feelings and fears with him, and to his credit, he has never flinched or added to my stress by judging me. I don't know what he might have been thinking, but never did I regret telling him that I was just not sure I could handle the kids in that particular moment. That's amazing, especially considering that he had to deal with the scariness of the delivery as well as school, Gigi and Magic Sam.
Anyhow, after I started coming out of the haze of what had gone on in the OR, I had flashes of wishing that I had a tax memo to review. I craved anything that could make me feel like I still had brain function, a purpose beyond breastfeeding. Instead of contacting my people at work and forcing them to give me stuff to do, I started planning my mom's wedding, my sister's bridal shower, and prepared for another surgery to repair a hernia.
Looking back on those first few months, I don't know how we did it. I really don't. PB got straight As. Gigi too. There was hope once the surgery happened at the end of November that everything would be easier come Tara's shower. I would've had time to heal, she'd be home, we'd have my mom's wedding, and 2014 would be the easy street that I had thought this maternity leave would be when I first found out I was pregnant.
It's amazing how messed up our expectations can make things. I haven't had time to find it, but I'm sure there's a book out there (Buddhist, perhaps?) that could've saved me a lot of tears and frustration this past year. I just kept setting myself up for disappointment- from recuperating from the surgery, Sammy turning 6 months and eating solids, to the end of PB's semester... Each time I was SURE that things would get easier, something else just came along.
Sometime around February or March, I realized that I find maternity leaves really, really hard. While having breakfast with a friend who was also going through a rough patch with her newborn, I even said that I think maternity leaves can suck. Don't yell at me just yet- I would never want Canada to take them away. I truly don't understand how a country like the US can survive not giving new parents more time off, but I think we need to remember that being at home with a newborn is really hard. There are wonderful, beautiful moments, of course! But we have to allow for the fact that babies are hard, even when they're being the cutest and best version of themselves.
So, now, only a weekend away from going back to normal, I find myself crying more than usual. Through all of the hard stuff, we've managed to keep Magic Sam safe and confident. He's walking around, smiling like crazy, and when I look at him, I know that it's all been worth it. I see Gigi and him playing, and can imagine what it'll be like when he can communicate better, and she can really enjoy him. I see PB with either or both of them, and know that I'm just going to miss all of our time together. It's for the best- I know that I'm not meant to be a stay-at-home mom, but the next couple of weeks (or more- I've learnt to keep my expectations low when it comes to these types of things!) are also going to be tough as we transition to this new part of our lives.
Having gone through what we just did, I know that we'll survive, and even find a way to thrive hopefully. My hair has been cut, I've been treated to some excellent new clothes- I couldn't be more ready externally. It's just the internal part now that needs to catch up. I couldn't go through another maternity leave, but this one brought us Magic Sam and I'm relieved that I'm able to think about it and not only see the ugly and sad bits. Our family is complete and I know how lucky we are.
I'm back to the land of lemon poppyseed muffins in a couple of days, and as much as I'm going to miss naps with Magic Sam, I know that there will be weekends and evenings to make up for them. I will let myself enjoy lunches with friends at work, I will enjoy the satisfaction of completing more than one task in a day (poor PB and those texts letting him know that I had only accomplished keeping myself and the baby alive), and as I go about being the best version of myself now, I will count down the minutes until I get to see these lovely faces back at home.