I went on maternity leave over three years ago. My pregnancy was far from enjoyable. Unfortunately I am one of those women who does not enjoy pregnancy. This made me feel really bad and guilty as I was carrying and growing our baby that was conceived at a really special time in our my lifes, but all I felt was sick and miserable. I lost weight, I could not eat a thing. All food seemed to make my mouth water, followed by vomit and bile. Green bile. Who on earth brings up green bile? I thought I should have been in an episode of X Files until I googled it. During late pregnancy I suffered with SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) also known as PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain). I just ended up feeling very sorry for myself, down most of the time but then guilty as I was blessed to be able to carry a child and my problems were standard pregnancy issues, nothing complicated to have to worry about so what the hell am I down for? I am having a baby!
I had so many expectations of this new chapter in my life. This was our honeymoon baby so we had not been married long. The months before the wedding were really stressful and my pregnancy woes and hormones could not have brought much joy to hubby so I wanted to turn it all around while on maternity leave.
My Vision: Every day I would wake up and make a big breakfast for hubby before he went to work. I would bake during the days while teaching my baby sign language and knitting her clothes and in the evening I would cook. I would experiment with all types of cuisine and at no time would hubby come home from work to a dirty house and no food. *cough*bulls^%t* In the last three years that has not happened once. Mr Tumble has taught the munchkins more sign language than I ever have!
It soon became evident that all of these ideals of being a stay at home mum were far from reality. Thinking you can compare raving all night at Ministry of Sound and then being able to go straight to work with no problems, to night feeds and then being able to function normally in the house in the day was delusional. I have always worked and played hard when single, but what I failed to realise was that back then I had a chance to recuperate.
Having a newborn baby was sleepless night, after sleepless night, after sleepless night, after sleepless night…. You are told to sleep when the baby sleeps but that is your time to catch up on the housework or you sit there just watching your baby to make sure she is still breathing and thinking she is so amazing and taking pictures of her from every angle (I have so many pics of the munchkin’s nostrils, ears, hands, I even have a pic of her toe jam). You spend those first three months getting to know her, learning her cries and how often and when she wants to eat. Is she a hungry baby, is she size 1 or 2 nappies, when will that dry thing fall off of her belly button, is she smiling or is that wind? These are all questions you never thought were even questions.
After a couple of months my brain was bored. I have always worked and always towards targets, so to not be challenged in that way for a few months was hard to adjust to and to be honest, I did not want to adjust to it. I know being a mother is an important job but no one puts four figures into my bank account on the last working day of the month. I needed money and we underestimated the toll that it would take on our finances to go down a salary. It was not even a stupid underestimation, it was ridiculously unforeseen circumstances that put us into our worst case scenario financially.
I started to look into returning to work after my leave. I really enjoyed my job and wanted to go back. I had ten days over my maternity where I was allowed to go back to work and get paid. I thoroughly enjoyed those days as a dormant part of my brain was being exercised and I was able to be Tiffany Jade again. I was travelling into beautiful Canary Wharf on the packed tube and DLR with all those happy commuters. I was able to make jokes in the cafe at work with my friends.
So I began to look into nursery prices. Why is childcare so expensive? I worked out that, every month, I would need to find £200 on top of my salary to pay for nursery fees. Okay, that is not going to work! I then looked at family helping out. We live no where near any of our family. Logistically this just could not work, as much as family did want to help. I then came to the realisation that returning to work was not an option. It actually broke my heart but as time went on and I became accustomed to the idea, I actually realised that I wanted to stay at home with my children. My mum stayed at home with me and my siblings and it was the best thing that she could have done. In my heart I wanted the same for my babies.
So in conclusion, maternity leave was not the experience that I thought it would be. I thought I was some invincible superwoman with an S on my chest and knickers outside of my tights, although the latter has probably happened on occasion (actually no, knickers inside out – that’s the one that I do). I did not do everything that I thought I would, however, I found great opportunity during my leave. I turned a difficult situation into a positive and had great, life-changing news, both of which I will blog about later.