Maternity Break during Pandemic – Expectations vs Reality
Every working woman who is going to be a mother comes across this special break from their professional lives – Maternity Break. Before you leave for your maternity break , all you get to hear from your colleagues are some good wishes.
Good wishes like – Having a smooth birth experience, coming home with your baby safely and mostly last but not the least – Having a great maternity break.
Well the last wish sounds exciting because as a new mother we look forward for this time to bond with our baby and for the recovery of our body. It looks really rosy at that moment but , honestly it is not as it comes with many new discoveries about yourself as a woman. It is exhausting yet beautiful.
Maternity break comes with loads of surprises and shocks.
I remember when I was about to start my maternity break , a week before my due date , I was ecstatic for it. I was looking forward for a beautiful birth experience and coming back home safely and enjoying every moment with my daughter at home. Unfortunately ,I couldn’t see and hold my daughter as she went to NICU directly for 3 days due respiratory distress. Those 3 days were extremely hard for me as a mother. Luckily, we were back home after 5 days and my actual maternity break started. I had this image of what maternity leave would be like.
Maternity Break looks like – 26 weeks off of work, time to relax, shop and have fun with my new baby !The reality was very different(haha)!
I spent the first 2 months moping about, feeling sore, hormonal and sorry for myself. Self-doubt was kicking in hard and so does the postpartum depression. Cry spells was the new normal. Constant suggestions from all experienced mothers, grannies was kicking in. It was indeed overwhelming. Being a mum was hard and I felt like I was doing everything wrong, all the time. On top of that, Pandemic made the things even more worse as we all were just confined to our homes( All thanks to 2nd wave).
Don’t get me wrong ,I had plenty of fun and beautiful moments too with my daughter but the reality was much different to what I had envisaged in my head.
Expectation – I’ll be able to sleep when baby sleeps.
Reality – Sleep? What’s sleep?! This was something which was constantly told to me by all experienced mothers, grannies that ” Latika, try to sleep whenever your baby sleeps”. It was the most common suggestion, I have ever received. Firstly, you can’t just turn on sleep, because what’s likely to happen is that they wake up as soon as you fall asleep and then you feel a hundred times worse .Back of your mind, you are aware that, its not a sleep ,its their nap and it ll only last for 40 -50 minutes. I felt so exhausted and spent most days walking around in a complete sleep-deprived haze.
Expectation – Postpartum Depression will never touch me.
Reality – I often used to discuss about postpartum depression with my husband ,but honestly I was strong enough that it wont strike me and I wont let it affect me in anyway as I ll be looking forward for so many things. It was funny time because on the one hand, I felt I should be feeling super happy as I’d just had a baby girl. But on the other hand I felt so exhausted and at times being very low. It was such a huge change to our lifestyle and everything I’d ever known.
Postpartum Depression is for real.
It will strike you for sure and one must acknowledge and should speak about it to someone ( partner or someone who is a new mother too). You are not happy always, you will have cry spells ,mood swings, difficulty in sleeping and even breathing ( Thanks to the birth experience) you would have some low moments where you will doubt your ability as a mother. Your body changes completely and it responds differently.
Expectation: I’ll catch up on my reading!
Reality – I’m catching up on my old love “online shopping for my daughter” during 2 AM feedings. Avoid using mobile phones during feeding sessions else you would go bankrupt. ( hahah)
Expectation – There would be loads of time to catch up with friends.
Reality – With my favorite people scattered all over the country, I thought maternity leave would be the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with them , may be visiting friends and family , but all thanks to the second wave of COVID 19 , it never became a reality.
Thank goodness for WhatsApp.
Expectation – It’d be easy to get fit.
Reality – My naïve pre-baby self thought that because babies don’t do a lot I’d be able to fill those hours when mine slept with exercise, healthy meal prep. I was too exhausted to exercise , and I am still struggling to walk more than 2 kms in a day.
I step out every evening with my daughter ( taking all the precautions due to covid) and walk at least 2 Kms, but honestly its hard. My body is still recovering, I still don’t have strength, I get tired too easily , but I constantly push myself .
Expectation – Having a Tidy house.
Reality – I’ll be at home all day so can get loads done, yes? NO. Babies don’t spare you even for a minutes and honestly I was not having that strength to tidy up the home. I now do a “quick tidy” after she has gone to bed every night. I have literally forgotten an “interior designer” within me.
Expectation – Lots of spare time for selfcare
Reality – Its hard to think about yourself during this time when your all the focus is on the baby. All you can think about is whether you still have the stock of nappies, Vitamin D meds, baby wipes and other things required by your child. Reading books, Instagram scrolling, Spa moments takes a back seat.
Bottom line is everyone has their own expectations of maternity leave. Whether you are super mom or a mom just trying to brush her teeth during maternity leave, you will get through it and just focus on you and your baby’s needs! It is okay and it is hard for me to admit it, but it is OKAY if the house is a mess, if the laundry is not done, if the sink is piled up with dishes, etc. Your kids will not remember the mess but they will remember the bond and snuggles you gave them from day one.
To All the New mothers or To be mothers – Take it easy, ask for help, grab some coffee and be gracious to yourself! ( Honestly , I am still trying !!)