The Ten Best Parts of Maternity Leave

Earlier today I wrote a blog post about how this is the last week of my maternity leave. It mainly focused on how anxious I am about returning to work and the worries and sadness I feel about leaving Lila.

Shortly after posting it I decided to delete it. It just felt too “woe is me” and depressing, when in actuality I am incredibly blessed and should be grateful. I have a healthy, beautiful baby girl, I have a job I love and I had three full months to spend with my little love. Not much there I should be upset about.

That’s what I love about blogging. Just when I get mired down by my negative feelings, writing forces me to take a step back and put things into perspective. I like to think of my blog as my public gratitude journal.

So while I will admit leaving my girl to go back to work is going to be tough at first, I am choosing to focus on the many wonderful moments I’ve been lucky enough to experience the past three months.

Ten Best Parts of Maternity Leave:

1. Time to Bond. Three months is a great amount of time to be able to spent with Lila. All the time we’ve spent together nursing, playing, rocking, talking and exploring the world has helped me feel bonded to her completely. I can tell she feels securely attached to this world and to her mommy and daddy.

2. Quiet Moments. Just a few minutes ago, Lila feel asleep nursing in my arms. She laid against my stomach like a little hot coal, breathing deeply for 15 minutes before waking up wanting to go to her crib to nap. Those sweet, silent moments are some of the best.

3. Setting a Routine. Just in the past few weeks, I feel like we’ve really fallen into a good routine. Lila has been sleeping 8 hours or more for about two weeks straight. She naps well, nurses great and is comfortable playing on her own. I feel like she’s to the point where she’ll acclimate and do well in daycare.

4. Learning how to parent. I think one of the most important parts of maternity leave is learning how to be a mother. There are so many little things you have to learn how to do, like clipping little nails, that can only  come with practice, practice, practice. Maternity leave has allowed me the time to feel like I am a good mom.

5. Smiles. The first smile and every smile thereafter are definitely the highlight of my time home with Lila.

6. Connecting with other Moms. During the past three months I have been able to meet and get to know several other moms in my community. Working doesn’t always allow me to spend time forging new friendships, so it’s been great having this time to connect with some other new moms.

7. Going Back to Sleep. So I know maternity leave is all about NOT getting enough sleep, but I absolutely love the feeling when you wake up early, tired, yet you know that you can go back to sleep later. Usually, Lila will go down quickly after her first morning feeding and I get another two hours of sleep.

8. Time to relax. While a lot of work, newborns also like to sleep a lot, which means mom has time alone to relax. For me this time was spent watching Parenthood from season one to now and also reading several books.

9. Gaining perspective. Ultimately, many new moms have a dilemma to face … go back to work or be a stay at home mom. For me, the three months at home gave me great perspective on this decision. While I have mad amounts of respect for SAHM’s, I realized that for me, working brings me a lot of fulfillment, self-confidence and balance.

10. Daily outings. While on leave, I’ve tried to do one outing a day. Today it was getting coffee and walking for two hours with another mom here in town. I’ll miss being able to do something fun in the middle of the day with Lila once I’m working.

I am so very grateful for the past three months home with Lila. I know those first days back to work may come with some tears, but I feel lucky to have the best of both worlds – time to love my baby and a career that makes me feel good about myself.

Other working moms – I’m curious, how did you deal with the transition back to work?