thoughts on early motherhood, part 2

It’s been almost two months since my daughter was born, and nine weeks since I ceased to frequent my office.  I wasn’t sure what to expect of maternity leave, to tell you the truth, but I was pretty sure I’d be sleep deprived, bored, fat, miserable, and generally dying to get out of the house and back to work.   Now that I’ve settled into something of a real routine, I thought it might be time to recoup and report back.  Some general observations on things I wasn’t expecting:

1. I get plenty of sleep.  I mean, plenty of sleep.  Charlie has started sleeping for 8-hour stretches, and even if I don’t sleep that whole time (I go to bed later than she does), after her morning meal at 5 or 6am she goes back to sleep until 9 or 10, and I often bring her into bed with me and snooze for another couple more hours, or until my stomach starts growling.

2. I’m insanely busy.  Even on days when we don’t leave the house (these are few and far-between) we usually have visitors.  And then there’s nursing, and bathing, and laundry, all of which take up more time than I ever thought possible.  I read a lot, and listen to endless hours of music and NPR and audiobooks, and when I’m not listening or reading I’m dancing around the house and singing endlessly–everything from Disney to Death Cab.  I frequently forget to eat, with all we’ve got going on, which brings me to my next point:

3. I have absolutely no muscle tone left on my body, as I am far too busy to get any real exercise, but I’ve lost all the (somewhat substantial amount of) weight I’d gained since getting pregnant.  This is gratifying, to be sure, but also somewhat alarming: where did it all go, and so quickly??  My husband is equally alarmed and impressed.  I told him that if he wants to lose weight like that he’d better learn to lactate.

4. I’m infinitely happier than I thought I’d be, and frighteningly in love with this little person I’ve produced.  And on the flip side:

5. I’m totally freaking out about the thought of leaving her and going back to work.

What?  This is coming from the girl who said she could never stay home!  The die-hard capitalist who loves her paycheck, no matter what!  I know, I know.  I still want to work, and I still want that paycheck, and I still think that the daycare we’ve chosen will be totally awesome for my child in every way, but I can’t shake the feeling that two months from now I’m not going to be ready, and neither will she.

I suppose it probably doesn’t help that I’m not crazy about the job I’m returning to, but I don’t think that’s everything, strangely enough.  I’ve often thought that the ridiculous pittance of unpaid time we call maternity leave in this country ended just when the child starts to get somewhat interesting.  Until they’re three months old their basically larvae, right?  By the time I’m due to return to work she’ll have really opened her eyes and begun to look at the world as a real little person, and she only gets more interesting from then on.  It hardly seems fair that we have to leave them at this point.

For the record: I’m going back, regardless of all of this.  I need to get away from her, however painful that may be, just for the sake of it, and to figure out what I want to do next with my life.  We’ll see how long it lasts after that.  But for now I still have another two months of hanging out with this little person, busy and skinny and wonderfully happy.

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