My bubble

Starting back at work after a year-long maternity leave is tough.  I survived the first week and am trying to wrap my head around the fact that this life is my new normal.  One thing I’m starting to realize is that maternity leave was a bit like a bubble.

At the beginning of maternity leave, it feels like you’re living inside a brand new, tiny bubble.  The walls of the bubble are thick and there isn’t much room in there.  It’s ok, though, because you don’t need much room.  It’s just you and your new baby, really.  Sometimes dad or older siblings make their way in, but for the most part, it’s just mom and baby.

As time goes on, your bubble grows.  You start leaving the house again and seeing friends and family.  More people fit inside your bubble and the walls get a little less blurry.  But still, you’re separated from real life by a pretty thick film.

The bubble grows some more as your baby gets older and more independent.  You may actually get to leave the house without the baby (gasp!) and you start doing more activities.  You go out for coffee with other moms and babies.   At this point, you start to notice the rest of the world carrying on with work, commuting and all the other regular things that real people do.  Still, though, you aren’t really doing it yourself.

Then, no matter how prepared you are, that bubble suddenly bursts.  Your baby is separated from you, at daycare or with another caregiver.  You find yourself standing on a subway platform waiting for your train.  You’re wearing make up.  And nylons.  You shuffle along in a sea of other people on their way to work, like the march of the penguins.  And then, there you are, sitting at a desk with a huge, blinding computer screen in front of you and a bunch of fresh pens.  An IT guy hands you a blackberry that you can’t remember how to use and mumbles something about remote login.

It goes without saying that returning to work after having a baby is hard.  It’s a different, bigger, louder world than what I am used to.  Everyone has been saying, “in a couple of weeks, it will feel like you never left.”  They are probably right.  But for now, I miss my bubble.Photo 2014-07-04, 11 48 11 AM

Nerves

It’s back to work for me tomorrow and the nerves are really starting to set in.

I’ve done everything I can do to get ready.  The freezer is stocked with meals.  The fridge and pantry are full of fresh food. My work friends have planned lunch for my first day, so I don’t need to worry about bringing something to eat.

Laundry is done.  I cleaned out my purse.  I packed a bag of shoes (for those who don’t live in a cold climate or take public transit, this is because I have to wear winter boots for my commute!)

Mom took me shopping for my birthday and bought me a new black suit, as well as a great dress.  Along with the few things I bought at the outlet mall in Florida, I’m feeling pretty good about my back-to-work wardrobe.  I tried on a few combinations so I know I can get through the first week without having to do much thinking about getting dressed.

I found a MAC gift card in my wallet (from who knows when?) and got myself a new lipstick.  My nails are painted.

So, that’s it.  There’s nothing more I can do.  Except worry, of course.  I worry about my boys.  Being away from them sucks.  I worry about having so little time together.  I hate knowing that our evenings are so short and that our time together will always feel rushed.  I worry about work.  I feel like I’ve lost some of my spark and I’m just not as sharp or quick on my feet as I used to be.  I worry that I’m not going to be able to keep up with the expectations that my new bosses will have.  I worry about not being able to keep the house organized.  Laundry, cleaning, cooking…

All of this, of course, is nothing new.  Moms go back to work after having children all the time.  I’ve done this before.  I know it will be hard and I also know that I will get through it.  I know that I will have moments where I suck at being a mom and I suck at doing my job.  But I also know that I need to go easy on myself at first because it will get easier.

Deep breaths.

A frantic finish (and some lovely lunches)

This is it. The final days of maternity leave. Now that Bo is doing full days of daycare, we are filling our days with shopping, cooking, organizing and purging. The realization that I’ll never have free time at home like this again (or at least in the foreseeable future) is making me a little panicky. 

One thing I really want to work on is being more prepared when it comes to meals. I already stocked thd freezer with dinners but I’ve always been terrible at taking my lunch to work. There are lots of places to buy my lunch where I work, but I know I don’t need to be spending so much money (or eating so many calories) so I’m aiming to bring my lunch at least a couple of days a week. 

In preparation for this morning’s cooking session, I threw five chicken breasts and some broth in the slow cooker overnight. When I woke up, it was ready to be shredded. After dropping the boys at daycare, I jumped right into making wraps to freeze for lunches. 

I found a recipe for bean and veggie burritos that I wanted to try and they turned out great. 



I also decided to make a few other variations including ingredients like the shredded chicken, refried beans, black beans, quinoa, corn, caramelized onions, cheese, salsa and sour cream. I made a few meat-free in case I felt like a change. 



Once I had filled and rolled all the wraps, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. I labeled some large freezer bags and packaged them up for our chest freezer. 



We tested out a couple for lunch today and they were delicious!  Now I have something I can grab and take to work for easy reheating at lunch time.  



Life is going to get a lot trickier in a few days but hopefully these little things will help make it a bit easier. 

Trying to relax 

In an attempt to make the most of my final week of maternity leave, mom and I spent today at the spa. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a massage and I actually had a spa gift card that my colleagues gave me at my work baby shower before Bo was born. I can’t believe I waited this long to use it!

We started with a quick dip in the hot tub followed by Swedish massages. Then we hit the steam room and had   another soak in the hot tub before stumbling into the dining room in our bathrobes for a three-course lunch. The food was excellent but we ate way too much. After lunch, mom went off for a reflexology massage and I got a facial. 

The whole day was quite lovely and it felt really nice to have a day to focus on myself. I needed the massage badly, but I have a feeling I’m going to suffer a bit tomorrow. My neck, shoulder and upper back were ridiculously tight and the massage therapist kind of beat the shit out of me. At times I wanted to scream (especially when I thought she was going to rip my head right off my body) but I know my poor muscles needed the work. All my tension and anxiety manifests itself in my left shoulder and sometimes it feels like I’ve got a solid rock in there. Of course,  nine months of pregnancy followed by a year of breastfeeding hasn’t helped. 

Now that my spa day is done, it’s back to prepping for next week. Tomorrow is my birthday (37, yikes!) so I’m hoping to get a bit of stuff done around the house while semi-taking-it-easy. We’ll see…

Overwhelmed and underprepared

In a week and a half, my maternity leave will end and I will be back at work.  It will mark the end of thirteen months at home, waiting for and then caring for my sweet baby boy.  

D is working day shift this week and Bo is doing progressively longer days at daycare in preparation for my return to work.  Littleman is back at daycare too, after our trip to Florida (and an injury that caused him to miss a few days of daycare upon our return).  This means I’ve had some time at home on my own.  

Sounds great, right?  Well, unfortunately, my anxiety means that I’m not able to sit and enjoy some of my final moments at home by myself.  I actually tried to watch a show from my pvr this morning, thinking it would be like the good old days when I’d have some down time.  But no such luck.  I could feel my shoulders getting tighter and my mind was racing with all that I should be doing.  There are so many things that I meant to get done before I go back to work and just not enough time (never enough time!) to do them all. 

Yesterday my mom came over and we cooked a bunch of meals for the freezer.  Soups, sauces, stews.  Today I baked some muffins to freeze.  With the current freezer stash, we should be able to make it through a few weeks of me working without having to stress too much about dinners.  I sorted through my make-up and tossed a bunch of old stuff.  I cleaned out my jewellery box and detangled necklaces and earrings.  I walked around the house in my new shoes in an attempt to get used to wearing heels again.  Tomorrow I’m getting my hair cut and next week my mom and I have a spa day planned (thank goodness because my shoulders really, really need a massage!)

This isn’t my first time going back to work after a year-long mat leave. I’ve done this before and I know that it sucks. It’s damn hard and it won’t get easier for a long time. I wish that I could stay home and take care of my family. I wish I didn’t need to stress about when the laundry will get done or how I will manage to make dinner or when I will get to spend time with my boys. But I don’t have a choice so I’m trying my hardest to prepare myself and our home for this big change. 

The flock is heading south

When I was a kid, I always pestered my parents to take us to Florida.  Growing up in Canada, vacations in the south were a treat.  My family was a skiing family, though, so our holidays were always spent in cold climates.  I would see my classmates return from Florida with golden tans and stories about Disney, and I’d be so jealous.

As an adult, I’ve taken many amazing tropical vacations.  I’ve been to Australia, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and Jamaica.  But one place I’ve still never been is Florida. And it turns out my husband is the only other Canadian who hasn’t been there.

So, when we were offered the opportunity to use our friends’ Florida condo for free, we jumped at the chance. What better way to end my maternity leave than escaping winter for a week of fun with my boys?

We’ve (sadly) decided to forego Disney this time around. The cost is something that we just couldn’t stomach after me not working for so long. Plus, Bo still needs his naps so we didn’t think we’d really get our money’s worth. It’s still something I really want to do in the future.

Instead, we’ll spend time on the beach and in the pool, or do some day trips. Of course, I will hit up the outlet mall, although I probably won’t be buying much given the value of the Canadian dollar these days. I will definitely visit Target, though, since we won’t be able to do that here anymore!

Mainly, I’m just excited for some time together as a family. Life has been so busy and I know it’s going to get even worse in the coming weeks. Oh, and I’m excited to get away from all this snow!

Last day

Today is the last day that Bo and I will spend at home together before he starts daycare. On Monday, we will begin a slow transition to daycare in advance of my return to work in March.

I have been lucky enough to have a whole year of maternity leave. At the end of each of my pregnancies, I remember thinking “a year. A whole year!” But then life happens and a year is gone in the blink of an eye.

I’m not ready. I’m not ready to leave this sweet, smiling boy. I’m not ready to see the inevitable tears as I leave him when he’s not expecting it. I’m not ready for daycare-itis, the never ending colds that he’s sure to pick up during his first year.

I know this is all just another part of growing up, of becoming a big kid. Before I know it, he’ll be waving goodbye and running off to play with his buddies. But I’m not ready yet.

Today we’ll spend the day getting ready for his big brother’s fourth birthday. We will nurse and cuddle and enjoy our day at home. On Monday, we will figure out our new normal. Til then…

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