Twelve weeks have come and gone and it’s time to go back to work. I thought I’d put down some thoughts on the first couple of months of motherhood, mainly for my own benefit because I know it can be hard to remember short seasons like this one.
Back to work
Maternity leave has been a joy. I’ve enjoyed everyday of it. I’m very blessed to have gotten to take a significant amount of time off. But to be honest, I’ve never felt a significant pull to stay home as a mom. During my pregnancy, I often wondered if my feelings would change once I had a child and was at home for maternity leave. Like I said, I’ve loved maternity leave, but I haven’t wished that it was forever. I think I’ve been able to soak up everyday because I know it is a short season. I’m looking forward to going back to a job that I love and although there will be hard days (and weeks I’m sure), I’m still confident that this is the place that God has us for this season. Brad and I talk often about holding everything with an open hand – our jobs, our home, our city – willing to make a change at any time if God calls us to it. So for now I head back to work and Ben heads to daycare. I know that this can be a polarizing topic, so if you’d like to hear more about how we came to our decision, I’d love to talk to you about it, but this isn’t the platform to do it. Also, please pray for Brad, Ben, and me as we find a new routine over the next few weeks.
The first month
The first month of Ben’s life was rough for one reason – breastfeeding. Ben was not having it. There were many struggles that I won’t go into, but we tried so hard to make it work! So many moms encouraged me saying, “Don’t give up! It will get better!” But it didn’t get better. After five and a half weeks, Ben and I were both exhausted and discouraged. After some encouragement from a friend, I decided to just bottle feed Ben for a whole day and take a break from breastfeeding. That day was bliss. Ben ate well, slept well, and was happy. We stopped breastfeeding that day and I’ve never looked back. I switched to exclusive pumping, which has had it’s challenges, but has been worth it. Ben is getting breastmilk, we are saving money by not having to purchase formula, and we’re all happy and healthy. I’d love to talk to you more about exclusive pumping if you have questions about how I make it work!
Other than the challenges with eating, the first month was easier than I expected! I found that I loved the newborn phase more than I thought that I would. In general, he was a good sleeper and easily soothed when he cried. We were blessed to have lots of visitors and delicious meals brought to us!
The second month
Once we switched to bottle feeding, we really began to hit our stride with parenthood. We were able to get Ben on a loose eat-play-sleep schedule. We instituted a bedtime routine at around 4 weeks, which has been great! After only about a week, he began going to sleep within a few minutes of putting him down when he was still partially awake. He hated going on walks in his stroller at first, but by six weeks he really began to enjoy it! Unfortunately now it’s getting dark so early we won’t be able to go on as many walks during the week.
At his two month appointment, he was 10 pounds, 6 ounces, and 21.5 inches long. He was in the 2nd percentile for height, tenth percentile for weight, and 40th percentile for head. Our pediatrician Dr. Neitzel said that he is perfectly proportioned and has gained weight well even though he is on the small side. He got his first round of shots, which he handled by screaming at first, then sleeping all day.
The third month
Ben has started smiling and cooing a lot more in the last couple of weeks. He has good head control and he loves to be held upright like he is sitting. At 10 weeks, his two bottom teeth started coming in. He has been more fussy and drooling a lot, but overall teething hasn’t been too terrible yet. The worst part is that he doesn’t have the physical coordination to hold onto something to naw on it, so the only thing that soothes him is the pacifier and cuddles.
He sleeps for 12 hour stretches, with getting up once or twice. Luckily, since we are bottle feeding, Brad can help with the middle of the night feedings. When we put him down after eating in the middle of the night, he goes right back to sleep. I’m looking forward to the day that he sleeps straight through the night without waking, but the schedule we have now isn’t so bad.
We had baby dedication last Sunday and Pastor Merle prayed over us. Ben was very close to crying but managed to make it through the dedication without losing it! PTL!
My favorite things about maternity leave
My maternity leave fell during the most beautiful time of year – September and October. In the month of October, Ben and I went on a walk in our neighborhood nearly everyday. I’m going to miss our peaceful walks through the greenway, Ben snoozing while I listened to podcasts.
Brad came home for lunch almost everyday. It was a great way for me to get a break when I needed it and it helped the day not feel so long if we weren’t getting out to do anything that day. If he wasn’t coming home for lunch, we usually went up to PV to visit him and his officemate Stacy. Now Brad will just be coming home to our dog Libby at lunch, which means his lunch breaks will probably be much shorter.
It seems weird to say, but I have felt like I have had more space in my brain the last 12 weeks. During busy seasons at work, my head can feel so full of all the plates that I have spinning. Though there were difficult days, maternity leave has felt like a sabbatical – a chance to refresh and recharge. I’ve had space to read books for fun, keep up with friends, bake cookies, go on long walks, and get together with other moms. It’s been a slower pace of life. I need to remember to keep some of that space when I’m back at work, that I don’t have to rush through life.
Another season has come to an end and a new one begins in the morning.