Maternity Leave

11 Oct

Something wonderful happened to me last week. I started my maternity leave.

When I told my boss all those months ago that I was pregnant, leaving work to have my baby seemed like a rather alien concept. I told him, we discussed when I would leave, I suggested possible replacements, but I could never actually envisage the time coming where I handed over my whole job whilst I went off to have my fist child. I’ll admit I found it all rather daunting. It was almost like I was having a conversation about someone else.

That was until I got to 34 weeks, couldn’t even bend over to do my shoes up and nearly cried every morning as I dragged my big fat preggers arse out of bed to get on the tube. By then, I was more than ready to leave.

I thought I would really struggle to leave work. I love my job and I’ve worked hard to get to the position I am in. The thought of simply handing it over to someone else for nine months made me love it even more. Who would do it?  What if they were better than me? What if everyone liked them so much they wouldn’t even want me to come back? What if I go back and am slowly ousted only to be replaced by the job stealer? Men never have to think about anything like this. Funny that.

Luckily for old control freak me, I was responsible for finding my replacement. This definitely made the process a lot easier. I could not have handled anyone else deciding who would be the ‘new me’.

I had thought as time got closer to my leaving that things would ease up somewhat. But alas, this was not to be. Ironically, it was the busiest time of my year and rather than slowly packing up and going, I was stressed, manic and feeling the strain. This presented me with two problems. Firstly a reluctance to leave without seeing all my projects through – this would, however be impossible without taking multi-tasking to a whole new level. Secondly a great feeling of guilt that I wasn’t able to concentrate fully on my baby as work was taking precedence.

I’ll admit, the minute my maternity cover walked through the door, the sense of relief was palpable. I had this person in my mind for a long time and luckily she was available. She is brilliant and I feel more than happy knowing she will do a fabulous job. I literally jumped on her with a booklet of handover notes as I slowly felt the weight lift from my shoulders. Poor woman, if she had wanted to slowly ease into the role she didn’t stand a chance. She must have noticed the crazed look in my eye as she got on with things immediately. I could have kissed her.

As my departure drew nearer, I felt a lot better than I thought I would. I felt sad to say goodbye to the girl I work so closely with every day, but I also felt a massive shift. I felt like a different person. I felt like a mum and I felt more than ready to embrace my career change. As I said goodbye the significance of what I was doing hit me. I was leaving as a woman who goes into the office every day, who has structure and routine and who knows what is happening from one day to the next to a woman stepping in to a life of the total and utter unknown. Terrified? Yes. Excited?! More than words can say.

I’ll admit I still have my Blackberry on. It’ll probably take a few weeks to let go of my third arm. A bit like a baby, I’m having to slowly wean myself away. But I’ll have to, I have another job to do. I’m going to be a mother. Eek!

I have realised since leaving that I am stickler for routine. I spent the first week with something to do every day and diarised my life like a job. I shopped, cleaned, organised, had ‘meetings’ (with friends for lunch) and generally kept myself very busy. It is only now, in my second week, that I am finally allowing myself to relax. I almost have to force myself to do this, but I am enjoying it. I’m baking cakes like they’re going out of fashion (I don’t think this is nesting, I think it’s so I can eat them) and I’m watching as much trash TV as I can possibly get my hands on (although I am drawing the line at Jeremy Kyle – I can’t be ‘that’ type of mum).

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