So here I am, back at work.
My maternity leave went by in what seemed to me like the blink of an eye.
I had a baby girl, Katie Coy, on April 8. She was just a little peanut at five pounds 12 ounces. I was induced one week before my due date for medical reasons, and like many inductions, ended up with a c-section. If you ask me, I think I got off easy that way.
I took a bit of an extended leave, being off work for nine weeks instead of the standard six, and I’m glad I did. Most of the good stuff came in those last three weeks.
The first six weeks went by in a blur. We started off good, first in the hospital with the nurses at my beck and call. Then at home with my mom there to help.
After my mom left, things got a little crazier, but my husband, Jason, and I held it together, taking turns sleeping and caring for the baby.
Then he went back to work and the bottom fell out.
She cried, I cried, we cried together. Neither of us slept. I went for days in the same pajamas, changing only when the smell of spoiled milk (some spilt, some thrown up, all on my clothes) was too much to take.
I became all too familiar with late-night television. At first, I thought this would be to my advantage, since the only thing worth watching at night is documentaries. I had visions of returning to work, suddenly a billion times smarter, having absorbed all of this late night knowledge. Sadly, I didn’t absorb any of it. I was too tired. Ask, Katie, poor thing. I actually fell asleep while feeding her (on numerous occasions) and then jumped awake to find myself holding the bottle to her forehead or ear. It’s a wonder I didn’t poke her eye out.
Also, during that first month or so, I developed a disturbingly high tolerance to bodily fluids. I found myself catching vomit with my bare hands and not being completely grossed out at the dried poo I spotted on my wrist an hour after the last diaper change. There was even a time when I wore a shirt with pee on it for two whole hours, simply because I forgot to change.
Visitors came to my house and I found myself handing them the baby and running, trying to squeeze whatever I could into the 20 minutes that friend or family would sit on my couch and hold my baby. Showers, laundry, lunch – it’s funny how much you miss those things when they’re gone.
Then Katie turned six weeks old, and everything changed, almost overnight.
She started sleeping, so I did too. She cried a lot less, so I did too.
Things started going smoothly. We got into a pattern and we had fun spending time together. I could get through the day on just one pot of coffee. I knew what she needed and I knew how to give it to her. I wasn’t afraid to go out into the world with her, so we spent the day on the town. This is when the real mother/daughter bonding began.
I spent those last few weeks getting to know my baby girl – enjoying her smiles and squeals, which fill most of the day. And then, all too quickly, it was over. I had to go back to work.
Now, as I sit here at my desk, staring at photos of those first few crazy weeks, I find myself wishing they had lasted a little bit longer.