Maternity Leave 101: Balancing the “Baby Brain”
Jill Hare | AdminSecret
The best laid plans of going on maternity leave “on time” went out the window at 3 a.m. one morning when I went into labor two weeks early. Call it an early onset of mothers’ intuition, but the night before I went into labor I stayed up working until 10:30 to make sure everything was in order before the next day of work.
Trying to divert my attention to anything but my labor pains at the hospital, I was glad that I had spent the time being extra zealous with preparations to leave my job behind for the next twelve weeks. I had my to-do list packed in my hospital bag of whom to text and who to e-mail from work. After receiving an epidural, I was in a newly blissed-out state, where I managed to get all the emails and texts necessary sent out. And then I could set my sights on motherhood.
As any mother will tell you, doctors and birth aren’t perfect. After more than a half-day of “fun,” my daughter finally arrived. Two days later, I was feeling better and craving to be in touch with the outside world. My husband and family left my hospital room long enough for me to be alone… with my computer. I couldn’t believe how badly I wanted to check my e-mail! Thus, my quest to keep away the “baby brain” began.
Days at home on maternity leave are like the movie “Groundhog Day”: Every day you wake up and repeat. You can alter some of the details of the day, but basically every day is the same. Having been an elementary school teacher for almost a decade and a niece to many little ones, I knew what I was getting into. I stare in wonder at a little creature and make silly noises and faces. When she sleeps I have just a few things I like to do: Shower, nap, tidy up the house, and check my e-mail – yes, even my work e-mail.
You might think I’m crazy, but I check my work e-mail at least once a day. It’s nice to read something other than Goodnight Moon. Not only does it help me stay up to date with what’s going on at the office, it keeps my messages from stacking up and will hopefully make my return to work less overwhelming. Keeping up with the outside world is important to gain balance with becoming a mother, not to mention it gives me something to talk about with my husband when he gets home from work.
With a full six weeks of maternity leave under my belt, I’m equally amazed that that my child is only six weeks old and that I have only six weeks left to devote my sole attention to her. So while I enjoy every minute of her waking hours, I’m also watching trivia shows – “Cash Cab” and “Jeopardy” are my favorites – to keep the “baby brain” at bay. I kind of liked my brain the way it was.