When the mister and I decided to try for our first baby, I honestly thought that it would take the best part of a year for me to get pregnant. Therefore, I didn’t see the fact that I co-owned and ran a media start up as a much of a biggie.
Two months after we made that conscious decision to start trying, BOOM! I was pregnant. My business partners clearly a wee worried at the speed of action of sperm, I brushed off the reality with easy-breezy pre-baby attitude, thinking I would merely pop her out, have a 3 month maternity break and jump back in the saddle, and be ok with it all thereafter. HA!
Boy was I wrong.
I’m definitely not one for regrets – I don’t really see the point of lamenting over what was – but finally I have one nice big juicy regret in life; leaving my baby in what I now deem to be the crazy age of 3 months in someone else’s care – whilst I got back on the self-employed hamster wheel. Otherwise known as the micro maternity leave.
Funnily enough, the micro maternity leave is on the rise – sometimes it’s a choice, for others, there is no other option. In some countries, it is the norm. In my case, it was my only path forward at the time. In my naïve pre-mum days, I could never have fathomed the internal wrangle I would face on an hourly basis; but going back to work at such an early juncture ripped my heart and mind apart on a minute-by-minute basis.
I began to become insanely riddled with jealousy. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that someone else was going to spend every minute of the day with my little one – who only a few months ago was living inside me – where I would not. My whole body ached for her when she was not in my arms. Worse still, my feeling a lack of control over the situation and as if I had failed as a mother by spending my days working – not being a mum – at such an early juncture, invited the control freak banshee to come out to play.
Jealousy went hand in hand with a resentment that I started to feel towards my work, fuelled by the fact that this was the thing that was separating me and my little girl. No longer did I feel like I was that go-getter entrepreneur…my priorities had changed, and I had to fool myself into the fact that I was “doing the right thing” to try and appease that hateful feeling directed towards what had once been my “first baby”.
Obviously, the above maketh for a happy mum not, and so slowly the rot of stress set in. Stress about work; stress about work plus the endless sleepless nights and screaming thanks to being handed every sleep regression in the book; stress about trying to keep up a pumping and breastfeeding schedule inbetween running off for meetings or during Skype calls…a slick operation this was not!
I look back at all of this and wonder how things would have been different if I could have enjoyed the first year with my baby in its entirety. I look back at myself during those times and wonder who on earth I was, trying to keep it all together and not being able to be at peace with myself for one moment as I switched from mum to entrepreneur and frontwoman of a media entity. I look back on those times and wonder how, now knowing that little E is a Highly Sensitive Child (read more about that in Well hello there, Highly Sensitive Child), and wonder how my constant state of flux and her being in the care of another – not her mother – affected her during that first year.
Needless to say, after a year, the balance tipped and my mind snapped. NO MORE!!! I know some mums are quite happy to go back to work early, and some simply have no option, but for me after a year, I just couldn’t hack it emotionally or mentally any longer. I just wasn’t able to be that mum, I wanted to be with my girl, and for the mere possibility that as even an option for me, I feel hugely privileged.
I often say this – being a stay at home mum is in my book, way harder than being a working mum (not that it is a competition), at least in those early stages; but now having done both, and now that I have it, despite there being no ‘off’ button and its relentless demands and challenges, I’m so happy that I have it I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The sad thing is, I don’t know if there is going to be a number two, so I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to immerse myself in those first year moments without having been totally preoccupied by work.
Interested to hear if anyone has had a similar experiences? Please do leave a comment and share…