I couldn’t think of another way to say maternity leave and I didn’t want to say Maternity Leave Part 2.
Where were we? Oh yeah, having a baby is expensive and said baby doesn’t come out with a manual telling you how to change the batteries or even how to cash in the warranty. I mean I found a receipt in Norah’s first diaper but it said that I needed to bring the original card from purchase to exchange and in the haze of the epidural I somehow misplaced it.
Just kidding. You’d have had to pry her from my cold, dead, stitched-up hands.
I love the term leave. Leave implies taking a break. I don’t know about you, but taking a break from my job would have included far fewer stitches and many more margaritas. Leave implies a rest of some sort. Let’s reflect upon a few things that are not restful.
- Sleep deprivation. I didn’t sleep for three days before I went into labor with Norah. And then I was in labor for 40 hours. And then I was so hyped up from it that I didn’t sleep for another couple of days. And then remember that baby? She seemed to think she was entitled to FOOD every two hours.
- Percocet. I won’t delve into the nitty gritty, but I needed some stitches.
- Visitors- I loved them, I promise! But it’s not easy to rest when you feel like you should be sharing the baby. And I had this problem where I had to be present for every introduction because I wanted to see everyone’s reaction to her beautiful face.
- The internet. It’s very easy to say “don’t listen to them”, until you’re sleep deprived and on Percocet and tired from visitors. And then you’re telling yourself (because of what you see online) that every other mother has makeup on post-baby, and they are up at night cleaning the house, and they have all lost the baby weight, and that they haven’t ever watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit sobbing while trying to figure out how to hold the pump just right and lamenting the fact that it’s just not the same without Stabler.
I didn’t feel like a normal human being until Norah was four weeks old. And even then I wasn’t what mainstream America considers normal. I’d say I was doing a great job of existing. Not really the state of mind you would choose to be in before taking a ‘leave’.
So I have only started feeling like a normal, albeit emotionally unhinged human being at the halfway point of my already too-long maternity leave.
The other half of it was spent really getting to know this perfect little alien. And that’s not something that you just wake up having perfected. It’s hard.
I was incredibly lucky to have family close by and to have friends who came and brought us food and took Norah so we could sleep. Not everyone has that, and not everyone even has the eight weeks I had. I say that because I seriously have nothing to complain about.
I’m actually the exception to the rule, and there is something terribly wrong with that fact.