Monday, October 21, 2013

Tips for Maternity Leave

I just read this great blog post that someone had pinned on Pinterest and I thought I would share it here:

13 Tips To Meaningful Maternity Leave

I read these and nodded my head through all of them.  In case you're counting, which you're probably not, one week from tomorrow is Miss Mollie's 1st birthday.  Also known as the 1st day of my maternity leave. Technically.

Also known as the hardest/best/scariest/happiest/loneliest 12 weeks of my life.

I would love to say that this was a glorious time in my life. We just sat and gazed in each others eyes for hours and snuggled on the couch. But that wasn't really the case.

I didn't know how to be a mom.
Mollie appeared to be quite aware that I didn't know what I was doing.
We really had to get to know each other and figure one another out.
I figured her out at approximately week 11.5.
She figured me out at approximately week 12.
And then I went back to work.

I found this quite unfair.

Here are my own personal lessons for Maternity Leave:
1. If someone offers to help you, say yes. I don't care if they offered to open the door for you, or babysit your child. Say yes. To every offer. This is not a test of strength.  Accept help.

2. If people do not offer to help you, ask for it. It is okay to ask for help.  Ask for someone to come over and help you fold laundry. Ask them to stop over and keep you company for an hour. Ask them to hold the baby so you can sleep/eat/pee/sit in peace and quiet.

3. It's okay if a baby cries. They're going to cry. It's a given.  Don't panic. Babies sense fear. They're like bears.  Stay calm, feed them, rock them, swaddle them, cuddle them, walk them around the block, drive them around the neighborhood in the car. Babies will cry. If all else fails, call your husband and tell them to come home from work immediately.  I did that more than a few times.

4. Keep the baby warm.  This may sound dumb, but it's true.  My friend Ali once told me that all you really need to do is keep them fed and warm and they'll be okay. (Note: Ideal temperature for a baby's room for SIDS prevention is between 68-70 degrees)  I figured that if I was comfortable in a tee shirt inside the house, then the baby would be comfortable in that too.  Not true.  I look back at some of our early pictures and the poor child was in a short sleeve onesie inside in November.  I know she was inside, but how dumb was I? Poor thing should have been wrapped in fleece.  I had this fleece one piece outfit that I used to think was her favorite outfit because she was always happy when she wore it.  Finally (I blame the sleep deprivation) I realized that she was probably warmest in that outfit and thus liked it because she was cozy and happy.  

5. Buy a really great coffee pot and really good coffee. It will be your best friend.

6. Don't expect to get anything done. But if you do get things done, feel really proud. Newborns kind of suck the life out of you. You will not have a lot of energy to do other things. Unless you're super woman.  I was not.

7. Find other mamas.  Hang out with those other mamas. You need the other mamas! There is a really amazing place in Minneapolis called the Amma Parenting Center.  It is the greatest place in the world. They have amazing parenting classes and new mama groups.  I participated in one of their new mama groups and it was the best day of my week during maternity leave.  I absolutely don't know what I would have done without these amazing ladies during my maternity leave. And now. They're the best.  Amma is the best.

8. Exercise. As soon as you are physically able, exercise.  Take the baby on walks. It calms the baby, it calms you. It's good for everyone involved.

9. You think the diaper bag is for the baby, but really, it's for you too.  Always pack a fresh shirt for yourself in the diaper bag and a snack (for yourself). This parenting gig is messy and nothing makes you feel out of sorts like having spit up running down your shirt.  Pack a spare tee shirt. And a granola bar.   You'll be happy you did.

10. Know that it gets so much better. 0-3 months was not my favorite time period in my child's life. 3 months to the we're talking! It is hard. It is scary.  Everyone tells you the great parts, nobody tells you the messy details. (and oh, how messy it is)   It gets so so much better. Love up that little one and remember that someday soon they'll look at you, and say "Mama" and wrap their little arms around your neck, give you the biggest hug, and you will melt. And you will forgive them for the first 3 months of their lives.


Heather said...

I always feel like a stalker when I oomment on blogs like this... I started following you when I was planning my wedding because I thought you had good info. Now I'm 22 weeks preggo with my first baby, and your post as well as the post you linked to finally got me thinking about post-delivery stuff (I'm in a weird state of denial, I think). At this point I can't even imagine having 12 weeks off of work, much less what will happen during those weeks. Above all, I'm dreading the end of maternity leave and having to drop my baby girl off with strangers so I can resume professional life. How did you deal with that?

Kara Frank said...

Heather - thank you for reading! I will write a post about leaving her for the first time. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but for me, personally, it was a great decision. Thanks for the topic idea, I will share soon. Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm an open book!

Kara Frank said... you go!