Maternity leave – what to do before baby

I started my maternity leave at 35 weeks pregnant. Baby’s expected due date was 8th November, and I finished work at the end of September.

People kept on saying, “But don’t you want your maternity leave after baby’s here?” If I take a year, does it really matter, in the grand scheme of things, if I go back when she’s 10 months or 11 months or a year old?

I made the decision for a few reasons, really.

Firstly, I was born at 38 weeks. I have a few family members who’ve gone earlier than that. I didn’t know if that was a trend that would continue with my own baby. Maybe she’d arrive at 36 weeks. (Spoiler: she didn’t.)

I had a lot I wanted to do before baby arrived. The house needed sorting out. I needed to wash all her clothes, sort her room, sort our room, so much to do. And I wanted some time to myself. Selfish, maybe. But I was about to give myself over to another person for a very long time. It didn’t seem like much to ask to have a bit of time to myself, where I could sit and watch TV or read a book or write or do something fun before going through labour and then raising a child. I wanted to say goodbye to this well-beloved and carefree phase of my life before starting a new, much anticipated, one. It wasn’t like I wanted weeks of hedonism, but I wanted some time to relax.

Finally, I was tired. Work was feeling more difficult each day. Sitting behind a desk was tough. Making it through the day without needing a nap was increasingly hard. I felt like I wasn’t giving 100 per cent and that was different for me. I pride myself on my hard work, and I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

But now I’ve been on leave for over a month and still no baby. It feels a bit odd, to be honest! I’ve worked all my life, and it’s really strange to know that there’s no deadlines to meet right now.

What am I doing on maternity leave?

My daily routine goes a bit like:

  • Doze for a bit after husband has gone to work.
  • Get up, feed rabbits, shower, get dressed.
  • Watch a bit of TV.
  • Spend some time on Twitter, Facebook, this blog, playing Solitaire, WhatsApping friends and family.
  • Have lunch.
  • Play with rabbits.
  • Do some cleaning and tidying, or other chores.
  • Read or write or blog a bit.
  • Husband comes home.
  • Get tea ready for us both.
  • Watch a bit of TV together or read.
  • Have a bath.
  • Play with rabbits.
  • Go to bed.

It’s obviously very variable, but it goes surprisingly quickly!

At least once a week, I generally go out to lunch with my mum, and we go for a wander round the shops.

I’m also going to Sainsbury’s and Aldi more often than usual – one thing that’s nice is not feeling the pressure to do a “big shop”. If I forget anything, I can just pop in another time to get something. Although I do admit that I hope my last visit to Sainsbury’s will be my last for a little while – I think I’ll do some online shopping for a while now. Walking round the shop is getting pretty tough.

Keeping on top of cleaning and tidying is getting harder, as I can’t reach into the washing machine any more, for example, or unload the dishwasher. So I’m having to wait for my husband to get home to do those things. But I still can do most of the vacuuming, clean the bathrooms, do the kitchen surfaces, etc.

There are a few things I still want to get done before baby arrives. I’d like to stock up on toiletries etc a little more, so I fancy a trip to the Body Shop. I want to make up some more lotions and potions so that baby can have nappy rash cream, I can have some nice moisturiser, we can have nice bath stuff, etc.

It’s been really nice to have this freedom over the past few weeks. It was especially good when Barbara was so sick recently. I didn’t have to worry about taking holiday from work or going in late – I could just take her to the vet and be ready whenever she needed me.

I think I’ll still probably be ready to go back to work next year, though!

How early did you go on leave before baby? Did it feel right to you?

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