Monday, 8 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (13) - MATERNITY LEAVE

Yes. It made all the difference. Finishing work at 34 weeks seemed early to some; but it was the best thing I could have done. Not having to be on that train platform early every morning for a two-hour journey in to the office; as if I would really miss that.

I didn’t miss the stress, the deadlines or the demands. The freedom was a novelty; I never once succumbed to boredom or felt fed up. I remember my brother's wife saying to me, “You’ll never get this time back, so make the most of it.” I think that was the single most helpful advice I received in all nine months! Here was my ‘last chance for everything scenario,’ so enjoy it I did. Having time to focus on what lay ahead and not on what I was doing for the magazine was weird as well as refreshing.

And wonderfully, I did begin to feel some sort of excitement at the impending arrival of my baby. Yes, finally!

That missing maternal instinct began to reveal itself in the strangest of places: While sitting in the rocking chair in the newly painted nursery. While looking at the washing line full of tiny white baby clothes swinging in the breeze. While stroking my ever rounder belly. I suddenly felt more content than ever.

We decorated the nursery in true expectant parent textbook style. Me in dungarees with non-toxic paint in my hair. Simon whistling with a pencil behind his ear. Photos taken (me in profile of course). We worked excitedly and watched as the room morphed in to something suitably neutral.

Shopping for baby was something that happened in the final four weeks. It wasn’t a case of leaving it too late; it was a case of leaving it until I was ready. I had finally got my head round the fact that we were having a baby. Round the fact that the moses basket in the corner of the room would soon be right up against our bed with a baby in it. Round the fact that the huge weight in my belly would soon be held in my arms.

I talked to it a lot in those last weeks. I stroked it a lot. In fact so much that I may have made up for the other eight months of not. Baby would push up in my ribs and down in my groin emphasising its size. I knew it was tall and I assumed that meant big. The midwives told me to expect at least a nine-pounder. I winced at the thought. But where as I had always been so worried about the birth, I now took on a calm perspective. After all, it had to come out, it was happening one way or another whether I liked it or not. So I stopped panicking and started to look forward.

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