Maternity Leave 2.0: Reflections at Month One
Third Space is a co-working + childcare concept in Omaha, NE, the brainchild of yours truly, Kate White, a working mom new to all things business, spreadsheets and pro formas. This blog is a documentation of my journey to entrepreneurship.
During pregnancy I would ask other parents if having two kids is way harder to handle than having one, and I would get the response, “Yes and no… it’s harder in some ways and easier in others.” Super vague and not that helpful, I thought. But now I totally get it.
What those parents weren’t saying is: the new baby is easy and the older kid is hard.
With the first baby, it’s a total shock to the system to transition from being a free-scheduled couple to a nap-and-feeding-oriented family unit. Every outing feels like a giant hassle and life is much more home-based than it was pre-baby (which is stifling at first, let’s be honest). With the second baby, I knew what was coming: breastfeeding is super painful at first, I won’t feel human for like a month due to sleeplessness and all the weird things my body is doing, the baby isn’t actually facing an impending fatality every time it cries like I think it is… etc.
What I didn’t know was coming was: TODDLER REGRESSION. My normally articulate 3 year old has backslid to baby babble and now throws the worst tantrums of her life. Formerly wanting to be independent at all times, she seeks more attention from Drew (my husband) and I than ever and requests help with almost every task. We were so not expecting this! Luckily she’s super sweet towards Teddy; she likes to touch his soft hair and put his paci back in all the time, and even yells, “Teddy, I’m comiiiiing!” from across the house when she hears him crying. It’s been a huge roller coaster we didn’t even know we were strapped in for.*
Something else I’ve found surprising this time around (or perhaps I just forgot this from the first time around?) is that self-care has become hugely valuable to me and has now taken the form of total non-events. I try not to look at myself in the full-length mirror too often because I feel so frustrated at my still-chubby midsection (yo, Breastfeeding, work your magic already!) Also, my hair is shabby-rific, in dire need of a cut and color, and my face is a wonderland of New Mom Acne. Whereas pre-baby I considered pedicures, massages, facials or time with girlfriends to be my favorite self-care, I now look to a simple things like showering (Me Time!), putting on mascara and lipstick, going to the grocery store by myself or wearing smell-good lotion to make me feel like myself instead of feeling like, ya know… a breastmilk and baby urine-covered mommy. These simple things (along with a very sweet and complimentary husband) have become my antidote toward the general fat/ugly/hot mess poison in my mind.
In the middle of the maternity leave highs and lows I think of two things that help me feel grateful. First: those moments (probably the most intense of my life so far) when I was pushing my footling breech baby out of my body with a mama bear strength I mustered in order for him to survive. That situation absolutely could have ended tragically and I will never stop being grateful for the miracle of his live birth. And secondly: I think of the fact that I’ll be returning to work in a few short weeks and won’t be able to be a part of the joys and trials of daytime naps and feedings and cuddles any more, which simultaneously breaks my heart (I’m teared up just thinking about it!) and makes me grateful for the moment I’m in.
In Third Space news, I'm continuing to have conversations with companies in Omaha who may be interested in piloting a corporate partnership with us for the first year. The plan is to open the first location next fall (2018) so we are excitedly working toward that goal!
I'll be starting to post some transition back to work stories on the blog soon; if you're a working momma with a transition-back-to-work story to tell, I want to share it! Comment below or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Note: these articles helped us have more compassion toward Winnie’s need for attention as a new big sister: http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/baby-regression/ and https://www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/behavior/acting-like-baby.aspx