our wee home

musings by michelle

Lists, and maternity leave

The time of life right after having a baby is so… weird.  It is a mix of so many opposites and extremes, and sometimes it’s hard to make sense of it all.  Please forgive me if this blog post (and many of the others during this time) are the ramblings of a half-crazy person.

I am considered very lucky, as an employed U.S. American woman, to have ten full paid weeks of maternity leave.  While paid maternity leave is guaranteed in many other countries (don’t get me started), it is certainly not here in the U.S.  While we do have a federal law that gives us the right to take up to 12 weeks off after having a baby and not be fired for it, employers are not required to pay you during that time.

I took ten weeks off when I had Norah, and will do the same this time.  However, my post-partum experience is proving to be quite different this time.  Last time, I was a weepy, sleep-deprived, and hormonal mess.  That’s pretty normal, right?  This time, it has certainly seemed easier in many respects.  I think it’s a combination of knowing what to expect AND lowering my expectations for myself during this time.  What do I mean by that?  Let me give you an example.

I tend to use lists a lot in life.  At work, I have a note pad where I keep weekly and monthly to-do items I need to tackle.  And usually, I keep a separate DAILY to-do list on a separate scrap of paper.  This daily list is written in a sharpie marker: one color to list the items, and another color to cross them off.  I find it incredibly satisfying to cross things off a list with a sharpie.  In fact, sometimes I’ll write an item on there that I’ve already done just to cross it off.

Anyway, speaking of lowering my expectations for myself during maternity leave… I have found that the only way I am able to function is to use the dry-erase board on my refrigerator and write every single thing on there that I want to accomplish that day (though it doesn’t guarantee I’ll get it done — just that I won’t forget it).  Here’s an example of a list for one day:

  • empty dishwasher
  • shower
  • water plants
  • nap
  • walk

Seriously. If I don’t make a list, I could end up spending the whole day on the couch feeding the baby and watching episode after episode of Lost on Netflix.  (Of course, this written list is separate from the un-written unspoken items of bathe the baby, rock the baby, feed the baby, change the baby’s diapers, etc.) To keep me even more on-task, I have set recurring daily reminders on my phone for walk (9am) and nap (2pm), just in case I’ve gotten distracted by then.  I also have an iphone app (ShopShop) for items I need to pick up at the store.

If I do not put something on my list I will most certainly forget it (though I may remember it during a 3am feeding a few nights later).  THIS is why maternity leave is awesome.  I’m really not sure that I could function outside my home right now, let alone in a professional capacity.  I mean, I actually have to remind myself in two separate ways each day to take a nap, even though my primary state of being is pure exhaustion.  Ironic, huh?

Not long ago, I read an article about the final days of Michael Jackson — symptoms of severe sleep deprivation, according to sleep expert:  “Depriving someone of REM sleep for a long period of time makes them paranoid, anxiety-filled, depressed, unable to learn, distracted and sloppy, Czeisler testified. They lose their balance and appetite while their physical reflexes get 10 times slower and their emotional responses 10 times stronger, he said.”  I read this article while I was still pregnant, and chuckled, because I knew this was waiting for me on the other side.

I’d love to get back a few IQ points before I need to interact with the public in a professional capacity.  The great news is that Hope slept for just shy of seven consecutive hours last night…!  She was eating every three hours up until a couple of nights ago. Here’s to hoping I can get it together during the next month!

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Parenting | Leave a comment