It's been a little funny for me to be out of work at this time of year. Clearly I'd have preferred all of this to happen during nicer weather, when I could spend my free time outside, save daycare money for both kids, and fill my days with fun outdoor activities. I also wish it was a little later in the year so I could attempt some hardcore potty training with Carter, who is clearly not ready yet but might be by the summer. But being off in the middle of winter has its perks, too. I feel like I had some accidental training for this, actually. Considering all of the sick days I've had to take over the last couple months and the week off I had at Christmas, the last couple weeks practically seem like a continuation of that. But what's really been popping into my head lately is my maternity leave.
I was scared to death of having a winter maternity leave. I thought I'd get a serious case of cabin fever, and I thought I'd feel trapped and even more deprived of human contact than I did during my first maternity leave right at the beginning of summer. But instead, my winter maternity leave was one of the most blissful periods in recent memory, even though Jacob was a handful at the time and the last couple weeks were hard because Carter's reflux and milk sensitivity were making themselves known. But I loved that time at home. I loved cuddling my baby, watching crappy TV, avoiding crappy snowy commutes, and having a little more time at home to get things done. I liked not feeling any pressure to go anywhere. We just holed up in the house and snuggled. Was it perfect? No, but there was just something so lovely about it that I really didn't want to go back to work. That was definitely a switch from my first maternity leave, so something was different. Clearly I became a wiser parent in the interim, if nothing else!
Being home during the heart of winter has been strangely familiar over these last couple weeks. The timing of this break is a full month earlier than my maternity leave, but the feel is very similar. Cold weather, plenty to keep me busy, the company of a tiny little human...all very familiar. Even my time alone is reminiscent, since there were moments when newborn Carter slept that I got to do my own thing.
All of this has definitely had me thinking back to two years ago. In fact, the posts from this specific week were pretty crazy to look back on. I was really getting into the thick of the pain and pressure that made the last few weeks of my pregnancy so difficult. I was panicky and uncomfortable and pretty much afraid to do much of anything. I was constantly afraid my water was going to break because the pressure was so intense, and even a simple trip to the grocery store left me miserable on the couch for the evening. It was such a switch from my first pregnancy, and I simply didn't know what to do about it. Re-reading those posts last night reminded me of the shock and fear that crept in as things got worse, and looking back it's a miracle I got so much done before Carter actually arrived. I know I felt like I had to push through to keep my sanity and get things done, but considering how I was convinced that every day could be my last chance, it's no wonder I was losing my mind by the end. Last weekend at Jacob's lacrosse game I looked down the way at the bleachers I sat on every Thursday for the last six weeks of my pregnancy, including the night before Carter was born. I thought about those long days of work followed by Jacob's soccer clinic, and marveled that I got through it. That last day was SO hard. I felt horrible and even our family Valentine's Day dinner was a bust. Gosh, what a crazy time that was. Adding to the irony is that my maternity leave was such a burden on my two department mates, and now that's their full-time existence. Sigh.
I have settled into this existence a little more easily than I expected, which is both good and scary. I don't want to get too comfortable, but I'm glad I'm not just sitting here bemoaning my fate (yet). I fill my days, enjoy my time with Carter, and try to be productive. Today I reorganized my basement storage shelf, which has been on my list for months. I also finished washing and sorting the 2T clothes, but I have yet to figure out how to fit them in Carter's room. I'm just trying to plan ahead a little more, manage our schedules a little better, and keep myself occupied. Tomorrow I am working out, having lunch (possibly my last, since my free parking is ending) with my two weekly lunch buddies, and hopefully starting a big project if I can push myself. It's enough that I sometimes wonder how I managed to do all I did when eight of these hours were spent at work. I'll have to readjust at some point, but for now I'll hunker down, enjoy this time, and appreciate that this makes the doldrums of winter just a little easier to take!