Today is the day. My last day of maternity leave. I’ve spent lots of time thinking about and planning my return to work, but it still feels like it’s crept up on me. February was supposed to be the month to really enjoy, but it passed by in a blur of illness and self-pity as a result of said illness!
I haven’t managed to finish all the little tasks and plans I set myself to complete during maternity leave, but it has been a wild time! I cannot believe that this time last year I was counting down the days until maternity leave started and guzzling Gaviscon like it was the nicest stuff ever. Now, almost 12 months on, I have an 11-month-old little girl and I’m starting a new job tomorrow.
I’m pretty confident that Amelia has no idea that our life is about to change, and that we wont be spending so much time together. Particularly since she doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about consistently sleeping through the night. As if to warn me of said fact she decided she was ready to get up at 11pm last night and stayed up until 1am. She then decided to wake again at 2.15am for another 45 minutes. I could only think about ‘what if she does it tomorrow night?’ (or any other work night for that matter). I still don’t have a plan for such occurrences, and would be grateful for any tips on how to perform at work after a bad nights sleep.
Lots of people have asked me whether I’m ready to go back or whether I’m looking forward to it. The honest answer is that I just haven’t thought about it all that much. I’ve been doing the odd half-day here and there since last July so I know I can still do the job. I’m going to be working in place that I’ve worked before and with people I know and like so I’m not worried about it being a different job. I am looking forward to doing a job again, and being my professional self a little more often. I’m looking forward to developing my career some more. I’m not the biggest fan of the unknown so I am most nervous about how Amelia is going to get on being at nursery more frequently, and how we will manage our new routine. I’m anxious about being organised enough to get us all out of the house on time, making sure we don’t forget anything and ensuring that the house stays clean and tidy, and the family fed well. I don’t want us to slip into bad habits.
I never contemplated not returning to work. There have been days where I have thought it’d be nice to potter around all the time, or that I can’t even be sure how I ever fitted having a job in amongst all of the other things I have to do with my day. Some days it has felt like being a student again. When Amelia has decided to have a mammoth morning nap and I’ve decided to get back in bed or just lounged around watching TV in my pyjamas. But I miss work. I miss having the responsibility, and a structure to my week. I love the detective work involved in medicine, and how it challenges me. I am now at the point where I sit and watch the TV show ‘GPs behind closed doors’ trying to diagnose the patients, or ponder how I would manage them! I’m not going to be doing as many days as I did before Amelia came along. We will have two full days in the week to do things together. I’m not ready to give up our baby groups just yet!
I’m looking forward to Amelia going to nursery regularly and watching her develop. She changes so quickly at the moment, and I hope that nursery will continue to nurture her and support her development. She seems to enjoy going. The last couple of weeks she has cried a little when I’ve left her. However, by the time I return to collect her she is usually focussed on some kind of toy or trying to ‘help’ with the paperwork! She eats well at nursery, and gets to try different food to those she might have at home. My only concern regarding nursery is that she doesn’t nap for as long as she would at home, and that can leave her overtired when she’s collected. It also seems to affect how she sleeps at night and if she hasn’t napped well in the day she tends to be more likely to wake in the night.
Returning to work is simply the start of a new chapter. I’m not the first woman to finish maternity leave, and I wont be the last. It will just be a change, and take a little getting used to. I will let you know how we are getting on. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips for staying organised, and making things a little easier I would be grateful for all advice!