I’m over the half way mark of my second maternity leave and wanted to share some of my experiences this time around. My first maternity leave was overshadowed by the implications of Covid and its restrictions, I’d hoped that this time around I would find the independence invigorating and that it would shift my mind set. In many ways it may have- last time around I feel I had borderline undiagnosed PPD. This time around I felt lighter as the fourth trimester shed, my baby blues lifted and I started to feel more at ease. Partly life without restrictions, partly the joys of a fairly standard recovery from a planned section. Partly just feeling more at ease with it all.

Having said this, I am not a natural ‘baby person’ I find the daily ritual of nappy changes, feeding and entertaining a baby somewhat tedious. I also feel in my heart the slog of parenting smalls rarely feels the level of reward or satisfaction that social media or the wider highly gendered space of parenting manifests.

Maternity leave generally is a huge dichotomy- there’s this feeling of endless time, yet- it can come and go without much fan fare. Each day the possibilities seem hopeful (we’ll get out, I’ll feel human, I’ll connect to something) yet the early afternoon appears and a day can seen swallowed up by fairly meaningless tasks. You’re duty bound by the babies naps and where it’ll nap- on you or in the pram. There’s no real structure and if like me your salary isn’t hugely forgiving your capacity to engage with the baby world is financially somewhat limited.

In comparison to when my first born, his brother is present the days are too chaotic and busy. There’s not enough space to find a happy medium. Or maybe this could be located with more regional support / living closer to my family. I smile at other Mums knowing the ebb of tiredness in their bones, the endless circles round the park (just to get an adult conversation in on a phone or some time to reflect and switch off). When breastfeeding I stare out the window; whatever the weather I’m met with the ideas of the world turning, life continuing and the stillness within my own flat. The haunting pause maternity leave brings and how in order to lean in you have to perhaps be content with that small space of existence you and your baby together inhabit.

The loneliness of this experience and the solitude comes at a cost of mental over think- issues which wouldn’t be issues become huge sirens in my mind as I’m forever thinking through life undistracted by a job, a commute, a social life. It’s not depression, though I’ve thought it might be, it’s an inability to lean into motherhood solely as an aspect of who I am. Who I am and what I am. It’s still not how I consider myself, think of myself or value care; the internalised / societal inability to see the important worth in this work in comparison with the kind that exists in an office. The realisation that I never understood the blur of care, the effects caregiving has and how it exists within myself and others.