No-one ever tells you how hard it will be to leave your baby. They’re very quick to tell you at the start of your maternity leave that 'time will fly, make the most of it' or 'just wait until you have to leave him'. Obviously great insights into life as a new Mummy and oh-so annoyingly, frustratingly, devastatingly...true! But when it comes down to the crunch, the real nitty-gritty and there are so many hormones at stake...silence. So I’ll tell you, it’s hard. As you reluctantly countdown the months that soon turn to weeks and the weeks that in no time at all turn to days and then the days that miraculously turn to hours and even minutes before you have to walk out of that door, it doesn’t get any easier. I sat here alone on Friday 3rd February, my husband had gone out and it was just myself and Noah. Bath time was a delight as always and not just because of the soothing smells of Johnsons baby bedtime bath wash. Story time was even better, there is nothing a good Julia Donaldson book can’t solve. The eight ounce bottle went down the hatch it one and the long awaited burps to follow didn’t actually keep us waiting very long at all. I suppose you could say it was a pretty textbook bedtime routine ending in the man of the moment slipping soundly into a deep sleep without a care in the world, his little eyelids flickering as he dreamt of Mummy cuddles...or whatever it is that babies dream about. We’d smashed it and all that remained of the evening was mine. What could I do with a Friday evening all to myself? Netflix binge, sleep, update my blog or maybe just sleep? But no, that would be far too logical on my last weekend of maternity leave. Instead I sat cross-legged on the sofa clutching a cushion and staring at the baby monitor half wishing he would wake up and just need me. I cried, silent tears dripping down my cheeks. My baby wasn’t a baby anymore, he was a big boy (or so it felt). The silent tears soon turned to wails and before long I’d almost gone through a full box of tissues, mascara stained my pyjamas and the heartache was written all over my face. After a good three hours, my husband and friend returned home and immediately assumed the worst until I blubbered and spluttered that I was okay, everything was okay, everyone was okay.
Are they happy or sad tears? It's a catch twenty-two. I have been blessed with the most incredible eight months with Noah, he is pure joy personified, but knowing that time was drawing to a rapid close and admitting that I was not ready for it. There, I said it. I was not ready for it. Not because I don't want to work, I actually quite like my job (believe it or not), not because I want to be at home every single day, I don't - it drives me crazy. No. Simply because the desire within me to bring up our son is greater than anything I've ever experienced. In fact, it's inexplicable. But to feel his tiny arms wrap tight around my neck when he sees me and to listen to the 'ahhh' noise he makes as he loves his Mummy so tightly, it made me realise that my maternity leave might be over but I have a lifetime of loving and cherishing this little boy to enjoy. Just because I am returning to work doesn't mean I'm not his Mummy anymore (and as I type this believe me, I am also trying to convince myself of it), it means that from then on every single second spent with him will never, ever be taken for granted. Those moments will be treasured. They will be special. They will be priceless. And Noah will forever be my beautiful baby boy.
I couldn't go back to work without these little pep talks to myself, I wouldn't make it through one single day. I am more than sure that I carry him in my heart for all eternity even though the crazy little dude is messing with my OCD something rotten at the moment. And when those lovely-oh-so-helpful people tell you 'he'll be into everything when he starts crawling...' yes, they weren't wrong at all. My candles. My coasters. My trinkets. My chargers. My remotes. My phone. My iPad. My laptop. They're no longer just mine, or even mine and James', they're ours and we have got to share. But we wouldn't have it any other way.
Time really does fly when you're having fun. The good news is, we get to enjoy the ride together - Noah, Daddy and me. Just like you and your little family. I remember posting a little image on my Facebook profile the day I began maternity leave, it simply said ‘To mat leave and beyond...’ Well, the maternity leave may well be over but the beyond bit is here to stay, every day.