Yesterday was my last day at work. I am now officially on maternity leave for a year (assuming I don’t squander my front-loaded maternity pay and savings in the first few months).
I feel a strange weight of emotions sitting in my stomach. They settled in as I walked away from my work building yesterday and are still with me this morning.
I’ve worked full time since I graduated from uni – and even before that, worked part time from the age of fifteen. I suppose I am aware that I’m embarking on the biggest change my life has seen so far. Bigger than leaving school, bigger than graduating, bigger than marriage. Soon I’m going to be thrust into a world I don’t recognise and have no prior training in. There will be no ‘handover’, no new job spec and no PA to make sure I’ve settled in, know where the coffee machine is and can log into my computer. It’s just me, Jake and the baby – trying, testing and making up our own rules.
At work they gave me a fantastic send off. They adorned one of the meeting rooms with balloons and glittery decorations, cake, biscuits, fizz – and very lovely little presents for the baby. We played ‘guess the celebrity baby’, I had to guess the flavours of jars of unlabelled baby food (which I was fairly bad at, as I’ve been struck down with a head cold and can’t taste or smell) and my colleagues had to try to guess the circumference of my bump with long strips of toilet paper. I was extremely touched by it all.
We had our final NCT session last week. We practised how to wash the baby from head to toe with dolls and cotton wool. It ended up being all the dads that performed the task, as the ladies couldn’t get off their seats and sit on the floor. Jake got reprimanded for picking the ‘baby’ up by its left ankle, and then again – for lying it on it’s face in order to clean it’s arse crack. Silly though, he wouldn’t do it like that with the real baby.
We populated a 24 hour clock with all the activities we enjoy on a typical Saturday. Ours consisted of a lie in, followed by a two-for-one English breakfast at Browns, a potter around Kingston, lunch, lounging, a late afternoon walk, dinner, a film and bed.
We then proceeded to watch a demonstration of how our current routines would be blown apart by a cycle of feeding, burping / settling, fragmented sleep and then a repetition of the aforementioned.
Despite being warned how hard it is a thousand times by parents, it still hasn’t registered. I’m imaging I’ll just carry on as normal, but carry the baby around with me like some kind of bald chihuahua.
I now have anything from 0 – 5 weeks of unstructured play time ahead of me before the baby comes. I have a few things I want to achieve, but most of the baby stuff is done. I just aimlessly flit in and out of her room, smoothing her sheets, looking in her drawers and making minor adjustments to how her things are laid out. The calm before the storm.