Before I got pregnant, for some crazy reason, I thought that maternity leave would be like summer vacation. Boy was I wrong. Maternity leave, in reality, is hard work – probably more difficult than my actual job. A seven-week-old baby is infinitely more demanding than a hormonal teenager.
Here’s a look at a typical day of maternity leave with my seven week old baby:
- 1:00 AM - It’s time for our first middle of the night feeding. We’re still co-sleeping, so I don’t have to go very far to get the Trikester out of bed. Actually it’s not really fair to call it a bed, because we’re still sleeping on the couch in the living room. We need to work on that. I usually change his diaper and then settle in with the boppy on the couch. The baby does not like to be rushed, so nursing takes about an hour. Sometimes I watch a TV show that I’ve recorded on DVR, or I use my phone to browse Hellobee while the baby nurses, dozes off, nurses, and then dozes off again. If I don’t distract myself with TV or my iPhone I fall asleep and then the whole nursing session comes apart. When it looks like the Trickster has finally finished, I re-swaddle and we go back to sleep until the next nursing session.
- 4:00 AM - It’s 4:00 AM and the baby’s hungry again. We rinse and repeat as we did at 1:00 AM, and then try to fall back asleep. For some reason, which I haven’t yet figured out, the baby always has horrible gas at this time of morning. The gassiness means he very rarely falls back asleep, so we mostly cuddle and think about how we wish we were sleeping.
- 6:30 - We stop pretending to sleep, bite the bullet, and get up to nurse again.
Isn’t this set-up glamorous? It’s kind of embarrassing that my baby is happiest on the kitchen floor, but it works! We put him here because there’s a heat vent that keeps his toes warm. It used to be Kiwi’s favorite spot, but she’s nice enough to kindly share with the baby now.
- 7:00 - Mr. Tricycle is awake and getting ready for work. Luckily for us, this is the Trikester’s happiest time of day. He’s content to chill on his changing mat on the floor of the kitchen. It’s a very glamorous set-up indeed. With the baby lounging on the floor, it allows me to pack Mr. Tricycle’s lunch for work, clean-up the kitchen from last night, make coffee and find something for breakfast. Feeding myself is a little bit of a challenge because I’m still skipping dairy and soy to keep the Trikester’s tummy happy. If I’m lucky I have time for fried eggs, but if the baby’s extra fussy, it’s a bowl of Chex cereal with almond milk eaten while I sit on the kitchen floor. We also squeeze in play time and lots of kisses between chores.
- 8:00 AM - Mr. Tricycle leaves for work and it’s time for the baby to take his nap. I swaddle him and put him in the bouncer with his pacifier, and he usually falls asleep. If I’m lucky he takes a 40 minute nap, but sometimes he opts for a 15 minute cat nap. I use this time to eat my breakfast, drink my coffee, watch the Today show, and check my email. On this particular morning, he slept for 30 minutes, but he was content to relax in his bouncer for an hour after he woke up.
- 9:30 AM – At 9:30 it’s time to nurse again. This time I also try to pump the other side. The process takes about an hour, so I hope there’s something good to watch on the DVR. I’m happy to find Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey – score! It’s not the most ideal nursing show, as I keep missing the dialogue when the baby fusses. Real Housewives or the Bachelor is better, as I can get distracted, and still totally understand what’s happening.
- 10:30 AM - For the next two hours I try to get some things done. The only reason I can actually accomplish anything is because I put the baby in the Ergo. He’s content to nap or relax and it allows me to have my hands free to do chores (and snack). I munch on corn chips and salsa, a pear, and a coconut yogurt. On this particular day, my big chore is to take down the Christmas tree. I can’t actually drag the tree out of the house with the baby strapped me, but I do manage to get all the lights and the ornaments off of it. Honestly, as of this morning, the lights are wound and bundled, but they’re still sitting on the couch along with shoe boxes filled with ornaments. They have yet to make it into the storage bins in the basement. Maybe that will happen this morning. I also use this time to write a blog post. When I’m wearing the baby I find it easiest to sit on an exercise ball, and type on my laptop which sits on a TV tray – it’s a very professional set-up. It’s also a good lower ab workout, which my tummy needs postpartum!
- 12:30 PM - Because I snacked a lot while the baby was sleeping, I don’t bother to eat lunch today. For the next hour and a half, the baby nurses and naps, and I watch some TV and also fall asleep.
- 2:00 PM - It’s bath time! I know most people do bath time right before bed, but the evening tends to be the Trikester’s crankiest time of day. To make baths a more pleasant experience, I tend to do in the middle of the day when he’s well rested and happy. It’d be nice if I got to shower today, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. Maybe tomorrow! I don’t even take time to apply a little deodorant, so maybe it’s a good thing that I’m still sleeping on the couch. :)
- 2:30 PM - Even though the baby ate recently, we squeeze in another quick nursing session to make sure he doesn’t get hungry when we go for a walk.
- 3:00 PM - The baby goes back in the Ergo and we head outside for a 45 minute walk. My neighborhood has fantastic walking trails – they are plowed during the winter but often times they’re too icy to actually walk on. We had a big thaw this week, so it does allow me to get back on the paths and off the street. We usually get in about two miles, but sometimes we have to turn around and head home when the baby gets fussy. At the moment, this is my only form of exercise.
- 3:45 PM - The baby is still content in the carrier, so I continue to wear him while I putter and start getting dinner together. Tonight we’re having pan-seared mahi mahi and a coconut curry with eggplant, onions, and peppers.
- 4:30 PM - The Trikester starts to fuss and lets it be known that he’s ready to eat again. So for the next hour and a half we camp out in the recliner and he nurses while I watch TV.
- 6:00 PM - Mr. Tricycle is home from work by now, so he spends some time with the baby, while I continue to work on dinner. When the baby gets cranky, he goes back in the carrier to nap, and I continue to finish up dinner. I also use this time to wash and sterilize bottles and pump parts.
- 7:00 PM – We eat dinner together in the living room. I continue to wear the baby and bounce on the exercise ball while I eat. It’s not the neatest solution as I will totally admit to dropping food on the baby’s head, but sitting on the ball guarantees that we will have at least 30 minutes of quiet while we enjoy our dinner.
- 7:30 PM – No amount of bouncing will keep the baby happy now, so I know it’s time for him to eat again. At this point in the night, he gets a little bottle of pumped milk so I can mix in his probiotic. Mr. Tricycle usually gives the bottle so I can run upstairs to brush my teeth and wash my face. No need to change into pajamas because I never took them off this morning. We nurse, and then once he gets sleepy we swaddle him and we head to bed around 8:30 PM (and by head to bed I mean we lay down on the couch).
- 11:00 PM – The Trikester’s squirming, and I know if I ignore it the screaming will start, so we nurse again.
Phew! That’s what a typical 24 hour period looks like during my maternity “vacation.”
Was your maternity leave what you envisioned it would be?