Bebe

On starting maternity leave

Last day in the office for a while. I'll miss my coworkers and the students.

A week ago, I woke up from a dream in the middle of the night. I don’t remember much about the dream except that my friend Gerry was in it and said something like, “Nope, those are real. You’re in labor.”

I laid in bed without waking Sean and wondered if the mild pains I was feeling were cramps from gas, Braxton Hicks, or very early labor.

The worrying began immediately. We were so not ready. The newborn and 0-3 month clothes gifted at the baby shower had not been washed, our hospital bag was 1/3 packed and the nursery was still in progress. He won’t be sleeping there for some time, but I figured we should move gifts out of the living room, take them out of boxes and put them together sooner rather than later. The apartment needed to be cleaned — can you tell my nesting instinct hadn’t kicked in yet? — and more.

The to-do list of things at home worried me, but I was more anxious about what would happen if I had to start my maternity leave a week earlier than planned. In the past month, I’ve been getting things ready for coworkers taking over different aspects of my job, but most of my notes and directions were still a work in progress. There’s only so much I could do a few months in advance. Plus, I had to balance preparing for my leave with normal duties during the quite busy early weeks of summer.

Eventually, I fell asleep. When I awoke in the morning I still had mild cramps but they went away before I left for my 37 week doctor’s appointment.

***

I’ve always stressed about leaving work before a vacation. I’m that person who makes sure to store files in DropBox and checks work email while away. I can’t help it. I have a tough time handing over my responsibilities. I feel a sense of ownership with my programs/students. I also work with great people and don’t want to leave anyone hanging. I’ll miss campus too as I’ve always loved the calmness during the summer. My best memories go back to the August I first arrived and met many of my closest friends. It’ll be the first time in 15 years I won’t be around campus in the early fall quarter.

Now that I’m leaving for a few months, I have mixed emotions. I’ll miss the office and my co-workers, but I also welcome the break and the chance to relax a little (maybe) before the baby gets here. When I set my last day a few months ago with HR, I didn’t know how I’d feel late in pregnancy. As the day drew closer, I thought about pushing it back a week since aside for some nausea I feel okay, can do my job without a problem, and am not in that “I’m so uncomfortable, this baby needs to be born already!” stage yet. However, after my dream and reminder that there’s so much to do, I knew I didn’t want to change the date. I want the time to relax, sleep in and get our home ready — if it works out that way.

***

Friday was my last day. My co-workers surprised me with some snacks and gifts mid-morning. Meatball now has his first UCLA Bruins onesie to go along with his collection of Dodger gear.

I spent the day leaving notes behind on my programs and tasks for the period while I’m gone. I was amused when some of the students in my programs told me to “enjoy [my] vacation.”

As co-workers left for the weekend, there were longer goodbyes than usual, hugs and requests to send lots of pictures. I stayed for a while since I still wasn’t ready and had more work to do. It was past 9 when I finally left.

I walked out feeling incredibly sad. I’ll miss the campus where I’ve spent all of my adult life. I’ll return, but as a different kind of adult.

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8 thoughts on “On starting maternity leave

  1. Haha, I would never tell someone to “enjoy your vacation” if I knew they were going on some kind of parental leave… but it IS an exciting time, and at least you’ll be doing something else for a while, though I think that’s just the me being tired of corporate life talking here. =) Looking forward to hearing more!

  2. It’s all gone by so quickly! I hope you enjoy the time. You have enough responsibilities coming your way very soon.

  3. -k- says:

    I’d actually buy mat leave as a vacation, given the right set of circumstances. Cuddling with a baby and being able to completely detach from outside responsibilities for a defined period of time was delicious.

    Enjoy your last weeks of just-you-dom!

  4. I had crazy stress dreams in the last month before K was born, but I hated my job so I felt only tremendous relief when it was time to go! But hey: your job now is to relax and (ew, cliche alert) listen to your body and let it get ready to birth a baby. You’re almost there, yay I’m so excited for you (ew, stalker alert)!

  5. Leave currently feels like a weekend, except Sean is still going to work. I’m sleeping in, cleaning up around the apartment and running errands.

  6. The first few months feel like they were slow, but the last 6 months have felt like they went quick. It probably helps that I’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy and work keeps me busy. Abrazos!

  7. Maybe it’s a vacation in a new place where you don’t understand any of the customs and the locals are tough to communicate with? It does feel like vacation since I get to sleep in (for now).

  8. I’ve had some weird dreams recently. I had one where I had the baby (a girl), but didn’t remember anything about the birth. I was delivered by my doctor, but we weren’t in the L&D unit. It was actually pretty upsetting and Sean wasn’t around to advocate for me. I don’t have a long birth plan, but I definitely want to be conscious when my kid is born and I want Sean there.

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