Tagged: shared parental leave

A new normal

It’s been eight weeks since our little B was born and it feels like we are slowly settling into our own way of being a family. It’s a weird dichotomy… In one way, time is going by slowly and dreamily as the days merge into one another, unbroken by the routine of going to work and office life. In another, time is flying past at the speed of light. It seems like only yesterday B was a tiny newborn nestled on my chest and now he’s a big hulking boy – or at least it seems to me. 8 weeks! How life has changed, and yet it feels so natural it’s like he was always meant to come and slot into family life. 

Of course we were a family before B. And I’m not so far out of infertility-land that I have forgotten that we were whole before then, that we had a great life and we were going to have a good Plan B. (Ironic that I call him B!) I am so happy this happened and still can’t quite believe our luck – I thank my lucky stars every day I wake up to see his sweet chubby little face. 

One of the things I’ve been hugely conscious of is to make sure Dog still feels loved and cherished. After all, he’s my first baby. He definitely has less attention from me, but more from T, and we are keeping up his schedule of walks so hopefully it will all even out. I always make sure to give him special cuddles when B is off me, which isn’t very often but I hope he understands. Dogs are pretty amazing like that. 

The big news is that T started his Shared Parental Leave. This is a process in the UK where the mother can give up some of her maternity leave and the father or other parent can take it instead. So we are both off work together for around three months. It’s pretty amazing and we are becoming a proper team. T has been great around the house as I am usually hooked up to a baby, being a milk machine. But we’ve gotten into a bit of a routine. 

The first day T was off work we went out to a local village for a celebratory breakfast. I love breakfast. The most important meal of the day! Only I tend to have it in the afternoon! I had French toast with bacon and maple syrup and T had egg and bacon muffins. We went shopping with B and I got some more nursing tops because, well, I seem to spend my entire life nursing. 


On that front, breastfeeding is going astoundingly well. I’m amazed because I figured it would be awful and was all prepared to give formula but it turns out if there’s one thing that comes naturally to me, it’s breastfeeding. I am massively grateful as I know a bunch of mums having difficulty and I know it makes for a lot of stress. B is piling on the pounds being exclusively breastfed – we joke it’s the only time in your life that people give you such praise for putting on weight!

I’ve been expressing off and on and banking some breast milk in the freezer. I went to a breastfeeding clinic to understand how to introduce it as I’ll be going back to work in a few months and it was kind of stressing me out. Turns out that I can produce a decent amount of milk per session which is a relief. Also apparently it’s easier to do it when you’re also feeding the baby so that’s what I’ve been doing. Then when I’m back at work I will have to pump a few times during the work day. I was worried about how often to do that etc but I think I’ve worked it out. I invested in a double pump at the baby show because I was worried about how I would do it within time constraints at work with a single. The things you don’t know about before they happen! It had never occurred to me to get a double pump. 

We went to The Baby Show and it was so much more fun once you have a baby! I kind of thought it’d be more about the anticipation whilst pregnant but I really didn’t have a clue back then (hence the single pump I bought last time round). We got some little useful things for B like a little cup shaped like a whale to use to wash his hair. We had been using a ceramic coffee mug! We are those kind of haphazard parents! We also splashed out and got him a rocker which automatically rocks him. (The Joie Serina 2 in 1 arrows.) It’s amazing! He seems to quite like it!


Our days are kind of peaceful and kind of full. I’m sort of embarrassed to say that B has a fuller social life than I ever had! We tend to get up slowly – although he wakes during the night, we can usually lie in a while. I usually allow two hours to get up if we are going anywhere. T tends to take Dog out and I feed B. Then we get up and either see visitors or go out. My folks come by once a week and I see my small group of mums from NCT (antenatal class) maybe once a week. We go to Baby Sensory once a week too. And maybe go shopping a few times a week. It all adds up. 

Plenty of food opportunities!

Pancake day we went to the local “bumps and babies” meet and I had huevos rancheros pancake. Omg! So good!


Our local farmer’s market does Street food and I love their raclette – melted cheese over potatoes and bacon! Divine!


I’m really not bored in the least. What I found seems to help not to be bored or stir crazy is to make sure we go out every day. Even if it’s just to the local shop to get something for dinner or to Starbucks for a hot chocolate. But usually I don’t have to resort to trying to fill time because of appointments and social engagements and all. Of course it can get a bit tiring if he’s going through a crying spell but I tell myself it’s probably a growth spurt and it won’t last forever. On the whole he is a pretty easy baby who can usually be calmed by a cuddle or milk. Or a good burp! Takes after his father!

Everyone seems so happy for us! It’s really nice. We’ve had various visitors wanting to come and see him so I’ve frequented the local coffee shop a lot. They know me as the girl who has two hot chocolates with all the trimmings! (Whipped cream and marshmallows!) They also do a fine line in bacon baps! (Bacon rolls.) My parents treat me to breakfast every time they come round so it really could be worse! Our flat is really a bit on the small side for entertaining and it’s good to get out. 


The funny thing is that I feel like I have lost a fair amount of baby weight. I’ve been congratulated on this by various people but I really haven’t tried to lose it. As you can see by the multiple hot chocolates with whipped cream and marshmallows! I think breastfeeding just makes me super greedy. I still have weight to lose but I refuse to stress about it. My boobs are out of control as I’m breastfeeding and my stomach is a bit of a disaster zone post c section so I think there will be some gym work required in the long run. Right now I’m doing a decent amount of walking and babywearing which possibly helps. 

Another weird side effect post pregnancy is I got a weird sense of vertigo(?) for a while. It meant that when the washing machine was on spin and the floor would shake a bit that I would feel really queasy and anxious like the floor might give way. We are right at the top of the building. I started worrying the floor could collapse which was super irrational. It was so odd. I’ve never had vertigo before but I assume that’s what it is.

I also got worried about Dog being trapped in the house in case of fire and so I ordered these emergency pet cards / key rings which tell people in case you have an accident that there’s a pet at home who needs looking after. I don’t know if those anxieties were post partum effects. Generally I’m not an anxious person (I know, my pregnancy probably notwithstanding!) so it was really weird. But it’s sort of passed / calmed down over the past few weeks. 

I do think I think of bad things that might happen to people I love more than I did before I was pregnant. But they’re not out of control anxieties or anything and I don’t dwell on them – I’ve just noticed I feel differently and maybe it’s a side effect of pregnancy/birth. For example I feel really terrible if I ever hear of bad things happening to kids, particularly little boys. I think someone said that having a child is like having your heart placed outside your body. It does feel like I’ve turned into a pile of mush!

Anyway I think the reason I don’t stress so much about the body image thing is that my body had never worked properly before. And now I have B and I can’t quite believe it. So I refuse to feel sad or worried about the body that gave me my child. Even if it’s a bit of a wreck right now! I had such body image issues before pregnancy and now I’m heavier than I’ve ever been and I just don’t care – this body is the one that’s feeding my child. It seems sort of miraculous. There is plenty of time later to slim down!

Sometimes I feel too happy when everyone else I know with a baby seems to find it hard or tedious. I guess maybe because they didn’t struggle to get pregnant. (Also luck on the breastfeeding front.) I keep wondering about post partum depression and whether I could see the signs if I had it. Thankfully doesn’t seem to be any sign of it right now.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows of course! T and I have discussed a lot about feelings. I’ve definitely been more grouchy and snappy at him, which isn’t ideal. He’s taking it in good grace. We definitely have had small arguments more than usual but we make them up pretty quickly. I think the thing is that regardless of your feelings on gender roles, there are limitations to breaking out of it – I’m the feeder which leaves me very little time to do anything else. And B isn’t dependent on T in the same way, which can lead to tensions. Either way, we are coping okay and making our feelings known! I think post partum hormones are definitely playing havoc!

I’ve barely thought about work. Which is nice but also weird when it defined me for so long. I mildly hate myself for saying this but I can see why mothers get consumed with being mothers and stop caring about the other stuff. I can see now why you usually get a year off for maternity leave (in the UK). I seem to have slipped into this new identity and put the old one on the shelf and I don’t even feel tempted to pick it up before time. 

I had to reconnect this week as there’s a consultation at work. Hopefully my job is not in danger but I had to have a call with my boss and HR even though I’m on maternity leave because the role I do is changing. (The overall role not my job specifically.) It was actually fun to speak with them and reminded me I really like my boss and my job. So at least didn’t make me feel bad about having something to go back to. My boss was really nice and said take all the time you need… I can’t afford to stay off unpaid though! I am getting the maternity allowance from the government but it is a lot less than my salary and just about covers my Starbucks habit! But at least aside from the hassle of pumping and the cost of nursery it will hopefully be nice when I go back. 

In a way, being off work actually gives me more time to spend connecting with friends. A really nice thing happened a few days ago. I got an email from a very old childhood friend who I haven’t been in touch with for years. She now lives in America.  It was so nice to hear from her! I’d gotten in touch with her years ago via her brother on LinkedIn and we had spoken via email really briefly but didn’t keep it up. 

She said she’d been thinking of me a lot lately because her kids remind her of us (my siblings and me) so that was really sweet. It’s funny as I always thought of her and would periodically search for her on Facebook, but she’s not on Facebook. It was so nice to reconnect and see photos of her and her family – she’s in an interracial relationship as well (married to a white guy) so it just felt nice to see that we have something in common – and be able to send my own family photos. 

I’ve also spent longer talking on the phone to people who don’t live locally like my best friend who lives overseas. Or my friend from uni in the US who called me the other night. It’s cool to be able to catch up! I think when I’m at work I never take the time to speak on the phone with people very much any more. It’s nice to connect. My folks want to FaceTime with B all the time!

Our so called “splinter group” (a few of us from the NCT – antenatal class, not everyone) meet up once a week and also talk a fair amount on whatsapp. It’s good to have others who are sharing the experience especially when you have a question along the lines of, “Is this weird?” 

We have joked amongst ourselves that there really should be some book or app that tells you all the stuff they never tell you about having a baby. It’s kind of nuts. Like did you know their skin peels off around day 10? (The depickling!) Is it normal for them to be cross eyed? Bow legged? Etc. Humans really are a bit strange!

My sister is still pregnant! I gave her a load of my maternity clothes as she’s getting to that point of showing. We are all treading a fine line with her right now. She’s very highly strung and if you add in pregnancy after loss, it’s kind of a grenade waiting to go off! (She makes me look positively chilled and I was really stressed during pregnancy, worried about loss.) 

I’m hoping now she’s coming up to halfway that she will start to relax and accept it a bit more as that’s how it was for me. I have a huge stockpile of gifts for her baby! Did I mention she’s having a girl? It means I get to shop for cute girly things too! (I’ve done a run on Mini Boden and Little White Company!) I just feel so relieved for her. 

On Saturday we have a big reunion of the NCT group – including the dads – so instead of being pregnant we will all have babies. The final baby was born about a week ago. She was the one who wanted a home birth but ended up in hospital and is having some post partum problems, poor thing. I guess if we’ve learned anything from this whole thing it’s that nothing goes according to plan. But… It’s all worth it once they are here. 

I organised a baby first aid course for before the reunion. (I’ve somehow turned into the organiser of the group. I guess I need to get my kicks somewhere!) It turns out everyone wanted to do it so we can get a private class just for our group. I figured it’s worth finding out especially given the situation that happened with my mother in law at my baby shower! I had that weird reaction when I was pregnant and cried when I thought about having to give B CPR! Assuming this won’t happen again!

For the reunion I have a plan to make some cupcakes. I was going to do something more ambitious but realised that was a bit nuts to try and do if you have a baby. So I’m just going to go with swirls but I got some toppers printed with photos of each baby on, so hopefully they’ll go down well. It’s funny seeing the photos of all the babies when they were first born. B is almost two months old and much bigger! I wonder how the parents will feel eating a pic of their baby?!

The final thing for this week is that the wrap I ordered arrived. I completely love it! I started using it the day it arrived and it was awesome. I thought it might be really difficult to tie but it was fine and I managed it first time! It obviously takes longer than a sling that you can just plonk them into, but the fit is much better and it spreads the weight across both shoulders which helps as B is a little chubber! 

First attempt bathroom mirror selfie!


It means we can do more of the attachment parenting type stuff (whatever that is… I interpret it to mean he’s always attached which he pretty much is) plus on a purely shallow note I love the pattern – stars. B now has a whole selection of stuff with stars on and most of his clothes are stripey so I guess that covers our Americophile predilections! (Although we will be steering clear of Trump land for a bit!)

Stuff with stars on has become our unofficial motif. Aside from the wrap (and the sling before then) he has clothes with stars on and I managed to get a good deal at the baby show on a blanket I had been wanting for ages from MORI which is covered in stars. It will be fab for sitting out on the grass in summer. (Hit me up if you are in the UK and want a referral code for £10 off!) And I got a lovely light scarf that I can use as a nursing cover if I need to, from The White Company. I think it just cheers me up to have all this starry stuff!


And it reminds me of the cake I made when recovering from the loss of our first baby… Starry Night (*Dr Who edition). The sadness I had whilst making this cake in direct contrast to the happiness I feel now when I think of how things worked out since. What a difference a year makes.


We already tell B he was 4.5 years in the making. (And that’s just my current relationship not counting the 10+ years of fertility problems before then.) Out of 19 eggs retrieved and around 11 fertilised over two cycles, he was the only one who made it. He’s amazing. A miracle. 

He is my little star!