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Meghann Foye, author of the novel "Meternity," thinks all
women should get to take maternity leave to catch up on some me-time. She's
suggesting that whether or not one has children, one should be able to take
maternity leave as a sabbatical and time of self-reflection. She even suggests that when women with
children take maternity leave, they are leaving the rest of their co-workers
back at the office to "pick up the pieces" while they sit at home and self-reflect.
"I couldn't help but feel envious when parents on staff left the office at 6 p.m. to tend to their children, while it was assumed co-workers without kids would stay behind to pick up the slack," Foye writes in her post "I Want All the Perks of Maternity Leave—Without Having Any Kids." "For those who end up on the 'other' (non-traditional, kidless) path, that socially mandated time and space for self-reflection may never come."
This is not the first time I've heard that moms of newborns
have it easy while on maternity leave. So as a working mother of two children, I thought I'd help clear up the
notion that maternity leave is a vacation for anyone who has maternity-leave envy.
Think maternity leave is actually so relaxing it feels like
a yoga retreat? Think again. Here's what you can expect.
1. You'll have an infant who needs to be held
all the time.
If you have images of
reading a book or sipping a delicious cocktail while on maternity leave,
remember your hands will be full with that infant who will want to be held
24 hours per day. Oh and yeah, that infant will want to be held by you.
2. Your vagina will be screaming at you.
Instead of self-reflecting you'll be Googling "How long do I have to wear net underwear?" "Is there a maxi pad made out of ice?" and "When will my vag stop feeling like it's been punched by a prize
fighter?" Your doctor will tell you all
you can take for the pain is Advil, but you won't have time to get it because ... see No. 1.
Your me-time might actually look a little bit more like "I'm going to lose my mind" time.
3. Everyone will want to come over.
From the second your doctor yells, "It's a ... "
, expect to have more houseguests than Martha Stewart. Everyone will want to come over and they'll
always come over hungry. So be sure to keep the house stocked with groceries
and the fridge filled with food you haven't had time to cook so that your
husband's mother can come over and eat while she adores her new grandbaby. And no, you probably won't get time to eat
any of that food everyone is devouring because you'll be busy cleaning up after
4. Your boobs will be Chipotle for your baby.
Instead of catching up on me-time like Foye
suggests on your maternity leave, you'll probably spend most of the time supplying all the nutrients your baby will get from your boobs! Expect your baby to boob
snack for about 45 minutes every two to three hours. Do the math and you'll see that, if you're
lucky, you'll have about an hour of me-time in between feedings. You'll spend most of that me-time getting
your baby's tush clean, clothes washed and trying to get your little one to
sleep-on your shoulder probably.
5. Your baby might have colic or have her days and nights mixed up.
Your me-time might actually look a little bit more like "I'm going to lose my mind"
time if you have a colicky baby who will scream for five to six hours straight
for no apparent reason or if you have a baby who thinks day is night and night is
day. You'll also find your colicky baby is
only soothed, if soothed at all, by you bouncing or rocking her while
you're standing up.
6. The hubs will go back to work as soon as
Your husband will catch on pretty quick that there's no "me" in maternity leave, and he'll high tail it back to the office as soon as
possible. Mine was back to work three days after our second child was born and
he left for a six-week work trip three weeks after our first was born. So don't count on an extra set of hands
during your me-time. Don't expect to
shower either. You won't have time or the energy. Fun!
7. You will be the default expert on everything
Despite your ovaries not
coming with a manual, you will be the default expert on the baby, on the house,
on the pediatrician and on everything else. When you're not rocking your baby or scrubbing his Hazmat-worthy poop off the crib, you'll be Googling the weird
rash he woke up with or scouring the Internet for that one bottle he'll take
without protest. You'll become an
expert, but it'll take most of your me-time to do so.
Don't expect to catch up on your DVR or contemplate the meaning of life during the baby's nap. That's when you get to clean the house, cook the meals and pump.
8. It'll take you twice as long to get
anywhere than it did before you had all this me-time.
You'll forge the car seat and forget how to
fold the stroller. The baby will puke, poop or pee before you get out of the
driveway. You'll realize you left the house without
wearing pants when you're already two miles from home and have to turn around. By the time you get going, it'll be time for
the baby's nap. And no, don't expect to catch up on your DVR or contemplate the
meaning of life during the baby's nap. That's when you get to clean the house,
cook the meals and pump.
9. The hubs is eventually going to want to get
Despite you still sitting on
a pair of icy undies and your lady garden still feeling like it's been hit with
a mallet, your hubs will be anxiously awaiting your six-week appointment when
your O.B. gives your vag the all-clear for sex. It's not that you don't desire
the hubs, but you probably haven't slept, showered or peed alone since the
baby came out of you. But, the hubs needs your attention!
10. Sore nipples, mastitis, stitches in your lady parts, an infant with a cold, oh my!
When you're not feeing and clothing your child who can't take of one of his own needs, you'll be trying to take care of your own, which will include a fever from mastitis—while your baby has a cold from that one visitor who insisted he wasn't sick when he sneezed on your baby.
So if you are like Meghann Foye and have been
secretly envying your co-worker on maternity leave, think again. There's no me-time in being a mom. We moms aren't
complaining, so why should you?