As my maternity leave nears its end, I’ve started to think about all the things I will miss when I return to work in February. It’s crazy how quickly times flies, and it doesn’t seem like five minutes since the midwife handed us Dinky after an impressive 26 minutes of ‘official’ labour and no pain relief – let’s gloss over the hours of contractions at home I spent watching Dr. Pimple Popper as a way of distracting myself!A lot of time over the last 10 months has been taken up by the blog, but I’ve also been entertaining a rather inquisitive baby. Between breastfeeding, nappy changes and all the usual other Mummy stuff, I’ve set aside time to attend some local baby classes as a way of keeping us both in touch with the outside world. It was something I never did with the Teen as I suffered from postnatal depression and didn’t drive. I regret it hugely, which is the benefit of hindsight. I certainly didn’t feel strong enough at the time to face other mummies, feeling like I was a failure a lot of the time. I’m obviously a bit older now – and have a car – but I was still concerned that the feeling of isolation may rear its head again with no family round for support. Some people joke that it must be great not having my mother-in-law close by, but it actually makes things so much more difficult. I can’t call her up and ask if she can look after Dinky so I can go for a solo swim or even pop to the shops.
Being a stay-at-home parent is hard work and I applaud anyone who does it. It is often a thankless job and one that is completely undervalued by society. I was lucky to have an employer who understood my need to take time out with the baby, and they have been great in the lead up to going back. I’ve made sacrifices though, and I’m currently on no pay until my return. Because of holidays and an impending trip by the in-laws, I decided going back to work when maternity pay ran out wasn’t feasible. It meant a tightening of the belts – which was obviously difficult because of our love of dining out – but these extra months with Dinky have been worth it.
I completely forgot how hard it is to leave the house with a small child for anything. The amount of bag packing and planning it requires is incredible! Breastfeeding made it slightly easier as there’s no bottle prep beforehand, but the sheer volume of stuff you need ‘just in case’ is crazy. How one tiny human needs a suitcase for a visit to Tesco I’ll never know. One trip to work for my colleagues to coo over the baby will be etched into my memory permanently. I didn’t have room to put a box of veggie sausage rolls for a buffet into the bag without removing something else. I could have taken an additional bag, but carrying the car seat was difficult enough. I decided that her spare clothes weren’t essential as it had been AGES since she’d had an explosive nappy. I think you can figure what happened next!
The classes I signed up for became a lifeline during the times I felt exhausted and alone. Even with the most sympathetic partner it is good to chat to other mums and regale each other with tales of woe. We tried out Baby Massage in the early days, but I found Dinky much too wriggly to enjoy it. Even as a tiny newborn she tried to hold her head up and move round. I was often sat watching others with their docile babies, feeling frustrated I wasn’t enjoying what was supposed to be excellent bonding time with my daughter.
I haven’t set foot in a gym yet or started running again, which has gotten me down. You see glossy images of lithe models and their photogenic babies and feel like a hippo when you still have a ‘mum tum’. I’m actually back to my pre-pregnancy weight but everything is so much more ‘squashy’ this time round. Don’t get me started on clothes either! I have dresses I could – in theory – wear, but breastfeeding means they will be languishing in my wardrobe for the foreseeable future.
With a lack of childcare through the day I needed to find a class that was suitable for Dinky to join me at that would help me feel energised again. I’d never done yoga before, thinking it was the domain of ‘Yummy Mummies’. Hearing about Cristal Yoga on Twitter, I was interested in popping along to a class, especially when I learnt it didn’t matter whether you’d had any previous experience of the Downward Dog.
We started off each session talking about something that had made us happy that week. The classes weren’t too strenuous, but I could definitely feel my muscles were getting a workout. Each class was different too, with new yoga moves being taught that we could try out at home. I’ll admit that there were times where it was hard to remain focused on posture when trying to keep an eye on Dinky, but all the other mums were in the same boat. Cristal assured us that the babies were free to explore if they wanted to, and if they wanted to be involved they were incorporated into the exercises. Ideally these are for babies 10 weeks old to crawling, which varies from baby to baby.
The end of each class was focused on breathing and relaxation, and we had time to lie quietly with our babies. Dinky was having none of that though, so I would often spend that time giving her a cuddle while walking round. Cristal gave us a positive affirmation to think of during those moments, which usually focused on what a great job we were doing with our babies. I remember going into one session feeling low and that gave me such a lift.
The day afterwards I’d feel a satisfying ache, which is one of the signs I was doing something right in the classes. Running or the gym doesn’t necessarily stretch out the muscles in the way Yoga does, and I definitely feel less intimidated about going along to a class in the future. Cristal was great at putting us all at ease and offering suggestions to the uncoordinated – like me! My disappointment came when Dinky started crawling everywhere, and it became too difficult to continue with the classes for fear she was going to poke another in the eye or snatch toys out of a smaller tot’s hands!
I’d definitely recommend looking into what’s on offer in the local area if you’re pregnant or just had a baby. They are a great way to meet new parents and to share experiences, as well as give your own baby the opportunity to interact with others. Whether you’re a Yoga newbie like me or experienced, classes like these help you ease back into physical activity without too much strain on the abdominal muscles. They’ve clearly gone through the mill after childbirth and need the gentle approach! I’d love to go along to Cristal’s regular yoga classes on an evening, but Mr. Canny has been working long hours and that lack of childcare I mentioned before means I’ll have to wait a little longer for more ‘me time’. Cristal Yoga has classes on a morning or later on the day, which you can find on her Facebook page.
I have subsequently taken the decision to reduce my hours of work for a variety of reasons once I return, and it will be lovely to spend more time watching my little girl grow. I know I am fortunate to be in this position, although my salary has diminished accordingly. I’ll be seeking out more activities for us to do together on my non-work days once I’ve settled back into the routine of work again. Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading,