Maternity Leave: the first 6 weeks
Victoria Jarvis, a sergeant for Essex Police, provides an honest insight into the challenging transition from professional to parent. The first weeks of maternity leave are largely forgotten about and under-communicated as we all seem to enter into a private, ‘daze-like’ state.
It’s been an amazing, emotional, happy 6 weeks, but with some tough times and tiredness thrown in! I’m not going to bore you all with my birth story but it was all good and no complications – for those of you pregnant don’t listen to all the horror stories people tell you the month before you are due – they rarely come true.
As I write these posts over the next few months I want people to know that this is my experience or decision, what we’ve done and what I do won’t always be the right way or the best way but none of us are perfect are we?
So, being a mum… I can’t remember not being a mum! I was definitely in shock for the first 2 weeks as just couldn’t believe she was here but now, I can’t remember life without her.
I’m sure all new mums are the same, but even though people tell you what it’s like you can never really prepare yourself for some of these things:
No sleep – I’ve actually forgotten what it’s like to sleep all night. When Sophia wants cuddles at 1,2,3 or 4am I love giving them; she’s a lot more settled now and I’m used to less sleep.
Baby blues – I had no idea this would hit me a few days after having her but I was an emotional wreck for about 4 days! I went to a work-leaving do when Sophia was 4 days old and have never felt so overwhelmed about going out, I had butterflies & tears before I got there! Luckily loads of work colleagues were there and seeing some friendly faces meant I was absolutely fine when I was there. Anyone pregnant reading this, PLEASE don’t worry if it happens. It only lasts about 4 days and happens to about 8/10 women according to my midwife.
Breaking the rules – before having Sophia I thought I’d:
- Never spend a night with her laying on me
- Never cuddle her as much and stare at her constantly
- Never co sleep
- Never rock her to sleep
- Never give in
However, she changed everything and rules our house at times. Despite people telling me not to cuddle her too much, not to let her lay on me as I’ll make a rod for my own back blah blah blah I’ve done these things just to make life easier at the time & I don’t regret doing what I thought was right. 6 weeks on, she has good nights & bad nights so I don’t think what I did during the first few weeks has made a difference.
Getting out the house – I’m hoping I get to grips with this at some point as at the moment I think I’m going to be late for everything as I can’t get out on time although I am getting better. I try and get out nearly every day so I don’t end up climbing the walls, so it can only get easier.
My partner Adam returned to work after 2 weeks & 5 days off. I was worried about how I’d find being on my own for 14 hrs while he was out the house, but it was fine. The only thing that’s been really hard is being the only one doing all the feeds, changing, and getting up in the night until his rest days come back around. It does make me really glad I have 18 weeks paid maternity leave as I couldn’t imagine going back to work anytime soon.
How I feel about work now…I don’t feel like a police officer at the moment. Instead, I just feel like a mum.
The thought of returning to work and leaving her fills me with dread and anxiety – I don’t know if that’s normal but we’ll see how my feelings change over the next few months whilst on mat leave. I already know there will be tears and tantrums on the day I have to go back to work!
To be completely honest at the moment I can’t even think of going back to work due to the dread of sorting childcare around both of our shift patterns – something I know a lot of people have struggled with. I think I’ll put this off for now.
I already feel as though I’ve forgotten how to do my job. I have popped in to see my team and I’m making sure I go to the work do they have arranged just so I don’t get too out of touch. I’ll also make sure I do my KIT days at some point. I think they are really important for a new mum, because a baby can become your ‘everything’ very, very quickly, but you do have to remember there’s work at the end of the time off. KIT (Keeping In Touch) days allow for you to keep up to speed with the ever changing work environment so when you do go back, it doesn’t feel QUITE so alien.
So far I would say that being a mum is a much tougher job than being a Police Officer! I’ve been head butted, spat at & thrown-up on (it’s like working a Saturday night sometimes) & she’s only 6 weeks old. Some days it feels like working earlies, lates and nights with no rest days, but I know she’s worth it.
We will see what the next few weeks brings.
Here is the link to Victoria’s first blog ‘Sergeant and Pregnant’