Maternity Leave is Over… Now What?

Okay. Here we go. Welcome to my first greenlegsandyam blog post. I will preface this post by saying that I was born and raised in Canada and currently live in the Toronto area where I am finishing up my PhD in psychology. I am extremely fortunate to live in Canada where we have a twelve month maternity leave (and other nice things too, like poutine and ketchup chips). I wanted my first post to be about something that I am currently going through, that I know many women have gone through, will go through, or are also currently going through. You were preggo, had a babe, and spent twelve months (if you’re lucky) giving 100% of yourself to said babe.

I spent twelve months giving 100% of myself to a tiny human…

Sure, my life wasn’t the exact same while I was pregnant. But, it wasn’t much different either. I still felt like I was in control of my schedule (and life overall). I went to yoga regularly (not hot yoga, calm down), prepped healthy lunches and dinners (when I didn’t want to eat take out or chips and dip), went shopping when we needed something, did school work when I wanted… etc. I was sick for about three weeks (weeks seven, eight, and nine of pregnancy). During the worst twenty-four hours of those three weeks, I could not keep anything down, including water. Ok, those twenty-four hours were pretty shitty. But, a horrible twenty-four hours out of nine months is pretty good. I can’t complain. My postpartum life, however, is not exactly in my control. I was and still am under the control of a little dark haired cutie named Milo (see photo of my baby boss below).

I was looking forward to taking care of myself again… and I didn’t feel guilty about it.

Anyways. Fast forward from weeks seven, eight, and nine, to week thirty-eight of pregnancy… our Hunny (Milo) was born. Now, don’t even get me started on labour. That’s a whole other blog post. What I will say is that I have no idea why women fear labour (I did too!). Ladies, nevermind labour! Get the drugs and push and call it a day (yes, I realize some have complications and/or c-sections and that is not what I am writing about here). And yes, I realize some women don’t want the drugs and want to have a natural birth. I know, I know, I’ve seen the documentaries. I’m well read (despite my writing style) and I still don’t get it. I have also heard of women not being able to get the drugs for whatever reason (small town not having an anesthesiologist available for example). You poor poor souls. Now back to fears about labour. Nevermind that. I am going to tell you what you should fear instead. What you should fear is RECOVERING from labour whilst taking care of the little thing that did all the damage! I had a vaginal birth so I can’t really speak to c-section recovery, but I’ve heard it is also miserable. If you want details and #truth about recovering from labour, please check back regularly, because I am sure to write about it one day.

Okay, where are we? Oh yes, our Hunny, Milo, was born on September 7th, 2018. And for the following 365 days I was on maternity leave from my PhD program. Basically, what that means is I didn’t have to pay tuition for a year or feel guilty for not doing work. Livin’ the dream. I am extremely lucky that for those twelve months of maternity leave I was able to give 100% of myself to Milo. As Milo’s first birthday was getting close I started to feel a bit anxious. What was going to happen on September 8th, 2019? Maternity leave would be over, Milo would be in daycare, and WTF was I going to do with myself (besides finish this PhD thing). I know I act like a PhD is not a big deal but a PhD dissertation is kind of like those Dementors in Harry Potter. I did a quick Google search to make sure I was right in comparing a dissertation to Dementors. The definition is as follows: Dementors are dark creatures that consume human happiness, creating an ambiance of coldness, darkness, misery and despair. Bang on!

I started to think about what I wanted to do. What are some things I want to prioritize for myself that I have neglected in the last twelve months. For the few weeks leading up to Milo’s first birthday I made a mental list. You might laugh at how small and insignificant some of these things seem, but, taken together, these are the things that make me feel like I got my shit together.

My list (so far): Eight things that make me feel like I got my shit together…

  1. Take my supplements daily. I know what you’re thinking… “Ummm, it takes five seconds to swallow some vitamins.” I get that, and I honestly don’t have an excuse for why sometimes as I’m leaving the kitchen to go watch Million Dollar Listing or something, I think to myself “ahhh, I gotta take my vitamins…” and yet I just keep walking and go get cozy on the couch. Why? Go take your damn vitamins!!! Ideally, in a day I’d like to have collagen in my coffee, a multivitamin, vitamin C, probiotic, and omega something or others. I get that some of these are not “vitamins”… but you know what I mean. Am I missing anything vital here?
  2. Be active 3x a week. Like actually active. Not a walk. I want to sweat. There is a gym next to Milo’s daycare and they offer bootcamp-type classes. Literally have zero excuses why I can’t go. One day soon I will muster up the courage to go sign up and get started. Stay tuned. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about my experience trying to get back in shape. Ugh. The gym is one of those things that once I get into it I am all about it. Right now I’m all about reality tv, doing laundry, and laying down. So, the transition should be interesting.
  3. Read books for entertainment purposes. At least one chapter a day. I have never been a “read for entertainment” type person. I wish I was. My idea of relaxing does not include reading. When I am tired I want to either sleep or watch tv until I reach the level of sleepiness required to sleep. Despite this, for some reason, I feel so accomplished when I read for entertainment. You might be wondering why I say “for entertainment purposes”. Well, I’ve been a student my whole life (I’m now 34), so, when I do read, it is almost always for something school-related (aka, not entertaining). I know some academics love reading about their area of expertise. It is like their hobby outside of work (even though it is their work). I can’t say I feel the same. Let’s just say I’m not about to write a blog post about effect sizes and research methodology.
  4. Eat better. That is such a vague statement, I know. But, for me, eating better means avoiding added sugars (for the most part… not always… I’m not a lunatic), avoiding gluten (I don’t care what anyone says… when I eat a lot of gluten over a few days I start to get insanely bloated and feel like my intestines hurt every single afternoon/evening), and planning out our meals (not waiting till were overly hungry and then ordering chicken fingers covered in hot sauce with a side of ranch and sweet potato fries).
  5. Do stuff to feel better about myself. I don’t mean like spiritually or emotionally… this bullet point is straight up shallow. Get my hair done. Get my eyebrows done. Take the time to properly wash my face an apply serums and oils and whatever else I spent too much money on at Sephora. Take baths and put fancy face masks on (and take a selfie and post it on Instagram, obviously). Blow dry my damn hair. Maybe I can add some clothes to my wardrobe that aren’t ripped jeans and t-shirts?
  6. Listen to podcasts in the car instead of the same Shawn Mendes songs over and over (no offense Shawn). In the same way that reading a book for entertainment purposes makes me feel like I accomplished something… listening to podcasts in the car makes me feel like I’m somehow being productive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not listening to educational podcasts. My podcasts of choice right now are Straight Up With Stassi and Be Here For a While with Rachael O’Brien. Stassi is a reality tv star from Vanderpump Rules, and Rachael O’Brien is Stassi’s friend… so… I’m sure you can imagine the kind of content I like to listen to.
  7. Start a blog (heyo!). I’ve dabbled in blogging before and it’s honestly something I really enjoy. My thoughts just come out through my fingertips and I feel like I’m having a conversation with someone. A one-sided conversation. I’ve spent so much time writing about serious nerdy things while being so focused on grammar and professionalism and blah blah. I’m just excited to be able to write something that contains “blah blah” and “heyo”.
  8. Do more things. Another blanket statement. What I mean is making plans to do “things” and not just stay home because it’s easier. It is hard AF to get out of the house with a small human. And if you have two or more small humans… it’s a wonder to me how you ever leave the house. It is much easier for me to just stay home on weekends or not commit to any kind of plans. Screw that. It’s one of those things that once you actually get out and go you enjoy yourself and have a great time. It is so easy to just assume that the worst is going to happen… “babe is gonna cry the whole three hour car ride”… “babe isn’t gonna sleep well at someone else’s house”… “babe is gonna get sick being around all those kids”… blah blah (that’s two blah blah’s in one post!). I’m going to start focusing on the positive things that come with every opportunity and JUST DO IT (Nike is right!!!).

By no means am I saying that these eight things will make YOU feel like you got your shit together. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you regularly listened to some of the podcasts that I listen to, you might actually feel like your life was heading in the wrong direction (no offence Stassi & Rachael… love you). I do hope that after reading this, if you’re a new mama, or seasoned mama, or even a non-mama who just wants to start doing shit that makes themselves feel better, you’ll write out your own list. Actually write it out. Share it with someone. Let it be known that you want to make these things a priority. And, don’t feel guilty about it.

Go run yourself a nice bath… YOU DESERVE IT… you birthed a human.

It was an amazing twelve months. Our Hunny is the happiest little human you’ll ever meet. And he had better be because we gave him our all. I wouldn’t change anything about the last twelve months. I was given twelve months to focus on nothing else but my Hunny. Well, now maternity leave is over, my Hunny is one year old, and I’m gonna start doing some shit for myself.

XOXO Renee Reina

Subscribe so you don’t miss a post
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Reina
    September 20, 2019

    I enjoyed reading your blog .

  • Susan Grenon
    September 20, 2019

    Love this! I feel mothers have a tendency to put their needs and wants last but I feel that is a unhealthy example to set for your children. We are all worthy of self care and love.

  • Mimi
    September 21, 2019

    Great blog! It’s been a long long long time since my baby but I can empathize. Looking forward to more interesting reads.