Before he was born I had quite unrealistic expectations to motherhood. I have, of course, heard people talk about how hard it is, the lack of sleep, the crying baby, the stress, but they also mentioned the love I would feel, a love greater than all others. And, I thought that love would give me all the energy needed to get through.
I also had big plans for maternity leave – in Norway most people take 56 weeks leave: a minimum of 6 weeks for the mother, a minimum of 10 weeks for the father, and the rest of the weeks can be shared equally (and this is with 80% pay). My husband is taking 4 months off, and I got the rest. Anyway, I had big plans. I would go for long walks and get back into my normal clothes in no time. I would read a lot, do lots of knitting, sort out all the filing, make all the baby food from scratch and so on. I was planning to be very social and meet up with lots of friends and lots of other things. I was going to be a “super mummy”!
It didn’t quite work out the way I had planned, but like I said, I was probably being pretty unrealistic about the whole thing. Just getting out of the house took me half a day: getting up in the morning, feeding baby, changing nappy, dressing baby, getting dressed myself (and on good days I also managed to have a shower), changing nappy again, changing clothes as he puked on me, feeding baby again, and finally, we were both ready to go out! This was exhausting, and I, who is normally quite an organised person, never late for anything and normally annoyingly early to everything, found myself being late and forgetting things!
My mind just wasn’t working properly – in Norwegian we have a word for this: “Ammetåken” which can be translated into “The Breastfeeding Fog”. Although I only breastfed until the wee lad was 3 months (but that is a different story), I still felt the “ammetåke” for another couple of months. It wasn’t until he started sleeping through the night that I started to feel like myself again. That may also have had something to do with the seasons – when the wee lad was born it was -20 degrees Celsius outside (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) – and it was only daylight for a few hours each day – so I guess that by the time spring came, I was bound to feel better anyway!
There was finally time to go to the “new mummy” group and enjoy it, to go for walks with the pram and to meet friends for latte (and a croissant or two, because I deserved it). I also realised, finally, that it was ok not to do the washing up and that the house didn’t always have to be in perfect condition. Then, there was the development of the lad that was just amazing: the first time he grabbed my finger, the first time he smiled, the first time he grabbed that toy, the first time he rolled over, the first time he crawled over to me and grabbed my legs “asking” to be picked up, the first time he grabbed a water-glass off the coffee table and dropped it on the floor, so it smashed into a thousand pieces… I was a bit annoyed of course, but at the same time I felt a little bit proud of him!
Well, my maternity leave is over (but I still do not fit into my old jeans), I am back at work full-time, and my husband is now at home. He is enjoying every minute of it, but I think he is starting to realise that it is hard work, and that I didn’t just sit around all day watching day time telly. The daddy is now the one who is there every day, and sometimes when the wee lad cries he wants his daddy, and not his mummy. That was a very strange feeling, and luckily it hasn’t happened many times! I am enjoying to be back at work again. It is nice to be reminded that there is more to me than just being a mummy, but I do so look forward to getting home in the afternoon! When I walk in the door and the wee lad comes crawling towards me with a big smile on his face – that is just the best feeling in the world!
Have something to say about the 56 week maternity leave in Norway or have any questions for Asta? Leave a message in the comments section below!
Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4927243431/sizes/m/. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.