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Why I Didn’t Take A Maternity Leave From Swoodson Says

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Blog Maternity Leave

[Hormones have led me to a bit of navel-gazing and personal sharing, so there will be this post and a later one reflecting on my postpartum body and then it’ll be back to the regularly scheduled creative programming!]

Maternity leave. A hot topic as election season looms; the United States and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that do not provide any paid time off for new mothers (source). When Marissa Mayer, as new Yahoo CEO, took a very short leave and worked throughout, I cringed – thinking about the precedent that was setting for other pregnant workers and remembering what an absolute wreck I was until at least 3 months postpartum with my first. I have moaned to my husband about how amazing Swedish maternity & paternity leave sounds – how nice it would be to have him at home with us for longer!

Babywearing and sewing

Here she is at 3 weeks old and strapped to my chest in a Boba carrier (I love babywearing!) – baby snuggles and cutting out a pattern at the same time.

I’m upfront that I’d like this blog to become a reliable source of side income for my family, and I treat blogging like it is my job. So why didn’t I take a break from blogging after having my second child in early March? In short, I’m in a completely different place than I was after my first child was born. Diving back into sewing and blogging didn’t feel like I was dragging my feet back into the grind, it felt like I was getting back to normal.

I continue to get well meaning comments or emails along the lines of “why are you online!” and “go snuggle your baby!”, but even if I know their intent is to be sweet, it feels a little like a dismissive pat on the head. Am I less of an engaged mother because I’m writing this post while my baby sleeps in a bouncer beside me? Don’t the every-2-hours-all-night snuggles count? I have to admit to my (overly judgmental) self, maybe this is how Marissa Mayer felt too.

I wrote about how sewing and blogging fills the needs of this stage in my life in a post about different online communities on While She Naps, and it ties in here too. The feeling of ‘Groundhog Day’ is even stronger with a newborn who eats, poops, and sleeps – so it’s worth it for my sanity and happiness to run down and sew instead of taking a nap when both kids are asleep.

It also makes a huge difference that the mental and physical recovery has been totally different. With baby #1, I had started the blog and just barely started sewing knits, with a few woven baby projects under my belt (this pouf was the first thing I made that I was proud of).

Swoodson

Above is a picture of me during the first month with the first baby. We moved to our first house, in a new state, and I had emergency surgery two days before we left our apartment. Our first week in our new home brought a huge ice storm, other unsavory postpartum complications, and even once I was comfortable walking and driving, it was freezing cold. We were basically house bound for three months, he was decidedly NOT a sleepy newborn, and I spent many nap-less days wondering what I’d gotten myself into. It took me months to get my creativity groove back!

Baby Feet

His baby feet!

Swoodson Family

Three days postpartum with baby #2. We left the hospital within 24 hours, I felt 90% normal, and this little girl sleeps! It’s Spring, so we’re seeing the sun, and family members can entertain my toddler while I alternately nurse the baby and indulge myself with free-time (blogging and sewing, mostly). It’s been a totally different experience, which definitely affected my ability and desire to be sewing something up the first week.

baby hand

Her baby hand!

So, that’s a bit of reflection on why I didn’t take a blog maternity leave. I did have a series of interviews with other sewing bloggers, which was fun and also gave me a little breathing room in my posting schedule. I worked hard in January & February so that I had all my weekly posts and newsletters scheduled through April, not knowing how I would feel or how rundown I’d be. I’m so glad and  hope to keep working ahead a little bit.

If you blog, I’d love to hear what you did or plan to do! If nothing else, thinking on my decision re-emphasized something that parenthood has taught me. Every situation is different, every person’s “right” answer is different, and that there may be no “right” answer at all. Also check out my tips and the secret for making time to sew with kids at home!

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Domenica

Thursday 16th of April 2015

I can't believe you don't have maternity leave in the US?? Anyway, I think you're doing an amazing job to keep on blogging with a toddler and young baby. I tried, but ended up too stressed and had to let it go for a while. My bub is 9 months old today and I'm just starting to find chunks of time to do more for my online sewing business. I'm getting ready to release my first sewing pattern to sell! A big milestone for me. I support doing what works for you! I admire your organisation, too!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 17th of April 2015

Thanks so much Domenica! Things could totally change, I'm sure - I might change my tune in a few months once they're both moving and going in opposite directions :) What's your first pattern! Excited to see it, thanks for reading.

Rebecca

Wednesday 15th of April 2015

Yes! With the first I was scared and felt like I couldn't get used to how much my life had changed. I spent so much time just on the couch holding a sleeping baby. But with the second I just wanted to get back to normal as soon as I could. I only napped a few times because I really started appreciating the time to work on things alone.

You did an incredible job planning and managing everything.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 17th of April 2015

I am the worst napper ever! I feel ya. Thanks for the kind words!

Kelly J

Tuesday 14th of April 2015

I also felt like the second one was so much easier than the first! I jumped right back into to doing everything right after he was born. I did a lot of blogging and designing while he was constantly eating or with him snuggled on my lap. Now that he's a few months old and not sleeping as much and teething, I don't have as much time for sewing, designing, or blogging, so I'm taking my "maternity leave" now. I'm really glad that I had the freedom to take my time off when it was most convenient for me and my family.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Wednesday 15th of April 2015

I feel like I've forgotten so much already like AH spitting up! Now your comment made me think AH teething :P I'm so glad you have the freedom to take time off when it works best too!

Mae

Tuesday 14th of April 2015

Such a great conversation to have Stephanie. As momma's we sometimes forget that our experiences though sometimes scarily similar can also be so starkly different from each other. While my first pregnancy had me eating out the day I left the hospital, my second left me unable to walk comfortably for months and bending over was extremely painful. The third was another speedy recovery but integrating a third child into our routine proved so so difficult, much more so than I had expected! Basically, none of my births set me up to understand what I would be like for the next- they were completely different in all aspects. I had an easy hospital birth, a traumatic emergency c section, and a natural home-birth.. whaaa?! Yep. I'm so happy that this birth has been a good experience for you and that you're able to blog again because we need momma bloggers willing to speak on real issues that affect us all. <3 Much love lady.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Wednesday 15th of April 2015

You have so much respect for juggling THREE and making/blogging/selling! And such a good point that you just never know - but I wish you couldn't speak from personal experience with the traumatic birth and rough recovery :(

Rachel

Monday 13th of April 2015

Yep their all different. I agree the first go I was in rougher shape- and he didn't sleep. The second one was just more easy going she would fall asleep unassisted just hanging out- I spent months waiting for her to turn on me ;) Do what's right for you in all things, including blogging!

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