[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!
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).
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!
His baby feet!
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.
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.