It is hard to believe I am at the end of a six-month maternity leave. Early babyhood is full of dichotomies—it goes by fast, yet slow; the days all feel the same, yet the baby routines have changed more times than I can count; I want the time to last forever, yet I’m ready for the next phase.
When I began reflecting on this time, my first instinct was to think “what have I done with all of this time?,” as if there was something to accomplish, something to show. Thanks to my husband, I was able to turn this notion upside on its head. Maternity leave was meant to bond with my baby and nourish our relationships as a family of four. I can say, without a doubt, those “goals” were met.
The tiny ball of squish that entered our world in October is now a wide-eyed babbling baby. A sibling relationship is blossoming. I’m figuring out, through a lot of trial and error, how to be a parent to two kids. Together, we are all figuring out how to be a family of four.
There is so much I cherish about the last six months and so many things I want remember:
- The early days when I was mostly staying in bed. Our room felt like a cozy cocoon—the twinkle lights from birth still strung up. My daughter would snuggle up next to me and baby brother, excited for the endless screen time and eating meals in bed.
- Feeling like the world was so small in those early days and weeks. The last few years have been heavy, so the newborn phase provided even more of a reprieve from all of the noise in the world.
- The ease I felt as a second time mom, knowing that I didn’t need to be so worried about milestones, wake windows, or justify our family’s decisions to anyone else.
- Watching the sibling relationship blossom and change. In the early days, my daughter running in the house from school everyday, eager to hold her brother. Watching him discover his sister, eyes following her wherever she goes.
- The Great British Baking Show marathons during the early days and weeks. If you’ve ever been on maternity leave, you know there is the one show that defines that time.
- Those first couple of months with my husband on parental leave. While we were tired, it felt like we were thriving, and I know that would not have be possible without our time together.
- Our first Christmas as a family of four and the first, of many, matching sibling jammies.
- Our first big outing as a family of four—to the zoo for a holiday light show. On our way there, wondering what we were thinking taking kids out so close to bedtime. While the lights were beautiful, the real memory is the massive newborn blowout in the middle of the zoo without an extra set of clothes for the baby (#secondkidproblems).
- The many many walks I went on with a baby strapped to my chest. Getting outside during winter is not easy, but those walks were so needed and cherished.
- Surviving my first day caring for both kids; more laughs than tears.
- Learning how to do the day-to-day tasks with two kids. There was and is many a time that I’ve been cooking dinner with a baby strapped to my chest and a toddler standing next to me on her stool “helping.”
- All of the baby noises. The grunts, the sighs, the early coos.
- All of the firsts. The first roll, which I admittedly missed, but my husband gave me the play-by-play many times over, the first smile, the first bath. My favorite first by far was the first time he laughed at his sister as she jumped on the couch.
- The moments I had with just my older child—taking her to ski lessons, playground dates, a friend’s birthday party.
- The slowness of the days. I don’t do slow very well, but babies have a special way of forcing you to slow down, and for that, I am forever grateful.
This short list is just a glimpse of the many memories created during this time (many more I’m sure I’m forgetting), reminding me that this was time really well spent. And, with that, on to the next phase.