Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Maternity leave - can I leave it until now please?

Two friends had babies at the weekend - both boys. Both already had sons. My step-sister had a baby girl last Monday. Cue lots of pics of sweet wrinkled squished wee bunnies - all blotchy and new, mewing and snuffling as they splutter through their shiny new days on this earth. What long days they are... feeding round the clock, our bits healing, your body recoiling from the onslaught of birth - leaking and swollen, a shadow of it's former self.

I don't envy those first few weeks - to me they were hell on wheels. Second time around is never so difficult (apparently) - by then you have (hopefully) grown Mother's balls and no longer feel the fear of venturing further than a metre from the comfort of home and steady supply of wipes. You are immune to the dirty looks in Starbucks from career women chatting merrily about holidays and designer wear over coffee; from the sniggers of teenage boys as you buy maternity pads at the chemist and when you say the words 'nipple shields' with absolutely no hint of embarrassment in front of the ten deep queue in Boots you know you are in a new zone. Frankly, you don't give a fuck. You've been there, done it and can no longer fit into the T shirt.

These are meant to be the golden days - filled with baby bonding, sweet smells and Mommy lunches with the gals. In reality the washing machine never stops, your house looks like invaded Basra, your daily scent is crusted vomit and you are so tired you hallucinate that Josh Harnett is the milkman. (Not that you would be up for anything frisky with him even if he was - christ let no man go near there again!) No bra fits as your milk comes, nay, charges, in - you have begun sporting weird pigment spots on your face and you haven't washed your hair in over a week. You would sell your soul to the devil for 5 hours straight sleep and every time you open your wardrobe all you can see are a row of clothes mocking you - they may as well belong to Kate Moss they look so damn tiny. Golden days my ass.

God is certainly a man. Because if he wasn't this birth business would be a piece of cake - we women would pop them out and stride back into work a la Phoebe in the dream sequence episode of Friends, leaving the spew, sleep deprivation and complete loss of life (let's not even mention how isolating the whole experience can be) to men. Then, when the bunny turns two - all cute with new words and activities every day - THAT is when we can take our much loved maternity time. Sooo much more fun. Take sproglet to the jungle gym place filled with coloured balls; take sproglet for lunch and dare to have a glass of wine; read books, have afternoon baths, bake cakes, ice biscuits etc etc - all jolly fun. So much more fun than the 'golden days.'

Sproglet is so much fun these days I find it genuinely hard to leave him. Ok, not so much when he is throwing the king of all strops in Waitrose, lying on the ground refusing to move unless I buy him a cake shaped like Sponge Bob... but in general he is so much more... interesting. If I could vote on when to take maternity leave - something I never had in the first place after Sproglet was born, being self employed and all that - I'd like to call it in now please. If only that were possible...

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