Sunday, August 9, 2009

Isolation and insanity during maternity and parental leave

Recently, I read a couple of stories on maternity leave experiences and that made me want to write my own. I have actually used this blog to document my experience throughout the leave, which I am still on right now. Soon, the EI benefits will run out and I will have to get Tristan into daycare and me back to working more. What was initially planned to be just a 3 month leave is turning out to be almost a year. Well, it was never really supposed to be a full leave since I thought I could take care of the baby full time while working part time half time. That didn't turn out to be the case.

In summary, I stayed home a lot, mostly because it was simple to do and it allowed me to squeeze in a bit of work here and there. I do contract work for someone for maybe 5-7 hours a week and I work for myself. Work is in many ways my escape from "baby land." I also needed to keep up with the current events and not have my leave affect my career too much. In the early months, there were days where I would not even leave the house for 8 days straight! These days, I do get out for fresh air every 2-3 days with the baby.

The feeling of isolation is a real one, even for someone like me who usually keeps to myself and works from home. The only time we get a visitor is when we send out an invitation. I understand that our friends don't want to inconvenience us but it has been over 8 months now and I sort of wished that more people would visit or ask us out. It sort of makes you think that your friends no longer want to hang out with you as much because you have a baby. They probably assume we are too busy but the reality is we are longing for company and socializing.

I use my blog here to vent my frustrations and I do believe I have become somewhat insane. Staying at home, playing with the same toys, moving about the same rooms, changing diapers, breastfeeding etc. the whole daily routine got to me and at times, I did feel a bit nauseous and my heart would beat irregularly. On those days, I really didn't like my life much. I started to understand why other moms went to parent groups and joined play groups. One of my friends does this a lot and claims that she has to in order to avoid going insane. She says staying home with the kids and not going out tends to make her angry. I don't really have the luxury of doing this because I want to work and I guess because I'm complicated. I don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, I'm paranoid that either the baby or myself will contract germs and get sick, and I get cold hives easily. So I'm stuck and I continue to stay at home.

My leave from full time work has been nice though. It gave me the opportunity to immerse myself into motherhood and I got to see my baby grow and develop. Babies grow so fast, especially in the first 6 months. I am thankful for having that opportunity. However, now I'm a bit worried about how my career has been affected. I haven't contacted my former employer about returning to work yet. I need to do that as soon as I find daycare for my little guy. I know that the company went through a lot of internal changes since I have been gone though. Whether or not they may still need me or could provide work for me in the next few months is unclear.


Anonymous said...

I tried to work from home part-time when my daughter was one, and it was HARD. I realized very quickly I couldn't do nearly as much as I wanted. Not when that little person requires so much of your attention.

I hope that the transition back to work is as smooth as possible. It's a big change, but it can be really good, especially once everyone's settled in to the new routine.

Capital Mom said...

Hi, visiting from Amber's blog. Just wanted to say I hope the return to work goes well and so does the daycare transition.

Susan said...

Thanks @AmberStrocel and @capitalmom! And thanks for visiting :)

Cheryl said...

This is a great post. No one really mentions it and I thought it would be a walk in the park (maternity leave). I felt very isolated and probably went insane many times in the winter (just because I was too lazy to dress up DD and myself to go out)

Good luck with the transistion!

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