To my son –
Well, today is the day. The day that I have been dreading for twelve weeks now. Today is my last day of maternity leave.
Well, twelve weeks might be a bit of an exaggeration. Twelve weeks ago today, I was so very very pregnant. I was so ready for my maternity leave to begin – that it might end wasn’t even on my radar.
And tomorrow. Oh, man. Twelve weeks ago tomorrow, I was in bad shape. I was drugged, so very out of it, not at all like I hoped or planned for. I was trapped in a bed. I was so tired, so hungry. I was so ready for you to be out of me. Not even because I wanted to meet you, if I am being honest. I just wanted for it to be over. Little did I understand that it was just about to begin.
Twelve weeks ago Tuesday I was sliced open (gutted like a fish, as your father likes to say) and you were pulled out of me. That was not the plan, but things never really do go according to plan now do they.
Twelve weeks ago I was scared and uncertain and in pain.
And here we are, twelve weeks later, and I am scared and uncertain and in pain again.
Tomorrow I have to be gone for nine hours. I have to go to work for the first time in almost three months. I have to leave you.
Maybe it’s my fault for not preparing better. For not “practicing” being away from you. It’s true, in twelve weeks, the longest we have been apart is for me and your dad to get dinner, while my mom stayed with you, and that was only twice.
You’ve taken a bottle – a few times. Now you will need to mainly eat from bottles every week day. I am afraid that you won’t want to drink from a bottle and that you will go hungry. Or, almost worse, you will love the bottle. You’ll love it so much that you won’t want to nurse any more, and we will lose that special time and bond together.
And if I’m being honest, I’m afraid that you won’t need me quite so much any more. You’ll learn that other people can feed you and hold you and love you. Maybe that is for the best. I want you to grow up to be strong and independent. But for now, I really just want you to be my little baby.
I know that I am so very lucky to have you. I am so lucky to have gotten to spend this time with you. But oh, my precious baby, it just has not been enough.
I know in my head that you will be fine. But in my heart. Oh, my heart feels as if it’s being split in two.
I’m lucky to have a good job. I work with nice people, doing interesting work. Work that I have spent so much time and money (the student loan interest alone!) to get to. So why do I want to walk away from it all and just stare at you every day?
We are so lucky that you will now get to stay with your dad for two months. I hope that by the time that you are a father, paternity leave is universal, but right now it is not, and we are so very lucky. I know that he is the best dad and that you will be safe and loved and cared for.
But, oh, how I wish it would be with me.
They say that it gets easier. That I will get used to it, appreciate the adult time and the break from baby, even. But the idea that spending the majority of your waking hours away from you will ever be okay seems so crazy to me.
But here we go. I don’t know how I will make it through the day without crying at my desk. When my co-workers ask me how my leave was, or if I am glad to be back, I’m not sure how I will keep from bursting into tears right there in my cubicle.
But I have to do what I have to do.
Twelve weeks ago, baby, you made me a mom. In the weeks that followed I have gone from scared and bewildered to completely in love with and attached to you.
I know that it won’t be the same after this, but I will continue to love you more and more each day. I can’t wait to watch you grow.
So very much love, your mom