To begin with I thought I could get away with leaving work a couple of weeks before my due date, leaving me lots of time with the baby at the other end but after taking advice from several women who have already been through it they suggested that I would be absolutely shattered by 38 weeks and that maybe I should consider going on Mat a little earlier.
After some consideration I decided that going on Mat leave at 35 weeks would work well for us, with the Easter Bank Holiday helping to further the few days holiday I had left, but it seemed like baby had other ideas...
When it became clear that baby wasn't putting on weight and when I had to have steroids I spoke to my doctors who suggested that rest and no stress would help so I actually ended up going on leave when I was 34 weeks. It was only a week earlier, but it seemed a little extravagant to have 6 weeks off before the baby was even born. Still there was nothing to be done, and I finished early.
I have been so grateful for the time off though, bump is getting more painful as baby gets bigger and walking anywhere requires adding about 20 minutes extra to the journey time because I can't walk quicker than a snail without getting severe stitch.
It took quite a bit of getting used to, the thought that I wasn't going to be in an office for over a year, and no work responsibilities. Bar raising a decent human being obvs.
But I'm in to my 4th week now and the time has gone so quickly. I heard that lots of people find Maternity Leave before the baby drags but I'm actually quite a lazy person so for me this has been perfect. I have done a few things though, as I try and get my head around the fact that soon I wont have many moments to myself and those I do, I'll be sleeping when baby sleeps!
5 Ways I've Utilised My Maternity Leave
1. Batch Cooking
I tend to do most of the cooking in the house and I don't think I can stand the mess Leigh leaves when he cooks so in preparation I have batch cooked several meals, one less thing to worry about! I've gone for the staples - lasagne, risotto, paella and chilli. Easy meals that can be eaten on their own, with minimal fuss. I have also done a month's food shop online which is currently sitting waiting to be ordered once the baby is here and it includes a whole ton of ready meals. I'm normally a make from scratch girl but I feel like future Cara will thank me for this.
2. Tidying the House
Some call this nesting but I call it being prepared for the mess that is to come. Mess on more mess is never going to be a good thing. To be fair, I have been exhibiting some classic nesting tendencies and I did produce a spreadsheet much to Leigh's horror, especially when he realised it was three pages long. I've finally got around to tidying my wardrobe and clearing out some clothes that I most definitely will not be wearing with a newborn, and we spent a weekend doing a big deep clean so now it's just keeping on top of it.
3. Building Relationships
I have organised A LOT of coffee dates and brunches so I can get to know all my new mum friends that will be keeping me sane during the rest of my maternity leave and when I'm running on fumes. I've been very lucky and found lots of lovely ladies mere streets from me. It's also been a brilliant way to explore the area and find out where the best places to take little one will be and which ones do the cheapest breakfasts.
4. Spending time with Leigh
See also - doing all the things we won't be able to in a few weeks, like going out for an uninterrupted dinner or to the cinema. I am very aware that in just a short space of time Leigh and I won't be able to make as much time for each other, as especially in the early days it will be all about keeping our little human fed, watered and happy. For some reason this has hit me especially hard and I keep getting really emotional about the thought that it's not going to be just the two of us ever again. I've been trying to compensate by being extra clingy and suggesting we do lots of fun things together.
5. Final Preparation for Baby
Although it feels like I've been preparing for this baby for ever there are still a few little bits that need doing. I've been using my time to get all the last bits of baby washing done, I don't know if there is a cuter sight than all the little baby-grows on the clothes horse. I've also been making sure we have the few final bits like a moses basket mattress protector and that we know the base temperature of the rooms so we can make sure baby is comfortable. I've been watching a few Youtube vids on bathing, dressing and changing a newborn so I feel more prepared and doing some last minute reading on the labour process.
With only a few weeks left to go of uninterrupted time to myself I have also been reading and sleeping an awful lot too, who knows when I will next get 8 hours! My advice is, if you can manage it financially, try and take at least a month off beforehand, you will thank yourself.