When's The Right Time to Start Maternity Leave?
Since I announced my pregnancy, a question on the lips of many people after the standard "When are you due?" and "Is it a boy or a girl?" has been "Will you go back to work?". I'm not sure if this is a common question for pregnant ladies, but with a 3 hour daily commute 5 days a week, my colleagues were interested in what my plans might be. Personally, I don't feel ready to answer that yet because now is not the right time to be thinking about it.
Last week I had my 31 week midwife appointment and the subject of work arose. I work in a special needs school, running work experience placements and employability workshops for the sixth form students, so I'm on the go all day every day. In my nauseous first trimester I was (thankfully) mostly school-based in the build up to Christmas and in my full-of-energy second trimester I felt pretty much as capable as I had been pre-pregnancy. Then along came trimester three, bringing with it intermittent nausea, increasingly sore hips, pelvic pains, heartburn and sleepless nights. It's fair to say that my pregnancy really has read the 'What to Expect' books and followed them to the tee!
Almost overnight I began to struggle with the physical demands of my job and the commute. I requested that my maternity leave begin at 34 weeks but as the days rolled on I started to wonder if I'd last that long. Speaking to the midwife last week about what I do and why I'm finding it so hard, she was shocked that I was managing to keep going full time. To put it in perspective, I get up at 05:30 every morning, commute 1 1/2 hours, work mostly standing and walking for 8 hours, drive back again, cook tea, go to bed and repeat every day until Friday. My midwife gave me a choice - Reduce my workload or finish work now.
I'm a team of one plus my manager and the school aren't planning on finding a replacement for me until the new school year, so without anyone to hand over to I couldn't begin to relinquish responsibility and step back gradually, it's all or nothing. So I chose nothing! I went in yesterday morning to hand my sick note in, empty my locker and say my goodbyes and that was that. It's only a couple of weeks earlier than expected, but yet I feel a little unprepared. My students, the work placements and I had all got my original date set in our minds so I feel a little like I've let them down. I had been spending my prep time writing down important information and any useful tips that whoever takes over from me may need, my students' accreditation folders were complete and signed and I had planned the new timetable for half term onwards, yet I feel a little lost by it all.
However, Baby C needs a healthy Mummy both as he/she finishes cooking and once the big day comes and Phil and I are bringing home our new baby. Yesterday after I left work I went to Costa Coffee to regain my thoughts and today I have done some housework, some reading in the bath and this blog post. I am a little worried about getting cabin fever, I'm used to being on the go constantly, but Shakira's right that the hips don't lie and mine are telling me to chill a bit!
Did you have to finish work early or change your plans leading up to the birth of your baby? Have you got any nice recipes or ideas for me to get on with whilst I'm at home? Please let me know in the comments box... I'll definitely have the time now to read and reply!