The Highs and Lows of Maternity Leave With My Second Baby With Down Syndrome
I am so blessed to have been able to spend weeks at home with my babies after they were born. While some sort of pay made things a lot easier, time is really the biggest gift. Time and grace. Part of me wants to feel guilty for spending hours on my bed holding Avett over the last 12 weeks instead of cleaning a little more, folding more laundry or finally getting those kitchen drawers organized. But the third-time Momma part of me knows there will be time for all of that later. And the gift of giving yourself a break and soaking up all those baby snuggles is the best one I could get. That being said, these weeks are far from a vacation. They have been a crash course in getting to know this baby.
Low: The equipment our little Avett came home with a few more “accessories” after his three-week NICU stay.
An oxygen compressor, a pulse ox monitor that beeps pretty much every time he moves his little foot, portable tanks, a cannula and tape, and on and on. I’m so grateful we were able to leave the hospital but this setup was a little overwhelming at first. My apologies to everyone I was supposed to meet, and showed up 40 minutes late. Especially as I tried to get my cannula taping game down.
High: The snuggles.
No explanation necessary, right? The best!
Low: The new “mommy look.”
OK, I fully realize I could’ve spent the time to fix my hair and put on makeup, but did you forget about the new baby snuggles? So much more fun! So instead you let your hair do whatever you want, and when you take the baby to eat lunch with his amazing 6-year-old sister, her classmate asks you why your hair is wet because her mommy’s hair only looks like that right when she gets out of the shower. Thanks little lady.
High: Seeing your friends snuggle on your baby.
Low: Breastfeeding in your car between errands.
High: Being able to breastfeed your baby. This can be a struggle for new babies with Down syndrome, sometimes their mouths aren’t strong enough or there are GI issues. Avett did have problems at first, but we kept trying and now he’s a pro! (As the people in several parking lots across town can attest to).
Low: The clean up.
Whether it’s poop or spit up, you’re going to be cleaning it up. Off of everything.
High: Seeing your older kids love on “their baby”
Low: The continuous countdown in the back of your mind as going back to work gets closer.
High: Having an amazing husband who works all day and comes home and jumps right in to the chaos.
Low: Discovering that life doesn’t stop just because you had a new baby.
In fact, Avett’s already been on a kindergarten field trip and to an IEP meeting.
And those amazing trips to the grocery store where nothing will fit in the cart besides the car seat or you can’t get things off the low shelves because you are wearing the baby and don’t want to bonk his head on the canned goods.
High: Learning tricks from other moms on maternity leave.
Low: When a certain princess makes you feel like a slob, looking immaculate right after giving birth.
High: Knowing she’s probably wearing that same mesh underwear under that dress and seeing her figure is that of other moms after giving birth.
Low: Feeling like every other day is spent at a doctor’s appointment.
High: Being thankful for the doctors and nurses who teach you how to handle the extras life tends to throw your way.
As I get ready to go back to work, I am overwhelmingly grateful for this time and sad it is coming to an end. But there are adventures ahead of us as a family of five and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
Oh yeah, and did I mention it will include lots of snuggles?