Maternity leave and spending time with my daughter

I’m in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and have now had the last two weeks off work. Maternity leave in Canada is a wonderful thing.

I spent my first week of mat leave just getting things done and relaxing around the house. I got to put in some quality time on Mass Effect 3, after having lost my save game 25 hours into the campaign during the epic failure of Adam’s computer. I haven’t yet caught up to where I was, but at least I’ve restarted with a build from ME1 & ME2 savegames to make the ME3 campaign as close to my own character as I could without replaying the first two games. I was able to do this because Lyra was still in daycare for the week – and it made me happy.

It was undeniably strange to be away from work without the feeling that I should check in to see how things are going, to make sure nothing was terribly broken before I had to go back in. By the time I have to go back a year from now, nothing I have worked on (and half the people I’ve worked with, especially interns) will even be there any more. Last time I took maternity/parental leave, by the time I went back my team had more than doubled in size and my job was completely different. It was a hard transition, but I eventually found my place and helped build a strong team to support the organization. And now I’ve left again, and who knows what things will look like when I go back, and it’s strange and unnerving if I let myself think about it too much.

Fortunately for me I guess I won’t have that much time to worry about it in a little while.

Learning to spend all of my time with a little girl

My second week of mat leave Lyra has been at home with me. It’s been challenging, since I’m not used to keeping her engaged and entertained all day, every day. Weekends are different – we have things to fill up our time, activities and visits and stuff that just needs to get done in the short time we have, and Adam is usually around being a parent. Spending all of my time with her alone is hard. I knew it would be. It’s harder being this pregnant, with my energy reserves running low and my general awkwardness making it tough to play with a nearly 4-year-old high-energy kid. I’ve been trying to think of things to keep her busy, but early in the week I definitely relied heavily on Netflix and computer games while I just lay around being tired and pregnant.

And then I felt guilty about it.

She’s reaching a stage of pushing every boundary she can find, and trying to claim more power in her relationship with us. She’s more wilful than she’s ever been before. It’s exhausting, and my patience is at a remarkably low level these days, so she can push my buttons without even trying. I don’t want to feel frustrated as often as I am, but I am. I need to find ways to keep her entertained and get her out to see other kids that don’t ultimately exhaust me too. It makes me wish I had managed to get her into preschool for September, but I had a bad few weeks of anti-social, I don’t want to deal with anything mental breakdown during the window when I could have done so, and I missed the opportunity. I should have gone ahead with it when I could, and I didn’t, and it’s entirely my own fault.

I am immensely thankful that Adam has two weeks off when baby Dragon arrives. I would probably break down completely if I was on my own with the two kids right off the bat, so I’m glad that he’ll be home to wrangle Lyra while I try to figure out the new arrival.

I’m also nervous about when he goes back to work and I really am on my own with the two of them every day. Spending every day with Lyra alone as a newborn and for the first year was easy. Juggling the needs of a newborn and 4 year old is not going to be nearly as straightforward. I’ll figure it out, but it’s really, really not going to be easy.

Lyra is truly a person now. It makes life interesting.

Outside with Lyra on a sunny day

Baby Dragon gives me super-spy dreams / Photos of me 36 weeks pregnant

Lyra named this unborn child Baby Dragon, and it has stuck. She doesn’t know or care that this is the year of the Dragon; she just really likes dragons. She has also decided that we should only name it Dragon when it comes out if it’s a girl. If it’s a boy, she thinks the name should be Butterfly.

Strange, vivid dreams seem to be the standard for me lately. Apparently a lot of women experience crazy dreams when they’re pregnant. The other night I woke up right in the middle of a scary one that involved Adam driving our car far too fast on an icy road. I woke up just as the car was flipping over, heading into a bunch of trees at the side of the road. Not fun.

Last night was a bit more exciting and less disturbing. I was still very pregnant, and was a member of a secret spy organization that had been exposed. The entire group was mid-evacuation from various safe houses, and for some reason the entire city had been dropped into some kind of apocalyptic ice storm. The temperature had dropped so much that we were putting on layer upon layer of clothing with a fur-lined, hooded parka on top. I’m not quite sure how I found one that fit over my huge belly.

A group of us had climbed to the very top of a multi-storey walk-up to a balcony, where we were jumping onto a helicopter. I was very irritated that someone was holding the door open, since the cold snap had made the outside temperature -50 degrees Celsius or something ridiculous. Things were flash-freezing everywhere. They filled up the helicopter before I could get on, so I had to wait for another option to get out. A huge truck pulled up and I had to climb over the balcony and down onto the back of it, then climb down to the ground via some makeshift steps – mostly built out of crates. It felt like some sort of video game.

I climbed down and made it to a house full of other people hiding out. I think I woke up just after I’d had time to explore the house and realize that the enemy had surrounded the house and we were trying to come up with a plan for escape, or a way to hide. Everyone in the house was a woman, but I don’t know if that was going to be helpful, since I woke up before we really had to deal with it.

The dream was more exciting than it was scary, though. Not like the car accident dream from the other night, which was just terrifying.

But enough about dreams! My friend Mike took a few photos of me at 36 weeks pregnant (a week ago) and I want to share a few of them.