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The baby feels big. Sometimes I see little bulges on my stomach where baby parts are stretching out, sometimes a whole side of me is pushed out and harder, totally uneven, and I wonder if I'm feeling a whole body pressed up against the side needing more room. One of us is moving all the time... when I'm walking around, I don't notice her, I think she's tucked in and happy, but when I sit down she stretches out and wants to be seen. And when I lay down, she moves around to find a good position, and when I flip over, she moves around again based on that. It's weird. It's good that it's all been so gradual, otherwise it'd totally freak me out.
Scientifically speaking, I've decided that any anxiety about childbirth is eased by the increasing discomfort and weirdness of pregnancy. You're supposed to look forward to delivery, supposed to feel unintimidated by it, supposed to feel like it's the right thing to happen. Sometimes when I'm seeing all this baby movement I get this little twinge of feeling like, "Okay hon, you're a person. You're supposed to be out on your own like the rest of us, eating your food, wearing clothes, looking around." Those little twinges get longer and closer together every day. It won't be long until I feel strongly like it's time to evict the child, and then giving birth will seem like the most right thing in the world. When I got pregnant I remember telling the guys at work that I felt weird about it, there wasn't some magic womanhood part of me that made me feel like it was normal to let something inside me grow to 7-9 pounds and work its way out, I was completely freaked to be honest... but maybe the magic part of my brain was there all along? Or it didn't have to be so magic anyway.
I have some tips about maternity leave. I don't know if everyone reading this is American, but I am, so I apologize if this post doesn't apply globaly.
Here are my tips for working moms who plan on taking leave:
1) Research your company's policies, including ALL options for extending time off and what you can use (vacation, sick leave, time unpaid). You may not need any more time than the standard six weeks but then again you might. Know what you can do.
2) Talk to your company's HR department about what forms to fill out before, during, and after your leave. I talked with my supervisor about this and he wasn't very familiar with the procedures, sorry to say. Use as many resources as possible to get this sorted out. Talking to another woman who's taken maternity leave is a pretty good idea too.
3) Overestimate what you might need. I told my boss I was going to take eight weeks, but then when the end of six weeks came around I asked if I could come back for half days to "get out of the house". He was all for it... better than not having me at all! But as a rule my company HATES the idea of part-time work, even if I had vacation to cover the missing 20 hours, people were shocked that I was "allowed" to do this. It worked just fine. It was tough to actually get out of the office four hours after arriving, but I always had that option and that was nice. Transitioning back also made pumping breast milk a million times easier, because I didn't need a ton of milk in the fridge just to leave the baby for four hours.