In January 2010 my life was turned upside down by the arrival of the cutest wee lad!
Before he was born I had quite unrealistic expectations to motherhood. I have, of course, heard people talk about how hard it is, the lack of sleep, the crying baby, the stress, but they also mentioned the love I would feel, a love greater than all others. And, I thought that love would give me all the energy needed to get through.
I also had big plans for maternity leave – in Norway most people take 56 weeks leave: a minimum of 6 weeks for the mother, a minimum of 10 weeks for the father, and the rest of the weeks can be shared equally (and this is with 80% pay). My husband is taking 4 months off, and I got the rest. Anyway, I had big plans. I would go for long walks and get back into my normal clothes in no time. I would read a lot, do lots of knitting, sort out all the filing, make all the baby food from scratch and so on. I was planning to be very social and meet up with lots of friends and lots of other things. I was going to be a “super mummy”!
It didn’t quite work out the way I had planned, but like I said, I was probably being pretty unrealistic about the whole thing. Just getting out of the house took me half a day: getting up in the morning, feeding baby, changing nappy, dressing baby, getting dressed myself (and on good days I also managed to have a shower), changing nappy again, changing clothes as he puked on me, feeding baby again, and finally, we were both ready to go out! This was exhausting, and I, who is normally quite an organised person, never late for anything and normally annoyingly early to everything, found myself being late and forgetting things!
My mind just wasn’t working properly – in Norwegian we have a word for this: “Ammetåken” which can be translated into “The Breastfeeding Fog”. Although I only breastfed until the wee lad was 3 months (but that is a different story), I still felt the “ammetåke” for another couple of months. It wasn’t until he started sleeping through the night that I started to feel like myself again. That may also have had something to do with the seasons – when the wee lad was born it was -20 degrees Celsius outside (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) – and it was only daylight for a few hours each day – so I guess that by the time spring came, I was bound to feel better anyway!
There was finally time to go to the “new mummy” group and enjoy it, to go for walks with the pram and to meet friends for latte (and a croissant or two, because I deserved it). I also realised, finally, that it was ok not to do the washing up and that the house didn’t always have to be in perfect condition. Then, there was the development of the lad that was just amazing: the first time he grabbed my finger, the first time he smiled, the first time he grabbed that toy, the first time he rolled over, the first time he crawled over to me and grabbed my legs “asking” to be picked up, the first time he grabbed a water-glass off the coffee table and dropped it on the floor, so it smashed into a thousand pieces… I was a bit annoyed of course, but at the same time I felt a little bit proud of him!
Well, my maternity leave is over (but I still do not fit into my old jeans), I am back at work full-time, and my husband is now at home. He is enjoying every minute of it, but I think he is starting to realise that it is hard work, and that I didn’t just sit around all day watching day time telly. The daddy is now the one who is there every day, and sometimes when the wee lad cries he wants his daddy, and not his mummy. That was a very strange feeling, and luckily it hasn’t happened many times! I am enjoying to be back at work again. It is nice to be reminded that there is more to me than just being a mummy, but I do so look forward to getting home in the afternoon! When I walk in the door and the wee lad comes crawling towards me with a big smile on his face – that is just the best feeling in the world!
Have something to say about the 56 week maternity leave in Norway or have any questions for Asta? Leave a message in the comments section below!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Asta Burrows. You can follow this Norwegian “mum” on Facebook at the Asta Burrows Page or on Twitter @AstaBurrows.
Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4927243431/sizes/m/. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.
Asta, great post! How different would the maternity leave have been if you had stayed in England to raise your child? 56 weeks leave is amazing!!!
Hi Veronica, I am not actually sure how much maternity leave one gets in the UK, I think it might be quite different from one company to another – maybe one of the bloggers from the UK can enlighten us? I think we are very lucky in Norway and I believe it has one of the better maternity/paternity leaves possibly in the world?!
Great post! You are very lucky to get 56 weeks of maternity leave per family when your baby arrives. In the states, most mothers take 6 weeks, and dads don’t get any paternity leave (unless their job offers some, which is very rare). Some states have different laws (ie California allows new moms a much longer time). I took about 17 weeks with both of mine and then had to return to work, full-time. It was very difficult to do that, but even more challenging after my second. Hopefully one day this will change here. 😉
I can absolutely relate to your story about getting out of the house and the Breastfeeding fog! It’s so hard to describe to someone else how HARD it really is to get out of the house – until they do it themselves. 🙂
Veronica, thank you for stopping by purebebe…it’s nice to meet you all! I know Norway doesn’t have the same c-section rates as in the U.S., but thought that you might enjoy this post: http://purebebe.com/2010/10/04/birth-story-from-au-natural-to-c-section/
Wow, 17 weeks! I don’t think I would have been able to do that, but I guess when there isn’t another option you just have to get on and do it!
I do wish somebody had warned me about how tough it would be in the beginning, but come to think of it, even if somebody had said it, I probably wouldn’t have believed them! 🙂
I read your article, and I must say that I feel a lot better about the birth I had now that I had read yours, can’t believe what you had to go through!
Heather — I read your article, too, today. It is a lot to deal with when things don’t go the way you imagined in life, and for many woman a change in the birth plan is one of these times. But, the good news is that you got the same result, a beautiful baby. 🙂 Thanks for visiting our blog, too! And, we look forward to checking in at Purebebe. 🙂
Asta — before we had our daughter everyone told us about the lack of sleep and how tough it was going to be. But, I thought I had a secret weapon up on everyone else, my husband.
He is the world’s most prepared person in the world. We were ready. He had two weeks of paternity leave, so he’d be around at the beginning. We didn’t need help. And, oh, how quickly reality hit! But, as you learned, too, you get through it, somehow, and then you have this wonderful new person in your life! 🙂
great post. I have been trying to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans for 4 years now. And sometimes, I wish everyone could stay home for a little bit to see that it is really hard work. I’m still at home, but I cannot wait to go back to work.
4 years! I guess I have started to give up on the idea of fitting in to my old jeans, I am tired of being on a diet and always feeling guilty about not doing any exercise (I always have very good excuses not to do any!)
I talked to my mum about it, and she said that my body shape might have changed and that I may never fit into my old jeans, which in a way makes me feel a bit better as I can relax a bit about the dieting, and even better; I can go shopping for a new wardrobe! 🙂
I have friends in Denmark and was so jealous to hear about the length of maternity and the importance of paternity leave. Seems more value is put on rest and recuperation outside of the US. Thanks for the great read!
Hi Teicia, glad you enjoyed the article! Hearing about the amount of leave you get in the US really makes me appreciate the leave we get here, as we tend to take it all for granted!
I enjoyed this article. I love reading about how mothers in other countries live. I believe your countries philosophy in maternity/paternity leave is right on! It is such a shame that in America 6 weeks is the standard, or should I say 6 weeks paid/6 weeks unpaid for a total of 12 weeks off. I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home mother but I truly feel for my fellow moms out there that have to go back to work at the 6 or even 12 week mark. My youngest daughter did not sleep through the night until she was 14 MONTHS old! I can not imagine have a terrible nights sleep and then heading off to corporate America. Bravo to Norway!!
I can totally relate to your article, as I delivered my second child this past spring. Despite everything everyone warns you about ahead of time, I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for the arrival of a baby 🙂
Two things — 1) as a working mom, I am jealous of your 56 week maternity/paternity leave – but it totally makes sense, that is when things things finally start to feel normal again! 2) My husband was able to take a one month family leave after my maternity leave was over and it gave him a new found appreciation for how tough a mom’s job is (YEAH!)
Hi Eva, yes, it is so good for the father to have the chance to be at home, I don’t think anybody fully appreciates how tough it is before they have tried it (I so did not think that being at home all day, having coffee and chatting to other mums etc could be that tough, honestly that is what I thought mummys did all day!!).
I shouldn’t really say it, but it is nice to come home from work all day and find that my husband hasn’t had a chance to do any clearing up etc, as it means that he is finally realising that there just isn’t any time for that (unless of course he is much more organised than I am and maybe he is actually watching day time telly all day! (which is what he thought I did!)
Courtney, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you not too have a full nights sleep for 14 months! (I am back at work now and we had a big meeting yesterday with the CIO, and he said that he suddenly had a new found respect for working parents as he had been babysitting his 7 month old grandson over night, and he couldn’t make it into work on time that morning).
How mums can go back to work after 6 or 12 weeks I can’t understand. (I couldn’t even walk properly by 6 weeks!)
Thanks for sharing your mummy experiences Asta! I’m impressed that you snapped out of your baby “fog” after only six months. Leyla is 16 months now and I feel I still walk around in a fog and wonder if my brain will ever start working again!
I live in the UK but unfortunately am not sure exactly how long maternity leave is. I know paternity leave is only two weeks. I think legally women receive 26 weeks paid, maternity leave. However, all of my mommy friends here stayed home for one year before going back to work and that seems to be the norm.
Try not to worry about the jeans. I’m sure you are more beautiful now that you are a mum than you have ever been in your entire life!
Hi Jenny, I am not sure I am totally out of the fog yet, but not sure how long I can keep blaming it. At the moment it is my husband who claims to be in the “breastfeeding fog”! But I am not buying that! 🙂
In a way it is good to hear that you are still in the fog, as it makes me feel a bit less stressed about getting back to normal too quickly knowing that I am not the only one! (I am not sure things will ever get back to normal though…)
Hi Asta, I hope you and your husband enjoy every second of this precious moment. When our oldest was born(14 years ago), my husband was attending at the graduate school. He came home as soon as he finished classes and helped me out a lot. Though I was not working like, I was new to the country and raising a baby in the different culture was not easy then. His help, support and presence made a big difference and helped me easing into the motherhood. Now, we both look back and say “That was the best time of our life”
Hi Sunny, must have been tough to raise your child when you were new to the country – I am lucky to have my parents nearby and get lots of support (and babysitting) from them.
Sounds like you were also very lucky to have a husband who took part, and I am
actually writing another article about how priveliged I am to have a husband who helps as much as he does! I do try to remind myself everyday of how fortunate we are, because I think it is very easy to forget that when we are both busy and tired…
Wow – 56 weeks of maternity leave! I am getting 12 over here and 4 of those weeks aren’t paid at all. I currently have a newborn myself – just 2 1/2 weeks old. I feel like all I do is breastfeed. Luckily my husband is home for one more week and has a big help with changing diapers but he goes back to work next week and I’m dreading the extra workload. I’m exhausted as is and am dreaming of breastfeeding during the few hours of sleep I get now and then. It definitely isn’t easy!
momintraining – hooray for breastfeeding! Hang in there – it gets easier 🙂 I was never able to lay down and nurse with my first baby, but that is what helps me get sleep at night with my second. I found The Nursing Mother’s Companion to be a great resource. http://www.nursingmotherscompanion.com/
No, it isn’t easy, but it will get easier!
Wow, 2,5 weeks old – and you are online, and you remember how to type!? I am very impressed! 😉
I found the first 6 weeks the toughest, just the sleep deprivation is enough to make you go mad, and then you have a newborn little baby to look after as well. It gets easier every day, but there are of course good and bad days. I went through the same thing where it felt like all I did was breastfeed – everytime the baby cried, I fed him as we weren’t sure if he had enough to eat earlier and so on and so on, but then we eventually got into a routine but that was difficult aswell in the beginning.
Good that you have your husband at home at the moment, enjoy it! Don’t want to sound negative, but I felt like a zombie for a week or two after my husband went back to work, but then I got more relaxed (just a little bit) about everything, the feeding got easier, I learned when the baby was likely to take a nap, which would give me time to either shower or sleep (all though I was so silly that I would often do the washing up instead of sleeping when he took a nap, as I thought that if had the house in order somehow I would feel better).
Good luck with everything – and I am sure lots of people say this and I hated hearing it, but try to enjoy it – as they do grow up so quickly! 🙂
I’m all about the naps between feedings. I’m sure that will be tougher once my hubby is back at work! My latest blog on breastfeeding is pretty funny – you can probably relate.
I think I want to move to Norway! That’s a great maternity leave! 😀
I totally relate…no one can prepare a new mom for the reality of motherhood.
thanks for taking time to read and comment! I am glad to hear I am not the only one who was unprepared! 🙂
Just as I am about to say how much i enjoyed your article, my little bundle is crying to let me know nap time is over…
Donna, am glad you had time to read the article 🙂