Before my first baby was born, I fully expected that I would happily return to the teaching work which I loved, and that in most ways my life would carry on as before.
My husband and I had just bought a house with a mortgage that depended on our two salaries. I had accepted the terms of my maternity leave, which required me to return to full-time teaching when my baby was a few months old.
Then my baby boy was born… It came as a huge shock to discover that suddenly the future I’d envisaged wasn’t what I wanted any longer. All I wanted to do was be with my baby, and I realised I would move heaven and earth to be with him as much as possible. I still had to work full-time for three months, but during that period I was able to negotiate part-time hours, giving me much more flexibility. I was lucky enough to have a friend who was willing to be my child-minder. She understood what it meant to me for her to give my son my expressed milk, and she knew how important it was for her to respond to his needs when I couldn’t be there.
Just thinking about it brings back the pain of leaving him, even when I knew he would be lovingly cared for. I was indeed lucky, and after a year or so we could afford for me to give up my job entirely. I’m sure many people thought I was mad to give up a well-paid job, but for me there was no looking back and I just feel fortunate that I was in a position to do that. Being a full-time mum from then on proved to be very special years which I wouldn’t trade for anything.
This article was originally published in Breastfeeding Matters issue 208 (July/ August 2015)
Copyright LLLGB 2016