Maternity Leave: The First 40 Days
As I write this at 39 weeks I am feeling incredibly blessed. To be here, sitting alone (perhaps for the last time for the next 10 years), and writing to you already 1 cm dilated and patiently waiting for my miracle to arrive Earthside. Arranging a maternity leave schedule is something every pregnant woman will come across. The choices on how to put work away vary incredibly, so, whether you have made your arrangements or not, this write-up is to help give comfort in your decision.
The first recognition
Being 35 now and looking back at my career it dawns on me that I have not stopped working since age 18. Besides taking a week hiatus from Instagram when my brother passed I have had a career as a model, presenter, fitness instructor, and wellness entrepreneur to date. Now, looking at the next inevitable step in my career as a mother-to-be, I am unsure if I will be a multi-hyphenate or if I will simply be a SAHM (stay-at-home mom).
Slowing down in the third trimester is inevitable as your body gets to the peak of pregnancy. An undeniable urge to “nest” takes over as your body begins to prepare itself for birth. After the baby’s room checklist was complete I started to consider the postpartum period. Being half Taiwanese I am familiar with the confinement period; however, being in Los Angeles now, without immediate family and the traditional support I didn’t think it was at all possible for me until reading the First Forty Days.
The postpartum period
Even as a first-time mom I understand that when a child comes into your life everything changes. Even if I am not able to grasp the concept in its entirety – being consistently tired and healing your body will happen. While it’s impossible to know exactly how much time you will need to adjust and heal, the consideration of maternity leave calls to question how much space you can give yourself. I am not talking about time to sleep train your infant and “bounce back”, but time to adjust because no matter how much we have experienced or researched every birth, every baby is different.
The baby & birthing industry is BIG! I had no idea how big until I dipped my toe in and discovered the multitude of products, concepts, approaches, do’s, and don’ts the industry has created. Of course with social media, there is now the additional pressure to “put your baby out there”. Back in the day, it was only our immediate friends and family who wanted to watch baby TV, but nowadays the most likes and news seems to come from the business of being born. While I am not averse to sharing my personal life in the hopes to inspire and connect to other mothers out there, the pressure to overshare is there for anyone whether in the public eye or not.
For me, comfortability came up because ultimately I have no idea what this process will entail. Being thrust into the unknown has forced me to slow down and unwind. A process that has directed me towards self-care techniques to bring my chi downwards through acupuncture, massages, herbal baths, teas, essential oils, and meditation to continuously provide opportunities to ground, relax, release stress, and let go. Giving birth is a massive opening up of all channels – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Closing up these channels, adjusting, and connecting to baby, and family is the priority postpartum and will take time.
40 days maternity leave
As I incorporate these practices I also release the fear of failure. This simple knowing, that I can return to work and the world when I am ready gives me the power to direct my attention to what is most important to me. 40 days, or about 6 weeks, is the first postpartum exam with your OBGYN. Until this clearance happens I am not keen to get back to work or sharing with the world how I am feeling. This may come as a shock or disappointment; however, in my self-reflection, it has become clear that I need to set these boundaries for myself and my family.
Between prepping padsicles, practicing breathing down, push positioning, and techniques it’s obvious to me and my birth team that I have let my guard down. This intimacy and trust come from creating a sacred space where I feel loved and protected enough to come out of my shell and bear all. The time will come again to share this transformation with all of you here through writing, imagery, and videos but it will be in 40 days from my delivery. Thank you for your understanding, generous support, and for connecting with me on this journey. I look forward to coming out of this when the fog of motherhood has lifted.