If I could come up with one word to describe maternity leave, it might be “bittersweet.” It also might be “lovely," “cuddly," “difficult," “overwhelming,” or “a-super-special-time-for-mom-and-dad-and-baby,” too. It was a significant time for me as a new mom, but it was also a very sensitive time, too, and I’d venture to say that other moms may have similar experiences. I’m not suggesting we need "special treatment," it's just that things that seem simple might actually strike a cord and be among the cruelest things done to a mom on maternity leave. That’s why I think the word “bittersweet” covers the entire experience rather well.
The “sweet” part is perhaps more obvious, given the fact that there’s a new baby in the picture and you're either taking the time or have been afforded the time to bond with that precious newborn. The “bitter” part, however, definitely has its place, too. It encompasses the challenges, like the fact that maternity leave is temporary and involved a very unforgiving learning curve and the end is almost always in sight (at least, for most Americans). Plus, maternity leave means you're recovering from childbirth too and, well, that's no walk in the park, my friend.
I had my own share of struggles while adjusting to life with a newborn (many of which involved breastfeeding) but the ticking timeline and inevitable transition were always in the back of my mind, too. Like everyone’s favorite Facebook relationship status says, “It’s complicated.” So, allow me to share a few things that you might want to rethink doing when it comes to the newest mom in your life: