Juno is 8 weeks old. Although I am technically still on full leave until at least February when Juno starts daycare two days per week, work has seemed to be on the agenda recently.
I attended my first meeting – baby in tow – when Juno was five weeks old. This proved that I could at least think straight, arrive on time and use a bus with a buggy. It helped that the meeting was down the road from my place and was with my friendly co-designer on the first show when I return to work so feeding and changing was freely indulged.
The following week, we needed to meet the designer / director plus, with some major re-positioning going on at the studio, there was some level of keeping in touch with the team required. An accident of scheduling meant almost a full week of work including a mini-tech the week after that before finally calling a halt…well step back a little at least.
How do I feel about this? Well, last week’s activity was definitely too much. Juno tends to come with me and she is starting to fall into a feeding and sleeping pattern of sorts so I am starting to know more about what she needs and when (and what time, if any, I will have to myself). When she’s out and about too much, I notice that she feeds more frequently but less at each feed, which has an impact on how long she (and therefore I) can sleep at night. It’s difficult to assess if she suffers from coming along or not in any other way as she seems happy in herself but I have now decided to try and get her back home by 5pm so that we can wind down and catch up before bed. And she is usually full of grins when we arrive back home so she must sense a little relief from me. And oddly enough, despite the fact she hasn’t left my side all through the day, I ‘miss’ her if my focus has been necessarily elsewhere.
At the other end of the day, it’s a huge feat to get anywhere before 10am so I’m going to make sure meetings happen in the middle of the day when she sleeps more easily too. I also need to set a limit of to one or two meeting per week with duvet days in between so we can catch up. The logistics of travel system plus kit are getting easier each time but it still feels a little a military operation each time I go somewhere new and further afield.
Creatively, I seem to be able to think and contribute on the whole while I’m there (between settling her to sleep and the occasional feed – mostly breast but also sometimes expressed bottle for convenience) but the key thing that needs to be understood is that I get no laptop time: anything that needs writing / sending etc needs to be done there and then as I may not get a chance at least until after her bedtime if at all that week.
But as delighted as I am to be able to manage (juggle) this so well – and I’d so often wondered whether I would be able to – when all things are said and done, this is the only maternity leave I will have with just one child to look after so I need to try and give myself time to enjoy it now the fug of newborn mum-hood is lifting, especially with Christmas coming up.
Of course, we are only half of the story and you have too ask the question: how do my collaborators react? Well, most people are either amazed (and grateful) that I am back doing meetings like this. They also enjoy meeting Juno – especially as most meetings are with people who knew me before she was conceived – and I think they indulge me bringing her along decently, at least for now. There have been moments when I’ve needed to absent myself to deal with her bodily functions or stifle hiccups disturbing proceedings and I need to keep an eye on how deft I am really being with feeding but I am conscious that she won’t be this portable for long. Thankfully (and quite scarily) she has managed to get a place at a local daycare centre for two days a week as of February when she’ll be four months old so at least I can promise my colleagues these days of uninterrupted time and build up again from there. This runs exactly to my ‘plan’ but I think when it comes to it, I will feel the wrench.
So, onwards…and with any luck, upwards!