9 October 2020

Maternity Leave by Julie Halpern


I got this for a girlfriend at Value Village before she had her baby last year and she gave it back to me before I had mine. I read it when my son was five weeks old and it was exactly what I needed- funny, relatable, and hope-inspiring in what were some dark new parent moments (some people don't like these types of jokes- if you're one of them, we're all fine! we love our baby!) 

The book is fiction and is told from the perspective of a new mom named Annie from the time she is in labour to when she goes back to work (6 months- must be the USA). The book is sectioned off by the baby's age (ie. "day 35, day 120", etc.). It's only from 2015 so there are a lot of modern references and Halpern is so great at writing out the most detailed, hilarious, and relatable experiences from this season of life. 

A human being that my husband and I created just came out of me and is now lying on my chest, really and truly, honest-to-God here, after months of waiting and years of dreaming. And all I can think is, What the fuck do I do now?"

For all the lame "marry your best friend" Instagram captions, I will say that having a baby is 10x more fun and funnier when you can crack jokes with your partner. However, sometimes your partner sucks too and I've learned that it's not as fun to joke with them about that. Scott has been 99% amazing, dream husband and dad, going above and beyond, cue the cliche Instagram caption, but he's also been 1% annoying butthead and I appreciated feeling like I had Halpern in my court.

Annie spends her whole day counting down until her husband gets home - something I do every single day - and then immediately starts to get mad when he's one minute late, madder by the minute - same. Then one afternoon he has the nerve to call her to see if he can go for drinks after work:

We hang up, and I feel guilty. But why? Why is it perfectly normal in his head that now that we have a kid, he can still do exactly the same things he did before we had one? We are not the same people. Our lives are not ours anymore, and I'll be damned if I give him a pass to freedom- which he already as all day long- while I'm tethered to this baby for better or worse."

There's also a funny bit where she goes to a concert one evening and after weeks of her baby not sleeping more than 1-2 hours at a time, he sleeps the entire time she's at the concert for her husband. MY SON DOES THIS ALL THE TIME and I just want him to make Scott miserable for a few hours like he does to me all day is this too much to ask?????

Julie Halpern


Halpern is also sure to be honest about the dark days of bringing home a new baby. I found the first few weeks crippling and lonely. You have no idea what you're doing but you also just have to do it- nobody is coming to take the baby away and say "ok that was a good start, take a break and we'll bring him back soon once you've both caught your breath." Around six weeks old we found our stride, things started to feel easier, and the baby starts to give you something back, but before that it's all a blur of diapers and tears.

29 days old. I am not doing so well. Whenever Sam wakes up from a nap, I feel a wave of anxiety well up in my stomach. I don't want to take him out of his crib. I don't want to hear his crying or feel the way he immediately wants to attack my boobs the second I pick him up. I don't want to change his diaper and snap up his baby-sized snaps not made for grown-up-sized fingers. And I most definitely do not want to see that hopeful look in his eyes when he stares at my face, his mama's face, and I don't have the slightest desire to smile at him. This is not how being a mom should feel. My mom came over between knitting and canasta so I could cry in the shower for an hour."

This book was really, really funny. I kept snapping passages to my friends with babies so we could lol at the jokes together. I would definitely recommend this to any new mom and it would make a great gift. The best part is it's a super easy read and doesn't require any critical thought, which makes it the perfect book to read while your baby is napping and you need to turn your brain off. 

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