Victoria Jarvis, a sergeant for Essex Police, has kindly offered to share her experiences as a Police Officer and new mum, both whilst on maternity leave and also when she returns to work.
We are four & half months in, this blog is a bit delayed as mum life is so hectic. I love being a mum although don't be fooled by a babies cute smiles as it's tough at times too, some days I'm definitely winging it, other moments I think I've cracked this parenting malarkey and then I have to deal with a Sophia meltdown/poo explosion/sick down my clothes etc. and realise I've definitely not cracked it!!
Being a mum - sometimes she's so easy, I find it a breeze (these are the days I take photos) and other days I'm pulling my hair out, struggling to get in the shower & dry shampoo saves me. Other times I look at the time and think I may as well just stay in my dressing gown as it's barely worth getting dressed. I just have no idea how parents get out of the house and to work on time.
I would go crazy if I sat indoors every day (I haven't resorted to watching Jeremy Kyle just yet!). I go out walking or I meet friends and eat too much cake but I've also been back down to the gym since my 6 week check-up so I have some of my own time. I don't know if anyone else's partners are the same but if I'm at home I still end up being involved in feeds, nappy changes etc. even when it's Adam’s turn, so it's good if I'm out of the house sometimes!!
The first few gym sessions were tough, I just felt like I looked fat as in my head no one knew I'd just had a baby, also I’d forgotten how to do weights so I found an exercise class where I take Sophia and use her as my weight whilst squatting & lunging (if you want details of the class Facebook msg me) - Sophia just looks at me as though I'm a nutter throughout these classes. I do this class once a week and it's given me more confidence when I'm in my normal gym so I'm getting back into the swing of it now. I've also taken Sophia swimming from 10 weeks old so putting a swimming costume on is motivation for the gym!!! I've heard a lot of mums worry about the fitness test when returning from mat leave so when I've been brave enough to do mine I will let you know how it goes. I'm going to do it on KIT days as I think it's good to get it done before my first day back.
How Adam is getting on? - well she has him wrapped around her finger already as he'd do anything for her. Every time we go shopping she manages to get a new outfit out of him (wish I could do this!). Adam has come home and said 'You've had all day to get ready' like I've not been looking after our daughter all day and I had managed to get the Christmas tree decorated on this particular day which I thought was an achievement with a baby!! Luckily he was joking when he said on maternity leave 'all you do is going for coffee & cake with your friends' (I haven't actually told him that some days it is like that and I'm loving my maternity leave).
I always wondered when is the right time to have a baby? I definitely held out as I wanted to get promoted, have a career and not just be seen as a 'mum' but being a mum is the best feeling and I would say don't hold out too long if you want to be a parent (I'm sure the Chief will appreciate this if there's an increase in pregnant staff!!). Can we have a career & be a good mum?? - I still hope to let you know when I get back to work but one thing I have no doubt of is that it's going to be busy, hard work and exhausting!!
Returning to work - it was playing on my mind so much a couple of weeks ago I just went in to see my boss, discuss a flexible working pattern & set a return date which I'm relieved that I've done now. I’m still dreading leaving her but I will have to do it (actually it makes me feel sick the thought of leaving her for a set of shifts). As childcare is such a nightmare Adam made the decision to come back to Southend LPT from Stansted which is better for our family. Also finally after 38 years as a police officer my Dad, Pete Rawlings is retiring on 1st March!!! For any of you that know him we even persuaded him to have a retirement party - if you need details email him or my sister. So between me, Adam & Dad we are going to look after Sophia but until I'm back at work it's difficult to know whether it'll all work out. If it doesn't I will be looking for a flexible childminder!!
I've made sure I've kept in touch with my team, been on a work do, met up with people for lunches so I’m hoping this will help me when I return to work - always good to know the gossip & keep in touch.
Something that I'm more aware of after chatting to other professionals in my antenatal group, there is a junior doctor that was still working full shifts (inc nights) and working on paediatrics until she went on maternity leave, a pharmacist still having to deal that drug addicts when giving them their prescription drugs and working lates and a teacher dealing with 20 teenagers on her own!! The ladies in my group were told if they reduce hours their pay gets reduced! So this is just a thought but in the police perhaps we don't have it so bad - I know we all have our own views on that. I'll leave that to you to make your own minds up as sometimes we think we've got it hard but we aren't the only ones - other professions are tough too.
I'm trying to make the most of my mat leave by doing lots of things but know it'll be a shock when I go back to work and don't get to do as much with Sophia. Since having a baby I now feel like things that didn't matter to me before now do and things I thought that mattered don't really matter at all - I reckon my daughter has made me a bit softer these days. Wonder if I'll toughen up when I get back to work???