So it is official. I am on Maternity leave. And it's weird. I have odd feelings of guilt, like I have a test I should be studying for and decided to play video games instead. It was definitely high time that I took leave, yet it has been one of the harder decisions I have ever had to make. I don't know who I think I am letting down here, probably just myself. And I have to fight the annoying thoughts of "Well, so and so flew this long", or "she worked right up to her delivery..." blah blah blah. I have to keep convincing myself of a few things to keep me sane.
I know that work was getting physically too hard for me. I know that I got "big" very fast while other women are "normal-sized" longer. (I know that I am fine, just the right size, and not a planet, yet.) It's just a fact that I cannot do a lot of the things that my job requires anymore. Let me list a few to make myself feel better. Thanks for indulging me.
1-Repetitive bending below the waist. My job includes picking up a million little things off the floor of the airplane throughout the day. I also have to cross seat belts and clean out seat pockets after each flight. This is a lot of twisting and stooping that is pretty difficult while pregnant.
2-Lifting luggage above my head. Even though flight attendants aren't really supposed to stow people's bags for them, it's always easier if we just do it. You would be amazed at how some people think a tiny back-pack wont fit ("Just let me do it!") and then others swear that their 800 pound yak (Thanks Brian Regan) will fit just fine. It wont. Even though I tried to refrain from helping people with their stuff, there is always a little old lady or disabled passenger that needs help. I also still had to stow my own overnight bag a few times each trip. Or carry my bags up a few flights of stairs a few times a week. Dr says 25 pounds is about the limit and that was getting harder to enforce.
3-Long periods of standing. I could usually take my jump-seat for a spell, but it is ram-rod straight and uncomfortable. I could also sit on an atlas container (the metal cupboards that hold the sodas, we aren't supposed to sit on them) but it is pretty low to the ground. So we stand. A lot. and it's not the best.
4-Long, long, long days. This is the one that got me the most. An average day is anywhere from 9 to 12 hours. That doesn't include the time it takes to get to the airport (1 & 1/2 to 2 hours), airport shuttle & go through security (1/2 hour or less at a good airport), ride to or from the hotels (5 to 40 minutes each way) etc..etc... When flying locals an average day for me was 15 hours from the time I left my house to the time I got home. Ugh. Three day trips had shorter days, but it meant I had to pack a bigger bag, which means more weight, which means more lifting... See the problem?
5- Long days with no real breaks and no real opportunities for a healthy meal. Breaks are random and poorly spaced throughout the day. Packing food for three days is a pain in the neck. Keeping it cold without fridges for three days is also hard. Not having microwaves available at half of your hotels is also a drag. Packing a sandwich and a banana, but then wanting the freaking airport Burger King instead, is also sometimes a problem (for me at least.) And as it goes in the airline business, a two hour break can turn into one hour behind schedule due to weather or mechanical delays. So that lunch break you were looking forward to is now gone and any other breaks you might have had are now eaten up in trying to get back on schedule. We eat a lot of peanuts.
And there are other things too. Like being clumsier and dropping things a lot. The bad winter weather makes it easy to slip on the hard tarmac (as I found out repeatedly). Super awesome hormones make me a little less inclined to patiently listen to the lady in 8C explain why she needs to hold her cat throughout the flight, even though he isn't a service animal and the person next to her is allergic. And the same hormones make me a little less sweet when the umpteenth person says: "WOW. Should you be flying?!" Because my honest answer is "Probably not." But they get a fake smile and a: "You betcha! Now what would you like to drink?"
So last Monday I was dressed and packed for a two day trip. I was battling the blizzard from heck inch by inch, to make my way to work when I finally wondered "Why am I trying so hard to do this?" Clayton isn't making me, SkyWest isn't making me... so who...?" Ya- just me. So I called in, talked to my chief and started my leave. I couldn't enjoy it at first, but today has felt like the first real day of my break. And I plan to use it. I have mounds of sewing projects I want to finish, rooms that have been begging to be cleaned out, and a baby to try and keep healthy and safe. That should be enough for now.
I know I will still face the "demons" of The SuperWomen from time to time. We all know at least one. One annoying brag-hag who makes you feel vastly inferior and lame. You know, the ones who seem to work full time everyday till they deliver, all while going to school full time, raising three other children under three, serving as the Relief Society president, and still finding time to out-quilt Martha Stewart. Well good for them, but I will close this entry with my mother's favorite poem of all time, which is in line with my current train of thought.
"Song for a Fifth Child" by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton 1938
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for Children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep......