August 27, 2019

This Mum Only Took 3 Weeks Maternity Leave – Heres Why
A self-employed mother who went back to work three weeks after giving birth says her husband was “the best person” to look after their children. Jess Morgan, 32, who runs her own design agency from her home in Abergavenny, made the decision to hand over parental leave to her partner, Dave, 39 – and says it was the right decision for their family. Her husband now looks after their children Murphy, three, and Maximus, two, full-time – and she says he’s been the best person to take on that role because “he has more patience with the baby phase”.“You’re not allowed to say that because as the woman, you’re supposed to be the only one who can settle your baby, but for us it wasn’t the case,” Jess tells HuffPost UK. “Dave did all the nappy changing, preparing all the food when weaning started, and the baby classes. We were both good at it. But the idea of being a stay-at-home mum had always filled me with terror.”Related... The Truth About Maternity Leave: It Can Be Desperately, Achingly Lonely Jess, a freelance illustrator and designer, had a roster of regular clients and a career that depended on her being at work every day. And she soon realised that she simply couldn’t afford to stop. “If I wasn’t working, I wasn’t getting paid,” she says. “I couldn’t risk losing everything I’d worked so hard for.”When she first fell pregnant, Dave was working full-time as a forensic technician for Gwent Police. Jess says people assumed things wouldn’t change and he would go back to work. “After all, he’s the man ” she says. “But what about my career? If I took six months off, none of my clients would wait around for me.”It wasn’t just the impact on Jess’s career that the couple were concerned about – Jess says Dave was also “seriously worried” about missing out. “He wanted to be involved with the baby’s early life,” she says. “We’ve always been a team.”[Read more: More Than Half Of Dads Struggle To Secure Flexibility At Work – And It’s Affecting Their Mental Health]The couple decided to transfer parental leave responsibilities from Jess to Dave as soon as she felt able. She had a traumatic forceps birth and an infection which left her requiring surgery.“The first week after Murphy was born, I couldn’t sit down,” Jess says. “She didn’t take easily to breastfeeding, so we gave her formula and that helped, because Dave could feed her, and I didn’t have to keep sneaking off to pump.”Three weeks after she gave birth, Jess was back doing networking events – after ridiculously short amounts of sleep. “Having your first child is a monster of emotions, hormones, learning, adapting, and yes, I felt guilt,” she says. “Dave had to talk me down and remind me we were doing the right thing.”Related... If We Stopped Sugarcoating The Truth About Parenting, Maybe We'd All Feel Less Alone This feeling was made worse by health visitors, family and even random people “making judgments and unhelpful comments” about their decision – “it really put a cloud over this supposedly magical time,” she says. “Dave even threw a family member out of the house once for being judgmental and making me cry.”But after a while, she enjoyed being back at work. “I knew what I was doing with work,” she says. “Being a mother is overwhelming – you often feel like you’re ‘winging it’. I was super-emotional, but glad that I had a balance and could go and see clients, then work from home and also see my family.“I knew how tough it was for Dave, too. We didn’t have that resentment or competition over ‘whose day was harder’, like so many couples have.” On reflection, Jess says taking so little leave was “brutal” – and if she’d had the choice, or the money, she would’ve taken longer off. But ultimately, she has no regrets – and Dave agrees. He tells me: “So many people said, ‘You won’t be able to do it, you won’t cope, it’s so hard’ – and that almost made me second-guess myself. But that’s a ridiculous thing to say to a person, male or female.”His experience of being the only father at parent-and-baby groups was tricky, and at times, isolating. “I would have to crack my way into a clique,” he says. “I never met up with other mothers outside a baby group because I was never invited to anything!”Still, after three years and two children, the couple are happier than ever – and have continued to subvert the ‘traditional’ roles of husband and wife. They work together, share time with the kids and, Jess admits: “I have to ask him where the hoover is!” Related... If We Are Serious About Progress Gender Stereotypes Must Be Challenged Wherever They Appear Jennifer Garner Isn't Wrong To Call The Baby Years 'Boring' – They Can Be Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves, A Family Holiday Isn't A 'Holiday'
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