My Maternity Leave Recap
Your Biggest Vision
Season 3, Ep. 58

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Recapping my maternity leave and postpartum experience, so far, in today’s episode! In this episode I wanted to connect with you, as women, about the experience I have had having my baby, becoming a mother, navigating maternity leave as an entrepreneur and online business owner, and answering some of the questions I have received from both ends. 


Tune in to hear:


  • All about my maternity leave, how it went and what I learned from it


  • How my postpartum experience is going so far and what it has been like becoming a mom


  • Tips for online business owners and entrepreneurs who are going to be or currently are navigating motherhood
In this episode I will be recapping my maternity leave and postpartum experience, so far through the lens of an entrepreneur!

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Leah Gervais maternity recap
Leah maternity recap

Episode Transcription

Leah Gervais: Hey visionaries. Welcome back to the show and welcome to a personal episode on my postpartum journey and my maternity leave experience. In this episode, I wanted to connect with you all as women about the experience I’ve had, having my baby becoming a mom, navigating maternity leave is an entrepreneur and answering some of the questions that I’ve been getting asked both ends. Now I want this to really be in service to you as an entrepreneur, but I think that part of that is just being honest and transparent about postpartum experiences and really opening that conversation even more. Because even though I do think there’s so much out there about mom content and there’s so many mom, social media accounts and things like that, I somehow still found myself you somewhat alone during the experience. So I’m creating this because I wanted to be in service to entrepreneurs.


And also because it’s something that I think I would’ve appreciated more of when I was in the depths of the newborn days. And I hope that this is in service even to just one person from that perspective, thinking about how this could make their experience better, my babies right next to me, if you can hear him, he’s very active these days and I thought it would be fitting to have him here. So in this episode, we’re gonna cover a few things we’re gonna cover what work ended up looking for. Look looking like for me over the course of the nine weeks that I took, or I took between nine and 12 weeks from beginning to end.


And, um, what that ended up being, you know, I know that that was something I was really curious about. Like, am I gonna wanna not work at all? Am I gonna work sometimes? What’s that going to look like? I didn’t really know. So I wanna share that with you. Um, I’m also gonna share some of the things I wish I would’ve known postpartum personally, just as food for thought. I think it’s really important for everyone to have their own postpartum journey. And I wish I would’ve given myself a little more permission to do that in the beginning. Um, but definitely I think it’s really just something that you almost have to experience on your own, but there’s still things that I found myself Googling. So I thought, why not share what I ended up experiencing? And some of what I feel like worked really well and some would, would’ve what I, I would’ve done differently and just sort of, you know, behind the scenes on what it actually looked like.


So without further ado, well, and I wanna share, you know, the hardest parts and then also some of the highlights, something that I just wanna note though, before we go in that, um, you may have heard me be somewhat critical of this genre of mommy content that we see on social media. That’s a little bit, in my opinion, where it just kind of complains about the challenges of motherhood. I haven’t showered in so long. My clothes are stain. My kids are screaming and you know, it, it’s not to undermine that those things happen, but I think that they take away the real beauty of motherhood and also take away our power for getting that we asked often to be in these situations. And I’m not trying to do that here. When I share the challenges and the, and the obstacles, I just wanna share what, what they were like for me.


And I think the reason that it can be hard to share the highlights instead, and why it’s so easy to share the low lights is because the highlight is your baby. The highlight is the joy of having your child, the low lights, the challenges are the things that come as a byproduct of that. Like your changed body changed relationships, changed lifestyle, um, adjustments to certain things changed hormones. I know in my situation, I definitely had hormonal, um, a hormonal crash at one point. And so, you know, for, in my situation, for the sake of the privacy of my child, it feels easier to share what I went through and more natural than to share a ton about him. And so I think that that’s sometimes why some of this content can come off a bit more, um, highlighting the challenges rather than the benefits. And, and that’s not because the benefits outweigh the challenges.


That’s just because the challenges are easy to, to share. So with that in mind, and I hope that that makes sense. Let’s go ahead and start. So I’m just gonna go through the weeks I’m gonna share when things got good, when things presented challenges and how I got through them. Paul was born on Thanksgiving day, which was about nine days before his due date. What worked really well here was that I had planned on going on maternity leave early. I planned on going on maternity leave right after Thanksgiving. 


That’s just kind of how it worked out for me. But if you are listening to this as a, uh, soon to be mom, or you’re hoping to get pregnant or you’re anywhere in between something you might wanna consider is having your maternity leave start a week or two before your due date. Now I had done this because I thought it would be nice to get myself a little bit of extra time around that time period, just to do some finishing touches and to wrap up some loose ends at work.


I definitely was working a lot before I, um, before I had him just because I was preparing for maternity leave. So I wanted to give myself that buffer, but I ended up not really being able to use that time in that sort of extra way, because I, he was born. But the benefit was that my team and my clients had already kind of treated me as having been on maternity leave anyway, because I had planned on starting it, um, early that at that time anyway, so we have the baby who’s born. It’s incredible. It’s challenging. 


That’s the whole story on its own, which I’ve done. You can listen to my birth story and then we, he go home. So let’s see the first week was challenging in the sense that it was the most sleep deprived week I probably had, but I didn’t really feel that exhausted just because I think I had so much adrenaline and I was just so excited that he was here and so excited to be with him and play with him and, and be a new mom.


We hired a night nurse to start a few days after we came home from the hospital. And the few days before she started, my mom was here. So we had help pretty much right off the bat. And we were very fortunate to do so. Now the first week that we had the night nurse, one of the things that people would ask me when I was pregnant and I shared that I wanted a night nurse is they said, well, are you just not going to breastfeed be, cuz they basically said, if you’re still getting up frequently to breastfeed, is it really worth it? And the truth was, I didn’t really know what that was going to look like. I didn’t really have the answer to that because I went into birth and breastfeeding with a really open mind. I was not stuck on doing it. I didn’t really know what it was going to be.


Like. I didn’t know if I was going to like it. I didn’t know if it was going to feel right for my baby and I, and I didn’t wanna put a necessary pressure on myself around that during what is already a somewhat pressure filled time in the end, I enjoyed breastfeeding pretty quickly and it felt very natural with my baby and I, and I don’t mean that to say that we didn’t have our challenges with it because we certainly did. I just meant that it felt like a nice experience to have as part of this time in his life. Um, but we definitely had to learn how to do it. And, and I wanna be very clear about that because I think that sometimes people think if breastfeeding is not natural, then it’s not worth doing. And I, and sometimes, you know, if that’s how you feel, then there’s nothing wrong with at that.


But, um, I just wanna be clear that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, not feeling natural and that if you still wanna do it, then you still definitely could. Um, so that first week I had been breastfeeding and I didn’t feel comfortable really switching it up at that point. And so I did breastfeed, you know, for every feeding, even though we had this nightmare. And during that first week, I will say that I remember wondering if it was worth it because the baby was up every two to three hours at that point. And because of the way breastfeeding worked for us, he would breastfeed for 40 minutes sometimes an hour, sometimes over an hour. And I’m not gonna get into why that was. And moms would tell me all the time, oh no, they should only breast me for half an hour. I don’t care what anyone told me. He needed the full hour. 


That was just what was happening. So I was feeding what felt like around the clock and especially in the middle of the night, it felt like feeds would just bleed into each other because by the time he was done with one and put down and asleep, you know, and by the time I fell asleep, I felt like I was waking up for the next one. So it, that was challenging. But I honestly don’t remember it being that, that rough just cuz I think I was, I don’t know in kind of like this newborn euphoria phase, I definitely had some, some moments when I was being woken up to feed him by the nightmares where I felt like, oh my gosh, I, I really just wish I could sleep, but overall it wasn’t, it wasn’t too terrible. But I do remember thinking, I don’t know how I’m gonna do this for too long.


It did not feel like something that was sustainable and it did not feel like it was worth having the nightmares from that stance. Once we got to week two, I started opening my mind to what pumping could look like a little. I was so a little intimidated by the electric breast pump. Don’t ask me why I sounds pretty melodramatic and it probably is, but I was open into, uh, learning how to use the haw, which is the hand pump that just seemed somewhat simpler and through using how to do through using that. Um, and I wanna give a shout out to two of my former clients, Jackie and Anna, both of whom helped me figure out how to optimize this. I was able to pump in the morning, a few one or two bottles of milk every day. And then I would give that to the night nurse and sure enough, I was finally able to sleep for, for around six hours.


So I would sleep straight from about 10 to four. And then after the 4:00 AM feeding, I would do another feeding. So once we got to week two, I felt like the luckiest newborn mom alive, I felt like I had cracked some code where I was able to sleep. My baby was, um, drinking breast milk, which was fine. I wasn’t necessarily attached to that, but that’s what we were able to do. And um, you know, and he was still feeding frequently and I just was a really happy a newborn mom. 


I did not wake up and pump during those six hours, which I ended up getting, uh, judged for, but I just didn’t do it. And that’s how that went. Um, and it ended up working. I didn’t, I didn’t really need to and it ended up just being a, okay, so that’s how weeks two to four went now from a work perspective, if you follow me on social media, you may know that during this time I decided to write an e-book I, for whatever reason felt really inspired.


And I did some polls on my Instagram and because I was resting, um, I just decided to do this. There was no pressure. It wasn’t something that was pre-planned. And I think that I was able to do that because obviously I was sleeping better than I was the night before or the week before. And, and better than I kind of thought I had would be. I, I would’ve been. And I also, um, feel like part of it was from me wanting a sense of normalcy, um, and, and confidence, uh, because being a new mom was something that was just so new and writing that book million dollar marketing, which is a, the book about all the marketing tools we use in our first seven year of business is something I was super confident in. I knew it was amazing. And we’ve heard from so many people that have read it that they can’t believe how much content they got out of it.


And I just, it kind of boosted my confidence looking back. And I think I almost needed that. I mean, I wasn’t feeling unconfident being a new mom, but it was, it was so foreign. And so I really enjoyed that ying and yang and, and that’s just something that happened to me. Um, and so I really liked giving myself that creative space. And if you are feeling like that and you have a new baby follow your gut, follow what you feel like is going to make you the best version of yourself and the best mom in that time then.


So things were like great from weeks for two and three and four, I was sleeping, I was pumping just a little breastfeeding was going well. Um, I was rested, you know, everything was going really well. Then one of the harder things that happened to me happened, um, at around week five when I met with a lactation consultant and I’m not trying to group all LACT consultants together, but I had a rough experience with one and I ended up talking to other moms who also had had rough experiences.


So without getting into too much detail, the consultant herself was very knowledgeable and she was plenty nice, but she was extremely hardcore when it came the lengths, she would encourage moms to go to order to have their baby be breastfed. I felt very judged by her approach and by her tone and by her suggestions, um, it was really the first experience of being judged as a mom. I had had, especially to that extent. Um, and it really shot my confidence because we had hired her to help with a few things. You know, it wasn’t like we were in this desperate situation and I felt like what I was hoping would improve. What was already a good situation, go from good to great. Just came in and made our situation feel horrible. She just felt made me for feel like I was doing everything wrong. Made me feel like I was feeding him, holding him the wrong way at the wrong times.


I wasn’t pumping enough. I wasn’t pumping correctly. I needed to be eating differently. I needed to be sleeping at different times. Why would I let myself sleep for six hours a night when I needed to be keeping up my milk supply? I mean, she really just hammered me. And, um, so that, that was a tough turning point because then I just started doubting so much. I started doubting if I, why was I, why did I wanna sleep for six hours straight? Did that make me a bad mom? Which saying out loud sounds crazy. Why are women getting shamed for wanting to sleep? It is like the most basic necessity in the world and something that makes you such a better mom. So that would was a really rough experience, but she did gimme some tips that we ended up implementing. Um, nonetheless it just sort of started what ended up being a little bit of a harder period because my confidence was just kind of shot.


And I found myself just sort of looking for validation when you shouldn’t ever have to look for that anywhere but within or within you and your own child. What really helped me to during that time and what I encourage you to do, if you are a new mom. And you’re wondering if the way you’re doing something is right, is to talk to other moms. And that that approach hasn’t always served me. But what helped me here was not that I would talk to other moms who also did things the way I wanted to do, and that made me feel better. It was that the more moms I talked to, the more I realized everyone did things in a different way and their children were all fine. There is no single way to raise a child. There is no single way to feed a child. There is no single way to sleep, train a child and whatever way works for you and your family is the best way.


And I know it’s easier. It’s easy to say that. And people would tell me that. And I logically knew that, but just the level of shame I felt, you know, this woman was someone I paid and trusted and was highly regarded and well known in the city. Um, this wasn’t a troll on the internet, you know, or a well-meaning great aunt. This wasn’t like those just sort of anonymous opinions that you can, um, dismiss. This was someone I, I thought knew what she was talking about. And, and so it really shook my confidence, not nonetheless weeks five and six were still, uh, pretty happy times and definitely things slowed down then. So that adrenaline that I had in the first month of just a high on having a newborn and, um, having help at night. And I also had, we had family in and out during that time, we had friends coming to visit.


It was a lot, but we had a lot of help, a lot of things on the calendar, a lot of things to look forward to, you know, we, we definitely limited how many people we let meet him because of COVID. But nonetheless, we still had frequent things going on. Um, my doula was helping me a lot. And so all that kind of just quieted after, after Christmas, basically, which was around five weeks postpartum. And I also really allowed myself to turn off work at that time. So in December I had still, I had written that book and I had still checked in with my team every few days and my clients every few days. And I did that by choice. Everyone was prepared for me to be gone, but I enjoyed being in the loop so that I did step back into work. It wasn’t like I was starting from zero.


It was like, I kind of could take off right where I had left off. Um, but I, I, I let myself kind of lean into the newborn haze at like weeks five and six. So I remember just that time. I mean, I remember it fondly, honestly, it was just a lot of, you know, movies and, um, Joe nights together and daytime naps with the baby and, um, ordering food in and just really bonding as a family. It was, it was really beautiful and honestly, something, all, all treasure. It just feels very like cozy. When I think of it, I, it just feels very safe and, and tender. Um, and then after week six, my husband and I made the decision to not continue on with the Niners. We had been, um, hiring her on a week by week basis at that point. And originally we thought we would go, uh, 12 weeks and then eight weeks.


But after six weeks we decided to stop. And the reason we decided to do that was because we believed at that point that our son was, um, old enough at six to start not necessarily sleep training. You know, everyone has a different definition of what that means, but starting to learn different habits around sleep. And we wanted to teach him those habits. That was something I just didn’t feel like I could outsource necessarily so long story short at week six, we decided to end things with the night nurse and do things. Just the two of us. We also no longer had family here. A lot of our friends, we weren’t letting, we only had a few people. We were letting Paul see at the time. My point is for the first time, since he was born, we had no help. Um, and it’s not like we had help every day up until then, but at least once a week, we would have help.


And we had none. Um, we also didn’t really know when we were gonna see family again at the time. And I also experienced a pretty intense hormone crash, um, at around week seven. And then the prospects of going back to work started becoming very real because I was going back to work after nine weeks. And so we also had to figure out childcare and all of those just honestly felt overwhelming to me, but the biggest culprit was the lack of sleep. So at that point he was sleeping around four hours a night, or I’m sorry, four hours in one single stretch. And then after that four hours, he would go until, you know, he would do every two or three hours, but it was every, it was every four. It was just four in the beginning there. So our goal was, we thought if we’d do this ourselves, maybe after a week or two, it could be five hours.


And then six hours we really wanted to get to that six hours. And the truth is it was hard. You know, there’s no other way to put it. It was hard to, um, uh, go through it. It was hard in the middle of the night to be in it. And the biggest challenge for us was that Paul was learning well, how to have that first initial stretch be longer. He did a good job with that. We started installing it or instilling a bedtime routine and that worked well, but he didn’t understand that in the middle of the night, all you do is eat, sleep. So because in, during the day after eating, he, he plays, that’s what we do with him. We play, we do tummy time. We have a week time. We, we sing and then he goes down for a nap. So it was hard for him to adjust to that.


And as a result in the middle of the night, after his first long stretch, he would eat and then he would just be awake. So sometimes we would be awake for one, two hours getting him to sleep. And I guess that was the hardest part was really just that middle of the night piece. Um, things get funky in the middle of the night. You know, now, as I say it out loud and even looking back, we’re like, oh, it’s not that bad, but it felt very real at the time. So I would say work weeks six or eight were the hardest altogether for me. Um, just between go back to work and finding childcare, which was very hard. Um, and even considering what we wanted that to look like and, um, and the, the middle of the night activity and the lack of help, but then at week nine, I think we really turned the corner.


We had been hoping for when we decided to no longer continue on with the nightmares. And he just started sleeping a lot better. Um, he only wakes once a night now we’re at 12 weeks now. And, um, I’ve really enjoyed going back to work. I think we have a really great system when it comes to help. I feel so much more like myself and I know that I still have longer to go. I mean, it definitely is such a journey giving birth and your hormones going through all, all of that. Um, but I really, really am loving this phase. And I just honestly can say, I’ve never been happier in my whole life than I have been with this little boy and becoming a mother. And most importantly, being his mother. And I’m so grateful for this journey. And I just wanted to share some of the highs and lows.


We went through one so that if you’re a mom listening to this, you know, it okay, when the nights are hard or your hormones feel crazy or you one day have a lot of energy and the next day you don’t all of that’s okay. But most importantly, if you’re listening to this in regards to motherhood or not know that all of those growing pains are always leading you to something bigger and to sort of a breakthrough. And I really feel like that’s something that we experienced and, and it’s so euphoric now just every day, feels like Christmas waking up to this little boy. And I just can’t believe he’s mine. 


So I’ve had a really lovely postpartum experience and maternity leave was exactly what I needed it to be. You know, my biggest tips are work if you want, but don’t schedule anything. Um, because the baby you’re on his schedule and then ask for help when you’re ready and when you need it. And there’s no shame in doing that. So thank you guys so much for tuning in. I hope that you found this helpful, um, sending you lots of love no matter what brought you to this episode. And here is to your biggest vision.

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