The first time I fell pregnant, I planned to be back at work in four weeks. My boss - who was herself a mother and realised how clueless I was - put the kybosh on that idea and made me take four months maternity leave. Thankfully.
This really was an excellent thing because my four-week plan hadn’t factored in the fact I’d I’d fall so madly in love with my baby or how the career part of my brain would pretty much shut down. For a year.
That whole time, I begged my boss to let me quit Cosmo (which I’d just started editing) and launch a parenting magazine instead. Thank God she ignored me until I came back to work and the need to immerse myself in babyworld gradually subsided.
The same thing happened when I had my daughter. “I just want to stay home forever and fold her teeny tiny socks” I declared dreamily. My own mother sounded a cautious, sensible warning. “Darling remember that being on maternity leave is different to this being your whole life.”
Logically I knew she was right. But my heart (and my boobs) disagreed.
And this career ambivalence was totally unexpected. I’ve always been someone who’s lucky enough to love her job. I was raised by two working parents and it never occurred to me that I’d be anything other than a working Mum. I really enjoy working. It’s not my whole life but it’s a big part of it.
So each time I’ve given birth, it’s come as a shock how it utterly saps my ambition.
Clearly, it’s nature’s way of ensuring the survival of my offspring.
“Focus on nothing but the baby!” scream my hormones and evolution. “Forget about how nice it is to leave the house or wear something without an elastic waistband! Don’t think about how much you miss adult conversations and closing the door while you wee! Just bask in the smell of newborn necks and the deliciousness of chubby little baby thighs!”