The day I started maternity leave four years ago was the day I started working from home.
Never one to say no to an opportunity (until I learnt a bit better more recently) I couldn't resist looking into this new option, working on HR 'stuff' between each of my eight meals and five naps a day. Four days before my baby was born I was at a meeting in the city, the door to the lift closing ominously as the manager of this building told me they have the fastest lift in the southern hemisphere. While we (speedily) headed up to the 88th floor, there were a few seconds I thought I was going to become a mother in that lift.
And then I worked from home with a baby in my arms - actually, there are far too many photos of me cuddling Abbey as she slept while typing documents one-handed, or with my new MacBook (the one I still use) making an appearance in the shots.
The idea of maternity leave bored me. What does one do at home all day? There were times I laughed at my naivety but there were also times I was glad to have something else to focus on.
The next meeting I had was a couple of months later. My Dad met me in the city and walked Abbey in her pusher by the Yarra while I went and talked work stuff.
This time around, maternity leave is weirdly similar. Even though I don't have a 'job' to leave and decide whether to go back to I'm still working from home - although the focus is now on writing - and I'm still just as unsure how to manage it well.
For now I've met the deadlines I had committed to, but am not pitching or chasing any more work unless I know the deadline will be a couple of months off. Or right now.
It's a weird feeling to have (finally!) built up some momentum with this career, only to be consciously letting it slide back again. But I'm glad I did: I've proved to myself that I can do it, I can make this my work, and I'll be back and unstoppable once again - when I'm ready. In the meantime I'll figure out the pace I can keep up with and do what I can, this time because I love it and not through the fear I felt years ago.
There are lots and lots of ideas to contemplate for the next step, too... because even when I try to slow down my brain thinks it's time to plan the next bit.