When I look back on my two maternity leaves, it is with some regret that I made things so hard for myself.
Like many new mothers, I set myself a tight schedule that I then struggled to keep to — indeed, I struggled to get anywhere.
Babies are rarely light packers; nor, frankly, am I. By the time I would get all our clobber together, we were leaving the house about five minutes after we were due at baby rhyme/yoga/Mandarin.
Novels Her by Harriet Lane and Expectation by Anna Hope focus around new mothers who are struggling with loneliness
Further problems were created by my husband and I having eschewed our generation’s city buggies of choice — the bijou Bugaboo and budget Maclaren — for the perambulating equivalent of a Sherman tank.
It even came clad in military khaki; when I finally sallied forth, I felt like General Patton at the helm of the Third Army.
When my younger son started speaking, it became apparent he both adored cats and unfortunately thought they were called ‘***k’ — probably because most days we met our neighbour’s cat as we belatedly tumbled out of the house, with me swearing like a navvy.
A maternity leave during lockdown would have been a gift to me.
Boris Johnson’s fiancée Carrie Symonds must have had one of those, which explains why she and the PM thought it was a good idea to go on holiday to a gale-strafed cliff-edge, then erect a bell-tent on it.
In The New Girl, by Harriet Walker, fashion editor Margot recruits her maternity cover Maggie, then grows paranoid that the more carefree woman is trying to supplant her.
Her by Harriet Lane is also set during a maternity leave. Emma is struggling to ally the go-ahead career woman she used to be with the drudge she’s become. But is new friend Nina the saviour she seems?
Expectation by Anna Hope explores the interweaving lives and dreams of thirtysomething Cate, Hannah and Lissa.
Cate is struggling with motherhood in a new town until the right person asks her how she is.
If you are a new mother, look after yourself, and let others look after you, too.