I have a theory about rough maternity leaves...

 Crustacean Will, at four months...

Crustacean Will, at four months...

 ...and Teddy, exactly 3 Halloweens later

...and Teddy, exactly 3 Halloweens later

Apparently, I'm fertile in late September. Both of my boys were June babies, with Teddy actually due on Will's third birthday. So, both of my maternity leaves were over the summer. And both of my guys fit into the same un-Kosher lobster costume for their first Halloween at age 4.5 months, about six weeks after I'd returned to work. That's where the similarities ended.

You know how they say that a bad dress rehearsal means you'll have a stellar opening night? And that rain on your wedding day (thank you, Alanis) predicts a happy marriage? I'm quite certain that the same algorithm applies to maternity leaves. Because one of mine was brutally hard, with a pretty okay work reentry. And the other was exactly the opposite: blissfully awesome leave, more challenging return to work.

Which is not to say that if you enjoy your leave, it's going to be all crap and hell when you go back. More like: If you have a hard leave, know that work might actually make you feel steadier and more like yourself. And if you loved your time at home with your dreamy easy baby, be careful to manage your expectations a bit returning to the workplace. And either way, definitely order the lobster.