by Kerry Rivera
With baby No. 3 due in about a month, I find myself making final preparations in the office for my brief departure. There are multiple forms to fill out for disability, family leave and getting the baby added to my health insurance after she is born. And then of course there is the housekeeping that comes with halting your work for a couple of months … expectations for assignments, deadlines, managing the staff. Combine getting ready at home, the increasing number of doctor’s appointments and a heftier belly and clearly this is a time that is stress-free, right?
To be honest, I’m actually feeling prepared and ready. After all, I’ve done this before and know what to expect. But … I can’t help but think that while my life will soon be fuller with a new addition, by the end of the year it will also get more complicated. Maternity leave for my company allows me to take roughly 18 weeks off after the baby is born. Some is paid, some is not. But regardless of the money, the policy states it will hold my position for only that period of time.
Similar to my other two maternity leaves, I plan to take the full amount of time. We’ve socked away some funds to ease the financial burden, and if I’m lucky maybe the baby will be sleeping through the night by the time I return.
I now have a number of mommy friends who sport all types of jobs, so I’ve become familiar with the different types of maternity leaves that exist. Some are longer, others shorter. Some moms get their leave fully paid, others get nothing. Some elect to leave the workplace after their leave abruptly ends, and others suck it up and squeeze back into their slacks and sweater sets for office life again.
For me, one of the greatest struggles is going from zero to 60. Unfortunately there are no part-time options, shortened days or telecommuting solutions when I return to the office. I do have supportive bosses and a nice place to pump, but really it is back to the grind from day No. 1.
It’s a tough transition for mom, baby and the rest of the family. I know in the past I’ve felt sleep-deprived, of course sad to leave my baby (even though it has been in the arms of a loving family member) and pulled in all directions. My husband will be tasked with more childcare responsibilities for sure, and all kids will see me less.
Still, what’s the alternative? I have to go back to earn a paycheck and keep my job, and the kids will simply adjust to a new normal.
It’s times like these when I drool over the maternity leave policies in the Scandinavian countries. Many women (and men) have the option to take up to one year off after a child’s birth. Sadly, the U.S. government and companies within our country have not even come close to addressing the maternity leave and daycare issues we American mothers face on a daily basis.
Perhaps when my own daughter decides to start a family decades from now she’ll be blessed with better circumstances … I hope. Until then, I’ll cherish every moment I have with my kids during my short 18 weeks of leave, and then work my hardest to be the best mom and employee I can be in whatever juggling act I face in the months and years ahead. Wish me luck!