Maternity Leave

I am struggling with my feelings about Maternity Leave. I submitted a plan to my employer 5 weeks ago, at their request. Included in the plan was the following requests:

  • 2 weeks off prior to my delivery date
  • 12 weeks off after my delivery date
  • 1 day off a week for at least 12 weeks for baby bonding
  • A lock on my office door so I can pump during work hours after my return

Hubby and spent many hours talking the plan over, thinking about what would be best for the baby, what we could afford, reading up on PDL, CFRA, and FMLA. As well as considering what would be fair to a small company, that I will have worked at for exactly 1 year on my due date.

I submitted the plan, like I said 5 weeks ago. Last Friday, I sent a 4 week follow up email to my boss asking for a status, since he hasn’t provided me with any details or information yet.

Today, he called me and said he reviewed it with the big dogs, and they came back with this:

  • they will give me whatever I am legally allowed to have (his opening statement)
  • I must provide a doctors note for the 2 weeks prior to my delivery date (otherwise it is declined)
  • I must take my sick days prior to any state or federal leave
  • I can work from home 1 day a week after I return from maternity leave, but I have to take vacation hours to do so, and once they run out–I need to come back to work
  • And they will not put a lock on my office door, and instead suggest that I alert the other office employees to not enter my office while I am pumping, and also suggested that I lock the main office door to prevent other people from entering the suite unannounced

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I feel disappointed and slighted. And as much as I am trying not to take it personally, I am. I can see now why women don’t return to work after their leave. I am not sure how other women I know navigated their leave, but I would interested to hear about it.

Looking back over my life, I think this is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make (second would be not inviting my mom to our wedding-that one took weeks of therapy). I know that I have to put my son’s well being above mine, and that this time in both of our lives is only temporary, and so short in the grand scheme of things. My career should not be this important to me when juxtaposed with the wonderful human life inside of me.

I feel guilty for wanting it all, and thinking I can have it, even more guilty for thinking that I deserve it. I have a bad taste in my mouth with regards to the company knowing that it is all men in positions of power, and feeling like they don’t understand the choices a professional woman has to make when she decides to bring a life into this world. I feel angry at a society that doesn’t value the contribution of women, that doesn’t acknowledge the sacrifice we have to make-personally, professionally, emotionally, and willingly for our children. I also feel sad. I do not want my son to be in day care from birth (starting at 3 months!). I want to be there for him during this critical development and growth period. I don’t want someone else to raise him, to show him life’s daily lessons, or to feed him from a bottle. I want to be that person.

Now, the logical side of me says-you will be there for him. For 12 weeks every day you will be there for him. Then when he is 3 months old (just barely older than a kitten when its eligible for adoption…**sigh**), I will hand him off to a nanny who will tend to his daily needs 3 days a week. Hubby will be with him 1 work day a week, and I will be with him one work day a week for 7 weeks. Then after that time well, …we will have to wait and see. Maybe the company will allow me to take the time unpaid.

I should be grateful that I have a great job, at an awesome company, making a good salary. I should feel appreciative that I don’t have to go back to work right away, and that I can take 12 wonderful weeks off after his birth. I am lucky to have a husband who is willing to take a day off a week to parent his son. I guess I need some time to let it digest. Maybe I am just bitter that I didn’t get everyone I wanted…or maybe I feel like I deserved it somehow.

Thoughts, suggestions, or opinions are welcome-as always.

bitter, angry and slightly taken advantage of

Something must be wrong with me today. I started my day happy and smiling, talking to the dog and the cat. Going about my morning chores and routines.

Then I came to work, and fell back into a glum state.

I have been struggling with a game plan for my maternity leave. I submitted a plan of action to my boss yesterday (which Jeff and I discussed and agreed was reasonable both in terms of my legal rights, and giving enough consideration to the small company I work for), and we discussed it. Which left me feeling less than positive about the companies perspective on my leave (and frankly a little bitter at the response I received). *A disclaimer is that my boss, still has to clear it with the 2 owners who are much more reasonable and rational, as well as with our HR department. But, I guess I expected a warmer response since he has toddler age twin boys and both him and his wife work full time.

I am also struggling with the fact that I have to put my goals on hold, while my husband doesn’t have to in the same way or for a set time period. His responsibilities are more intermittent during the first year or so.

On top of feeling bitter, angry and slightly taken advantage of–I am inversely happy and then teary eyed sad. Like the flipping of the light switch. I cant seem to control my emotions today.

I can’t talk to Jeff about it, because is working 5am to 9pm this week, and the last thing he needs is my sorry pathetic pregnant self adding to his stress level.

Then, while I was expressing my concerns regarding my discussion with the boss about my leave to a female co-worker–her (male) office mate interjected with a true, but very rudely expressed comment. I think it was this that made me feel the worst. It isn’t that I disagree with the comment, but it was so ill placed that it really hurt my feelings (which are clearly on the fritz today).

Lastly, I am wondering what other people (both moms and dads) have felt when trying to make the right decision regarding family leave and extended time off to care for your child, and how long they took off before and after the birth of their children, and how their employers responded. How their marriages changed with the disproportionate amount of work and commitment a mother puts in. I wonder a lot of things, and no matter what any one else experiences, it is only a guideline, since my relationship is my own (and theirs their own…).