Category Archives: Working Moms

So how does this whole working mother thing work again?

I have no idea what I’m in for this summer, but I do know it’s going to be the hardest year of my life. With the reality of maternity leave (and lack there of) settling in, I’m starting to play for 4-6 weeks off from work (4 weeks are fully paid, 2 would be at ~25% of my salary.)

Today I ran the numbers of taking 4 weeks off prior to my due date and 3 months off after (12 weeks.) Even with some paid leave, I’ll be losing $20,000 worth of salary…. enough to put the baby IN DAYCARE for the entire year. As much as I’d love to stay home with baby, it just doesn’t make sense.

I’m in a bit of a dream world right now… I have absolutely no idea how this all works in a logical, survivable fashion. My husband will be going to school full time this summer and throughout next year in order to get his teaching degree, and I’m due Aug 6. We think his dad will help out with the baby if asked, but I hate to put that on him (he’s not a young guy) – though I think if we pay him a fair rate he’ll at least appreciate the extra income.

Still, I don’t have a clear picture of this working. I really can’t lose my job… and I’m hoping my boss still likes me enough this summer to be flexible with remote working and I can be productive without any sleep. Hah. That’s not possible right? I guess I’ll make it possible. Or I just front load a lot of work by working weekends leading up to birth and try to make it look like I did it all remote?

In all seriousness, though, I’m terrified. I’m 34, I can’t exactly wait any longer to have a baby… but how am I going to make this work? Yes, I have $500k in savings as a cushion, but if we have any hope of affording a house around here (I’m looking at 2br, 2ba houses for $1.3M or $4000 a month in rent) then I cannot give up the salary beyond what’s absolutely necessary. We may not go broke immediately, but all of the work saving and trying to prepare for a not-so-horrible retirement will be ruined – not to mention we have to start saving for baby’s college fund, future wedding, et al.

Is it so absolutely ridiculous to plan to work up until a week or so before my due date, and then go back to work (2-3 days a week working from home) about 6 months after labor (assuming a non surgical birth?)  Some people out there do it because they have no choice – though while it might suck, it’s clearly doable. I’m pretty sure my coworkers and boss would appreciate my commitment to work, especially since I’ll be nine months into the new job when I have to take maternity leave.

Part of me wants to take a lot more leave. I read all these posts about women who wish they took more. I’d really love to take six months off to bond with baby and get used to not sleeping and all of that. I’d be bored, sure, but I think six months is how long a mother should be able to take off when they have a child. It seems to be this much in other countries as par for course.

Six months is definitely not possible with our $2500 1 bedroom rent, insurance costs and baby costs. Is three months something I should just do and hope it all works out in the end? I feel like even if I’m home on maternity leave I’m going to end up working anyway… my job is just so easy to do away from the office… easier to do vs not do. It’s the going to the office bit that’s going to be rough…

I wish we lived closer to my office. It’s only 30 minutes away in no traffic but the times I travel for work hours it’s 45-50 minutes. Not horrible… but I don’t want to spend an extra hour-and-a-half a day traveling when I could be with my baby. I also wish we were closer so I could go home and nurse on lunch breaks. We talked a little bit about moving today, but it just doesn’t make a ton of sense. Our 1 bedroom apartment — while a one bedroom – is quite large… and we have rent control which keeps our rates down a bit. The in-apartment washer and dryer is amazing now and a must-have for baby IMO. The commute is not great, but it could be worse. It will be doable if I only have to go in three days a week…

Even with all of that, I’m just paranoid now because I know I have to go above and beyond at work to secure my position. I’d be doing this now anyway because I want my boss to be happy with my work and I want to help him succeed… but beyond that it’s so important that I connect with other senior leaders in the organization and become not just a disposable employee but someone known for doing great things for the org. I’m taking baby steps towards that… but it’s something I have to fully invest in over the next… seven months. I mean, I really only have seven months before I take leave, if I go on leave four weeks before my due date. That’s so crazy – that’s just over two quarters of work.

Anything can happen in seven months. I could lose my job. I could get sick and need to take more time off. Morning sickness can kick in… as early as next week… and I could be vomiting all day, unable to focus on work at all. So many what ifs…. and this is before the kid is born.

This all makes me long for the olden days when women stayed home and took care of baby and the guy went to work. Scratch that. I don’t really want that. I think I’ll appreciate my job even more when it’s an excuse to get away from a screaming baby and an exhausted cranky husband. 🙂 BUT… the body wants to be near baby. Pumping seems so damn unnatural (because it is.) Yes, there is a mother’s room at work and I’m sure I’ll figure it all out… but pumping takes a lot of time too… I’ll leak and stuff like women do and be embarrassed and it’s all so horrible. My company is like 80%? male like most tech companies so it’s just not a place where there are tons of young mothers. Maybe that’s a good thing because I won’t have to compete for the mom room?

Anyway, I’m probably hallucinating when I think I’ll be able to go back to work at 4-6 weeks, but that’s currently the plan. Without any protected leave I worry for my job. With my stock grant I really need to stay employed and do an amazing job for the full four years… if I do that, and the economy doesn’t totally collapse, I can hit my $1M networth goal and perhaps then start thinking about taking some real time off to spend with my kids. That’s the dream. And I’ll only get there if I succeed in this job and become as irreplaceable as one can in a corporate environment.

Till next time,

HECC

 

The Cost of Childcare: Year 1

As our “being pregnant-ness” sinks in, hubs and I are starting to discuss childcare – you know, keeping our child alive when we’re at work. My husband plans to be going back to school during our kid’s first year of life, being in class from early morning and not getting home until after 7:30pm. I’ll be working 8-7. We definitely need a plan for baby watching.

At the moment, I plan to take 12 weeks off from work. I believe 4 weeks of that will be fully paid, and another 8 weeks will be covered in some part by short term disability. I’m still not sure how that works. But then once those 12 weeks are up, I’m back to work.

My hope is that I can work from home for two days a week, which some people do currently anyway. It will certainly be challenging to work home alone for those two days while also managing a newborn (not quite sure how possible it is) but hoping my boss will be understanding should a baby scream in the background when I forget to put myself on mute in an important meeting.

That, then, leaves 3 days a week for childcare (and possibly a solution to not be alone at home for the other 2 days while I’m working.) I’m having trouble finding out how much non FT (5 days a week) daycare is, but it looks like for the 5 days a week options that’s about $2000 a month here.

I knew it was going to be expensive, but still, yikes.

My husband is considering asking his dad to help. I feel bad about that as I’d like to be self sufficient, but at this rate I’d rather we pay his dad $2,000 a month vs a random daycare facility. Then again, the daycare facility would theoretically know about child psychology and safety, whereas his dad would be grandpa watching the kid while mom and dad are at work.

Either way, I feel ill thinking about how hard we’ve tried to have a kid, and now that we’re pregnant, I have to after 4-12 weeks put my baby in a daycare with strangers for most of the day. It just doesn’t sit right with me… although I know a lot of parents do it. Maybe when the kid is 2, when they can socialize and being around other kids and playing is part of their standard day…. but at 12 weeks they don’t know what’s going on, and I want to be close to them for that first year. Maybe the first six months at least. It’s just not financially possible for us, so unless my boss gives me the green light to work from home full time (and come in for select meetings/projects as needed), we’re going to have to figure this out.

When to tell work you are pregnant…?

The start of my last menstrual period was Oct 30, 2017, which makes me 4 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Other than the cold and bloating and occasional bought of nausea (no vomiting yet, luckily), I don’t feel pregnant yet. Well, I feel different, not necessarily pregnant.

Assuming my first trimester is successful (no miscarriages), I have less than eight months until I’m sitting at home with a tiny little fragile baby on disability from work. It seems rather unfair that I can’t even warn work of the impending time off for two more months. In planning 2018, now all I can think about is how I can’t commit to projects in the fall — but I can’t actually say that or plan around this likely absence. It doesn’t help that another woman on the team is currently on maternity leave — and while everyone seems quite supportive of this — it’s clear the team is hurting without her. We don’t have redundancies and our roles are specialized, so when we leave, even for a short while, the impact is definitely felt.

Had I been with this employer for years– or even one full year — before going to on maternity leave, I’d feel a bit better about how this is going to progress. As it happened, I got pregnant the cycle that started the same week I began my new job. That means I’m giving birth at 9 months into the new gig AND not eligible for FLMA. FLMA is the federal law that requires employers (with 50 or more employees) to give you 12 weeks off (unpaid) and guarantee your job will be there when you come back. Now, I don’t foresee my boss deciding to replace me for a 12 week period of being out, especially since I have a fairly good relationship with him – but stranger things have happened in the world. At the moment, I just feel like I’m lying to him. Trying to get pregnant and the possibility of being pregnant while planning was one thing – actually being pregnant is another.

I’m not sure how to approach this. I wish my company had a very clear “this is our maternity policy page” on our intranet, but it doesn’t. There is a portal to ask questions to a rep, but that rep is likely based in India and hasn’t been able to answer any of my questions appropriately. So the next step is to actually talk to HR. Do I tell HR I’m pregnant? Do I ask in the hypothetical and let them assume? Do I wait until I’m 3 months and then deal with announcing and figuring out what the policies are?

I know we do have short-term disability coverage, paid for by the employer, which is hugely helpful as it covers 66% of pay when you’re on disability, for a few weeks. I believe I’m eligible for this regardless of my start date (and I have proof I wasn’t pregnant AT my start date, in case that’s an issue.) Then there’s the California disability coverage, which is 55% of your paycheck, up to a certain amount that is not 55% of my paycheck, but it’s still something. I’m unclear if I can have both of these at the same time (or if I should.) Then, I believe my company offers 4 weeks paid for leave… but I may be making that up. I can’t find where I saw that in writing.

The other concerning thing about my company (and many companies these days) is that we have “unlimited vacation.” That sounds great and all, but what it really means is that I have no ability to save up / accrue PTO to take off in addition to any paid leave I get. I’m planning on taking minimal – if any – time off before having my kid (unless I have to) and hoping my one trip to a family wedding (now in my third trimester, yikes) will be a week I can work remote. But – how do I make the case that I haven’t taken any time off to date so I should be eligible for X days/weeks. I always assumed I’d just accrue the time and take it as needed once I give birth. But that doesn’t work with this unlimited vacation concept. I really don’t understand how with unlimited vacation as a policy a company is allowed to cap your paid time off anyway, since it’s “unlimited,” but when it comes to maternity leave they have a law that lets them work around it. Nothing against my company in particular — this is just an issue with the “unlimited vacation” that’s so popular these days, that I loathe.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. My boss knows I’m 34 and he even brought up how great this company is when it comes to having a family in the interview process, in an effort to recruit me. Maybe he didn’t mean “get pregnant immediately” but that’s the way it happened. At this age, I really can’t afford to wait for the right time, especially with my infertility issues. Even now, there’s a high risk of miscarriage and there’s nothing I can do about it. We may be back to the drawing board – or we may be buying a drawing board… for a toddler in two years.

I don’t do well with unknowns.