Tag Archives: maternity leave

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

 

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Working Moms: When is the best time to have kids?

The answer I get re: when is the best time to have kids is “there is never a best time to have kids.” I’m sure that is true, but there is definitely “a time when it becomes harder / impossible to have kids” (at least naturally), so I’m trying to make that deadline without pushing it too much.

When I was younger, I thought 30 was old. I’m now turning 33 in 3 months. Thirty-three is fine age to have kids, but I always thought I’d have my second by 33. Now I’m looking at not yet even having my first.

Continue reading

Pregnant-Woman

How Lack of Maternity Leave Hurts Working Women

I’m 32 going on 33 and my biological clock is tick-tock ticking. If I’m going to have at least one child, it’s most likely going to occur within the next 1-3 years of my life. I have significant savings so I can afford to take time off to have a kid, but that doesn’t make the whole lack of maternity leave situation any less stressful.

The US is still the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. In fact, the US is one of just two countries in the world that doesn’t ensure any paid time off for new moms, according to a report from the International Labor Organization. The other: Papua New Guinea. Continue reading

How to pick a job when you want to have a child…

In California, if you qualify for paid family leave (PFL) you can receive up to six weeks’ worth of wages at a reduced level. You are eligible for about 55% of our average weekly income during this base period. The maximum weekly benefit is $1067. Both parents, as well as same sex domestic partners, can qualify for this leave.

Also the FMLA (family medical leave act) says that you can take 12 weeks of unpaid time and you have to be offered the same job or a similar role when you come back.

That’s a great benefit to living in the state of California. But there’s a catch – your company must employ at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius in order to qualify for both of these.

When deciding on a job opportunity, I don’t want my potential future childbearing situation to be part of the decision. Maybe that’s naive, but I don’t even know if I can have a child or how long it will take to do so. I might get pregnant the second I start trying or it can take many, many years – and by that time I could have been employed at a smaller company with great success.

Granted, my story reaps of privilege – my income level makes it possible to save (if I continue to rent an apartment anyway) and be able to have gaps in employment without resorting to food stamps. That said, I am a woman who is looking at two job opportunities and I know one will have to give me six weeks off with 55% of my income if I do have a kid at some point while working there, whereas I’d be shit-out-of-luck at the other.

Every – Single – Article I’ve read about negotiating for maternity leave before you’re even pregnant agrees: DON’T.

In short, they say wait until you get pregnant and then deal with it.

While smaller companies aren’t focused on parental leave policies, larger companies in Silicon Valley are making inroads for maternity and paternity leave.

Let’s remember that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world that does not require some kind of paid leave for new mothers. According to the Department of Labor, only 12 percent of private-sector workers have access to it.

In Silicon Valley, small startups offer nothing (or, at best, it’s a case-by-case basis that you can’t predict) while larger tech companies offer significant improvements to enhance their culture, talent acquisition and retention.

Facebook gives 4 months PTO, Google gives 18 paid weeks for moms and 12 for dads, and plenty other well-known firms are coming out at supporters of new parents (Adobe and Netflix have gotten some good PR buzz lately from their policies, certainly helping their recruiting efforts of top talent. Netflix, with it’s buzz-worthy ‘unlimited time off’ policy for paternity leave, is only offering it for the company’s highly-competitive streaming division – which isn’t getting as much buzz but important to point out.)

To be fair to a small startup, losing one employee for a substantial amount of time can be a much bigger challenge when they cannot be replaced temporarily. And life is a balancing act where you’re never fully balanced. You have to make hard choices and sometimes that means giving up a job opportunity for more stability and parental leave or just sucking it up and dealing with losing your job should you need to take a significant amount of time to recover from childbirth and bond with your new child. That’s life, right?

But when you look at the lack of women in tech startups, you should ask yourself if that has something to do with the fact that dudes are running the show and not thinking about what would attract female talent. In a survey of 101 women in Silicon Valley, 61% said they wouldn’t work for a startup or tech company that didn’t have a maternity policy. That pretty much means 61% of women wouldn’t work for a Series A or B startup for this reason alone.

Of 97 tech companies polled, one-quarter offered less than a month of paid leave for new mothers.

One CEO talked to 716 women who left the tech industry about their reason for leaving. Women who successfully negotiated unpaid time off at smaller companies were still expected to work, albeit remotely. I saw this first-hand when a very senior-level executive at my last startup went through her own pregnancy. She’s a rockstar and can hold it together with a lot of competing priorities, but I know she was working at least for part of her maternity leave, and probably a lot more than I even know. And the company was very flexible with her because everyone would agree she’s irreplaceable (or it would be just very challenging to replace her and not worth pushing her out.) What about everyone else who can be replaced?

Of those 716 women surveyed, 465 are not working today. 251 are employed in non-tech jobs and 45 are running their own companies. 625 of those women say they have no plan to return to tech.

And we wonder why there are so few women in tech leadership roles. You can say it’s a choice – and to some extent, it is. But a man doesn’t have to make the choice. A man doesn’t have his body taken over by a child for nine months, and then have to feed that child from his body for many months after that. And as long as startup CEOs don’t acknowledge the need for parental leave, or deal with it on a case-by-case, depends how much we like you basis, women in tech – esp in senior leadership roles – will be few and far between.