Tag Archives: maternity leave

Why I’m So Stressed Out About Maternity Leave

Three months ago, I met with the director of benefits at my company who, after congratulating me on my pregnancy (then just starting my second trimester), told me point blank that I was not eligible to take more than 6 weeks off immediately following the birth of my child (paid or unpaid.)

Due to the way the California policy works, I would be eligible to take 12 more weeks off (6 of them semi paid, 6 unpaid) once I hit my “year” mark at work, but given I’d only be at 9 months when I would give birth, I was basically SOL.

I did ask if I could use any vacation time to make the leave longer (since we have “unlimited vacation time”) and was told no. I asked if I could take an unpaid leave and was told that I would be let go if I did not return to work at the start of week 7. It basically seemed like I had no choice, so I just accepted it, three months into my new job, grateful to have any protection and moved on.

But now that baby is just around the corner and I’ve been talking to more moms, I’m terrified of going back to work at 7 weeks post birth. Like, I will be nursing every two hours through the night and I just don’t know how I will be able to do this. Even if I do make it to the office I’ll be a zombie and useless. I’ll certainly perform poorly leading to getting let go anyway. I mean, I’m not sure I’ll suddenly be on my A game again after 10 or 12 weeks post birth, but it sounds like at that point baby might be sleeping a little bit more through the night, and hopefully so will I.

So now I’ve contacted the head of HR and I am worried I’m just making things worse for myself right now. But I talked to my (newish) boss who basically told me she wants me to take all the time up front and I tried to explain to her I can’t. Maybe if she talks to HR I can, but really they’d have to work something out as it seems like I can’t do this on my own. I’m already so terrified about pissing my boss off–I am not the type of person bosses like to begin with, so I’m just really trying to keep my head down and get my work done… but now I feel like I’m just a walking target the next time they’re looking to downsize or just get rid of that one person who doesn’t fit on the team.

And it sucks because I don’t even want to take that much time off… I feel like I’m doing ok now… not great, but ok… ok enough to maybe every day not feel like I’m about to get fired. Except when I’m gone for 8 weeks or 10 weeks or more, well, then people will forget about all the effort I put in this year and I’ll be back to square one. And regardless of when I go back I’ll certainly be more exhausted even if I try not to be since I am baby’s food source.

There are days I think I should just quit but I know I can’t. There’s the salary plus the health insurance plus the fact that my stock is worth a substantial amount and I don’t see any of that until early next year. I’m fortunate to be in this situation but at the same time I’m crying every single day because I don’t know what to do — how hard to I push HR? I’m so new to this job. I don’t deserve any protection. I know that my skillset is somewhat unique and hard to hire for — so there’s a chance they wouldn’t find a replacement for me in the extra six weeks I’d take. There’s also a chance they would.

Part of me feels like I should just shut up, come back to work at 7 weeks postpartum and hold my breathe for the rest of the year until I vest my first chunk of stock and get some of my bonus (whatever they decide to give me) and then if I’m completely frazzled and ready to jump off a bridge I can consider leaving if necessary. I don’t WANT to leave but at that point I may need to. Or maybe I won’t. But at least then I’ll have made it through phase #1 and should be at about $650k networth. It would still be very upsetting to leave as I’d be throwing away my career at that point, along with substantial upside, but I’m scared and feel like I’m constantly on edge and really just not doing so well from a mental health perspective right now.

I wish my husband cared to make more money but he doesn’t. He provides in so many other ways and will be home to take care of the kid while I work, and for that I’m grateful. But the costs of living here are just really too high and he could be making more if he wanted to but he consults for one small business on a part-time basis and never really gets raises so every year his income is worth less and less. Now with baby the flexibility is worth a lot but it just feels like we could be in so much of a better place if he had any interest in financial stability for our family. I know that’s not his thing and I knew that from when I first started dating him, so I can’t put this on him at all. It would just make it easier if we both earned about the same, but we don’t. It would make it easier if I was better at my job or wasn’t having a baby, but all these things are not the case.

I feel really really really shitty about asking HR for more than the 6 weeks, and for every single conversation I have with my boss about my leave. I feel guilty for having a kid and I feel guilty for knowing I won’t be able to dedicate the time I want to raising it because I’ll be so paranoid that I will look bad at work that I’ll probably increase my time and output at work compensate. All the while I’ll likely be extremely exhausted. Maybe I’m thinking too much worse case scenario but how awake can one be waking up every  2 hours to nurse all night?

So many parts of me want to just quit but those parts want to quit because I hate the guilt and embarrassment of being a pregnant woman less than a year into a new job and dealing with crappy US maternity leave policies and also not wanting to seem like I’m entitled to anything just because I made the choice to be a mom. I guess if it gets to the point at 7 weeks where I just cannot return to work for my mental wellbeing, I don’t, and I deal with the financial consequences (which would be brutal to the tune of $100k-$150k+ in lost earnings, depending on when I return to the workforce.)

And I have no one to talk to about this which makes it even harder. I can’t talk to my boss–she wants me to take all the time up front and doesn’t care (nor should she) about the pay or no pay situation. I can’t talk to HR because their job is protecting the company. I can’t talk to my husband because he knows I lose my jobs often and just sees this at yet another one of those situations. I can’t talk to my family, they don’t understand. I can’t talk to my friends–my female friends who have kids have husbands who make $300k+ per year and either are stay at home moms or run part-time businesses. I can’t talk to my therapist about it because this isn’t a mental health issue this is a I need advice on how to handle maternity leave issue. So I just feel really alone right now and that’s what hurts the most and leads me to this very dark, hopeless place. I’m trying to be excited about having a baby but I’m just scared. I know I’m lucky to have even 6 weeks of covered leave at semi pay, but what happens on week 7?

 

 

Maternity Leave and Not Losing Money

Maternity leave in the US is a joke, especially compared to the rest of the world. But, that joke is my reality for the next year, so I have to figure out the best way to deal with it–especially since I’m the primary breadwinner in my household (well, sort of – we split everything 50/50 but should shit hit the fan it’s my savings that will ensure we’re not living on the street.) Anyway…

My income is just worth a lot. If my husband made a substantial salary and I was, say, a teacher or social worker (no offense to teachers or social workers) it would be less impactful to our household income for me to take a few months off. However, when I look at the cost of my time off, it’s really expensive. Continue reading

Now Everyone Knows I’m Pregnant

The cat baby is out of the proverbial bag. My Facebook “friends” list of 1000+ and 60k+ followers is aware, if they’ve been paying any attention, that I’m pregnant. I sent out an email to my coworkers recently informing them that I’m not just getting fat, I’m also pregnant. My boss replied all and added the head of the company, so now he knows too. They all know.

I guess it’s a bit of a relief. I felt weird announcing it in a meeting, or one-off to my peers so the word spread unevenly. It’s not like I participate in small talk as the norm, so bringing this up out of nowhere would be odd — “hey, so and so coworker, I know we don’t talk much, but I’m pregnant.” Continue reading

So I told my boss that I’m pregnant.

It was as awkward and uncomfortable as I expected it to be. At 15 weeks, I figured it was time to spill the beans. Even though my boss may have ignored my rampant weight gain, eventually he’d figure out that my growing stomach wasn’t just due to age and binging on carbs.

So I told him. In our regular meeting, I knew I had to find the time to bring it up. There’s never a good time. I thought of starting the meeting with “I’m pregnant,” but he started talking about a different topic immediately so I had to wait until he asked his standard question “how are you?” — Continue reading

My Messed Up Maternity Leave Plan That Makes No Sense

The good news, is I get some paid maternity leave. That’s more than most women in this country can bank on. I’m extremely fortunate that my company has to follow the laws of the land (in this case, California) to provide 4 weeks of “before due date” and 6 weeks of “after delivery” protected leave with some pay (via state disability, and the case of my company, a few weeks fully paid.)

Now, the good news is that I get ANOTHER 6 weeks of semi-paid leave after the first 6 weeks of disability. The bad news is, I’m not allowed to take it until I hit my one year mark on the job — which means I’ll have anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months (1, if I give birth on my due date) in between leave #1 and leave #2. I thought maybe they’d allow me to take a week or two unpaid, so I could be home 8 weeks with newborn, but no dice. Basically, they are strict about these policies. Since we have an “unlimited time off” policy I’m, ironically, not allowed to take any time off (vacation OR unpaid) after I get back from my 6 weeks. That seems kind of f’d, esp the whole not being allowed to take UNPAID time, but that’s the law – and my company is not going to go out of their way to provide anything beyond the law, esp to someone who is so new. I can’t blame them, but it still sucks. Continue reading

Cost of Giving Labor and Prenatal Care at Kaiser

I’m a PPO girl — and as of Jan 1, I’ve dived headfirst into the wonderful(?) world of HMOs. Kaiser HMO to be exact. Why? Because, although with health insurance one cannot be 100% clear what anything will cost, it appears had I stayed on Anthem PPO my pregnancy would cost somewhere between $6000 and $1M (exaggeration at the high end, slightly), whereas Kaiser, outside of premiums, would be free – or almost free?

It really is ridiculous how much childbirth costs in the US vs the rest of the world. Kaiser offers refuge to those of us who would prefer not to spend what’s equal to one year of daycare to help our child escape our uterus and enter the world.

Continue reading

Trouble at Work… Again.

My biggest problem in the workplace is that I’m incapable of estimating how long projects will take — especially when they involve delegating work to others and/or finding outside vendors for that project. My new job requires lots of this, and it’s becoming more and more apparent but the day that this has the potential to  put a significant wrench in my plan to stay in this role for at least four years.

I have the opportunity to be successful in this role. I have a supportive boss who believes in my general ability. But he has big goals and my role in achieving those goals is not a small one – which is great – I have an important position that can really move the needle. I have a chance to make a difference for the whole team, and to maybe, finally, contribute consistent quality work. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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.

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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