I?m a recent lurker, but expect to be more engaged as I become a FTM in August and then return to work full time after maternity leave. It is my decision regarding maternity leave that I am seeking advice from full-time working moms who have BTDT. I?m aware this falls very much into the ?first world problem? category of decisions, but I greatly appreciate your advice because I have few friends who are full-time working mothers to go to with this.
My office permits 12 weeks off, but the only paid time is what sick and/or vacation time I have available to use. By my due date, I?ll only have about 4.5 weeks of paid time saved up, so that means a number of weeks unpaid if I take the full 12 weeks (I do have STD, but I've been told to expect that to cover only about 6-8 weeks). Many people around me ? including my very supportive boss ? are encouraging me to take the full 12 weeks because ?that?s time I?ll never get back with my baby.? But, there?s a hitch to this that they cannot fully appreciate: I make more than my husband does so our household income is more dependent on my job than his, so it is not easy, but thanks to savings probably workable for a short period of time, to go without my income. My husband has offered to use his paid leave to parent the baby for a few weeks if I decide to go back to work early. And, true confessions, because of how happy I am, and ridiculously lucky I know I am, to be having a baby after wanting one for so many years, I'm surprised by how weird it feels to sign up for 12 weeks off of work ? weird because I love my job and get a lot of fulfillment from the productivity I feel, money I earn, and joy I get from my work (again, I feel ridiculously lucky there). From what I hear, I assume all that will fall aside when I meet my baby and feel the love for her which I cannot fully imagine right now in pregnancy. But what if I turn out to be the bad, narcissistic mother for whom it does not?
Getting back to my decision, I?ve balanced the desire to maximize time with baby with the loss of income and decided a compromise is to do 8 weeks fully off, 4 weeks part-time at 20 hours, and then back to work full-time. This way there?s less unpaid leave than the full 12 weeks, and from the baby POV, it seems easier to ease back in with part time work than to go back early full-time. When I asked my boss about this idea she said she?d fully support what I wanted to do but she wanted me to think about it more because her two concerns for me are (1) whether in our work environment I could really pull off part-time, or would I get sucked in to essentially full-time (a fair point knowing our environment!) and (2) she reiterated what she?d advised me before, that the full 12 weeks is time I?ll never get back with my baby (FWIW, my boss has been very successful in her career, while raising two daughters, so I value her informed perspective. However, I think her family financial situation is stronger than ours, so she cannot fully empathize with the financial hardship of the unpaid leave)
What is your advice? Take the full 12, or the scenario with a couple weeks of part time? Or a third scenario? Thanks!!