growinghumans


Taking Time
November 19, 2015, 10:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am getting a little tired of watching my friends give birth to beautiful little babies and then announcing two weeks, 5 days later, that they are returning to work.

This

is

unacceptable to me.

My employer did not supply paid maternity leave. I had to draft from my paid time off hours and I had also set up an AFLAC account to cover for some of the other losses.

The short term disability policy.

You know, because having a baby is a disability. And also short term.

Anyway, I took 6 weeks off. It felt like enough but I know some friends who have taken up to 12 and I think that also sounds lovely.

I think 6 should be the minimum, though. I know money is crazy. I know the pressure to work and make sure you have control over your job even while pushing a human out of your body can be strong.

But.

There will never be another time in your life where you and this Tiny Human are on your own like this. I remember looking at mine, this little girl, as she sat in her swing. She was a stranger to me. A stranger that I knew very well, but a stranger none-the-less. I needed time to figure her out and, more importantly, she needed time to figure me out.

She may still be trying, 5 years later.

There are so many variables that play into whether you are ready to go back to work after having a baby. Are you physically healed? Are you emotionally stable? Are you sleeping at all? Have you established a feeding schedule that everyone can adhere to?

Before 6 weeks, I am going to go with no to most of these.

There is a reason day cares and preschools won’t take infants before 6 weeks.

That is your time. That is sacred time. If it’s your first baby, or your sixth. It is your time with that child in which you learn what it means to complete your family. Do not rob yourself of this duty; of this honor. Do not for a second think that money or your job should come before your joy as a parent.

You worked so hard SO HARD to create this human. They are your masterpiece. Gaze upon your work. Marvel at your creation. Appraise it, even.

Give yourself the time you so valiantly deserve. Make it work.

The maternity leave situation in this country is completely and utterly embarrassing. Every single person will agree on this–liberals, conservatives, women, men..whatever. It sucks. But you have to fight for it. You have to make it work and take your time. Getting to know your baby is nothing you can rush and I fear that if we as mothers (or even fathers) are torn away from our newborns too soon; if we are whisked out of the cocoon of the nursery too soon, bonding will be stunted. Postpartum depression will be glossed over. Motherhood will be wasted.

You are a mother. You are not a machine. You gave birth. You did not fill a quota.

You are a thing of beauty who has done an unspeakably hard thing. Take the time you are owed.

Be kind to yourself.  Be honest with yourself. Give yourself time.

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2 Comments so far
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I LOVE THIS. My twin sister lives abroad and she has been horrified at the appalling maternity leave situation here in the states. She works as an educator in the UK and she has 6 MONTHS of fully paid leave with an option to go 80% and 60% pay for up to a year. My situation was as you describe – 6 weeks of leave at 60% pay which I had to supplement with personal or vacation time…(because taking care of a newborn is such a vacation…)

THEN, when I got back to work, I was informed that I would be competing for my job with the person who sat in for me during the 6 weeks I was out… “She did a really good job…you’d better step it up because the big boss is watching…” I was not provided with a place to pump and had to time my lunch breaks so I could pump in the car…(ow ow ow)…and basically treated as if any maternal need was an inconvenience and a hindrance to my work performance. I was only able to nurse for 6 months because of the poor pumping situation at work.

Needless to say, I am no longer at that company. I’ve been in my new job for a little over a year, but I still wonder about how a pregnancy would affect my persona as ‘professional’ here…it shouldn’t make a difference, but I’m afraid it does.

Comment by Jean

So, as a professional in the life/disability industry, I felt compelled to comment on the “disability” comment. While, they call the program, a short term disability, it is meant to replace loss wages due to an illness or injury. The Federal Maternity law requires that employers and insurance companies classify “pregnancy” as an “illness” and does not allow us to segregate it out in our policies. We also view “disability” as being unable to do the material and substantial duties of your job due to a medical condition, versus the usual terms that come to mind when you hear the the word disability. Sadly, a huge percentage of people do not have the money set aside for events such as this, which is why Short Term Disability programs are so crucial during these times. I do agree that the US is behind in their policies in compared to other countries based on the limited knowledge I have of other countries. Sadly, benefits packages are often overlooked when beginning new job. There are some very generous benefits packages that exist ( Google for example) but with the rising cost of health care and such, employers are cutting back where they can and shifting the cost of benefits to their employees. I’ll step off my disability soap box now 🙂

Comment by Gabrielle




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