Friday, December 28, 2012

Hard Decisions: Maternity Leave

I only have 1 week left in my maternity leave. :-( I am so sad. 

I wish we could financially work it out so I could be a stay at home Mom. But alas, like many other families we can't. So, back to work I go. On the other hand, it will be nice to have a conversation with another adult besides my husband. I am looking forward to getting back to work and diving into marketing Litespeed and Quintana Roo. The 2013 product should be in full swing and some of the marketing strategies I set up before I left should have been completed and I have some others that are just about to start in January.

Although, there is something to be said for maternity leave. Duh. It had to be said because of my track record...with Aven I only got 2 weeks. I have not said too much about my previous maternity leave, but it has been 2 years. Also, now that I have had 6 weeks, I want to talk about how much that really sucked and how different things have been this time around.

My previous employer told me when he hired me I could essentially write my own maternity leave. I took the job under that pretense. Unfortunately, when it came to discuss my leave (BTW he would habitually avoid the subject until I was less than 4 weeks from my due date) he said since I was his only employee he didn't have to adhere to FMLA and there was no way I would be allowed to come back to work if I wanted to take any time beyond 2 weeks. Also, he said he would not work with short term disability. So...what do I do? Take the 2 weeks and try to negotiate working from home and gradually working my way back into the office until Aven was old enough to go into day care. Then to add salt to the wound, after I returned to the office for 2 days, he fired me! Tennessee is a "no fault" state, so unless I wanted to spend money I didn't have to fight it in court, I lost my job because I wanted to be a mother.

UGH. See? SUCKED. To say the least, I think he was and is an asshole. Personally, I think I am being nice and only calling him an asshole and not stating his name or business online. Asshole.

This time around, I am working for a reputable company and I was able to take 6 weeks. I could have taken 12 weeks, but short term disability (60% of income) would only cover 6 weeks. The other 6 would be unpaid. Like I mentioned before, we are a 2 income family, so 6 weeks it is.

Compared to what I had with Aven, this has been a godsend. I feel like I have been able to bond with Tristan sooner than I did with Aven. My milk supply has been constant. With Aven, my supply was fluctuating early on. I have been able to figure out a routine with T. I also feel like I have been able to relax more. Ergo better milk supply. Here is an article about the benefits to breast fed babies over formula fed babies.

After only 5 weeks, I really see how important it has been to have this early time with Tristan. I really wonder what it would be like if I could take 6 months...I wish America was like other countries.

Canada: New mothers can take between 17 and 52 weeks of leave from their jobs. Their employers are required to accept the employees back into their jobs, or the equivalent, at the end of the mandated leave at the same rate of pay with the same employment benefits. On top of mandating maternity leave, the government offers paid leave for one or both parents through Canada's employment insurance plan. A pregnant employee or new mother can take a paid maternity leave of up to 15 weeks. Either the mother or father can take 35 weeks of parental leave after the baby is born or adopted. The parents can share the leave however they choose. If eligible for the program, the benefits equal 55% of the parent's average weekly insurable wage, up to a maximum of $485 per week. For low-income families, the rate of benefits can increase to up to 80%, with the same maximum of $485 per week. Employment insurance benefits are taxable in the same way as wages. *Information from Investopedia May 2012.

UK: Female employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity (or adoption) leave, 39 weeks of which is paid, planned to rise to 52 weeks paid, with the first six weeks paid at 90% of full pay and the remainder at a fixed rate (£128.73/week as of 2011). Employees have to follow notification rules and might also be entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP), depending on their length of service and average earnings by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC). Most employers offer a more generous policy. Annual leave continues to accrue throughout the maternity leave period. A spouse or partner of the woman (including same-sex relationships) may request a two week paid (at a fixed rate) paternity leave. Both the mother and her partner can additionally request non-paid parental leave, which can be for up to 4 weeks annually, with a current limit of 13 weeks. *Information from Wikipedia

Sweden: Provides working parents with an entitlement of 16 months paid leave per child at 80 percent pay, the cost being shared between employer and the state. To encourage greater paternal involvement in child-rearing, a minimum of 2 months out of the 16 is required to be used by the "minority" parent, in practice usually the father, and some Swedish political parties on the political left argue for legislation to oblige families to divide the 16 months equally between both parents. Norway has similarly generous leave. In Estonia mothers are entitled to 18 months of paid leave, starting up to 70 days before due date. Fathers are entitled to paid leave starting from the third month after birth (paid leave is however available to only one parent at a time). *Information from Wikipedia

I know taxes are higher in other countries to compensate for the maternity leave, but now I have been able to experience some time with my baby, I see how important it is to have that connection. If we had the money, I wouldn't go back to work after 6 weeks. If we had the money AND I was given paid time off similar to Canada or Sweden I would take the time off and go back to work after 3 - 6 months.

By limiting paid time off for maternity leave, the US employers are perpetuating the lack luster family dynamic the Republican party attempted to showcase in the most recent election. I know...that was hitting below the belt, but its true! Bonding early in parenting with your baby lays the foreground for what type of parenting skills will develop when the shit really gets hard.

Well. There it is. I want more time with Tristan AND Aven. I wish I could have the time back with her. I hate that asshole for robbing me of such precious time with my baby girl. Jerk. I am gonna stop complaining, I could have lost my job to spend time with her. I could put our finances in jeopardy and stay home with Tristan. Would that be the responsible decision? Would that be a good parent?

Hard decisions.

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