Maternity Leave – How Much Is Enough?

This post is part of Women’s Money Week.


Planning for maternity leave sucks. When I found out I was expecting my first child I sat down with a calendar and mapped out the days and weeks until I would need to return to work.

My son was due in late October and I ran all sorts of calculations to determine the maximum amount of time I could spend at home. Since my vacation hours reset in the new year I wondered if I could take STD, a week or two of vacation, then maternity leave and take another two or three weeks of vacation after that.

No matter how many times I stared at that calendar I could not figure out a way to extend the time beyond ten weeks. I knew I was lucky to get that much paid time off, but the idea of returning to work after less than three months made me feel incredibly sick.

I had every intention of returning to my job after my son was born. My tasks weren’t particularly difficult. I earned a six figure salary and worked from home a few days a week. Who wouldn’t go back to that?

But as fate would have it I never returned. I suffered the consequences of a large company-wide restructuring effort. One day I walked into work and was told my position was no longer needed. After twelve years with the company that was the end of that.

My lay off was a blessing in disguise. I no longer needed to feel torn about staying home versus returning to work. My company didn’t provide maternity leave, but they did pay me in the form of a six month severance check.

I lined up a job that was set to begin when my son turned six months, but as the months came and went I still didn’t feel ready to return to my old cubicle life.

As the due date for my second child approaches I think a lot about the circumstances that brought me to where I am today. I completely understand why employers can’t retain a new mom’s position indefinitely. I also understand the turmoil and inner struggle of women who just want a little more time with their babies.

2 thoughts on “Maternity Leave – How Much Is Enough?”

  1. As a Canadian, a 10 week maternity leave sounds very short.

    I was self-employed when we had the Little Miss, so I became off indefinitely. Simple Cheap Dad got a top up from work for the first three months so we were both home together. He could have stayed home for 10 months, but he was fairly new at his job and we were worried about living on half his salary (which we do now anyway, but it seemed scary then)

  2. I was the first attorney at my firm to have a baby. I received six weeks leave. I was given an extra week because we ended up in the Nicu. Two girls got pregnant the following year and are getting eight. I feel a little punished for having the first kid but will enjoy eight weeks with the next!


Leave a Comment