The Return To Work

I was on the bus last week with a neighbor of mine, heading to work. He said he recently met someone who works for Microsoft and found out they offer their employees 6 months of PAID maternity leave! That sounds AMAZING. maternity leave

I took the typical maternity leave route of applying for FMLA, and draining my accumulated paid leave time in order to still get a paycheck while out for the (maximum) 12 weeks of leave. Twelve weeks is just shy of three months and not nearly enough time, if you ask me.

Technically my body had (mostly) healed from giving birth and I was capable of working again. I even felt somewhat ready to face the world and be more social and get out of the house. But jumping back into an 8 hour work day? More importantly, leaving my teeny tiny 12 week old baby for 8 hours in daycare? It was ROUGH. 

Like I mentioned in a previous post, she was colicky in the beginning and had a hard time laying down to sleep. 12 week old babies are just so helpless, and with 7 other babies in the room and only two adults between them, I knew my precious little baby wouldn’t get a whole lot of attention.

Why is it that other developed nations have figured out how to let new mothers (and fathers) stay home with their new babies for a full year before returning to work? 

Furthermore, many of these nations have affordable, or even free, daycare options!

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For a nation that claims to value babies and families, we really don’t act like it.

As in all things, actions speak louder than words.

When we say we care about children, but struggle to continue to fund CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) we are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about children, but block LGBT parents from adopting children who are otherwise stuck in foster homes we are showing where our priorities are.

When we say we care about children and pregnant women, but we pull out of the Paris Agreement and de-fund the EPA we are allowing excess toxins into our air and water, babies and pregnant women being the most vulnerable to toxins, we are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about children, but no meaningful gun laws have been passed, and at least 1000 more children have died by gun violence, since the Sandy Hook shooting. We are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about women, but 1 in 3 women are physically abused by an intimate partner.  We are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about women, but actively work against their best interests and block their ability to get the healthcare they need. We are showing where our priorities really are.

These are just a few examples of how we fall short of caring for our women and children in this country. So it is really no surprise that we don’t care about a child and mother in the first year of the child’s life.

Our actions speak louder than words. 

I have also been disappointed to hear older women complain that we have it so much better than they did. We do. I am so grateful for the fact that my employer couldn’t fire me for getting pregnant and taking leave. But aside from being guaranteed a job to come back to, we really don’t get much more help. Some of these women seem to feel some resentment toward the women of today for getting it (slightly) easier than they did. But I think we can do better. We can hope that it gets even better for the next generation after us, and not feel resentful when our nation shows progress. women

Seriously though, if  you Google image “women today meme” you will see a slew of sexist, violent, hateful memes that make me want to vomit. Clearly we’ve come a long way.

But I digress…

I will say that there are many, many ways that I was lucky during this time. I acknowledge that even having access to daycare and the ability to go back to work is not something every woman has the luxury of, even today. My work was also flexible with me, so I was able to do a bit of work from home during the first couple of months, so I didn’t have to leave Dolly at daycare for 8 hours straight. Also, daycare was in close proximity to my work and I was also able to visit her on my lunch break to breastfeed her.

Even with all of these luxuries, it was still HARD. I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to return to work and I am very glad now that I did. I think it’s better for both of us. I also know it would have been hard no matter how old she was. But there is a huge difference between 12 weeks and 6 months. If European countries can give a full year, why can’t we be HALF as accommodating?

We can do better. We must do better. 

Mothers out there, what was your experience like? How soon did you go back (if at all) and how did you cope?

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A Day Without A Woman. 34 Weeks

Last week I participated in Day Without A Woman on International Women’s Day by attending a rally at my state capitol, wearing red, and not making any purchases that day.

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I did not strike. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, hoping that my physical absence may be felt, but my work would still get done. There are two reason I chose not to strike. One, being that I am pregnant, I will need the time off for maternity leave. My company offers FMLA leave, which allows me to be out for up to 480 work hours without risk of losing my job (roughly three months). But any pay I am to receive during that time comes from my accumulated sick and vacation time, so using it now means I don’t get to use it later. Some may say this is exactly why I should strike – to show that this policy is inadequate to meet the needs of new moms and dads. That we should have better paid leave policies for maternity/paternity. These are things that I agree with and would fight for. But my second reason for not striking is a bit more compelling…

I work with all women. My team is all women, and though we work for a larger organization that has these maternity leave policies, the work I am doing right now affects the long term careers of these other women. They were relying on me to meet a deadline with my piece of the project so they could continue with theirs. Our failure on this project would not affect the overall organization we work for very much, but it would affect the careers of these other women. It simply did not make sense to me to hold these other women back in any way. 

Striking was a good choice for many. In a different circumstance I would have participated in the strike. Not because I think that I suffer injustices at work for being a woman (like I said, working with all women eliminates a lot of the discrimination other women suffer). I feel I am adequately and fairly compensated and am encouraged in my career growth. However, it is not for me that I participated in the rally.

It is for all the other women who could not rally

  • women who do suffer injustices at work
  • women who are paid less than a man for the same work
  • women who cannot take personal leave without the risk of being fired or reprimanded
  • women who are sick of a mostly male government deciding what she can and cannot do with her body
  • women who are accused of “bringing it on themselves” when they have been assaulted or abused
  • women who are told they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough, short enough, funny enough, smart enough, nice enough or good enough to meet our impossible standards of women
  • women who are sick of being ignored

I rallied because I wish for a better future for my daughter. As women we have all felt at least some of the things I listed above. There are certainly more things that could be added to this list, these are just the ones that come immediately to mind. I know I cannot shelter my daughter from all of these cultural injustices and she will some day experience some of these. My hope is that it gets better as times wears on. I did feel an energy at the rally that was really encouraging. We need to keep the energy alive and not let it wane.

The saddest part of the Day Without A Woman protests were the attacks from other women. The last thing we need is to tear each other down for standing up for what we believe. Even if it isn’t something that you care about or believe in, we should be proud that we are even allowed to have our own opinions that can be expressed publicly! It’s the women who came before us that have allowed us this expression. How you use it is your choice, but isn’t that a beautiful thing too!

In pregnancy news I am 34 weeks today! Only 6 short weeks to go. I cannot believe we are getting this close!

Did any of you participate in any of the Day Without A Woman activities? How did it go?

Anyone with daughters have advice on raising them to be confident and secure? 

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

 

 

Women’s March

Last weekend we witnessed the incredible coming together of millions of people all over the world to march for their voices to be heard. It was called the women’s march, but (unlike the good ole boys clubs of the past) all were welcome and included in this record breaking event.

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What started as a march for women’s rights (already a broad topic in and of itself) quickly morphed to include ANY man, woman or child who felt that their voices were not being heard, that their government was not listening and did not care about them. This was a march to ‘take the power back.’ A march to remind our politicians, and our newly instated president, that they work for US. WE are in charge!

I have spent the last few weeks since the election trying to muster motivation to take charge and fight for change, only to actually feel powerless and silenced. I live in a big(ish) city that definitely leans liberal, as most cities do, but my state as a whole is about as conservative as they come. Sure, I shared plenty of articles and information on my Facebook, but let’s be honest – that’s probably just preaching to the crowd. My like-minded friends would like and share my posts and I, in return, would like and share theirs. Just a big circle jerk. But I couldn’t fathom any action that I could do that would actually make any difference.

But that changed a bit on Saturday with witnessing just how many people are feeling the same way I am. Luckily there were enough people who did feel like they could make a difference by organizing and energizing this movement. They didn’t feel powerless or silences, and I am so thankful they didn’t!

It doesn’t matter that we aren’t all rallying behind the same exact issue. What matters is that all of us – SO MANY OF US – are feeling unheard, unrepresented. 

It was invigorating! It was inspiring!

It was just what I needed to buckle down and say NO MORE. No more silence from me. It is too important to our future, to my daughter’s future, that I don’t just bury my head in the sand. Time to get involved.

So I signed up on the Women’s March 10 Actions in 100 Days email list. Anyone interested should do the same. The first action is to write a letter to your senators about your concerns that aren’t being heard. They have a template you can print off if you’d like.

I also came across this helpful article if you are shy about calling your representatives.

Since this is a private blog, I have been reluctant to share photos. But I am pretty sure no one in my real life has stumbled on this blog yet, so here I am with a bump photo from Sunday.

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I haven’t really delved into any of the specific topics of #whyImarch, but this post is getting lengthy as it is. In the future, in addition to pregnancy and baby updates, you can expect me to weigh in on various topics I care about.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have, or please comment below on what issues are of concern to you right now! I would love to hear from you