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Maternity Leave, Best Laid Plans

It goes without saying that architects are “Type A” individuals. We like to have a plan and we like it when things go to plan. When I laid out my plan for maternity leave, with all good intentions, I knew full well it would change. I just didn’t know how much or how little I would ultimately have to deviate from it.

Keeping in mind the fact that I have never seen myself as a stay at home mom (SAHM), I had no idea how much my new little bundle of joy was going to shake me (and my husband’s) work-a-holic personas. I only knew, from what others told me, that it was going to be “life changing.” That being said, my husband and I made the decision early on in the pregnancy that Happy Parents = Happy Family. We figured that the best way to keep the family unit together was to ensure that we, as parents, maintain a certain level of happiness.

So the original plan was laid out given the above notion and other considerations including maternity and paternity leave at our respective offices (virtually none), what is mandated by the state of California (thankfully more than most states), and the basic need to be able to afford to pay the bills. I would stay at home with our little one for 6 weeks and then begin transitioning back to work part to full-time starting by working at home. The hope was that at the end of 2 months I would be back spending days in the office. Meanwhile my husband would take paternity leave after I was on maternity leave for 6 weeks, supporting my transition back to the office, but ensuring our newborn would be 3 months old before we hand him over to a nanny or daycare.

So what happened? My husband started taking time off once my due date passed, mostly because he wanted to be there to support me and he knew I was incredibly uncomfortable and barely sleeping at all. He ended-up taking a full three months off from the first day he spent home with me pre-birth. I ended-up taking a full 8 weeks off before returning to work part-time, and the week after next will mark my first full work week (although I will still not transition back into the office full-time).

Several factors that were unaccounted for in the planning phase included:

  • our inability to get our little one to take a bottle on a regular basis until he was over 2 months old and thus… his ongoing reliance on being literally attached to me up to 8 hours a day
  • the incredible thought of leaving him with a complete stranger (i.e. life changing event full of feelings that I didn’t know I would have) that ultimately made me a bit reluctant to hunt for child care
  • the resulting daunting search for a nanny

Now that everything’s taken care of and we have all of our ducks lined-up – I have to say that I have mixed feelings about returning to work. Somedays I am really excited to get back at it, and them my little one smiles at me and I completely melt and think about all the smiles I am going to be missing. Two weeks ago, during my husband’s first week back in the office, he noted how our guy seemed to get so much bigger in just one day. Apparently, research shows that he can be growing as much as a centimeter a day so it’s totally plausible that he is significantly bigger within a 9 hour span.

However, the work-a-holic drive never fully went away, and the past three months just affirmed that I do not have the wherewithal to be a SAHM. I know there will be easy days to go into work, but there may be just as many hard days where I don’t want to leave my little man behind. The only way to truly see how I feel about it all is to jump back in – feet first. I’ll let you know how it goes.

AUTHOR - Evelyn Lee

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