Friday, January 28, 2011

The Commencement of Maternity Leave

January 7th was my physical last day of work in my office. I then commenced two week's worth of working from home...and at that point, I was still weeks away from my due date. I had asked the HR department if I could work longer and they seemed a bit shocked that I was asking to continue to work "in my condition" (as they put it!). Most women here like the time off before they have a baby was the response, or something along those lines.....and so no, they thought it was best that I just end my time at work for now and focus on the next bit of having a baby.

I cannot tell you how different this approach is compared to the US!

I have had numerous co-workers over the years in the US who would come in to work every day near their due date (or past) and wonder if that will be their last day in the office, or will they return to work tomorrow? Unless one is quitting or is having a planned c-section, it is just a waiting game to see when baby will arrive. Since maternity leave is only a short amount of time in the US, I understand why women are working until the very end....

Now being on the British side of this situation, I feel a bit torn about how it is handled in the US. On one hand, I am slightly bored (unchallenged I should say) at the moment (dare I admit this as I am sure once the baby arrives I will want this time back!), but I am also grateful that I am not having to get up early with my husband's alarm clock in the morning to hop in the car and drive to work where I would be "on" all day long. The insomnia in this last bit of pregnancy has been slightly unbearable and I would be a zombie at the office if I were required to be there all day at this point. So, in that sense I have to admit it is really nice to have this time to properly rest (or lack there of in my case, but to still not be in the office or commuting....) before I am on full time mom duty.

On the other hand, the "worker bee" in me is sad to be away from my job already. I enjoy my job and feel a bit disconnected from it already, even though I have only been away a short amount of time. I feel slightly lazy for having no major responsibilities at the moment and for being able to sit at the coffee shop for an hour or more, or for having a 3 hour lunch without worrying about finishing the pile of paperwork on my desk.

I know that soon enough my insomnia and 3am wake up calls will not just be for a bowl of cereal or toast for myself, but will be to take care of a little baby in our house so I am sure at that point I will look back and be grateful that I did have a bit of time for myself in advance of our baby's arrival.


Alma said...

Cassie - I had my last conference call of the day at 4pm; by 10pm that night I had a baby :) I hope you have an effortless labor and I can't wait to see pictures of your little one! Alma

Kris said...

I love how the UK does maternity leave. I started mine three weeks before my due date (and then baby was even two weeks late!)
I received 9 months of paid maternity leave. It's absolutely brilliant!