Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Dave and I are still working out what will happen with our jobs once the baby arrives. We know that I will take my allotted 12 weeks away from work. We know that he will be home this summer full time. We don't know what will happen in the fall.

I've started looking into child care resources, and I'm overwhelmed with sadness. I don't even have the baby yet, and I'm struggling with figuring out how to leave him/her in someone else's care while Dave and I slave away at jobs that we don't really enjoy. There's a great program at the local YWCA, but the cost is so out of this world that one of us would have to take a second job just to pay for it.

It's no secret that the United States doesn't treat new parents very well, but I was surprised to learn that there are only two industrialized countries in the world that don't provide paid leave for new mothers: the United States and Australia. Australia mothers are a little better off though, since they provide one year of job-protected leave. Our country only mandates 12 weeks.

In Canada you can have 17 weeks of maternity leave and 35 weeks of "parental" leave for each parent. Paid.
In Hungary you get 24 weeks maternity and then childrearing leave up to the child's 3rd birthday. 70% of your salary.
Italy gives you 5 months maternity leave including 1 month pre-birth, along with an additional 10 months parental leave all at 80% of your salary. Any unused leave can be taken until the child's 9th birthday.
In Norway you can have 52 weeks parental leave at 80% of your salary, or 42 weeks at 100%.
The United Kingdom grants 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, plus an additional 11 weeks for women who've worked at least one year with the employer.
Sweden has full parental leave until the child is 18 months old and includes adoption. Maternity leave begins as early as 60 days prior to the due date, all of it paid.

And the United States? 12 weeks leave. Unpaid. And it's sort of unsaid, but you're expected to work right up until you have the damn baby. If things go as planned, I will be at work when I am 39.9 weeks pregnant.

It makes me angry. It makes me sad. It makes me wish that our circumstances were completely different, and we could both plan to be home for the first year. There are plenty of ways that we can and will simplify our lives. We'll cut back, maybe sell the car, change our habits. The awful truth is that we will probably both have to work. Maybe one of us can be part time, and maybe in a few years one of us can work from home or be home full time. But for now? There's just no way to manage it. And it makes me sad.

1 comment:

Knittymama said...

Oh, I feel you there! We had the same situation and boy, it was tough. I went back full time after the first one after just 4.5 months. After a couple of years I was able to find a part time job with the second one and go back after 5 months. Now, with the timing of our third I'll have to go back after 12 weeks too.

E-mail me if you need some daycare ideas or advice, I know how tough it is to find the right place!