I’ve been thinking about my maternity leave. Here are my legal options:
4 weeks off prior to birth with Disability Leave (paid roughly 50% of my pay, untaxed)
6 weeks off after birth (assuming natural birth) with Disability Leave (again ~50% pay, untaxed)
6 weeks off after disability leave with Paid Family Leave (also 50% pay but taxed)
So ideally I could take up to 16 weeks off work at roughly half-pay, however I loose my health insurance after 12 weeks (with the option of going on cobra). Technically by California law my job is safe (i.e. they can’t legally replace me) for up to 6 months I think, but I get cut off the company insurance after 12 weeks.
Originally I had planned to be on leave May 24 to Aug 1st, which is 10 weeks. My thinking was that I’d be bored if I left work way before my due date, that half-pay is better than no pay but full pay is better than half-pay so I’d be better off financially taking as little time off as possible, and August 1st is just a good round number for going back to work and renting an little apartment for my mom who will be our nanny for the first few months.
Of course, that’s not to say that taking the whole 16 weeks isn’t tempting. After all, there are all these great federal and state programs that are offering me money while I don’t actually do any work. That is what I pay 5 million dollars in taxes for. In a way, I’ve already paid for it so I might as well reap the benefits. And after my 12 weeks are up and my company cuts me off their health insurance plan, paying extra to get Cobra for a little while isn’t exactly the end of the world.
However, 16 weeks is 4 weeks of half-pay longer than 12 weeks plus the additional cost of Cobra – all said and done you’re talking thousands of dollars lost from our usual income. We can afford it, but that’s less money going into our savings and that future home gets a little farther away.
Why am I even reconsidering my original plan of doing May24th-Aug1st at all? Our apartment is filthy nasty, we’ve got mountains of dirty dishes in the kitchen, I’m exhausted from not sleeping at night, and my boss is still counting on my efficiency at work way too much. I’m growing a little more overwhelmed at work everyday, and outside of work nothing gets done. I’m cooking less (therefore eating less healthy) and not exercising. I’ve been sick a total of 4 out of the last 9 weeks, and at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if I got sick again between now and my due date.
Then I think to myself, what if I went into labor in the evening following a day like today? I woke up tired from a sleepless night, work was absolutely insane, I’d be heading into labor exhausted to begin with, I’d become a mom already exhausted from a combination of work and labor, I’d bring my baby home to a filthy house, then I’d be in for some major cleaning while taking care of a newborn. Well we’d be off to a great start.
I’m starting to get the picture that getting ready for the baby isn’t just about buying stuff. It’s about taking care of myself too.
So tonight I talked to Chris and I came up with a new plan: 12 weeks total, May 10th to August 1st. That way I get the exact same amount of time off with the baby as I’d originally planned, I get extra time off before the baby comes, and I take advantage of more untaxed disability leave money while not having to do the whole Cobra thing. I’d be able to relax, upkeep the apartment, cook and freeze extra meals to eat after the baby comes, relieve Chris from the extra house chores he’s taken from me, walk tons.
I’m still not sure though, part of me feels guilty about not working til I pop. My work needs me! Other people have done it! People might think I’m lazy! I would think I’m lazy! I’m too cool to need time off, time off is for the weak! I’d be bored! But then I look at the kind of day I’ve had today and I can’t help but to think there’s not many of those left in me. My boss has been great about offering me to arrive late or leave early if I don’t feel well, but he’s not exactly reducing my workload to accommodate reduced hours. Any time I take off I end up paying for it the next day, big time.
What do you think? Am I being unreasonable wanting extra time off work before the baby comes, almost a full 3 weeks at that? If not then why do I feel like a spoiled brat even considering it?!