Having a baby and becoming a mom is stressful. There's no denying that. Planning for a maternity leave can be stressful, too. If you're expecting your first baby (or even a second or a third!), you might be wondering what a longer maternity leave looks like. Here's how I spent (and funded!) 16 weeks of maternity leave.
A Word About Stress
Everyone handles stress differently. No two births are the same. There are so many variables when it comes to maternity leaves.
For me, well, my leave was pretty stressful.
There was moving and almost dying along the way. At some point (OK, multiple points), I was overwhelmed and probably met criteria for postpartum anxiety. I spoke to a psychiatrist friend who pointed out that I pretty much experienced all the top life stressors except death of a loved one (and let's keep it that way!) within a 4 month period:
- New baby (especially the first one)
- New Job
- Serious illness
She also pointed out that what's especially hard for new mothers is that no one is taking care of us. We are always taking care of baby (and spouse).
A Look at 16 Weeks of Maternity Leave
I feel lucky that my mother lives nearby enough and has been with us most weeks.
So, I decided to give myself a pass on pretty much everything. For me, that meant a lot of stopping.
I stopped worrying about…
- Posting consistently on this blog.
- My new postpartum figure (well, kind of).
- Every single bit of what I was eating.
- Spending too much especially if it made my life easier during this time.
I am still trying to worry less about the not fully unpacked apartment.
Oh, and I finally figured out the biggest fallacy of “maternity leave” — nothing gets done despite not “going to work.”
Funding a Longer Maternity Leave
Throughout my leave, I was often asked how are we able to afford taking 16 weeks of mostly unpaid leave.
Let's back up and actually look at my leave. I took 16 weeks of leave, and it was only very partially paid. 6 weeks paid at my old base salary was all I got.
So how did we swing the full 16 weeks of maternity leave?
The answer is simple: We lived below our means, and we saved for it. Remember, you have about 9 months to save for maternity leave!
Let's go back to the idea of living below our means. In other words, we do not need our whole paycheck to get by. While I was pregnant, I stopped making extra payments to loans in favor of saving for this time.
Then, I had a cushion to pay for my maternity leave.
It definitely didn't feel good to watch my checking account balance only decrease during my leave, but seeing his face daily more than made up for it.
Final Thoughts on 16 Weeks of Maternity Leave
Isn't this what it's all about, Moms? I hope everyone about to have a baby can have the freedom to spend more than the typical 4-6 weeks of doctor maternity leave.
Look hard at your budget while your expecting, and see what you can do to save a bit extra. Even if you can't fund 16 weeks of leave, anything extra counts. You won't regret it.
What do you think of funding a longer leave? Comment below!]]>