I have no idea why this posted on the wrong site after appearing briefly in people's RSS feeds…. Grr, Typepad.
Thank you guys for the birthday wishes. I had an enjoyably fattening day!
"My wife is six months pregnant with our first baby and we just
moved for her to take a great
new job. After a year and a half trying to get me pregnant, my wife got
pregnant instantly (yay!) but now our new baby is due, at the absolute
outside, two weeks before my wife hits the one year mark at her job.
It's a nice company so they aren't pitching a fit about her taking
leave so soon after starting there but, because we won't have hit the
magic one year date, it will only be 60% paid for five weeks at best
(short-term disability) and most likely not paid at all though they are
willing to let her be out of the office for 12 weeks. I am scraping
together as much money as I can to cover us while my wife is home but
we have no idea how much leave she ought to take and her company would
like some kind of estimate. If you factor childcare issues out of the
discussion, (we had long planned for me to stay home and, in fact, I am
there; she got pregnant so soon after our move that I hadn't found a
new job yet and then it became clear I was no way going to get anything
for only nine months in a new place with no contacts) how much leave
have other people felt they wanted/needed? How much leave do you think
we might need? What factors proved important? Can you tell we are
If it is at all important to this estimate, my parents will be
coming to stay for at least two weeks after the baby is born and our
best friend will be living with us for the entire summer."
Wow. Congratulations on the quickly-achieved pregnancy for your wife!
advice is that she should take as much leave as she possibly can
without putting major financial strain on the family or derailing her
It is impossible to express how difficult and
time-consuming it is to have a newborn, while also recovering from
pregnancy and childbirth. It's just physically exhausting, to start,
and then the whole first few weeks are pretty much a non-stop batch of
worry about everything from feeding to diaper changes to whether the
umbilical cord is healing well to what it means when the baby hiccups
to pacifiers to basically everything. While I know there are women who
have to do it, five weeks seems absolutely inhumane to me, and I would
do whatever I had to to get to 12 weeks at a minimum. (And yes, I know
there are some of you out there who did it on much less, but I'm
betting you'd have had an easier first year or two if you'd had more
time to catch your breath before having to do two jobs.)
note that I think you are going to be fabulous with the baby, and that
I'm assuming your parents and best friend are going to be enormously
helpful with the baby. My concern here isn't really for the baby, since
it seems clear that s/he is going to be well cared-for by all of you.
My concern is for your wife, who really needs time to recover
physically and to get her confidence as a mom and have enough stability
before she starts burning the candle at both ends. It will help her to
have other adults around during her leave, as she'll actually be able
to catch naps and have other people do everything so all she has to do
is nurse and sleep and stay hydrated. But, again, there's no way to
describe how exhausting (physically and mentally and emotionally) those
first few months are. The more space you all together can figure out
how to give her, the less chance she'll have of getting so exhausted
that she falls into PPD.
Do you think her employer might be open
to the possibility of giving her her 12 weeks of FMLA time in chunks,
so that she could go back part-time starting at 9 or 10 weeks and not
start again full-time until 14 or 15 weeks?
What do the rest of
you say? How long did you get to take off? Was it enough to recover?
How long would you take ideally? (And yes, everyone at home with a
newborn secretly or not-so-secretly wishes they could just leave all
day at a certain point. Taking care of babies is HARD, y'all.)