I just finished reading an article about an immigration attorney who had to go back to work four weeks into her 6 weeks maternity leave. She literally brought her baby in the court room because she didn’t have family help and the baby was too young to go to daycare, not to mention it was because of the unkind judge who decided to not delay her court date. Yup, son of a motherless goat…
As I started to read the comments in the article, they all ranged from different experiences of their leave, boasting 6 weeks up to a year off, if you are from Canada. I wanted to use this opportunity to share my maternity leave story.
As a freelancer, you really don’t have FMLA, you are your own FMLA. You simply take time off by not working, and working women dream of the chance to take as much time off as possible and now I had that chance. So what was it? A year, six months, six weeks? Drum roll please… How about two weeks? Yes, that’s right my one shot to use all the time I wanted to bond with my baby was shrunk down to no more than two weeks, counting the hospital stay. Yes, I’m sure you’re thinking, she’s crazy, she missed her one and only chance.
Why did I do that? Well, I didn’t necessarily decide that all at once.
Over the summer, work was solidly S-L-O-W and I was convinced that it was only a matter of time before I had to find a “real job”. I counted out my savings and figured that I could take so many magical months to bond and make the most of it. While job hunting, I still met with colleagues in search for more freelance work because leads always takes time and you just never know.
Well fast forward, my lead came 7 months pregnant. By this time, I was a beach whale growing by the week. It wasn’t until my eight month that I had my first meeting planned and I promise you I didn’t want to go. Let me repeat that, I DID NOT WANT TO GO.
I thought of so many reasons why I shouldn’t. First of all, I was huge and expecting any week, per my doctor “you’re a moving target”. If I signed on a contract, I would need to go into full swing, and that full swing would literally hit weeks into my 9th month. What then with my moving target growing inside of me? The logical side of me said, of course, I can handle it, I can do everything. But my fearful side said you’re crazy. It’s human perception, what person in their right mind would hire a 9 month pregnant woman? Seriously, men are so lucky. I tried to think of many reasons to miss the “meeting” and I came up with maybe I could play sick and do a conference call, and tell them later after I signed on. But no such luck, they wanted to meet in person. After more time and my hubby’s urging, I took the in-person meeting but not without a plan to reveal my belly.
My ridiculous and paranoid self was convinced that I could hide my belly, win them over and then reveal that I was pregnant. So my disguise came together. I would wear a large blazer and dress in all dark colors – black always hides everything. I even had props. I would strategically keep a binder on my belly so they wouldn’t tell. I planned to go to the meeting early so I could pick out my seat and hide out there until everyone entered the room, and when the meeting was over, I would make my big reveal. It went something like “…and now that I’ve told you about my plans, I have a personal matter to tell you about… I’m pregnant.” Needless to say, their reaction was, “yeah, we kinda could tell.”
Yup, I was an idiot. But as faith would have it, it didn’t matter. The organization had already planned to sign with me because of the work I had done with another organization. Side note — I love referrals! But because my fear had almost took over, I would have never taken the chance to meet with this group and get the business so I could continue to work from home.
Now, after the bliss of “I got the job!” I knew my due date was right around the corner of a major announcement, a big reason why they hired me. That’s when I really started to freak out. I had to deliver! Not just literally but I had to deliver the goods, with good results.
So I started to research online to find out what other freelancers have done and come to find out, a lot of them took two weeks off and it was okay. Why?
As a freelancer you are in control of your work time. Think about it, you work from home. As your own boss, you can choose when to get up in the morning, when to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, if I had to step out for meetings, my MIL (who drives me crazy, but that’s another blog post) would be there to manage things. The key was for me to manage keeping up with the work load but I would be there for all of the feedings, the diaper changes, the coos, the oohs and aahs, and the emotional tears.
I took the chance! And it paid off.
Now it’s 2 months into having my baby and I still haven’t stepped into an office. Who knows what the future holds but I am going to do my best to keep up with keeping business up, because I love, love, love staying home and seeing my huggable, loveable, kissable double B (Baby Boy). Believe me, taking on this crazy work schedule is not the easiest choice. I have sacrificed sleep, beyond the mommy of a newborn sleep, but fast forward, my sacrifice allows me to be able to see my little man every day. And that’s a blessing in itself.