I got 8 weeks paid maternity leave and took 4 weeks unpaid. After I went back to work, DH also took 8 weeks under FMLA (using all 3 vacation weeks and the remainder unpaid). Not a popular thing for him to do, but neither of us care. It's a sacrifice to the family. Actually he said people were more supportive once he did it than he expected.
We both have careers, but they are somewhat "lesser" careers than we might have had without children. We're both happy with this arrangement but we definitely worked more hours when we were young and child-less.
With a baby at a Jewish day care it is NOT enough. It's an orthodox day care and they are off a LOT of days and those days don't follow the regular calendar. When school is closed (Spring Break, Winter holidays) there are often camps available. Not so much for Sukkhot! I'm hoping to hire some care givers at our day care for the days when they are closed. (I have new born and a second grader).
1) Yes, my kid doesn't go to a Jewish daycare (side note, we have a Jewish family in our class and their older children go to the Jewish school in town and everything I've heard is wonderful so I would send my son there if we could), but it is a specialty daycare, which really is pretty great in many ways, and they have many more closures and in-service days for their professional staff. Every staff member has at least a bachelor's degree so they are treated very well and very professional because that is what they are. So, they do get time off. But then the teachers really seem to love their jobs at the school, and it pays off. Makes it hard to schedule around work. I could send my kid to a national chain daycare which would have less shutdowns, but with his special needs, and, well, just because, we like this school because of the personal attention and the totally awesome curriculum. But it definitely makes things more difficult.
2) I totally relate to what you said about having a lesser career because you have children. I know this has happened to me. I make less than some of my peers from 10 years ago. For instance, ten years ago I worked in an office of mostly men. I was the only female on staff other than the office manager. I keep in touch with all those staff (wonderful people) and all the men are managers or administrators now making big bucks with hectic schedules and lots of responsibilities. Not that it's easy for them because they are men. One of them told me he'd been warned by his doctor that his blood pressure was too high and he was risking his health with all the stress from work. I wouldn't want that! But for me, it would be impossible to have my little boy AND that sort of career.
So my career has taken a side turn. I make a little less than I should, probably. I am not quite full time. I should probably be a little further along in terms of project management, etc. Ah well. Life is full of choices.
Nothing has changed at all with DH's career. It's like we're still DINKs.
3) I think it's great that both you and your husband took maternity / paternity leave, one after the other. Many of my friends did that. At least 3 of my very good friends took either 3 or 6 months unpaid leave and then their husbands took either 3 or 6 months unpaid leave.
I took 9 months unpaid leave mostly. I used up my sick leave and a week or so of vacation plus I got some disability so I think about 8 months was unpaid basically.
Then DH and I just couldn't come to terms about how we'd balance two careers and I was still breastfeeding. DH didn't support me resigning at all, but he changed nothing about his work habits during my maternity leave so at the end of it I swallowed a big gulp of courage and ignored the major self-doubt I felt and resigned.
I stayed at home for 2 years until I was done breastfeeding and then I started interviewing and got the first job I applied for - where I'm at now - and I'm pretty happy there, just frazzled and tired.
Again, though, I have to say how very lucky I am. I get a lot of paid leave, really good benefits, fairly decent pay, although lower than the average for my field, and my boss is one of the smartest and most inspiring people I've ever met. That's a treat. So, even though I have to leave my sweet child in daycare, I still enjoy most of my time at work and I have learned a great deal from my boss. It's a stressful job, though, and a little beyond what I can do as a mother with other commitments so that's where the stress comes in.