It is never too early to start planning your maternity leave... Says the woman who has been charting, graphing, counting every single hour of potentially usable leave for, um, 18 months now.
While we weren't formally TTC (and hadn't planned to start until next month, WHOOPS!), this baby has nonetheless been very long planned for!
I am feeling fantastically lucky about what we're going to be able to give this baby. I should be able to stay home 100% for at least six weeks (possibly more, if we can make the numbers work for my husband to pick up a bunch of freelance work to cushion my leave without pay?), then return to work for 3 days/week for another six-ish weeks, then then stick to a four days/week schedule until Baby is one year old. The big thing for me is that, when I return to work, my husband will remain home with the children full time. We made huge enormous sacrifices to be able to handle our family life on one income, and I'm just so so grateful that a) it has worked out so far--my older children have had a wonderful five months (so far) of uninterrupted time with their father; b) this new baby is going to have a parent there all of the time. Possibly until school age!--although I know that's looking waaaaaayyyyy down the road, even for an obsessive advanced planner like me.
Couldn't agree more with you all that the current options for mothers/parents in the US are absolutely appalling. I've been known to work up quite a ranty head of steam about it--it's truly uncivilized. I do not know how you dual citizens don't throw up your hands and shout, "That's it, I'm moving back!" I am constantly threatening a move to Canada, although I doubt I'd be particularly employable there!
dreamingtree, I won't paint myself as an FMLA expert, but I do know that it extends to twelve weeks, and am fairly certain that it cannot be combined with short-term disability, for example, to give you eighteen weeks of leave--whether paid or unpaid (and no matter the source of that income--leave payout, disability benefit, or other), your employer is only legally obligated to let you have twelve weeks off. So, for example, if you have been a loyal XYZ employee for ten years and have forty weeks of leave on the books, they don't have to let you take any more than 12 of those in a year for a "qualifying condition" such as, oh, a tiny baby at home. Key words here being don't have to
; many employers are not outright evil and will allow you to take more time, but they aren't actually legally required to under United States federal law, which... Yeah, here comes the rant again. Anyhow, I'm sure momma2finn can walk you through the specifics better than I can.