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Week 31

Aug19

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Weekly Pregnancy Calendar on Alphamom.comYour Baby:

  • Blah blah blah 3.3 pounds, bag of oranges, sock full of nickels, etc.
  • Enjoys yawning, sucking his or her thumb, kicking mom in the diaphragm.
  • Turn-offs include: getting the hiccups, really loud noises and you trying to do all that boring “sleeping” at night.

You:

  • Can totally round down your answer to “two months” when people ask you how much longer you have to go. DO NOT focus on the crazy week-to-month-ratio math at this point in pregnancy, particularly when there are breakable, smashy objects within reach.
  • May be weirdly and inexplicably congested all the time. I, for one, appear to be allergic to my pillow. This is also prime time for pregnancy colds, as the toll on your body and immune system is getting higher by the week. Take it easy, slow down, take your vitamins and try try try to get enough sleep.
  • Can now play everybody’s favorite game, Guess The Body Part That’s Sticking Out Next To My Belly Button! Elbow or heel? Head or butt? Did I seriously just maybe feel my baby’s BIG TOE?

Preparing for Maternity Leave
So. Maternity leave. That.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re working and pregnant and working while pregnant, it’s best NOT to make any promises to your boss about your leave until AFTER you’ve had a sit-down with Human Resources.

I was stupidly, colossally naive about my company’s leave policies — I knew we got “12 weeks” but I thought I would actually GET PAID for those 12 weeks. I didn’t realize that those 12 weeks really only included a few weeks of short-term disability (which pays out a percentage of your earnings, and the length depends on whether you have a vaginal or cesarean delivery) and any of my OWN vacation/sick/personal time I had on hand (barely two weeks, provided I worked up until the day I gave birth). Combining the STD and the vacation time resulted in about eight weeks of full or partial pay. I was certainly free to stay home the full 12 weeks without fear of losing my job, but I was looking at four solid weeks of zero pay. I had to go back to my boss and temper my original plan of 12 weeks of “don’t even THINK of bothering me until I am physically back at the office” with a not-very-subtle plea for some part-time hourly work to get us over that unpaid hump.

So. If you haven’t already, pick up the phone and call your HR person right this second and schedule a face-to-face meeting about EXACTLY what leave options and benefits your company offers. THEN go home and map out a workable plan with your partner (can we afford a few weeks without pay? should we start full-time/part-time childcare sooner? what’s more important — that last babymoon weekend in Vegas or having those vacation days post-baby? what kind of leave can YOU take, and should you take it all at once or spread it out?). THEN go to your boss and tell him or her about your plans and requests and what-have-you.

If you’re unsure about your plans AFTER your maternity leave is up, it’s generally best to say you plan to return full-time until you make up your mind. If you know you’d like to return part-time, then by all means step up and ask. (I think a lot of companies tend to assume they’ll lose mothers after maternity leave and are oftentimes thrilled to hear that they can prevent you from quitting completely.) (And other companies are complete douchecanoes. Hopefully you know which kind you work for and can plan your approach accordingly.)

But if you aren’t sure either way — full-time, part-time, quittin’-time — leave the door open for yourself. You may be shocked by your own reaction to motherhood and find that what you PLANNED isn’t actually what you WANT anymore. (If you told me I was going to want ANYTHING other than going back to work full-time before Noah was born I would have said that you were one goddamn crazy honky cat. And look at me now! Wait, don’t. I haven’t showered yet.)

And on that smelly note, there’s obviously more to maternity leave than HR logistics. Some women — okay, probably most women, deep down — are a little terrified of that looooong stretch of downtime. Just you and a squalling, helpless infant. Days of poop and thunder. Watching your partner get to shower and put on nice clothes and go interact with adult human beings all day while you…God, what WILL you do?

You’re going to go buy The Rookie Mom’s Handbook, for one thing. I didn’t have any new or newish mom friends during my maternity leave, and it showed. I rarely left the house, I couldn’t make and keep lunch plans to save my life, I had multiple days that ended in tears because I just felt so scattered and useless and unaccomplished.

(My husband soon learned to never, EVER ask me “So what did you do today?” because the question would send me into defensive, woeful hysterics. “I KEPT YOUR SON ALIVE, THAT’S WHAT I DID!” I’d wail, when really, he was just wondering if I tried that new coffee drink at Starbucks.)

Anyway. I wish I’d had friends like Heather and Whitney (the authors of <said book, this book, the Rookie Mom’s Handbook) to leave little Post-Its around with ideas for filling your days during the first couple months, or even just FEELING like you’ve filled your day. (My favorite activity from the Month One chapter: Write a “did do” list instead of a “to do” list. I’m totally a list person AND the sort who likes to add things I’ve already done just to cross them off and feel accomplished, and yet it never occurred to me to do that during my maternity leave.)

Now I’m just waiting for the sequel — The Second Time Around Mom Who Still Doesn’t Know What She’s Doing And Is Mostly Hoping She’ll Remember To Brush Her Teeth Most Days’ Handbook.

Oh Yeah, THIS:
Heartburn! Terrible, hideous, words-cannot-describe-it heartburn. There really is nothing quite like the heartburn one gets when one’s torso is simply too crowded to contain both a stomach and a stomach with food in it.

New This Time Around:
That said, I don’t think I ever had heartburn bad enough last time that I thought I was dying and should consider driving to the hospital, nor did my husband ever attempt to TIME MY WAVES OF HEARTBURN because he said I was acting exactly like I did when I was in labor.

Related Maternity Leave article:
Returning to Work: How to Survive & How to Cut Yourself Some Slack Already

Finished with the Pregnancy Calendar and want more? Visit Amalah’s postpartum weekly column, Bounce Back. Bounce Back is about the postpartum experience — the good, the bad and the gory.

Amazon Mom

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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23 Responses to “Week 31”

  1. Britt Aug 19 at 11:42 pm Reply Reply

    12 weeks!
    Up here in chillyville (Canada). Everyone gets one year paid maternity leave. 55% of your pay. More if you are low income. Plus many companies top up that amount. Plus there are other benefits due to hospitalization, special equipment, etc, etc.
    I don’t have kids, but my co-workers have tons.

    • Lana Sep 15 at 11:23 pm Reply Reply

      As a fellow Canuk I was equally horrified. 12 weeks?! I don’t think I could possibly hand over my newborn at 12 weeks old. My 52 weeks is about to start in 6 weeks and I’m not sure I’m going to be ready to go back then!

    • Sarah Aug 15 at 1:15 pm Reply Reply

      Canadians are lucky. I live in Canada now but am from the Netherlands where maternity leave is around 14 – 18 weeks I think normally. Which is not that much if you think of it. The dad gets two days of paid maternity leave in Holland.

      Did you know Sweden has 18 months of maternity leave (240 days for the dad and 240 days for the mom)? With twins (I have them!) you can add 180 days. At least, that’s what I’m told about Sweden.. 

    • Melinda Oct 29 at 11:31 am Reply Reply

      Unfortunately, six weeks is pretty normal in America, if you’re lucky enough to get that. Anyone who gets any kind maternity leave probably has a pretty nice job (by that I mean some kind of full-time office job with benefits). 

      Low income? Hourly worker? Etc? You’re kind of out of luck. 

      A lot of dads don’t get any leave. My partner, luckily, is getting 10 days, including whatever time I’m in the hospital delivering. 

      I won’t be able to return to work after I have my baby because I don’t make enough to even cover childcare. I don’t mind the opportunity to stay home with her, but we could use the money!

  2. Katie Aug 20 at 1:14 am Reply Reply

    Reading your comment, Britt, totally made me want to move up to Canada when I eventually have kids!
    Amalah, props for telling us some horrible sounding things (nobody ever talks about bad pregnancy things off the internet) and making them sound funny and making me want to read more! Thanks :)

  3. cagey Aug 20 at 11:37 am Reply Reply

    I am almost finished reading the Rookie Moms book and would like to go ahead and 2nd the “buy it NOW” vote. I wish I would have had such a book to help me through my days in the beginning.

  4. Starbuck Aug 20 at 4:24 pm Reply Reply

    I am the same way with lists. I add things just to cross them off and feel “more” accomplishment for my day.
    I had bad heartburn, too. I always drank milk. Sometimes it helped, sometimes not. But I always figured it was good for us both so I might as well give it a shot.

  5. Paranoid Aug 21 at 4:40 pm Reply Reply

    If I could add a tip for first-timers: If your hospital/birth center/whatever offers a class for new parents, SIGN UP! You may end up spending an hour a week for a while listening to lectures on such important topics as infant massage and why you need to buy every piece of babyproofing gear known to man, but sitting there with you will be a bunch of other new moms. And these moms may well end up being your new best friends.
    Honestly, I don’t know if I’d have made it through those first several months without my playgroup (we all met at the hospital class, then just kept getting together once it ended). Being a new mom can be isolating and depressing, but it is infinitely less so if you know that you’ll be getting out of the house at least once a week and seeing people in your same situation. After a while, you’ll find that you really like certain of the people in the group, and these become your kids’ first playdates and the people who keep you from dying of boredom at the park.

  6. Kirsty Aug 22 at 1:28 pm Reply Reply

    AH! Where was that book when I had my first? It looks awesome. Truly one of the hardest things about having my son (and what I was completely unprepared for) was feeling so lonely & lost stuck at home by myself. I’m expecting my 2nd, so please, be honest Amalah, is it worth getting the book for #2? I have a feeling my son will make getting out of the house a no-brainer and I won’t have that same sense of “JESUS H. CHRIST what do I do with this kid for the next 12 hours?” but then again, anything that motivates me to, like, practice hygiene is prolly something worth looking into.

  7. Melissa Aug 25 at 2:56 pm Reply Reply

    I’m sure the book is great and all, but who’s idea was it to put a pic of Mom riding a bike on the cover? “New Mom Idea #1 – Rip out your stitches!”

  8. lornadoone1972 Dec 10 at 4:28 pm Reply Reply

    For acid indigestion – for anyone coming along and still reading this later like me – my naturopath recommended drinking some original flavored Almond Milk… and it helps – when you feel acidy/queasy – a small glass sipped slowing helps to settle things – for awhile at least!

    • Rebecca Feb 10 at 4:28 pm Reply Reply

      I’ll have to try the Almond Milk – thanks for the tip. I was also going to suggest eating an apple, or four, a day. I think the fiber helps with the indigestion/acid upset/heartburn. Worked great for me in 1st pregnancy/is working for me again his time ’round. Also, avoid high fat/acid-producing food for dinner/later in the day.

  9. RookieMom Heather Jan 15 at 11:45 pm Reply Reply

    Melissa, as the co-author of the book, I can say it was not my idea to have the mama riding a bike on the cover.
    I do ride around a lot with my one year old but not so much in the fresh and raw part of the rookie year. Ouch.

  10. Margie S. Feb 03 at 10:17 am Reply Reply

    Love reading this every week! I’m so glad it’s still up. I got the Rookie Mom’s Handbook for Christmas, and now I’m even more excited to have it now that I see it’s been so great for others. I’m also loving the what-body-part-is-that?? game, and frequently make my husband and good friends play it with me. Thanks for doing these weekly updates, Amalah!

  11. Mel Apr 14 at 11:23 am Reply Reply

    Oy. My 12 weeks are NOT paid at ALL. At previous company they were fully paid. This pisses me off.

  12. Dancinfairy May 16 at 3:31 am Reply Reply

    We are lucky here in the UK. We can have up to 12 months off, 4 weeks at 90% of our usual pay and 36 weeks ok statutory pay (less but still money) Then the final 12 weeks can be taken unpaid if you wish.
    My employer is very good and will actually pay my usual wages for 4 months then I get the usual benefits. I had no idea things were so different in the US and I am feeling very lucky right now.

  13. jamorningstar Aug 17 at 12:44 pm Reply Reply

    SO thankful to be canadian. 12 months off is a RIGHT for a fulltime employed woman. i have recently discovered that americans are being misled about the state of canadian helathcare, so let me set the record straight – rich or poor, we have it GOOD :)

  14. Jen Aug 07 at 7:41 pm Reply Reply

    In Australia, I get 6 months full pay or 12 months at 1/2 pay. I could then extend my leave for another 12 months at no pay. I feel really lucky to get so much leave. My work will also allow me to go back part-time. I think the Austrailian system has it right! 

  15. Jessica Aug 23 at 1:08 pm Reply Reply

    I just don’t call it maternity leave. I don’t get maternity leave. I have the option of taking some stored sick leave and my annual leave that I’ve earned since I started work – there are perks to never having taken a vacation or a real sick day in 8 years! I have a good bank of leave saved up.
    Now, the trick is to get your supervisors to actually TALK to you about your leave plans. They look at me like they hope “it goes away”. Great way to support people.

  16. K Jan 19 at 9:32 pm Reply Reply

    I’m reading this waaaay after it was written so this comment is for anyone reading after me. I’m also Canadian but self employed so I get ZERO mat leave paid, just whatever I’ve saved for which isn’t much – 10 weeks before I go back part time. It ain’t all sunshine and puppy dogs up here in the Great White North. 

    I do love this blog tho, can’t wait to check it every week! 

  17. Ellyn Mar 10 at 3:14 pm Reply Reply

    The state of American maternity support is, well, no-existent.

    I work for a small business – sole employee. My employers, after 6.5 years, owe me nothing per state and federal law. I have no job security. I have no sick pay, vacation leave, or any legal requirement to hold my job for any amount of time. I have nice employers, but I really don’t know what they would do if, when I came back, I needed more flexibility, which I most certainly will. And that flexibility doesn’t exist when you are the one hourly employee and they need that employee in the office every day. My husband is a teacher, we’re due in May, and we just put on our big-kid pants, figured out how to make it work, and we’re taking 3 months off together this summer. At some point, I will decide what I’d like to do – come back part time? (Luckily, my employers are on board about hiring another part time person) Find a new job closer to home? In any case, I will have to work. (My husband is a teacher… white collar educated, blue collar compensated) I feel like we’re lucky to be able to make a little room for our new family. But do I wish my country cared enough to set some standards? Hell yes!

  18. jingelbells Jul 05 at 4:00 am Reply Reply

    Here in the Phils.as a teacher we could have 60 days of mat leave paid. But the leave starts on the day you give birth so some teachers are still in the classroom during their labor. With some other private companies i think they could have a longer leave if they are cs.

    Is the book Rookie Mom available in pdf or epub versi0n? I havent get to see it around here in our country but eill still try to scour bookstores for it. :)

    P.s.

    Amy i know this is really a no brainer question but still just to clarify.. im currently 30 wks now but it says here im 8 mos pregnant…shouldnt i be only 7.5 mos. Preggy? I’m just confuse. Edd is sept 12, 2014…

    Thanks ^^

  19. Kim van Vuuren Sep 03 at 10:04 am Reply Reply

    Thank you for making me laugh…when all I want to do is cry…your week by week pregnancy calendar makes me see the hilarious, ridiculous side of pregnancy without taking myself too seriously! 
    I. Love. It!

    All the way from South Africa!

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