I am going to bed at 6pm.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

It's just one of those days.

I work for a national agency that does not have "maternity leave" per se, in that there is no specific paid time off- whatever leave we take after having a baby has to either be leave we have saved or leave without pay.

Several months ago (I just went back to look for my post on it, and I am flabbergasted that I never wrote an in-law installment on this occurrence), my MIL lectured me on what I was thinking for maternity leave, saying that I could only use 6 weeks of my sick time for time off after the baby. Any extra time had to be vacation time. This assinine policy had never even crossed my mind, and I was so anxious after her lecture that I could barely sleep that night.

Since I have been blessed with good health, of course I have 5 times as much sick time saved as I do vacation time. But I remembered that my boss took quite a while off after her baby, so I just brushed my MIL's tirade off as antiquated policy. My FIL (they both work for the same agency) seemed to agree that MIL had no idea what she was talking about, since now they allow fathers to take up to 12 weeks of time off. So I felt much better.

A few weeks ago, I came up with a plan based on my current available leave balances. This plan included me being totally off for a month, working one day every two weeks for two months, working part time in January, and coming back full time in February. I know that alot of women get considerably less (just the 6 weeks), but I have been dreaming of the day when the sick leave balance takes a major hit because of a baby, and there were alot of times when I thought that day would never get here. What else was I saving sick time for, anyway?

This morning, I had a teleconference with my boss about my maternity leave plans. I emailed her a copy of my master plan (above), and she said it looked fine, and that only 6 weeks of the total hours I was planning on taking off could be categorized as sick time.

Well, then my plan wasn't fine, because in my master plan, the bulk of the hours were going to be sick time hours!! How is that fine?!

Maybe it is totally superficial for me to feel this way, but I feel like my whole happy maternity leave plan just got knocked off its axis, and this has completely ruined my day. Now, in order for me to not go back full time until January, I'll have to work a morning every two weeks in October, one day a week end of October-beginning of December, and part time in December. Maybe I am blowing this out of proportion, but I was so excited about not working and being able to leisurely get ready for Christmas with our new baby without having to worry about regular working!!! Now it's all just disappeared before my eyes.

I am SO frustrated with this policy. I have twice as much sick time as I am being allowed to use right now. What the hell am I supposed to use sick time on, if I can't use it while I'm trying to take care of a newborn!!? My boss says that kids are always sick, and I will be surprised how much sick time I use even after I'm back to "full time", but I don't remember me (or any of my sibs) "always being sick" when we were little.

At this rate, I'm going to retire with eight thousand hours of sick time. I don't think they should be able to tell me I can't use time I have saved up for when I will need time off.


I was pretty surprised at how the meeting went- she is usually very easy-going and will often times let rules be bent, but she made no apologies for this policy. She said I could ask my midwife for a note saying that I needed more "sick time" off after the baby, but what are we, in third-freakin'-grade!??!!? I know it's not her fault, but I am just surprised that she wasn't more apologetic, and that kind of bummed me out even more.

THEN I had another meeting with her and another supervisor about an actual case I'm working on, and they decided they didn't quite agree with my position, and would it be possible to do some extra work on the case on the side before we figure out what we're going to do with it?

Oh, sure, that will be just peachy.

THEN, the cleaning people called while I was on the phone with the second meeting, and left a message which didn't show up until 15 minutes after they were supposed to be here for our cleaning estimate. What did it say? They were calling to confirm our estimate appointment. Since I didn't call them back before the estimate time, they never showed up!


So I called them back and rescheduled for 3pm this afternoon, when they actually did show up, but in between the second meeting and 3pm, of course I was grossly unproductive because I was just steaming over this whole leave issue. (The cleaning estimate is higher than Mr. A thought it would be, but at this point, I feel like throwing in the towel on everything. It's only money, right?)

THEN, I am sitting here trying to resume work like I was supposed to be doing all day, and my midwife's number shows up on my phone. I thought, Oh my Lord, if my urine sample was bonkers and they are just calling now to tell me so on today of all days, I am seriously going to lose it.

Luckily, she was just calling to check to see if I'd developed any other clinical symptoms of high blood pressure/pre-eclampsia (which I thought was really sweet of her to call and check), and that my urine jug's protein was within the normal ranges. If my blood pressure is still high on Monday, though, she will probably want to re-run the 24-hr catch. Oh great fun that will be! She did say, though, that she would write me a note that I need to reduce my work hours until the baby is born, which since they will be before I have the baby, do not affect the 6 week limit after she is here, so maybe that will give me some satisfaction as far as taking sick leave to "care" for our little one. So that will be nice. Except she said she wants me to reduce the work hours so I can stay off my feet. And I'm envisioning making tons of freezer meals in my afternoons off...

And I am sure that as worked up as I am about the whole leave fiasco, my blood pressure was not exactly laying low today. Totally sucks.


eggsandsperm.com said...

Ugh, I can't believe the maternity leave laws in the US--it's barbaric. I really feel for you ladies having to worry about this at all. You should be allowed to just focus on your baby and not worry. Someone needs to start a revolution over there.

Traci said...

I think the 6 weeks is pretty standard policy unless you have a c-section then your doctor will write you off for 8 weeks.

I was in the same situation as you where I had a ton of sick time but I could only use 6 weeks of it. The FMLA laws allows you 12 weeks but not necessarily paid. I think it's ridiculous for people to go back to work full time after only 6 weeks. I ended up taking 4 months but only got paid for 6 weeks but it was worth it.

I keep joking with my husband that we're moving to Canada before we have the next baby.

lowfatlady said...

Ugh, I'm sorry. I know how it is. I had to go on limited work because of high blood pressure. I still worked a little from home, but they took it out of my maternity leave. My leave is my paid time off (we don't get separate sick leave it's all combined) and my disability time together. Total I am allowed to take 12 weeks off 12 weeks no more than that period. So I was able to take some paid, the rest unpaid and once the twelve weeks are up time to go back. Stinks that I had to use some of my time before he even got here, but *shrugs* Sorry for the whole rant, but just wanted to let you know I know what you mean.

RMCarter said...

My hubby has over 400 hours of sick time built up (he *never* gets sick!), but is only allowed to use 48 hours of it to stay home with the baby and I. It’s a rotten policy. I told him he needs to start calling in sick “just because” and use that time, since it’s no good for anything else!

Sorry it's been such a hard day!

One Who Understands said...

Having a perfect idea about the way we think things should go, and then having it blown out the water is so hard! I'm really sorry your boss wasn't more agreeable. I say have your mid-wife write the note for 8 weeks off. Who in the world is ready to go back to work after pushing a baby out of their lady parts in 6 weeks?!?! You need the time. Totally lame they won't let you use all you have. It's like they are punishing you for good behavior. I'm sure you will figure it out. Hope tomorrow is a better day!

the misfit said...

If you have a C-section, it's longer than six weeks. And with any other complications, also longer. (AFAIK.) Also - your boss may be right about the sick kids thing. I don't know whether you're putting the baby in day care, but kids appear to get sick CONSTANTLY from being in day care. And, while we were not particularly sick kids either, we probably had the sniffles or a cough a lot of the time. And a lot of day cares will not accept a kid who has any cold symptoms at all - so a parent suddenly has to take time off work. One of my coworkers maxed her six weeks and annual leave as well, and had to go into arrears for sick leave in her child's first year of life because her little girl would be "too sick" to go to day care.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I agree with the above poster. My friend is super healthy as is her husband, but all babies get sick when they are around other babies. And day cares have lots of rules. For examples:
- no babies in day care within 24 hours of a fever
- babies with diarrhea must go home
- baby was crying constantly, figured baby must be sick, asked them to come bring baby home
- pink eye- must pick up baby and bring them home

Hardly serious things, but regular occurrences with infants.

My friend's baby is now 10 months old and has had to use about 15 sick days for the baby; appointments, ear aches, colic, any of this stuff can interfere with day care, particularly in year one. All this to say- you might need time more than you are thinking.

The good news is all of those sicknesses build up our immunity for baby!

But... all that aside, the rules in our country do SUCK! 6 weeks is just not enough and it's silly you couldn't use your time. You have every right to vent!