Phew, that’s a lot of change! If reading that gave you whiplash, imagine how I felt.
So why did I do it?
I have always been a busy body (ALWAYS). My mom now jokes that my son is a busy body because I was one my entire life, still am. As a busy body I pretty much always held down 2 jobs. Even when I cheered in college (which is a full-time job in itself) I held down a second job as a waitress or a dog walker. I love to have my hands in multiple things as once and I love / feel the need to be busy!
Because of this, when people would joke to me about “going on maternity leave and not returning” I was kind of offended. Like “don’t define my future worth as ‘just a mom’, I love to work, please see that”.
Oh how the tides can turn.
When I had my son I worked for a medical fitness facility, which means I only had access to the same maternity leave as anyone else within the hospital system. 12 weeks of leave using FMLA, or 6 weeks using short-term disability. Given that I was so new to my position, I was not even eligible for the 12 weeks so I had to use 6 weeks of short-term disability. and let me tell you….
6 weeks of maternity leave is not enough.
Not even close. And get this, my husband had 9 weeks. THREE MORE WEEKS THAN I DID as the birthing mother. Maternity leave policies in the U.S. or lack thereof, are a laughing point. A painful laughing point. It’s pathetic. But since we needed the money and the job security, I begrudgingly went back to work. It was awful and I fell quickly into a constant state of worry, not wanting to be at work, constant brain fog, and just mother’s guilt.
I was slipping into Postpartum Anxiety and didn’t know it.
Things got so bad that there were a good few weeks that I would cry almost nightly. The challenges that come with being a brand-spanking new first time mom, who failed at breastfeeding, and then a nationwide formula shortage happened, were too many challenges to pile on top of being a full-time employee (at a new facility that was still gaining it’s footing might I add). The support was in there in part, but the challenges were too great.
It took us 4 months of figuring out the next step, my husband getting a new job, and my dad graciously bringing me on to run the books of his business for us to finally be in a position to become a stay at home mom. And that’s what we did.
At exactly 6 months postpartum I had my first day with my son as a stay-at-home mom.
One additional piece of me being able to stay home was the fact that I still coached 2-4 exercise classes per week, and we kept our son in daycare on those days, because we saw benefit of the social interaction there. I hit my groove as a stay-at-home mom, and the anxiety medicine that I had been prescribed at 5 months postpartum was starting to kick in. I ENJOYED MYSELF and felt like I was where I needed to be.
During this time I was able to create and launch a program for moms on their postpartum fitness journey, adding to my feeling of being worthy as well as adding a few dollars to our bottom line.
Things were GREAT, so why did I go back to work?
My boss at one of the places I taught classes at jokingly stated that “we already have the perfect person in house for the manager position, I don’t know why we’re even looking” and looked straight at me. To which I replied “haha that’s funny but don’t even think about it!”
But I ended up interviewing for that job and I started as the full-time facility manager at ISI Elite Training at 15 months postpartum. That’s a QUICK TURN AROUND.
I firmly believe that if I was given a longer maternity leave, I would have never left the workplace.
Going back to work at 6 weeks meant that I didn’t have enough time to learn how to be a mother, to become confident in my abilities not only as a mother, but as a working mom. When I went back to work I was still a little anti-social, which began during pregnancy because hormones do WEIRD THINGS to you.
If I was given a longer time to stay home and work through my postpartum anxiety without added anxiety of going to work, or to learn how we thrive as a new family, or to gain my footing as a mother, to re-find myself as a friend. If I was given that time, I wouldn’t have had to leave the workplace in order to find the answers to all of those things.
A company that could and would only give me the bare minimum of leave lost, in my opinion, a valuable employee because they cannot figure out their maternity leave policies. Y’all, I worked for a HOSPITAL SYSTEM! I went head first into Postpartum Anxiety and still had to work. Can you imagine what that could be like for the doctors and nurses returning so soon? What if they’re struggling silently with the same struggles, and what if you’re their patient. Things can slip when someone is so deep underwater that they can’t think or breathe clearly.
I left and went back to work because of my maternity leave.
My agonizingly short maternity leave.
Everything happens for a reason though, and the job I am in now not only pays me more than the job I left, but it fulfills me more and I have so so much more support. The struggles I went through have been worth it in the end because now I love my job, I feel confident in the daycare providers ability to care for my son, and I have been able to launch a program to help other women during these trying times. It was worth it in the end, but it was questionable in the struggles of it.
for more on my journey as a working mom and a solo entrepreneur helping women, follow me on Instagram!