A few more notes/observations about maternity leave:
- I still need to figure out if I (and our kids) can stay on the state health insurance plan, even if we have to pay the full cost out of pocket. Health insurance adds an extra layer of complication to taking off time or staying home altogether, because you both aren't making money and have to pay for health insurance--ah, for a socialist health system!
- A LOT of it has to do with your relationship with your supervisor(s). I have a good relationship with mine and I think they like my work, so I feel like they were more willing to make my case to the HR department.
- In the public sector, at least, even supportive supervisors have to work within the framework of policy. I looked up information on extended leave without pay before I asked.
- Family and Medical Leave has (in my opinion) some issues beyond lasting only 12 weeks. You have to get a doctor to sign off on your time--even though the "caring for a newborn child" provision of family and medical leave has nothing to do with a medical issue! I don't want to take time off to "recover" from giving birth (yes, that is necessary, but for a normal birth, 2-4 weeks would be plenty for that). I want to take time off to spend time with a new human being in my life!
- There's something to "ask and you shall receive." Maybe not always. But when I dutifully followed "What to Expect's" guidelines and met with an HR rep to "find out my options" last fall, the option of taking 6 months off was definitely not presented. My husband and I figured it couldn't hurt to ask--the worst they could say was no.
- It probably doesn't hurt that I work a shift that (most) people aren't dying to work. In some ways, this complicated things--the library had to present how they were going to cover those hours--but, on the other hand, my continued interest in working this shift probably contributed to my value as an employee.