As someone who has always tried to follow a path in life and prides herself on staying three steps ahead, when I do something out of my comfort zone, my heart pounds and my anxiety boils. So, of course, this means, parenthood has been a constant struggle of not being able to control life. The positive thing about it all, though, is that I’m learning to live outside of the path I thought I needed to stay on. And all of this brings me to yesterday and what it represents. [Busy working mom/mom to be and need advice? Jump to “Things to keep in mind for accepting a job offer while pregnant.”]
Monday will mark 20 weeks into this pregnancy – halfway there! During my first pregnancy, I meticulously planned every aspect of our lives in order to feel in control. I strategically saved money to account for maternity leave AKA unpaid leave. I alerted my supervisor and coworkers early and created a plan for my leave, in case it started earlier than expected. I closed out all of my projects in plenty of time. And I stopped traveling once I entered into the third trimester. (Of course, nothing about Abby’s delivery went to plan, but that’s an entirely different story.)
When the test rang positive this time, I started planning out my time and money with even more diligence. I had a better idea of the aftermath of delivery and having a newborn. I worked out our budget. I put extra into savings to account for unpaid leave (and was excited to learn that New York State would pay part of my leave this time around). And I planned for the paid 18-20 weeks of leave I was entitled to based on my employer’s policy. Everything was going to happen according to plan once again. And then, something came along to shift everything and interrupt my perfectly laid out plan – an incredible job offer. And after debating it in my head and with John for what felt like years, I decided to jump at the chance.
That’s right – the planner, the one who stays on the path to ensure she’s always three steps ahead left the comfort of her job in the middle of a pregnancy to start a brand new one.
So what does leaving my job and accepting a new job actually mean?
What am I losing?
It means that I’m giving up job protection under the Family Medical Leave Act (and putting my faith in my new employer). I will no longer be eligible for paid New York State leave (which was recently passed). And those 18-20 weeks home with my baby boy have now vanished.
But what am I getting?
The chance at my dream job. The chance to try something that scares, challenges, and excites me all at once. I’m terrified and thrilled all at the same time.
And the decision to accept was not an easy one for me. Even after putting in my notice, I went back and forth in my mind if it was the right decision for my family and the baby boy growing inside of me. My husband, the optimist, told me I should stop worrying about all of this as he believes I’m doing the right thing. I’m hoping that positive attitude rubs off on me, especially as I near closer to the end of this pregnancy and the thoughts of spending a limited amount of time home fill my mind.
Questions and thoughts that plague my mind
- Will he suffer entering daycare earlier than his sister?
- Will he resent me in the future if he finds out that I waited 20 weeks before leaving her but far less with him?
- Am I bad mom for changing our structure for my own career?
It’s hard to put that type of pressure on yourself. I’m not sure if it’s my own anxiety fueling it or society telling me that as the mom, you worry about the family and nothing more because me choosing to take on an entirely new job is (mostly) for me. Of course there are perks that my family will benefit from but it is my career, not their career, so you question it, every step of the way. I had someone ask me why I didn’t just stick around at my current job and then stop working afterwards. How does one explain the importance of their career but also not make her family sound like the second string? It’s a fine balance, even today, to figure out how to be a mom and have a career, but appear to be successful in both (even if you’re struggling every day).
The reason I was able to take the leap
Every step of the way, when attempting to figure out if choosing the new job was the right decision, I thought of my family. I thought of my baby boy growing inside of me, of his needs during the rest of the pregnancy and following, of the weeks after his birth and the new life we will have with two children. My family (and my new employer’s positive attitude towards this pregnancy) was a huge factor when I finally said yes. So yesterday, as I drove away from my office for the last time, I smiled at the fact that I actually did it. I took a huge risk, something I honestly never thought I would, and right before I turned on the ignition, I smiled at my growing belly and thanked my baby boy for giving me the strength to do it.
You may not be entitled to job protection
The Family Medical Leave Act (US) entitles you to job protection after the birth of a child, however, there are some stipulations to this as well. For example, you are only eligible if you have been at your employer for at least 12 months. Despite the fact that the last month of pregnancy feels like a year, you are only pregnant for about 40 weeks. For more information on the Family Medical Leave Act, visit the US Department of Labor. Please note that after you have a baby, you will not want to / probably wont be able to go back to work just a few days later. You will need time to heal and bond with your baby. In addition, most daycares will not accept a child who is under 6 weeks old.
You may be entitled to some leave
Before accepting a job, look through the benefits policy, or speak with Human Resources. In my case, I’m entitled to Short Term Disability from day one. Depending on your policy, this can entitle you to 6-8 weeks depending on your delivery. In most cases, this is also paid (either through the employer or your state). Look into all of this before accepting any offer as you will need time after you give birth.
You have many doctor appointments while pregnant
In my case, I go to the doctor every four weeks until I’m 28 weeks along, then it will be every two weeks until I’m 36 weeks, and then every week until I deliver. In many cases, these appointments happen during typical working hours. You will need to be prepared to take unpaid days off, or work something out with your new employer to attend doctor appointments.
Your insurance coverage may change
If you will be using your own insurance policy (and not on your partner/spouse’s policy) look into everything about what is covered and what is not covered, and how long it will take for it to go into affect. You never know what may happen during your pregnancy so having a lapse in coverage may be a determent to accepting a job. In addition, check with your doctor to ensure they accept this new insurance carrier. If you will need to change doctors or practices, it is important to know that in advance of accepting an offer.
If the new job will make you happier, then it may be the best decision for your family
For me, this was a difficult thing to keep in mind. There were many reasons to stay at my previous job, but the biggest motivator to leave was the regret that I might feel for not taking an opportunity that could make me happier. While you grow a child, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Honestly, your mental health is ALWAYS just as important as your physical health (not just during pregnancy). So, if your new job will make you happier, give you less stress, and overall improve you, then it is probably the best decision. If, for some reason, the new job will bring you more worry, more stress, and more anxiety, then perhaps it isn’t the best path. Ultimately though, you need to figure out what is best for you and your family.
Are you thinking of making a switch while pregnant? What are your biggest fears? Did you make a switch while pregnant? Tell me how you survived. I will take any advice I can get.