Sunday, April 22, 2012

What I Did During My Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is not a vacation.

At least that is the message I get from employer. We do not have a maternity leave policy for faculty. We have optional "guidelines." The idea is that in lieu of teaching, the new mother would do an equivalent time-consuming activity. Examples I was given included taking on the role of ABET coordinator, planning a major symposium, chairing a university wide committee. You can see how ridiculous these guidelines can be. Instead of recovering from child birth, the new mom gets to hop right into Service! I am an officer in a national professional organization and a co-chair on a university wide committee that happens to be all women. I successfully advocated for those activities to replace my teaching. Then, I told my professional organization that I wouldn't do any service because I was on maternity leave. The other chairs on my committee gave me the time off. So I got a "real" maternity leave, but I had to manipulate the system. Even then, I had to consume all of my sick leave and half of my vacation to stay at home during this time to maintain my salary.

After having the baby, I went back to work half time 10 days after he was born. My in-laws stayed until daycare started, so the baby was being cared for quite well by family. Gradually, I came in for a few hours more, until I was full time in April. During maternity leave, I submitted two papers and I wrote no grants. My mind wasn't ready for grant writing because of the sleep-deprivation. I caught up on many little things and met with my students once in a while. Mostly, I just went in for coffee breaks with my girl-friends. I played a lot of Words with Friends, discovered Big Fish Games, and watched three seasons of Angel. Going back to work and also taking the time to relax staved off post-partum depression. I also took a lot of baths! I discovered Lush, and have been using bath bombs and bubble bars. It really helps my achy joints. I do miss my maternity leave, but I'm thrilled to being back to Prof. JP.


Anonymous said...

I was also in put in charge of ABET in exchange for my maternity leave. What the f***? Congrats on your baby, now please write a 300-page self-study where you explain away all the inadequacies of our undergraduate program and your colleagues. Where do they get these ideas? And why do they all have the same ideas? Is there some secret session at our professional conference entitled, "Department Heads Forum: Ideas, Tips, and Tricks To Keep Those women Down"?

On a happier note -- so glad that you are back, and good to hear that you are managing everything. Congratulations on the baby!

nicoleandmaggie said...

Oh gee... that's one of my options for "medical leave" as a replacement for teaching next semester. Perhaps I will push against that idea. Thanks for the warning!

Baby #1 I didn't get a teaching reduction but I was supposed to have no service commitments. They put me on committees anyway (emergency! we can't find anyone else to be on admissions! etc.).

Tinkering Theorist said...

I don't understand. At first it sounded like you were jumping through these hoops to get paid (rather than unpaid) leave, but then if you had to take vacation and sick days, the extra work wasn't even paid leave? So why did you have to work at all--what happened to FMLA? Also, if you were too sick to work you should get medical leave time too (beyond just sick days).

Glad that you are recovered now, though!

Janus Professor said...

@Tinkering Theorist

Yes, it still confuses me. No one in administration knows what to do with a pregnant lady so they just make us do everything.