WBEZ | maternity leave http://www.wbez.org/tags/maternity-leave Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Maternity leave: Finding your new reality http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/maternity-leave-finding-your-new-reality-103688 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8107076002_69951db0aa.jpg" style="height: 266px; width: 400px; float: left; " title="Soaking it up (Claire Zulkey)" /></div><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.36721461067155736">First, let&#39;s get something out of the way: the phrase &ldquo;having it all&rdquo; needs to be terminated, wiped off the planet or made illegal. It&rsquo;s pure gobbledeygook nonsense, like &ldquo;losing weight and eating everything you want.&rdquo; Unless you actively dislike your child or you absolutely have no professional or creative ambitions beyond raising a child, it&rsquo;s simply impossible for a woman (or man) to &quot;have it all.&quot; Taking care of a kid means time away from other things and vice versa.</span><br /><br />Right after I had the baby I congratulated my husband and myself on our equal partnership. He was right there alongside me feeding the baby, changing him, going to the doctor&rsquo;s, everything. None of this too-good-for-a-poopy-diaper, you-get-up-instead-of-me stuff. It was great. I felt bad for women who had caveman partners.<br /><br />But then he went back to work and I stayed on maternity leave.<br /><br />There are a lot of great parts about maternity leave: Being able to wear sweatpants all day and catch up on TV; time to do the dishes and the laundry; being there for the baby.<br /><br />But those can also be the bad parts about maternity leave. I missed talking to adults and I missed having a place to go. I didn&rsquo;t think I resented spending time with the baby, except sometimes, like when Steve came home from work and would express frustration when the baby didn&#39;t cooperate. Then I thought, &quot;But I get this all day long and I put up with it.&quot; I knew the baby a little better than he did; I folded his little socks, ordered the diapers and massaged his blocked tearduct. But I realized that it wasn&#39;t awesome, all this incidental knowledge. Our equal partnership wasn&#39;t quite so equal anymore.<br /><br />We had a good &ldquo;come to Jesus&rdquo; talk last weekend, where I said, &ldquo;I need to vent to you but you can&rsquo;t take it personally.&rdquo; I told Steve that I felt very reduced, in a lot of ways, to this feeding, cleaning, providing automaton whose work was necessary but not exactly fulfilling in a way I was used to (finishing a load of laundry, for instance, feels a lot less satisfying once you already have half a new pile of dirty laundry built up from the time you started doing the laundry).<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry,&rdquo; Steve started to say. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just that&mdash;&rdquo; and I said, &ldquo;No, I need you to listen as my friend, not as my husband. Because I&rsquo;m not mad at you. I know you&rsquo;re not out there drinking beer and sitting around letting me do all this work that you have all the time in the world to pitch in on.&rdquo; Because he didn&rsquo;t. What was I going to do? Let all the housework pile up just to make a point? Force him to do things I had the time to do?<br /><br />Then Steve confessed that he, too, sometimes resented my role. He&#39;d be out working and getting tired, then he&rsquo;d come home and I&rsquo;d be in a bad mood when all it seemed that I had done that day was spend time with the baby and maybe have lunch with a friend. Even if I had gotten more bad time with the baby, I had gotten more good time with him, too, and he had missed that.<br /><br />It will all be fine. We&rsquo;re still luckier than most and are blessed to have support and health on our side. But the truth of the matter is that no matter how smart, ambitious or sophisticated you are, or how enlightened and helpful your husband is, at some point after you have a baby you are going to be The Mommy, doing Mommy Things. These are things that need to get done, but it&rsquo;s not the same as completing a good work project or finishing a race or something like that.<br /><br />I go back to work today. I am melancholy about this (sometimes heartbroken) and yet I know it&rsquo;s what I need. It will probably help me continue to find the new me and to be happy, and it&rsquo;ll be better for the baby as well.</p><p>Things don&rsquo;t go back to normal after you have a kid &mdash;&nbsp;you have to find a new normal instead.</p></p> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/maternity-leave-finding-your-new-reality-103688 Turning that first corner http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/turning-first-corner-102861 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.8962625502539779">A few weeks ago I wrote a thing about how </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/screaming-baby-syndrome-highly-contagious-102518">my husband and I were yelling at our infant son</a> out of frustration and exhaustion. And wouldn&rsquo;t you know, after I published that piece calling him out for being a pain in the neck, he straightened up (somewhat). As much as I&rsquo;d like to think that we scared him into being a better baby, however, it may just be time.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/portillos.jpg" style="float: left; height: 532px; width: 300px; " title="Our trip to Portillo's was a momentous day for the baby. (WBEZ/Claire Zulkey)" />So if you&rsquo;re a person who is doing the yelling-at-the-baby-thing right now, all I can say is that it gets better. That doesn&rsquo;t make it any easier in the moment, because the moment can really suck, but it does happen. Once we hit that six week mark, the baby started sleeping a bit more predictably, opening his eyes more during daylight hours, at least doing a decent impression of a smile and just being a bit more like a human baby and not a screaming ol&rsquo; blob (<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,242537,00.html">describing a newborn baby as a &ldquo;blob&rdquo;</a> may be the best thing that Angelina Jolie ever did, in my opinion).<br /><br />Dealing with more of a proto-person and not a howling abyss of poo has helped me, anyway, enjoy maternity leave more. I was sure I must have been doing something wrong if maternity leave felt more simultaneously boring and overwhelming than enjoyable and special. How could I yearn to trade places with my working-like-a-dog husband if all I could say I did all day was take care of the baby, do laundry and dishes? With everything I had going for me &mdash; healthy baby, healthy self, nearby parents, bills paid (in Internet commentary speak this all adds up to &ldquo;privilege,&rdquo; I know) &mdash; how come I felt so exhausted and not at all like I was soaking up once-in-a-lifetime memories that I should cherish forever? Many of my friends with older children had told me that I should remember these moments because they missed them. So not only was I run-down, depressed and confused, I beat myself up for feeling that way.<br /><br />I think now those friends didn&rsquo;t actually miss the first month at all. I think they confused the later months of infancy (I hear that three months is the real sweet spot where babies are more interactive but not running around either breaking your stuff or getting broken by your stuff) with those first few weeks. Those first few weeks, it&rsquo;s true, you are just surviving. And if you&rsquo;re like me, you&rsquo;re right that a lot of other people have it worse than you do. However, that doesn&rsquo;t mean you&rsquo;re obligated to feel great. Even under the best of circumstances, between taking care of a being that doesn&rsquo;t know how to express what it needs and a body that requires some serious recovery (and a modern-gal mindset that can&rsquo;t really accept this), it will be rough. Less rough than some is still rough.<br /><br />There was a day a few weeks ago when I broke down because it all caught up with me: the exhaustion and boredom and guilt and doubt. &ldquo;You should go out and do something for yourself,&rdquo; a friend told me, and I panicked because I couldn&rsquo;t think of what possibly that would be that would be practical and cost-effective that wouldn&rsquo;t involve the baby. This seemed to encapsulate my problems (or lack thereof).<br /><br />Eventually my body was my guide: later that day I cried and took a nap and cried some more and washed my face and talked to my husband and cried and washed my face again. I canceled my plans for the next day (when in doubt, parents of a newborn: CANCEL YOUR PLANS). The next day we took a long walk in the forest preserve and brought the baby along to Portillo&rsquo;s for some Italian beef and I felt better.<br /><br />Everyone needs that moment, I think, with a new baby: the crying-&rsquo;til-you-get-a-sandwich moment. (Maybe for you it&rsquo;s not a sandwich, but here the sandwich is a metaphor. I like my metaphor dry, personally, because I like to enjoy the bread.) I think once you find that moment, things start to turn a corner and you realize that you maybe can kind of do this. And the best part is, I know that a few weeks from now there&rsquo;s another corner, maybe this time one that comes with a cookie or a soft cheese.</p></p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/turning-first-corner-102861 City of Chicago announces paid maternity leave for workers http://www.wbez.org/story/city-chicago-announces-paid-maternity-leave-workers-91641 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-07/rahm.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago city workers will be getting paid maternity and paternity leave under a new set of rules announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday. Parents had previously used vacation and sick days to take time off for a new child.</p><p>The mayor said the change is an attempt to bring city government up to speed with the private sector, to "help us recruit and maintain a workforce."</p><p>"I can say this as somebody who took a week off when each child was born, of my three; it's the right thing to do by your employees. It's good business, it's good values, and it's a great way to start a child off in the bonding between an adult and a child," said Emanuel.</p><p>Women will receive four to six weeks paid leave after giving birth, adoptive parents will get two weeks, and partners will receive one.</p><p>The city's vacation policy is also shifting; there will now be a five day limit on unused vacation days workers can roll over from year to year. The mayor says the current policy encourages people to hoard days off to pad their salaries.</p><p>"We had a vacation day policy, but the way it was structured...a number of employees used it as a backdoor," explained Emanuel. "It was structured the wrong way, and the taxpayers were left with the bill to pay for it."</p></p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 20:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/city-chicago-announces-paid-maternity-leave-workers-91641