The daycare dilemma

I’m a horrible blogger. Pre-baby’s arrival, I was convinced I would document his every step. Then, he arrived and my world completely changed. I actually found lots of time to write during the newborn phase, but now that he’s (semi)mobile I can’t spare two free hands to put on a keyboard.

Sometimes,  I feel like documenting his milestones make it all too real. He’s growing. He’s getting bigger. He is more independent…which means…

I’m closer to going back to work. 😦

I seriously don’t know how you American Momma’s do it. I’m so grateful to have 12 months off in Canada, but I am struggling with the concept of leaving my baby with someone else.

In my city, it’s challenging to find daycare for a 12 month old. Licensed centres don’t offer many spots until 18 months old (which makes no sense with our maternity leave timeframe?). Needless to say, I’ve been on waitlists since I was only a few weeks pregnant. Lately, I’ve been watching the online Mommy groups and classifieds for home daycares advertising available infant spots.

I’m not going to deny it. I’m picky and have requirements for what we are looking for:

  1. Chemical free (as much as possible)
  2. Healthy snacks/meals
  3. Low ratio
  4. Cloth diaper friendly

I talked to another Mom about the possibility of a nanny share, but that idea fell through.

Last week I interviewed with an AMAZING home daycare. The woman was a true modern day Mary Poppins. Her program is also Waldorf/Reggio inspired with homemade meals and many organic snacks. Bonus: she also cloth diapers. The issue is she is doing multiple interviews. As much as we were there to check her out, I was super nervous that Wyatt and I were also being interviewed. Out of all the people she is interviewing, we are the ones looking for a start date the furthest out. We won’t know until after June 7th what her decision is.

Today, I got a call from a daycare centre that they have a spot open for July 1st if I want it. I set up a tour to check out this facility on Thursday. If we like the centre, we will have to decide by end of day FRIDAY if we want the spot AND pay for it until I return to work.

I have one other home daycare interview lined up this week. I didn’t get a super positive vibe from the gal, so we will see how it goes.

Right now, my return to work scenario is completely up in the air. The company I work for was bought out (once again) just prior to my maternity leave starting. Since then, there’s been major changes in leadership. I don’t know what I am going back to. If I do return to my current employer, I’m planning to stay on leave until October 1. I’m keeping my eyes open for opportunities. I’m not willing to return to work until after the summer. I’d really like to stay working from home if possible too.

I’ve had people say, “Lindsey, if you are working from home, why don’t you just keep him home with you?”  We don’t follow a regimented schedule. I base my days around baby’s needs. We don’t have pre-determined nap times. I breastfeed on demand. We just go with the flow and I don’t see how that would work with a 40 hour work week… and not knowing what I’m in for.

My husband threw out the idea of me freelancing part-time and getting to stay home with Wyatt. The idea sounds AMAZING in concept, but I’m not sure the logistics of it are realistic. I haven’t been doing any freelance work throughout my maternity leave, so I don’t have any clientele right now. I love the idea of building up to freelancing on my own, but right now, I need a steady, reliable income. We still have IVF debt to pay off and would like to try another round in the future. :/

I trust that the situation will all work out. I know I’ll end up in the position that is right for me. I’ll continue to listen to my intuition when it comes to selecting the right care provider for Wyatt.

Until then, I just want to enjoy my summer of snuggles, cuddles, laughter and love before my baby becomes a little boy. ❤

 

 

 

From Corporate life to motherhood

I just logged into my work account to catch up on Corporate news. I wanted to see if anyone else has come or gone since Christmas. There wasn’t anything too exiting in my inbox, but I know I’m not being cc’d on much activity related to regular operations or projects.

Right now, I’m going to take a few minutes to myself online while Wyatt naps in his carrier. It’s funny how much life changes once you have a little one.

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My highlight of the day was finding a nursing room at one of our local malls. It’s an older, dingy mall. I don’t go there often at all, but I wanted to find a Valentine’s day gift for my husband. As we were shopping, Wyatt pooped. It’s a given that anytime you venture to a major shopping centre your kid will decide it’s time to shit himself. I changed him in a family washroom, but discovered a door labelled “Nursing”. I opened it and sure enough there was a sink, a counter and two rocking chairs. We went in, sat down and Wyatt had his lunch. It wasn’t the nicest room, but it was clean. I don’t have an issues feeding in public anymore.  In fact, I’ll whip it out just about anywhere now, but concept of the nursing room was nice – a small, quaint space for you to connect with your baby away from the busyness of the mall. I’ve decided to check and see if our other malls have anything similar.

The second highlight of my day was receiving FLUFF mail! I have totally become one of those Moms who gets a kick out of purchasing diapers, baby-wearing supplies or kids clothes online.  My most recent purchases arrived today which included a rainbow cloth diaper and an “Eat Local” onesie purchased on Zulily.

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My husband heckles me about budget. I’ve been doing my own selling on our local classifieds to fund my online purchases. We just sold our swing as it was just sitting unused in my office and we are using our borrowed Mamaroo more. I hope to update you all on what baby items actually worked for us soon!

The third highlight of my day was buying new laundry detergent to wash our cloth diapers. We didn’t need a new brand or anything. We just ran out and our local store is also out of that brand, so we are trying a different one. I used to hate laundry, but I don’t mind it anymore. This may sound crazy, but it gives me a purpose – something to accomplish besides feeding and changing a baby all day long.

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I love my time with my son, but there’s no doubt that it has been a transition to go from a super busy working woman to a Mom who’s on maternity leave. Honestly though, I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. ❤

 

Maternity leave decision made

Yesterday, I went on a rant about my husband’s work schedule change and how it was affecting my decision for the length of my maternity leave.

Ironically enough, this morning I had a to-do flagged in my calendar to update my wait list position at a few local daycares. When I first called to get myself on the wait lists, they asked me to call back every 6 months to confirm.

I asked the YMCA what the likelihood of having a part-time infant spot open up would be and they told me they don’t even do part-time! I pulled up a list of other licensed/non-licensed home daycares to see who in my area offers infant care. The list was very limited. I also contacted another very reputable licensed daycare that told me they don’t accept children til 18 months.

As I kept going, I felt myself having what I think was the start of a panic attack. My chest and back felt tight. I had a hard time breathing. I took off my belly band and loosened my sweater. I walked away from the computer and took a few deep breaths.

I see this as a sign. If I am reacting this strongly, then I need to stand up for myself right now. At 35 weeks pregnant, I don’t need to be making decisions about returning to work when my baby hasn’t even arrived yet!

I crunched some numbers last night and determined that returning to work a few months early for 20 hours a week wouldn’t even be worth it due to the hourly rate of part-time childcare. I might as well stay off.

I don’t need any added stress right now and this topic clearly stresses me out! It’s hard to be a working woman in today’s society. Business is business driven. Maternity leave is an inconvenience for businesses. I feel pressure to give my employer an answer I’m not ready to provide.

In the end, my husband and I have come to the conclusion that:

  • I can not commit to returning early without knowing how the baby will be and having secured childcare.
  • I will return to work after 10 months (mid-August 2016).
  • My husband will take the last 2 months as parental leave (mid-August to mid-October 2016)
  • Childcare will present itself when the timing is right. We will look into a variety of options towards the end of maternity leave (i.e. part-time nanny, full-time nanny, daycare).

*deep breath*

It will all work out.

For other working moms out there, thought you might find this funny: The awkward realities of working and breastfeeding

Schedule changes and maternity leave

Ever since I’ve known him, my husband’s full-time work schedule has been 4 – 10 hour days with every Monday off. This schedule actually gave him many perks like 4 day weekends every time there is a statutory holiday and enabled him to take less time off work to farm on the side.  He has 4 weeks of vacation time each year, most of which is used for farming. Occasionally, he is stuck taking time without pay. We are most likely leaving the farm business after this season (still to be discussed with his family). I have been looking forward to a schedule that gives him 3 day weekends with the baby and I, and the opportunity to actually take family vacation.

His workplace recently decided to go back to a traditional 5 day work week.  I feel like the timing couldn’t be worse!

A few weeks back, my employer asked if I would consider returning back to work earlier than the 1 year leave. I said I wouldn’t be ready to make that decision until my child was at least 6 months, but that the idea was enticing.

The Employment Insurance payments that we receive in Canada are nothing compared to my regular salary. I’ve been preparing myself for cutting back, but I know it’s still going to be a budget crunch (and potentially debt incurring) for us to make it through a full year with me earning less than 1/3 of my regular salary.

When my employer originally asked me to return earlier on a flexible schedule, I thought we could swing it especially since my husband would be home 1 day a week. If I could start out returning to work 2 days a week, we’d only have to find a sitter for one additional day. Now that he has to work a 5 day work week, I’m not sure what the plan is.

My options are:

  • Take a full year off
  • Return to work part-time or gradually phase back in at a timeline that I determine
  • Convince my husband to split paternity leave with me

My husband is encouraging me to take the full year. I’d prefer to go back a bit early, or split the leave with him. Since he earns less income than me, I think the paternity leave split makes the most sense. I feel like he is not open to it as he would be the only guy at his workplace who has ever taken it. I remind him that he is entitled to it as a benefit and his employer has to grant it. If he isn’t willing to budge, I need to sit down and run some financials to see if it even makes sense for me to return part-time, plus pay a babysitter. Plus, there’s always the issue of FINDING a sitter!

There’s a lot of change happening for us.

It threw me off this morning to find my husband still asleep when my alarm went off. Our kitty cat is not impressed that he will no longer be fed at 4:30 am and will have to wait til 7am. On top of that, we are about to throw a baby into the mix.

I don’t have an answer for my work yet. I need to put some serious thought into it.

I’m just going with the flow with my husband’s schedule change. There’s not much I can do about it, but accept it. It is disappointing though.

Overall, I’m glad his schedule change is happening BEFORE baby comes. If we stop farming, we still have an opportunity to vacation next year and I’m not obligated to return to work earlier. I’d really like to see if I can wait to commit to a timeline with work until the new year. I don’t know how baby will be and I don’t want to lose the opportunity to enjoy his first year with him if that’s what I desire in the end.

Planning for pregnancy, delivery and beyond

As I am quickly approaching 12 weeks, I have the urge to sort out some pregnancy preparations.

In the past week, I’ve accomplished the following:

Registered for hypnobirthing

I’ve always wanted to take hypnobirthing as I hope to achieve a natural childbirth. I registered my husband and I for a local session running from mid-May to mid-June.

I’m also really looking forward to using this session as a chance to connect deeper with my baby and myself. I’ve been a bit “out of tune” since our loss. I’m gradually working on getting back to my regular meditation routine.

Found an amazing doula!

We met last night for tea and had lots in common – reiki, cards, birthing views, etc. I sent her an email this evening letting her know we are interested in hiring her. I hope she works out. 🙂

She is working on her placenta encapsulation certification. I’m hoping to be one of the first ones she does this Fall.

I’m also interested in getting her for a Blessingway ceremony. I have a large group of intuitive/spiritual friends. I feel like this ceremony is much more “me” than a traditional baby shower (although I assume I will end up having both).

Started researching newborn photographers

WOW! I am seriously grateful for the friends who did our wedding photography. They were amazing and charged me way under fair market value. Ever since then, I’ve struggled with the cost of professional photography. My husband feels that the cost is worth it for capturing priceless memories of our newborn baby.

We looked through a few local newborn photographers to chose the style of photography we prefer. Right now, we are leaning towards studio shots with posed newborn (as opposed to family shots or natural light photography). We’ll see if we have it in the budget to pull it off. Right now, the estimate is looking at anywhere between $600-1000 depending on which photographer we choose. YIKES! 

I don’t think we will finalize this decision until after we have budgeted for baby necessities (crib, stroller, etc…).

Next up on my list is to look into: 

Additional child birth preparation classes. There are a few others offered in our region besides hypnobirthing. For those of you who have taken additional classes, would you recommend them? I’m so confused as to whether or not they are necessary since we are already taking hypnobirthing and will have a doula.

Setting a budget. Living in Canada means I have the benefit of a year-long maternity leave. However, I do not have any employer top-up. Living off the max Employment Insurance (EI) amount will be a huge financial strain for us – especially since I make more money than my husband does and we’ve spent our savings on IVF. We have a savings goal we hope to obtain before baby comes, but I also need to figure out how much we will need to spend to prepare for baby. I need to weigh the necessities vs. the nice to haves. I pre-ordered the 2015 Baby Bargains book and hope this may help with some decisions. Thanks My Perfect Breakdown for the recommendation. 🙂  I haven’t done much in terms of baby shopping. I’m really holding off on nursery planning until we have confirmation that our baby is a boy.

Child care. Originally, my husband and I thought we would split the leave with 6 months each. We didn’t time this pregnancy very well (which is ironic because we totally timed it!). If I were to only take 6 months, I’d return to work right at the start of farming season which would leave 2-3 months of additional required child-care while my husband is at the farm. It doesn’t make sense to do that, so I’ll most likely take the full year off. Either way, we will have to secure child-care for when I return to work in Fall 2016. Sometimes, you need to get yourself on a wait list months ahead of time. I’d like to look into my options now – private daycare vs. public daycare vs. daytime nanny.

If you have any advice on any of the above mentioned items, I’d love to hear it!

Taking time off work to deal with a pregnancy loss

When I first ended up in the hospital after my tube ruptured, I was like ummm how do I even start explaining this to my employer?

Here are some tips and advice I learned along the way following our ectopic pregnancy loss.

Contact your HR Representative

Your HR department should have the most up-to-date information on what benefits and leave options are available to you.

HR also has a level of confidentiality that they have to maintain for you. Going to them can help eliminate awkwardness or emotional conversations with your manager. I found that my HR rep was also more sympathetic and concerned about me fully recovering versus how many days I may miss and what work would be waiting for me upon my return.

Personally, I didn’t do this. I contacted my Director (who I directly report to) first. In the end, this was a lesson learned. I ended up liaising with my HR rep more than my boss.

My HR rep reminded me that you do not have to divulge your full medical history to your manager. The choice is yours as to how much you disclose. When I spoke with my boss, I focused more on the physical recovery than my emotional state.  I didn’t want him to think I was some hormonally-crazed woman – even though I really was. haha

Choose which leave is right for you

Sick Leave

For someone who can’t miss much time off work (especially if your loss is following a fresh IVF cycle where you have already taken time off), your best bet is sick leave. The amount of days you qualify for depends on your company’s benefits. Speak to your HR rep for more details.

Short-term Disability 

My HR rep recommended short-term disability immediately when I told her about my surgery. Short-term disability (STD) works well if you 1) don’t have a lot of sick time 2) plan on being off for more than a week.

Ensure you get the info to process your application ASAP. Depending on your plan, there can be a specific number of days post-surgery in which you have to apply.

If you chose STD (seriously who chooses these acronyms?), you will have to get your doctor to fill out a form disclosing certain details about your medical condition and the amount of time they recommend you take off work. Your employer will also have to complete a form.

Short-term disability usually has a waiting period before it kicks in. For me, it was 7 days. During this time, you can use your sick time.

Typically, you will wait 5 business days or longer from the date their receive your application until you receive confirmation of approval. It proved to be a pain in the ass trying to find out whether my claim was approved or not. I played phone tag for a few days before our benefits provider finally gave me the stamp of approval.

Typically, you are also looking at a decreased salary. I think mine was in the range of 66.7%; however, this is definitely better than an unpaid leave.

My time off was broken down like this:

  • 1st week: Waiting period of 7 days, used sick leave with full salary
  • 2nd-4th week: Short-term disability with pay of 66.7% of full salary

The catch with STD is if you need time off beyond the initial approved period, you will need to resubmit medical statements from your doctor and have your claim reassessed.

Bereavement Leave

During my extensive Google search, I learned that some, but not many, employers honour bereavement leave for a miscarriage. It’s worth it to ask if this is valid at your company as it saves your sick days and could be allotted towards your waiting period if you choose a disability leave.

Maternity Leave

If your loss occurred in the 3rd trimester, you may qualify for up to 17 weeks of maternity leave. Double check your provincial labour laws to ensure this applies in your area.

Vacation or unpaid leave

If your worst case scenario means that you do not have access to any of the above mentioned options, you could also consider taking vacation or an unpaid leave. I truly hope that no one is faced with having to choose this last resort option. Recovering from a miscarriage is anything but a vacation. However, an unpaid leave might be the best choice if you need more time to heal beyond your approved paid leaves.

Decide when to return to work

Recovering from a miscarriage – no matter how far along you were – is not an easy task.

If you had surgery, there is always a recommended recovery time. Obviously, this can change due to complications, infection or even just how fast your body personally heals. Following my laparoscopy to remove my rupture tube, my surgeon told me he recommends minimum 2 weeks off for an office job. I was starting to feel physically better at 2.5 weeks, but I was an emotional wreck. I chose to take just under 4 weeks to ensure I was headed back to work with a clear head. This was an easy choice for me because my doctor and short term disability approved me to be off for up to 4 weeks.

If the leave you selected meant you are approved for a specific amount of time, you can choose to return to work earlier or later. Speak with your HR rep about how to return to work sooner than anticipated. If you need more time off, speak with your doctor.

I do recommend that you consider taking the necessary time for self care. But ultimately, how much time you take following a pregnancy loss is a personal choice that only you can make.

I want to thank the women who encouraged me to take the time I needed over the past few weeks.

These options are based on my experience in Canada (sorry US and International folks). There is no guarantee that these options will be available to you. Double check your benefits plan and local legislation to see what you qualify for. 

If you stumble upon this post and are currently in the first few days following your loss, my heart breaks for you. I hope this helps ease some of the anxiety you may face around taking time off to deal with your pregnancy loss. XO