I plodded around the office with my uncomfortable bump and terribly swollen ankles right up until my due date and I continued to work from home right until I was induced 12 days later. In fact, I vaguely remember checking emails when I was bored out of my mind lying in a hospital bay and willing my waters to break. I don’t think I realised how much of a slave I was to my job. I work in a pretty full on role, supposedly 9-5:30 but in reality I was working every hour that I wasn’t eating, sleeping or peeing! My colleagues were so convinced that I was going to give birth in the office that they’d made me explain exactly what they had to do if my waters broke – call my husband and remind me to put my out of office on,” was my reply, closely followed with, “and DON’T call an ambulance! If things all happen a bit too quickly, my notes are in my bag and the midwives can be contacted on the number on the front…they’re only 10 mins down the road so none of you will have to deliver the baby, I promise!” To be perfectly honest, my boss is the type of person who wouldn’t have batted an eye lid if I’d given birth in the middle of the office. She would have expected me to have completed my day’s work and ran all of her errands before that head had dared to pop out though!
Anyway, I digress! I decided to take 12 months off from work. We’d lived off just my salary whilst my husband was studying and he was about to start a new job, so the prospect of living off one salary for the second half of my leave wasn’t an issue. My boss was shocked by this (small office, first person to ever have a baby other than her many moons ago) and I actually think I shocked myself a little. I’ve always been career minded and never thought I’d convince myself to want to take a year off. Despite this though, my boss was very pleasant about it and said that she would be totally flexible one I returned and would be happy for me to work a couple of days from home, or work fewer hours in the office and catch up on emails etc from home in an evening or whatever suited me and baby.
Fast forward a few months. LittleMonkey was born, I’d had a couple of months at home and I suddenly got summoned to the office and asked what arrangements I would like when I returned. To cut a long story short, I either return on a full time basis, working all my hours from the office, or I take a huge pay cut and return to my previous job and then she may consider me working part time. I can’t afford the latter, so it looks like I’m going back full time.
I’ve been thinking (and quietly raging) about this for a couple of months now. I feel betrayed by my employer, and I have absolutely no motivation to return to work, knowing that I will be expected to work ridiculous hours and never have any quality time with LittleMonkey. I’m not the bra burning feminist type (if I burnt my bras I’d be scuppered. Breast feeding has ruined me!) but I can’t help but think that a man would NEVER get treated this way.
So my question is… do any other mums work full time and still feel they have enough time to see their little ones grow up? For those that work part time, how did you negotiate this with your employer?