I stopped working to take (legally acceptable) advantage of the Canadian Unemployment Insurance System.
Maternity leave in Canada works like this: a pregnant woman who’s worked a certain number of hours in the year prior to her pregnancy is entitled to 17 weeks of paid maternity leave followed by 35 weeks of paid parental leave. From what I understand, the difference is that maternity leave is for a woman’s healing and general well-being, while parental leave is for actual childcare. The 35-week parental leave is allowed to be split between two parents of the new child in any of the following combinations: I could take all 35 weeks while Poor Kyle continued to work, Poor Kyle could take all 35 weeks while I continued to work, we could each take 17.5 weeks while the other continued to work and then switch roles, or we could both take 17.5 weeks together.
I’m taking it all. For the record.
Poor Kyle would love to take some of the paid parental leave but his manliness (and fear of utter mockery at his guy-centric workplace) prevents it. For my part, I feel like nine months of growing and carrying this child entitles me to at *least* the next nine months off, and I’m perfectly fine with the extra three bonus months from the Canadian Powers That Be. The fact that these twelve months are actually paid is just a lovely little (okay, huge) cherry on top.
I’m not exactly certain but I believe in the United States women are only given 6 weeks of maternity leave (but maybe it varies from workplace to workplace). At any rate I feel like the luckiest girl in North America right now.
My last day of work was a week ago and I will admit it feels strange not going in every day. I thought it would be like summer vacation from school, but it feels completely different somehow. I guess it’s because I know my days of freedom are numbered. It’s only a matter of time (four weeks until our due date but even still I’m pulling for an early birth) before I will be sleeping in two-hour intervals and covered in sour breast milk from sunup to sunup to sunup, day after day after day. Summer vacation days too are numbered, but going back to school for another semester or two (or twelve, or even med school) is totally different than giving birth and being a parent forEVER.
Anyway my mental state during any given day is usually one or more of the following:
• trying really hard to channel good vibes to get this baby to be born two weeks early
• making every attempt to avoid looking at any part of my face or body in a mirror because I don’t like what I see (denial is the best medicine)
• FREAKING OUT because of aforementioned big commitment and afore-aforementioned aversion to big commitments
• stressing over not having acquired the appropriate baby gear for the birth of the child (I’m not talking gadgety unncessary stuff like bottle warmers—I’m talking car seat, sleeping place, etc.)
• trying to sell George Jettson but also trying not to because then we’ll just have to stress about what vehicle to buy next, and no matter what it is it won’t be my $60,000 Volkswagen Touareg dream car so I don’t even care anymore
• wondering/half-stressing about our lowered income (the 12 months are paid, but only up to about half of my regular salary)
• crying (snot-nosed, shuddering, gasping-for-air SOBBING) at the strangest provocations, like the day I noticed two tiny drops of colostrum leaking out of my…well…just look it up okay?
• FREAKING OUT about labour and delivery
• FREAKING OUT about postpartum recovery (mainly the torn-to-shreds, constantly-bleeding-and-possibly-passing-giant-blood-clots-for-6+weeks-out-my-crotch bit)
• FREAKING OUT about breastfeeding (I am not nor will I ever be the kind of woman who thinks breastfeeding is “beautiful” or “a wonderful bonding experience.” It’s cheap and nutritious and that’s why I’m planning to try it. But it creeps me out and I hate the very thought of it.)
Basically it’s just a whole lot of freaking out and simultaneously trying to guilt my baby into being a good boy for mama and popping outta there early.
Also: my ankles are now cankles. My hands are swollen to the point of not being able to wring out a rag anymore. My back just aches all the dang time, chiropractor and massage therapist aside. My formerly-innie belly button is outing itself a little more each day. My backne is indefatigable.
These aren’t complaints; they are facts. I know I don’t have much right to complain because as far as pregnancies go, this one has been a walk in the park (knock on wood). I haven’t thrown up even once for heaven’s sake (knock on wood). So I’m trying hard not to complain. But I do intend to keep it real on this blog, and so you can trust I am being honest when I say that MY BACKNE IS NO JOKE.
And, before I sign off, for those of you who don’t already follow me on instagram and for those of you who care, this is what I look like now: