When I was pregnant with my daughter, I went to talk to HR about maternity leave. I was told that my company didn't offer maternity leave, that it fell under "short term disability". I was appalled, "I'm having a child, not getting major surgery." I couldn't believe the implication that giving birth was a disability.
I was entitled to 6 weeks paid leave, but if I wanted any extra time, I'd have to use vacation and comp days. So ironically, for those nine months I remember working the most ever in order to accumulate the days. I ended up taking a little over 8 weeks to be with my first born.
As I read about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's announcement that she would have a shorter maternity leave after she gives birth to her first child AND that she would work through her maternity leave, I thought "no big deal". Even though I worked harder to have a longer maternity leave, I believe it's Mayer's choice to do as she pleases with her time off.
I wouldn't have been ready to go back to work 6 weeks after giving birth; it was around that time I started feeling better from my physical and emotional set backs. But by week 9, I was thrilled that I would soon be back at work. Besides loving what I do, I wanted to go back to that part of my life I knew I did very well, after 2 months of feeling lost in the journey of motherhood.
Mayer's is entitled to take as little or as much time as she wants to concentrate on her new job as a mom. I'm sure if she realizes that she has too much on her plate, she can ask her bosses to give her a few more weeks to adjust to motherhood. Who knows, maybe being able to do some work at Yahoo will help calm those overwhelming feelings we all have as first time moms.
Something else I like about the Meyer's story: Yahoo knew she was pregnant when she was chosen as the new CEO. We have come a long way from the decades in which women would postpone getting pregnant to get the top job. Actually, I myself was shocked when Kelly Ripa announced that she was pregnant with her second child shortly after getting the coveted hosting gig next to Regis Philbin. I thought "is she crazy, you can't get the dream job and then leave for 2 months to be with a baby." I'm so happy life has proven me wrong and things are different now.
Hopefully, in a not so distant future, mothers in the United State have the option of taking as long as they want to be with their newborn babies without worrying about their job security. I dream of the day when having a baby doesn't render me "temporarily disabled". Ay Mama!
P.S. If you want a father's take on maternity leave, read this great column by Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-biz-0722-phil--20120722,0,7904454.column