Two maternity leaves of 1 year

General Details
Working mother
Type of leave:
Number of years professional experience:
16-20 years
Length of leave:
6-12 months
Type of experience:
Work pattern on return:
Message I was supported by my boss in taking a full year of leave with both babies, despite the fact that I discovered I was pregnant with the second only 6 weeks after coming back to work (having struggled with PCOS to conceive the first over 3 years). Reading the other entries, I see again how lucky I was to have understanding colleagues and a boss who supported my recruitment of a full-time maternity cover. She was great and she fought my corner while I was away, keeping me updated on any changes in the office by email. My company also provided maternity coaching so I had a couple of sessions each time with a coach who helped me talk through my expectations and plans for my return, and identify my key stakeholders and mentors.
Coming back to work 4 days a week was hard but I seem to have had an easier ride than a lot of people. My children both started nursery at 11 months and colleagues were understanding about me working from home in the first year of repeated flu / colds / chest / ear infections. Most of my male colleagues’ wives also work so they, like me and my husband, are used to the concept of sharing childcare emergencies equally. My husband has always done the morning shift, taking children to nursery/school by bike / trailer while I do evening pick-up, supper and bedtime. If one of the children is sick, we’ll take turns working from home and are supported by our companies in doing so.
The year I spent with each child was life-changing, I hope for both of us. They were two of the happiest, most rewarding and most exhausting years of my life. I think I enjoyed them more knowing that they were finite and I’d be going back to work and leaving the parent-baby cocoon at the end of them – with regret, and tearfully, but ultimately positively. Family life with two working parents is chaotic and sometimes guilt-ridden but I feel I’ve given them a good start and that the children benefit from the positive role models we provide as working parents.
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