Tag Archives: maternity leave

An official break

When I said this, I meant that I could finally take paid leave!

Not that I was taking a permanent break for anything. Most people would probably not think much of that because it was such a natural entitlement. The truth was I had no annual leave to my name for the last 9 months!

I was supposed to return to work in April 2013 after using up all 16 weeks of maternity leave. However, knowing that X was going to be my last and final child, bundled with childcare arrangement concerns, I used up all my possible leaves and even took no-pay leave. In doing so, I was able to care for X till he was 6 months’ old. Trust me, there were times when I truly wished the 6-months’ maternity leave motion was passed.

Having had two kids, I stood by the fact that it was good to return to work when the child was 6 months’ old. Z had started infantcare at 14 weeks’ old because I had to return to work at the 15th week. When I had to hand him over to new caregivers, he was still so tiny and fragile. Guilt trip rendered 3 days’ worth of tears.

When X entered infantcare at 6 months’ old (26 weeks’ old!), he was bigger and stronger, and I felt less heartache naturally. Cancerian moms were a painfully sentimental bunch, I had to admit.

While I did not regret maxing out my leaves, what entailed subsequently was painful. I returned to work in mid July. In between, X had roseola, HFMD and a viral fever over a span of 6 weeks in Sept-Oct. I could not be there for him.

Just when I thought the turn of a new year meant I could finally take annual leave, I changed jobs. I could not take annual leave during the notice period. When I joined the new company, I also could not take annual leave for the first 3 months’ of service. Worse, new staff were not entitled to paid sick leave too. That really saw me crawling to work even when I was running 39°C fever.

The point of this blog entry? To be thankful that I had the buffer of paid annual leave now.

Perhaps, it would really be nice for the government to consider stepping up the quality of babycare options or to consider giving a proper 4 months’ maternity as opposed to 16 weeks (which translated to only 3.5 months).

We could do without 6 months’ maternity leave but today’s eco-system could be further enhanced.

Children were truly bundles of joy but when caregiving options were limited, costly or weak, the challenges were really daunting.

Taking to Parenting well

I often received comments like I made parenthood seem easy or I took to parenthood really well.  Parenthood was not an elitist or exclusive club, nor was it scary.  As long as you believed in yourself, you would take it well too.  Or put in simply, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

To have a strong belief of your own parenting skill, one would need experience and confidence.  This was not unlike driving.  The more you drove, the more confidence you would gain and a better driver you would become.

All you had to do was to be hands on and you would overcome the fear.

Towards the end of my confinement during Z’s time, I was worried sick about having to fly solo for the rest of my maternity leave.  I reckoned I could have been so worried that I could be depressed.

Mr H, as a first-time dad, had been worried too.  We made my mom promise to come over to our place every afternoon to help me because I probably could not cope.  I guessed she had more confidence in me than I had in myself.

She did not come over as discussed.  I had developed carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) during the pregnancy and it did not go off after delivery.  Having CTS meant that I had zilch strength in my right wrist.  I could hardly carry Z without risk of dropping him.  I had a lot of problems turning him around during breastfeeding, bathing him and picking him up.  I also had a caesarean surgery wound, rendering it painful for me to squat down.  Coupled with the risk of dropping Z after baths, I took on my jamu lady’s advice and decided to bathe Z on the dining table.

Every morning, before Mr H went off to work, he would fill the tub partially with cold water and leave it on the dining table.  When it was bath time, I would boil a kettle of hot water and mix it in.  Then I would slowly take my time to bathe Z.  There were accidents along the way like dripping poo or flying pee from Z’s bedroom to the dining room.  It only meant I had to side step and clean them up when Z was asleep or happy to be alone.

I also had to prepare for returning to school and work.  More often than not, I had to sling Z with a baby carrier, walk around to rock him to sleep and catch up on readings with the other hand.  I also went out with friends, cleared many emails and Korean dramas along the way, so it was not just all work and no fun.

Breastfeeding Z also meant that I should be on a healthier diet and my mom actually taught me how to cook my own lunch (and subsequently dinner) over the phone.  That was how I actually ended up being a proficient milk supplier, a mom & a housewife on top of studying part time and working.  Now you would know why I would be so unfazed, after been to the deep end of the pool and back.

Honestly, juggling 2 kids was easier than juggling 1 kid and doing post graduate studies.  There were times I wished I did not have to do the assignments, prepare for weekly readings and even attend classes till 930pm.  Of course, none of this would have been possible if Mr H was not a supportive spouse in spirit and in strength.  He went from total noob to expert level.  We both knew if I ever had to travel for work, he could manage both kids by himself very well.  It was all about the willingness to learn and walk the ground (get your hands dirty).  Fathers could be very competent parents if they chose to be.

A mobile phone with ready lifelines (read – contacts of other fellow parents.) was always helpful.  As per what we learnt in school, no question was ever too silly to ask… but made sure you ask the right person la.