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Why I Won't Take a Maternity Leave

Photograph by Twenty20

We all know the drama that comes with expectant working mothers and maternity leave in the United States. Sadly, many of us don't have the option to stay away from our jobs for many weeks and months at a time.

With my first pregnancy, I worked a full-time job with benefits and was able to stay at home with my daughter for 14 weeks. Trust me when I say, three months was not enough time off for recovery and a new baby before heading back to work. But like many women, bills called. So back to work I went.

RELATED: 5 Reasons I'm Giving Homebirth a Try

With this pregnancy, things are a little different. Not only am I self-employed, but I am also not taking a formal maternity leave. And here's why:

1. I'm self-employed

There are so many benefits to being self-employed. My husband and I have nice and flexible hours and days that we find wonderful for when you've got kids. The down side, though? We don't have employers who can help us in the maternity leave department. Because of this, we have to work like crazy to save before the baby gets here, and we have to continue working after baby.

Motherhood consumes so much of me and this is even more true with a newborn. But you know what? I like working, too.

Maternity and paternity leaves can't last too long because, if we don't work, we don't get paid. Savings can only last for so long and that's if everything goes as planned—which we know never happens.

This may sound insane, but I am grateful that I am able to work from home. As a freelance social media specialist for several companies, a blogger and writer, I don't physically have to go into any office to work. I can (almost) literally jump from the birthing tub to my desk to finish editing an article. Granted, I do plan to spend some time away from my laptop. But not having a maternity leave would be a lot more challenging if I didn't have the work from home convenience.

2. I don't know how not to work

This part may seem crazy but, truthfully, I don't know how not to work. Of course, nothing ends that little obsession like newborn sleep exhaustion, but I'm one of those who just can't follow the probably great advice to sleep while the baby sleeps. My brain isn't wired that way and, even though I'm functioning on four hours of sleep, I'm up at 2 a.m. finishing up an article or catching up on emails. This is far from healthy, I know. I am going to make an honest attempt to remove myself from all work duties for at least four to five weeks, but when you run your own business, can you really step away for that long?

3. I like working

Motherhood consumes so much of me and this is even more true with a newborn. But you know what? I like working, too. I just do. I have to, of course, and part of me doesn't know how not to, but at the end of the day I feel so much pride in having completed tasks. Keeping a new baby alive and relatively happy is a huge task, but so is what I do professionally. My children are gifts, and I will never not be grateful for their existence. But, hey, Mama has to get her work on.

RELATED: The Downside Of Unlimited Maternity Leave

A traditional maternity leave, where I don't touch anything work-related for weeks and months at a time, sounds nice, but it definitely won't happen for me. I'm totally OK with it.

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