7.5 Weeks With No Pay, 4.5 to Go

When it came to maternity leave, I’ve always wanted to be able to spend as much time as I could with my newborn baby. That’s why, when I found out I was pregnant nearly one year ago, my husband and I decided that I should take 6 months, if possible. My employers amazingly agreed to the time period when I proposed it, for which I will be forever grateful. But I knew that I would only be getting disability and family leave pay for a total of 12 weeks – the other 12 weeks would be unpaid (I’ve taken 24 weeks off, rather than 6 straight months, a slightly longer time period).

That’s why, even while pregnant, I worked my ass off doing side gigs in order to further build up our savings. I also knew the baby would come around the time we’d be getting our tax refund. As much as I planned, the baby had other ideas, showing up 5 weeks early. Luckily, she was healthy as a horse, and the upside was that I could spend all of my maternity leave time with her, as opposed to going out of work at 38.5 weeks as scheduled, then waiting around for the baby to show.

For the past 7.5 weeks, we’ve only had Mr. Not-So-Frugal’s paycheck coming in. While I know many readers can make it work on one income — even with a mortgage — it’s something that’s almost impossible here in Northern New Jersey, in the shadow of New York City. We bought a home at a good price, put 20% down, and it’s still tough. It appears that I’ve planned out our cash flow perfectly, but now we’re getting down to the wire — there are just 4.5 weeks left until I return to work!

It’s difficult watching our checking account dwindle now that we’re in the sunset of my maternity leave. We’ve been watching our spending to a point, but now I’m going to be bringing the hammer down. It would be even easier if I could get Mr. NSF to stop smoking (he smokes outside, as he’s always done), as we’d save an easy $300/month right there. But if my calculations are correct, we won’t even have to dip into our savings account.

Although there’s one thing I didn’t consider — when I’ll get my first paycheck when I return. I think I’m going to have to wait two weeks for my pay when I go back, which really means it’ll be another 6.5 weeks without a paycheck coming in, not 4.5!

I’ve cherished this time home with my little one, and I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. Watching her grow from a teeny 4-pound preemie to the chunky baby she is now (13-plus-pounds at almost 5 months!) and hitting all of her milestones despite her early entrance into the world has been amazing. But as much as I love you, Baby Frugalista, I’m actually ready to go back to work! It’ll be hard, putting you in daycare, but we’ve got a great babysitter lined up, someone I’m comfortable with. I know you’ll be in good hands.

I’ve always believed I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I’m ready for a paycheck again! Unless we hit the lottery, I’ll be a working mom, just like most of the people I know. I know that despite being away from my baby during the day, I can still guide her, teach her and love her just as much.