I’m a working stiff just like anybody else, and working sure does pay the bills. Unfortunately, in the good ol’ US of A, there isn’t a whole lot of room for Dad (or Mom) to take time off from work when baby arrives.
If Mom’s lucky she’ll get a month or two (probably mostly unpaid) plus some flex time. Dad on the other hand will get no more than two weeks plus whatever vacation time is in the bank.
But if you work in a typical company, taking more than two weeks off work is akin to having an all-you-can-eat buffet at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. As in: it ain’t gonna happen, at least not in this life. Hell, even a week can be hard to swing.
And, for a guy working hard at building his career, it can be hard to get away. I once had a co-worker who showed up to work the day after his son was born. Now, being the nice guy that I am, I was like “what the fuck is wrong with you dude?” His response: “I’ve got too much going on at work, man.” I hope that dude enjoyed his job more than his marriage because that shit was heading downhill on a double black diamond 1.
Bottom line is that it may require some push back on your part to actually take the time off that you’re given. But whatever you do, don’t give in on this one. If the company you work for won’t let you take a 2-4 week break so you can be with your first born, then they sure as shit don’t deserve your hard-working ass.
Another thing I hear from a lot of expectant dads is the following reasoning: “I’m only taking a few days off after the birth because [Mom / Dad / MIL / FIL / big sister / nanny / my loving cat Fu-Fu] will be around to help out. I’ll take more time off after they leave.”
From the outside this sounds reasonable. I mean, your partner will have help, so why should you burn your time now when you can spread it out? Let me just stop you right there and tell you that this is an incredibly fucking horrible idea.
There is a shit ton to do with baby since he/she will be waking, eating, and pooping about every 2-3 hours in the first few weeks. Oh, your MIL is going to be handling that? That’s all well and good if it were actually true. Even if it was, I can assure you that your partner is:
a) going to pull you into this anyway
and / or
b) get tired of MIL ‘meddling’ and kick her out of the Casa (even though she’s try to help, really, and why would she guilt-trip her loving mom who came all this way just to help her baby daughter?!)
Your partner is clearly Superwoman for carrying junior for 9 months, pushing him/her out of her vagina despite the fact that it seemed to defy the laws of physics, and letting the little guy suck on her teats for 10 out of 24 hours in a day while somehow managing to generate enough milk supply to feed his endless appetite. However, she’s currently recovering from a heavy dose of Kryptonite and probably won’t have her super powers back for a few months, at least.
Short version: she’s worn to shit but still has to keep running the marathon, and is going to need some help with a few of life’s necessities such as getting 3 squares a day (and in her case, probably 6).
You, my friend, are going to experience a level of tired the likes of which you’ve never seen. Unless of course you went through SEALs boot camp in which case why the hell are you reading this to begin with?
They invented the word zombie for this exact situation. (Incidentally it just might explain how the zombie virus got out in the first place.) And even if MIL / Fu-Fu are in there working 24×7, baby is still gonna cry a lot and you just aren’t going to get much sleep. Ever tried to drive in aggressive rush-hour traffic after getting 2 hours of sleep a night for a week straight? I don’t suggest giving it a go now.
The second you go back to work –- whether in person or virtual –- the blood sucking vampires that are your coworkers are going to drain what little life is left in you.
And probably the best reason of all: if you are not there, you’ll miss out. Baby changes a lot in the first few days and weeks, and you don’t want to be that guy who never got to experience it. Trust me, it’s seriously cool. And when are you ever going to have the chance again to just sit and stare at your tiny baby, with nothing else on your mind except his sweet little face? Not to mention that you married your partner for a reason, and this was probably a big part of it, so don’t waste a chance to experience this with her.
Bottom line: take two weeks (minimum) but talk to your boss about taking more 2. You’ll need (and appreciate) every minute of it.
- I took almost 6 weeks off at this same company with my first kiddo, and managed to keep the job. I’m still married to boot! ↩
- It is actually against the law to prevent a parent from taking up to 12 weeks off for either the pregnancy or birth (or both), thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act. However, this only protects you from being fired, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get paid for the time off. ↩