The day I gave birth to my son, I was also scheduled to do a phone interview with a celebrity for a magazine. I remember emailing my editor saying that I — get this — could still do it since the contractions are kind of spaced out. Then I caught myself and wrote another email. This one said:
On second thought, let Christine do the phoner and I can write it up from her notes. I’ll be out of here in a day or so and can get the piece back to you soonest.
I’ll pause here while you wipe away your tears from laughing. When I think back to it, I laugh too, and roll my eyes and shake my head and then cover my face with a blanket, embarrassed. Outrageous.
I ended up having an emergency Caesarean and stayed in the hospital for five days. Then when I got home … well, there were the cracked nipples, the C-section nightmares, the scar, and the newborn to remind me that, uh, I JUST HAD A BABY!
Last week, when I read about new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s pregnancy, I was happy for her. As happy as I could be for someone I don’t know at all. But then when I read that Mayer said her maternity leave (she’s due in October) will be “a few weeks long, and I’ll work throughout it,” my eyebrows went up.
Now, I know the whole spiel, and I’m with you on it: To each his own … making the decision that’s right for her … smart enough to create her own plan … will have the money (pay package worth $129 million) and resources to hire help … yes, yes, and yes. And I understand that isn’t necessarily about trying to have it all (or reconciling that you can’t), but about our own sense of fulfillment. However, I’m still uneasy with the idea of maternity leave been sidelined as unnecessary. There was even this piece in the New York Times over the weekend, where a woman featured in the story asks, “Is maternity leave an outdated notion for high-achieving women who have lots of demands and flexibility?” And now my brows are furrowed.
I guess I’m trying to see this clearer without having judgment cloud my lens. Understand in a true sense how maternity leave might be considered outdated or, worse, a “false construct.” I keep thinking about that email I wrote to my editor three years ago, and how utterly oblivious I was about what lay ahead on the new parent path. As a freelance journalist and (thankfully) my own boss, I was so grateful for the time — the weeks and months right after becoming someone’s mother — to just breathe a bit. Settle into the enormity of it.
But maybe it doesn’t matter if I ever “get it” or understand the choices of another mother. What counts is, I’m wishing Mayer all good luck — with her baby, motherhood, and the very real uphill battle she’s facing trying to revitalize Yahoo.
I’m rooting for her.