anonymous in the midwest asks:
I am a faculty member at a small SLAC. I am newly (spontaneously!) pregnant with my second child, and likely due at the beginning of week 13 of the 16-week spring semester (it’s so early that I haven’t had my first prenatal appointment yet). My first child was an IVF baby and due the day after the end of my academic-year contract, so I didn’t take maternity leave. In that pregnancy, I developed a complication that, if it recurs (and it has a 50-90% recurrence rate) would mean I would deliver at 37 weeks. My fellow female faculty members have managed to have an astonishing number of May babies – since I’ve been here and in at least the two years previous, no female faculty member has given birth during any other month.
The college’s maternity leave policy for faculty offers 6 weeks at full pay or a full semester at half pay. How have mothers at your institutions handled babies due mid-to-most of the way through a semester? I would love to hear experiences and ideas from the grumpy nation!
My sister and were each born the first day of spring break. For me, my mother paid for her substitute out of pocket for the week after Spring break and then went back to work (she left that institution after it became clear that having a baby meant she would not get tenure).* For my sister, the university where she was working paid for her substitute for that week. Your SLAC sounds much more humane!
I was lucky enough to have an end of winter break baby– actually this was only lucky because there was a freak snowstorm the first week of class so I got two weeks before going back to work (I had no maternity leave)– and an end of summer break baby which lead into “alternative work duties” (that is, not teaching) for the semester. Most of my female colleagues have also had summer or sabbatical babies. My colleague who was due in late April bought out her core course and front-loaded her elective and had a guest lecturer lined up, had them video tape their presentations for her to grade, and then cancelled her last couple of May classes.
I know a woman at a 1/1 school who team taught two courses the semester she was due (grad and undergrad versions of the same elective) and taught both the first half of that semester, then took the next semester off. Come to think of it, that’s what one of my friends at a 0/1 medical school did as well– team taught the first half of the teaching semester, bought out the rest.
So, other than in situations in which there was no maternity leave, I don’t know how women with regular teaching loads generally handle mid-semester babies. Men, of course, take a week or two off during the semester their wife (always a SAHM in my department) gives birth and then take the full maternity leave in the next semester.
Grumpy Nation, What have you seen academic women do when facing a mid-semester pregnancy due date?
* For those not familiar, it takes about 2 weeks to stop bleeding and to be able to sit down in something other than a warm water bath after an easy natural childbirth.