Maternity leave - I don't like the sound of this… *UPDATE!*
UPDATE!: So I would first like to thank anyone who responded to me when I originally posted this. So it looks like I will need to be using my vacation and sick days as leave after the baby. Since the year just started, I have four full weeks. One will still be used in the first week of March so that I can visit my family. That will give me three weeks to use after the baby. While that wasn't ideal, it does mean I won't miss out on as much pay as six weeks off would have caused.
Also, my boss has agreed that after the three weeks of time off, I can actually work from home for awhile! The details will need to be worked out, but this is a HUGE relief for me to know he's okay with the idea. Again, thank you everyone for the advice and support!
Recently I emailed one of my editors in charge of allowing vacation time at the paper I work at. I was asking about taking the first week of March off in order to visit my family in Indiana so I can see them once before the baby is born in June. I also asked if we could discuss maternity leave, as I hadn't heard anything about how they handle it here. I also want to note that my coworker (who has basically the same job as I do) is also pregnant and we are due within about a week of each other.
This was last Thursday. And I hadn't heard from her yet, so when I IM her a 'Good morning' today I asked if she had received my email, just to know it had gone through (their email and internet at her branch of the paper are notoriously bad). Here was what she messaged back in response:
"yes, we're figuring out what we can do - we don't have maternity leave - just vacation - last time *coworker who is also pregnant* was out we had *former employee* at the paper to take up the slack"
This made me stop in my tracks and stare at my computer screen. Aren't employers required to provide maternity leave to mothers? She hasn't told me anything else yet, but I'm not liking the way this is sounding. I just got passed my first year at the paper and I think I am only afforded two weeks of vacation. I'm worried they will expect me back at work in less than six weeks (which I believed was the norm for maternity leave). I understand it puts them in a hard spot with both me and my coworker due at the same time when we do the same job so neither can pick up the slack for the other, but I don't want to get screwed out of my the time off I need to adjust and bond with my baby when the time comes. Am I wrong and this is something they can do?
I really can't consider quitting. My husband makes decent enough money as a teacher, but without my paycheck we couldn't afford my car, which we need. The job market here is rather dismal, especially for me since there are only two other papers in town. One that is owned by my husband's former boss and I would not be welcomed at, and the other that I previously worked at that has outsourced what I did to a design studio in Iowa.
Sorry for such a long post, but I'd appreciate anyone's input on the situation. Thank you!