When I became pregnant with my first child, I checked the maternity leave policy at the small PR firm where I worked before I told my boss. Twelve weeks, unpaid. After I told my boss about the pregnancy, he immediately told the office manager to change the leave policy to six weeks unpaid. Wha? I ultimately fought back and got my twelve weeks, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth and completely degraded the respect I once felt for him. He was within his rights since small companies (with less than 25 employees) are exempt from the Oregon Family Leave Act, but it was still a slimy thing to do. (Suffice it to say, when I left the firm two years later and the biggest client followed along with me, I didn't feel terribly guilty.)
My plan had been to work up until 8 days before my due date. But, surprise, surprise, my daughter arrived early and I had only 3 days of 'me' time before she arrived. (However, in typical nesting fashion, I managed to decorate the entire nursery in those three days.) It would have been nice to have had a little more time, particularly since I'd planned to shop for a day care center during that week. But I loved having the time to recuperate and adjust to parenthood during those early weeks, especially after my husband went back to work.
When I returned to work, I resumed all of my former responsibilities and took on new clients. Because we were a small firm, I didn't suffer any loss of stature that the women who are suing New York's Bloomberg LP experienced. In that case, women were demoted and their pay cut after disclosing their pregnancies. It's hard to imagine that this kind of thing still goes on in today's workplace (though given the recent fight to pump breast milk in the workplace, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that working mothers still aren't playing on a level field with men and childless women.)
Did you experience any employer backlash after disclosing your pregnancy or returning from maternity leave? How long was your leave, and was it paid or unpaid? Did you feel you took enough time off before you gave birth, or were you happy to have more time with the baby?