Opting to care for her daughter is the right choice but this writer hopes to return to work eventually.
It's been a full ten months and I still find it difficult to say that I'm a stay-at-home-mum. Less than two years ago, I was a full-fledged news reporter with five plus years under my belt, working in the beautiful and dynamic state of Penang.
It was a career I always knew I would have. True, in my early secondary school years, I put 'teacher' and 'accountant' on my official school list of ambitions, but that was before I found out how fun it was to submit entries like 'international spy' and 'nun' instead.
I had set myself on a plan when I was 14 years old - get myself into a local university, study journalism and somehow end up at CNN. It wasn't the money (what money?) or glamour (haha, glamour?) that attracted me to the profession.
It was more the fact that I was outspoken, always geared up for a good debate/fight, confrontational and easily bored. Something that changed every day was the only thing I could imagine doing for the long-term.
In journalism, I was also doing something I inherently believed was good and honourable. It was all those things. It was exciting, it was beautiful, it was downright terrible and I loved it.
When I took a break to pursue a communications masters Down Under, I was constantly asked what it was like to be a reporter and I always gave the same answer - it's like having a bad boyfriend: you love it, but there's little doubt that it's killing you. It doesn't let you sleep, it barely lets you eat, but nothing makes you feel more alive.
About four months into my year-long study stint, my husband (who was with me in Australia doing his own masters) and I received the most unexpected news. We were expecting ... in a foreign country, at a time when neither of us had an income.
Needless to say, the timing was not ideal, but when you're in a situation where you can choose to freak out or be happy, you go with the latter and roll with the punches.
I have to say, I was very taken with the Australian maternity leave. Under the law there, mothers have the option of extending their leave up to a year and their employers must keep their jobs for them.
The government also helps out financially, which eases the burden of new families. I can't tell you the percentage of women who take up this option, but among the friends and colleagues I made during my time there, it was almost 100%.
Perhaps now is a good time to disclose that I am not the most maternal of women.
Still, to me, three-month-old babies seemed a little small to be left in full-time daycare. I mean, some of those little mons ... moppets can barely lift their heads.
So, when my beautiful little terrorist arrived two months after I submitted my last university paper and hopped on a plane home, the choice was clear. I just couldn't leave her and go back to work, not for a while, anyway.
My husband had secured a position that could sustain us both. Thankfully, as neither of us are big spenders, we could enjoy much of the lifestyle we had before our postgraduate endeavour. Of course, our ability to save has been severely diminished.