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The State of Maternity Leave

Finessing Three Challenges

My boss keeps calling me about work.

What to do: First, decide whether you want to be in the loop. If so, announce a time each day or every few days when you'll be available, such as during your baby's naptime or when you know you'll have help.

If you don't want to be called, keep a list near the phone of who's covering your assignments. When your boss calls, say, "Let me check the list -- oh, Susan's got those files. She should have all the info you need."

I'm afraid of losing ground at the office.

What to do: Touch base with your supervisor once every week or two to catch up on departmental changes. Every now and then, you can also refer to specific projects you'd like to tackle when you return to remind her that your job is still a priority.

If there's a big sales meeting, conference, or training seminar while you're out, you may need to attend. You can also ask that important materials be sent to you for you to review, and consider joining in key client meetings by conference call.

I want to extend my leave.

What to do: Explain to your boss that while you're still very committed to your job, you'd like to spend a few more weeks at home with your baby. Be specific about exactly how much time you'd like, and present her with a plan for handling the work in your (now longer) absence. If she can't accommodate your request, you may be able to compromise by overseeing a few projects from home or working part-time.

Contributing editor Jeannie Ralston's last article for Parenting was Childbirth by Appointment, a look at the increase in labor inductions, in the April 2002 issue.

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