More Mothers Missing Out on Maternity Leave

Although things appear to be bouncing back from a down economy, several women are deciding to return to work sooner then they'd like to in order to keep supporting their families.

"It's really difficult I mean you're busy, I get up at 5:30 everyday and I don't get to sit down until 10:00 at night," said full-time mother and employee, Amber Zickefoose.

Zickefoose works full-time at first financial bank and is also has two young kids. She decided to go back to work earlier than she would have liked and says she feels bad she misses out on so much family time.

"There're so many things you miss being at work like their first steps or their first words or the first time they rollover, most likely it's going to be at daycare," said Zickefoose.

Several women KTAB spoke to described this problem as "mommy guilt," feeling like you're sacrificing your job and the paycheck it brings versus spending time at home with your kids.

Toni Brown continues to work on balancing her job and kids. Brown works at Alliance for Women & Children, she's eight months pregnant and already has three kids-with the fourth on the way. Although Brown thought she would be a stay at home mom, she ended up staying at her job to help support her family.

"With our situation our income is necessary for us and so my paid time off will give me about four weeks," said Brown.

After that, Brown says working at Alliance has a major advantage.

"I'll be able to bring the baby here some for the first couple of weeks until he's ready for daycare," said Brown.

Brown says the only way she's been able to stay in her career is by finding a daycare center she feels comfortable with.

"There's always that feeling of someone else is really helping (you) raise your kids so you want to be able to trust them and make sure they're good for them and they're taking good care of them," said Brown.

But regardless of a family's economic situation, Brown says it's a difficult decision to make.

"I think it's just as hard if not harder to be a stay at home mom as it is to work," added Brown.

Cynthia Pearson, also a working mom, is the President/CEO at Day Nursery of Abilene. For parents that can't take any paid time off, Day Nursery is one of the few childcare centers in town that takes babies at any age.

"It's needed there are brand new moms with brand new babies that have to go right back to work and day nursery is there to help meet that need," said Pearson.

Day Nursery was started in the 1970s, when 38 percent of the workforce were women. Today that number has doubled to 68 percent.

As another long workday ends for Zickefoose, it's only a few minutes until she sees one of her favorite faces at the end of the day.

"It's so hard after you have your kids to go back to work," she said.  "I think that's the hardest part of it because you're at home and you're so used to working everyday for years and then you get this time off with your kid and you're so happy."

Happy now that Zickefoose has found a way to balance her career while keeping her family the number one priority.

Pearson says that in 2003, child care was the 16th largest industry in Texas and was the fastest growing industry in 2004.

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