When did you go on yours?
I work in a daycare - so it's relatively physical. I'll be 36 weeks this week and I am thinking of going on my maternity leave now so i can spend some time with my two kids before i have 3!
I can take off more then the normal "6 weeks" so it isn't like i'll be sacrificing time with my baby; + we're getting our tax return this week so we can more than afford to go down to one income.
I started mine very early. The week of thanksgiving and I am 38 weeks today. I work in a paper mill, which is a dangerous, extremely physical environment. Not to mention working a southern swing shift, which if your relief calls in, you are stuck working 16 hours. I could barely handle 8 hours on the concrete floor with awful uncomfortable steel toe boots. But, I am looking forward to going back!
Wow it's different in Ireland, we get 26 weeks! It's a legal entitlement though some women choose to go back earlier. If your job doesn't pay you while out we get maternity benefit, it's not the exact same to what you would make while working but it helps. In your case, if you can afford it, I would take it now. Like you said, you can spend time with your kids before baby comes and you can take extra time afterwards. I had mine booked for 38 weeks but had both holidays and extra time owed so I ended up finishing at almost 36 weeks. I was glad I did as I got lots of time to organise myself and rest more.
I started mine the day I went into labor. That is the standard at the corporation I work for. They consider it a paid medical leave, and if you are not on bed rest before you deliver, then you work until you pop.