Technically, yes. My institution gives me 16 weeks at full pay, and nobody is taking that away from me. But will that mean that I can put work completely on the side and focus on baby during these 16 weeks? Well, that's another question...
I am now about a month away from my due date, and still desperately trying to finish off a couple of research projects. It's not so much a countdown until the moment when I will get to meet my daughther, but more like keeping track of how much working time I have left. This could very well be the last time I'm ever pregnant, so I'm starting to be frustrated to be so obsessed with work deadlines, rather than focussing on the little person inside me. Something has to change soon though, because at this point we have no name for baby, not a single baby item in the house, and obviously haven't even thought of starting to pack a bag for the hospital!
On the other hand, I've been telling myself it's okay to be focussing on work right now, because when baby comes, I can put all of that aside, and focus on her for the next 3.5 months. But I'm really starting to wonder if that will be possible. I'm sure that throughout my maternity leave I'll keep finding in my inbox papers to review, problems to address, data to deal with, etc. And I know I will feel guilty if I don't deal with these things, because this is really a kind of job that never stops. Even though I would be in my right not to do anything work-related for 16 weeks, I know I won't be able to do it. Because it would feel so unnatural after so many years never really taking a break and because, as understanding and supportive as my colleagues/collaborators/friends are, they are in that set of mind too and will expect me to still be responding to work requests.
So I'm sad and conflicted about this. This is my one chance to have a little break from work, which in itself would be wonderful. But it's also a very special time when our family will grow from 3 to 4, a time we should spend together making memories, free of any nagging work problems. Even if I dared shutting off my email and tried ignoring work problems, I know they would keep running in the back of my mind nonetheless. This is why I say that I doubt I will get the real carefree maternity leave I'm dreaming about, in good part by my own twisted fault.
This all makes me again so glad we had Chatton mid-way through our PhDs when we were comparatively so carefree, and so admiring of women who have children as young faculty, when responsibilities and worries must be even worse that mine right now!