EofK, you could try to become Canadian - we get 1 year of maternity leave, that is partially paid too (although if you are self-employed you are out of luck) from our employment insurance. The pay isn't much, but better than nothing! With my first though it wasn't quite enough financially and so I had to go back to work when my son was 9 months old. Again, still better than your situation. And many bosses, even if they are legally supposed to find you work again when your leave is up, sure try to make your feel like dirt (and will occasionally "write" your job description out of existence)
You would, however, run into a problem finding childcare. We do have some very good quality daycare, but it's expensive and very hard to get (2 year waiting lists - you have to sign them up upon conception and even then it's not good enough - and they won't let you sign up pre-conception!). Most licensed facilities in our area cost about $1100-$1200/month for a child Caitlin's age. That said, those with low income can usually access a government subsidy. If you are middle class though forget it.
We're currently in a panic trying to find temporary childcare until my mother-in-law (hopefully) can come for a few months from overseas (and then after that we're back to scrambling for more childcare). But where I live, most people who provide home-based childcare cram 5-7 kids in a tiny apartment, and I've never been too impressed with the safety standards I've seen either (most don't bother to get licensed, although by law they are supposed to if they have that many kids, but with daycare at such a shortage they can do what they want). Maybe I'm a tad paranoid, but I read a lot and I'm a teacher so safety is pretty ingrained. The other worry is cognitive development. I always found my eldest to just leap ahead exponentially in the cognitive realm when I was able to be home for a week or two on holidays (he was always in home-based care - it's what we could find plus they opened up early enough for me to get to work - most institutional centres have ridiculously limited hours). Anway, it got to the point where I decided the leaps weren't coincidental.
As for me, based on our housing situation we could never be insured to run daycare from our home because we, for instance, don't have a bathroom on the floor the children would be cared on (sounds strange but it's a multi split-level townhome - the tiny bathroom has its own floor). I think a yard isn't necessary though. If you ever decide to run daycare yourself, really do your homework with all the licensing requirements etc. They can be quite detailed, right down to the hight of railings etc. etc. And while I'm sure many people avoid bothering with the (major) expense of insurance connected to childcare, that could really get them into a whole lotta trouble, so seriously consider it, especially in the litigation-mad U.S. (sorry - don't mean to stereotype, and I know litigation definitely has it's place, but sometimes it seems pretty outrageous down there).
Anyway, EofK, I feel your pain - you're are stuck between a rock and a hard place and it's just awful! The worst is if you are in a job where you cannot choose your holiday time! If you can, then you can use up all of your holiday time in a pinch if you're between caregivers, but if you can't and something doesn't work out with caregivers, it's a disaster!