I can see that you probably didn't mean "cruel" exactly Proudmumma...not in the sense that it is abusive, anyway.
I don't think going to work is cruel in anyway though...actually...what is cruel about it is that we don't live in a society that values parenting enough to support us to have one parent at home a little longer. Even a lot of us women complain about single-mothers who choose to start at home to look after their kids!!!
Have a look at the statistics from around the world and you will notice that Australia *still*has one of the poorest paid maternity leave schemes across both the developed and developing worlds.
Our industrial legislation says that we have the right to take up to 12 months away from our paid work to raise or children...it does not support this with financial assistance to do so, however, making it completely impossible for most of us.
OP, I was definitely not ready to go back to work when my baby was your babies age...but I was ready to go back sooner than 12 months.
Do you have the ability to do fewer hours/days?
Also, if you are paying off debts like car loans, personal loans and a mortgage etc then have you been to your bank to temporarily rejig your finances...we did this and it REALLY made a difference. We are with CBA and fund then very open to this, however, if your bank is not then check out credit union Australia or another credit union. We have since had some dealings with then and have going then so much more people focused.