Change is never easy! I tend to avoid it but some of the best moments of my life were due to a life change and a little over 8 weeks ago we welcomed our little girl into the world. We went from a family of 4 to a family of 5 so we no longer fit in a restaurant booth and our beloved Honda Pilot felt to small so we bought a minivan. These are all happy changes but we live in the United States of America where paid leave is a joke. Our government should be leading the world by pushing for better laws to promote paid leave after a baby is born and companies need to see the value in giving their employees 12 weeks paid leave for both parents.
No Paid Leave Round One
When our oldest was born both my husband and I were working for companies that had no maternity leave policy other then use your vacation days and then take unpaid time off. As you can imagine it was complete chaos since we were forced to go back to work before we were ready. I took a month off and my husband only took a couple of days. Thankfully we had family visiting from out of town so we had some help but once I returned to work I remember working after the 4:00am feedings just so I could meet deadlines.
No Paid Leave Round Two
Our second son decided to come 3 weeks early which was no big deal expect we did not live near family. They had purchased plane tickets to come after his due date which meant we had no help for 3 weeks. Once again my husband took a couple days off work and I took 2 weeks. Yep, 2 short weeks after giving birth I returned to work. Life was extremely stressful. We were not sleeping, carrying for a new baby and a toddler and I had to find time during the day to work. My husband got the flu and I developed pneumonia, thankfully not at the same time.
I returned to work 2 weeks after my second son was born. Life was extremely stressful.
My body was still healing when I returned to work both times but I didn’t have a choice. We probably could have gotten by financially if my husband would have had paid leave but for some reason men are looked over for paid leave.
I don’t know about other people’s families but my husband and I are a team. We created life together and we raise our children together. He has always helped at night with diaper changes and getting the kids back to sleep before going to work the next day.
Some Paid Leave
Thankfully, after our daughter was born my husband got 2 weeks of paid leave. It was amazing and life-changing! It was so helpful and we bonded as a family but it wasn’t long enough. He had his first day back at work when our daughter was 5.5 weeks old. Two days later I had a mental breakdown and he was forced to take another day off work. All of this was possible because my husband works for a university that does not offer summer school so he had a lot of flexibility in his schedule.
Why it Matters
It wasn’t just the birth of our daughter that changed our lives this summer. Our boys had to adjust to their new roles in the family and it required both parents. He could feed our boys while I was breastfeeding our daughter. There were times it would take us hours to get our daughter to sleep. Life was stressful but with him home we could take turns getting her to sleep. We always had someone who could give our boys the attention they were missing.
Thankfully our daughter is slightly older and a little easier to parent but that’s not the point. She still is not sleeping all night. When she is awake she requires all my attention. While I am breastfeeding I cannot get a snack for my boys. I cannot comfort them if they get hurt or discipline them if they act out. I need an extra set of hands.
It takes a village to raise a child and companies need to support families by making 12 weeks paid leave for both parents standard. Let’s be better America! We should show the world that we value families and be leading the world with our policies.