10 years ago my life changed forever. In a frenzy of pain and excitement my son arrived at 3:30AM and what was two became a trio. At the time, I was working full-time in an intense job that I loved – that also provided paid family leave – and this made all the difference.
When I think back on this time, three numbers jump out to me - 6, 12, and 24.
6 – Survival?
At six weeks post delivery I remember looking at my baby and thinking – we might actually survive this – I will likely not kill you accidentally and we may actually even come to enjoy our time together. I was sure I loved my baby – but at six weeks I was actually starting to become convinced we liked each other and that I might actually enjoy this motherhood gig.
12 – Enjoyable?
At 12 weeks – I found my confidence, I could do this and in fact this little invader was quite a fun addition. There were smiles and firsts and all kids of funny faces – this kid was really amazing and we started to really have a great time. This mostly involved me observing him on his belly, on his back and all the adorable bits in between.
24 – Live changing!
I had 24 weeks of full pay – so at 6 weeks post delivery I wasn’t stressed about dollars, I was stressed about my own parenting, breastfeeding and sleep schedules. At 12 weeks when I started to figure him out a little better I was thinking about hanging with my little guy, finding playgroups, taking walks and keeping my baby healthy – not my imminent return to work. I had the time and space to bond with my baby, enjoy him and plan for the future.
One other thing to add, when I had my son, I was surrounded by other women who also were receiving paid leaves. In fact, everyone I met in my early years had some level of paid leave, from the woman working at the grocery store to the lawyer next door. Why? Because I had my first child in England – where there are government ensures funding for all mothers.
In the US, my story is exceptional as only 12% of women giving birth here have access to paid leave after child birth – this is not acceptable. A society is judged by how it treats its elders and its youngest – what type of society do you want to be living in?
I am now working with other partners across New Hampshire to work to bring Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance to our workers. The model will be different, the level of support to be determined, but starting this discussion is essential. Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance makes sense for families, makes sense for businesses and makes sense for our communities. Join me in trying to bring Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance to New Hampshire. We can and must do better!