Why is Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave Important?

Some people out there don’t know about my son’s rough start.

When G was born early, I had luckily just started my maternity leave, hoping for a month to prepare.  G arrived less than a week later. What a surprise!! My health insurance had finally started, 3 days before.

I had to quit my job because we were then in and out of hospitals with him until G was 3 months old. G couldn’t breastfeed, and I had to stay near by to pump and care for him. Then, we had to go to Boston for a month for G’s open heart surgery, so G’s dad had to leave his job as well (What was he going to do, NOT be with his 3 month old who was having open heart surgery??) We ended up not going home until G was 5 months old.

So there we were, two brand new parents, no income, forced to drain our savings so we could be with our baby while he healed from his surgery. We lived in strangers houses or slept on cots in the parents wing of Boston Children’s Hospital if they weren’t filled. There was a group shower area to use, but I was usually too uncomfortable to use it without Alex, I didn’t even sleep in the woman’s section, at night I would sneak into the men’s cot area and curl up next to Alex. The McDonalds house had no openings and we couldn’t afford a hotel. 

DHMC had the Davids house which became our second home while in Lebanon NH, and they had food we could eat to save money (Chef Boyardi, soups, oatmeal and an insane amount of sweets, cakes and cookies donated from a local BJ Wholesale)

We lived off of food donations to the parents section at the hospital. We spent our days wandering the vast hospitals halls and wings or cuddling with G on a chair and watching hours of tv in between check ins with doctors and nurses.

This is not any easy life. Parents who put their entire lives on pause for the health of their children, they are out there. New ones every day. It is terrifying, lonely, exhausting and amplifies anxieties. The added stress of less or suddenly no income is just the match that lights the dynamite.

Paid maternity/paternity leave is extremely important and would have made a HUGE difference in our lives. This would make a difference in lives across the United States. Now is the time to catch up with all the countries that are so far ahead of us when it comes to the treatment of its citizens. Lets take care of our people who are in need and not discard them during their struggle.

It’s a dark, scary world out there. We will only survive if we all stick together.