“I’ve been on maternity leave for exactly six weeks. As I sit here with my newborn nestled on my chest, I couldn’t imagine heading back to work on this day. But that’s the reality for so many women in the U.S. And it breaks my heart.
It takes 9+ months to grow and nurture a baby inside the womb, yet women are expected to leave their newborns just a few weeks later and return to work?
In six weeks that I’ve been home, I haven’t slept more than four hours at a time. My days revolve around changing diapers, nursing and pumping, and trying to figure out why my baby is crying. And while my motherly instincts are loud and clear, we are nowhere near a daily routine yet. I couldn’t imagine going back to work right now.
At just six weeks postpartum, I couldn’t imagine going back to work, yet many women go back even earlier, just a couple weeks after giving birth. So many women face postpartum depression, anxiety, or in my case, PTSD. After delivering my triplets more than 17 weeks premature, two of my children died within two months of birth. The impact of a traumatic birth where I came close to death, coupled with the grief of losing two children, has led to heartache and triggers associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. As I juggle the emotions and the memories of my past, I’m also juggling the midnight feedings and lack of sleep. I still have stitches and I’m still bleeding, an obvious sign that I have not yet recovered from delivering my baby, even six weeks later.
At just six weeks postpartum, I couldn’t imagine taking my baby to daycare, in order for me to return to work. In between the diaper changes and doctor appointments, I spend my time holding my baby, staring at this perfect little human. But six weeks is not enough time to connect with our babies. Unfortunately, that’s the only option for so many women—we need to work because we need the income. And that means finding childcare for our newborn babies…that alone can lead to added stress.
There is no standard paid time off for women on maternity leave in our country. Some companies compensate, while others offer time off without pay. I’ve saved up vacation time and I’m being compensated through short term disability. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Some countries receive up to a full year with paid leave after they have a baby. But, until something changes in our country, women like me will try to balance our careers and motherhood the best we can. Some women are left with little time to bond with their newborn child, let alone heal their own body. But as moms, we do our best juggling all that life hands us, and that means cherishing every minute we have with our baby at home, whatever time off that leaves us.”
This story was written by Stacey Skrysak, an award winning television journalist based in Illinois. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more about Stacey’s triplets:
Provide encouragement and strength for other new moms. SHARE this story on Facebook with your friends and family.