‘We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, but we’re leaving women behind in mass.’: Working mom advocates for paid maternity leave

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“After having my first child, I cried.

I cried a lot.

There were happy tears, but in the days that followed there were tears of pain, frustration, and confusion.

And my sweet baby, he cried too.

He cried a lot.

Because he wasn’t getting enough to eat at first, and in the haze of new motherhood I couldn’t tell.

He cried because he had reflux and we didn’t know how to help him.

He cried because he was a baby and babies cry.

So here we all were, in a house together, crying, learning on the job, and trying our best. Like any new family.

But if there was ONE thing I wasn’t worried about during those early days and weeks, it was work.

My maternity leave was fully paid for by my employer for 12 weeks.

My husband’s company didn’t have paid paternity leave yet, but he took paid vacation to be with us.

And so even though there were a lot of tears, I could heal without fear of where our next meal would come from.

I could learn how to be a mother to this beautiful boy and know that I could also continue on with my career.

Because of paid leave, I didn’t have to make the hard choices that thousands of parents have to make in this country.

The choice between caring for myself and my child physically or caring for us both financially.

The choice between halting my career and having a child.

The choice between staying or going while I looked a new little human in the eyes.

We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, but we’re leaving folks, and in this case mainly women, behind in mass.

We need to let our mothers heal and succeed.

We need to let our babies, and would it help to call them ‘future taxpayers,’ be WITH those mothers and be financially secure.

Can employers step up here and offer paid leave? Absolutely.

And when I talk about making working motherhood really WORK, I’m looking right at employers and their policies and cultures and helping women evaluate them.

But if we truly care about families and if we truly care about women, our government needs to do their part too.

Not next time around.

Right now.”

mother holds her newborn child on her bare chest and looks at them adoringly
Courtesy of Becca Carnahan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becca Carnahan. You can follow her journey on  Instagram and her website. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Becca here:

‘It’s confusing, this motherhood business. But it’s beautiful.’: Woman shares changes, new ‘states of being’ after becoming a mother

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