I started a paid family leave on January 3rd, when my wife and I welcomed Baby Ellis, as his big brother calls him, into the world. I just made the transition back to office life from my six week stint at a stay at home mom.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have an employer who introduced six weeks of paid parental leave as a benefit for all employees last year around this time. The intention was to provide our employees with time to spend bonding with the newest member(s) of their family without worrying about the amount of vacation/sick time they had stored up or what they’d do if they didn’t have a paycheck coming in. When you remove those kinds of stressors, it creates a healthier environment at home for all that good stuff to happen.
When our three year old was born in November 2014, we didn’t have that benefit. Not a lot of companies did. I used two weeks of sick time to be there during his birth, our hospital stay and about 1.5 weeks of being at home. My wife had an emergency C-section after 44 hours of labor and ended up needing a blood transfusion while she was in the hospital.
And then she struggled with postpartum depression, along with 15% of women that give birth, as she adjusted to being alone with a newborn seven days after major surgery with complications. That’s a brutal thing we ask parents to do and yet, as a country, that’s what we expect them to do.
I’m not saying anything could have made her PPD not happen three years ago. Those things happen. But what would have made a world of difference to our family is knowing that I could be there to support our transition of adding another human to our family.
Parents and children deserve the right to start off their lives together with as much support as they can get. We need to keep talking about it. If it doesn’t apply to you directly, I guarantee it will impact someone you work with. And you know it’s easier to work with someone that’s not stressed out all the time, right?
Keep talking. Keep telling your stories. Encourage your non-HR friends to start the conversation, too. This isn’t a controversial topic, you guys. We can all work on making this happen together.
Photo by Amy at Amy Wurdock Photography.