Despite planning ahead for her newborn son, Connor, Selena found herself between a rock and a hard place when he was born. Her doctor had said Connor was due in May, but he arrived unexpectedly in early April and faced serious medical issues.
“Early on, my husband and I decided we could afford for me to take a four weeks of maternity leave. This meant saving all of the health and vacation leave I would accumulate over the next nine months so I could have two and half weeks of paid leave, and cutting back expenses so we could afford to take another week and half off unpaid.”
With Connor six weeks early, Selena had far less paid leave than she expected. On top of that, Selena and her husband had no idea when Connor would be released from the hospital. “It could have been days, weeks or even months. And there was no way we could take any additional time off unpaid – money was already tight in spite of our two full time jobs.”
Selena was forced to make the difficult decision to return to work and save her time off to be with Connor when he came home. “Instead of focusing on my child who had health issues, I had to go to work because I couldn’t afford not to,” Allen said, who gave birth on Thursday and returned to work on Monday. Selena describes those three weeks as, “by far, the most difficult time of my life.”
The experience inspired Selena to work for paid family leave legislation in Washington State. “It is society’s duty to protect and care of our most vulnerable: our children, the sick and the elderly. Family and Medical Leave Insurance allows families to do just that—to take care of themselves and/or their families when they are most needed.”
Editor’s note: We want to hear from you! If you have a story about how you have been affected by a lack of paid sick time or family leave, please contact Gabriela@eoionline.org. Your stories can help legislators understand the importance of paid sick days and family leave.