When I was pregnant with my son Calvin, both my fiancé Tyler and I were working full-time at a major pizza delivery chain. We’re also full-time college students, working to build a better life for our family.
My job doesn’t provide health insurance, maternity leave or sick days. So I was determined to work as long as possible into the late stages of my pregnancy, because I knew I would have to go two months without income after Calvin was born. That meant I was lugging around 40 extra pounds on my belly for the hottest part of the year. I worked next to two 450 degree ovens and stood on my feet for eight or more hours at a time, often with no time for a break to sit down.
Having Tyler in the hospital those first few days after my emergency c-section was so important. He held my hand and rubbed my shoulders and told me I was doing great because the “baby blues,” a cute name for an awful, crippling mental state, was creeping into every tender moment with our beautiful boy. Tyler was my rock and my sunshine. But he had to go back to work after one week, because we couldn’t afford to go without his paycheck. There was something deeply wrong and unfair about Tyler leaving for work when I needed him to stay home so badly.
Paid family leave would have changed everything for us. And, I imagine, it would change everything for the millions of other new families who just want the best for their child.
Your personal story can be a powerful way to convince state legislators of the importance of paid family leave. If you have an experience of how paid family and medical leave would help you or your family, please share it with us here.