When we lived in Kansas City, Brad worked for a department that was short-staffed and overworked at the time. He was only 24 and I was still a baby at 22, we lived about 8 hours from all of our family when Marshall was born. The day we came home from the hospital- less than 48 hours after giving birth to our first- Brad went back to work leaving me alone with this new little life to figure out how to take care of. All while healing myself. He was disappointed that he didn’t get as much bonding time with his new son as he would like, but we needed the income and feared him losing his job if he didn’t return to work asap. We made it work, but it was hard and stressful on the both of us.
Nearly four years later we had Violet. We were now back in our home state and Brad was a freshly minted Trooper. His schedule was rotating so there were times he would work seven, ten-hour days in a row and then have seven days off. This week off stretch lined up with when we had Violet and then he took an additional week of vacation time. I had a difficult time healing after birthing our second, so about four of those days in the two-week off span I was bedridden for.
I was anxious about the task of caring for two while trying to heal from my ugly tear. It was definitely easier than when he went back to work after having Marshall, but there was a feeling of a ticking clock over us. My hormones were still all over the place due to the hormonal drop when he went back to work, which resulted in me needing a progesterone shot from my doctor. The shot gave me the little bit of a boost I needed to even myself out emotionally.
Then, last fall, we received word from Brad’s bosses that the state passed an experimental maternity/ paternity leave. He would now be entitled to six weeks paid leave, but also would have to use up whatever sick time he had accumulated (which was a stipulation we had no problem with).
In total, after having Francesca, Brad had seven and a half weeks off. Seven and a half weeks where I was able to heal and deal with the complicated hormones and emotions that postpartum brings. Seven and a half weeks that Brad was able to bond with his newest baby and make the older siblings feel secure in their role in our family. I cannot begin to tell you how much easier it was this time around with the paid leave.
Our third living child; by all accounts this should have been the most difficult adjustment period but it was by far the easiest. Even when Brad returned to work, it was a seamless transition and all five of us fell into the groove of everyday life comfortably.
The United States is the only industrialized country without paid family leave. Let that sink in. There are so many studies that show how paid leave benefits parents, new babies, and the whole family overall. It even helps in the workplace with morale and retaining quality employees. I don’t have to speculate about the benefits because I have experienced them first hand.
Now the state may be cutting paternity leave- ironically about nine months after its inception. This is not the direction we want to go. Instead, I’m hoping that not only the state but lower levels of government- such as counties and cities- adopt paid family leave. It would be an amazing thing to someday have paid family leave for all Americans; something that shouldn’t be such a foreign concept seeing how many other large first world nations have it.
It really is all about prioritizing the budget; pay attention to which law makers are voting for family leave. That will show you who is really “family first”.
And as a quick aside, because you know I just can’t help myself: the paid family leave was for several state departments, not just the Troopers. Still, I heard several comments in regards to Troopers and “tax dollars”.
Let me be very clear, my husband and his coworkers work incredibly hard to keep citizens safe and happy. If it came down to it, I know that I would lose my husband before you would lose your life. A few weeks of paid leave for him to care for his family should not be an issue. He has earned it; it is not some tax payer hand out.
While we are at it, these comments came 100% from people who have been astoundingly “pro-police” when it comes to Black Lives Matter protests. If you are quick to use the #policelivesmatter hashtag you should be nothing but supportive of these benefits. This is, after all, what police life is: supporting their family and caring for their children. That the life they live matters. So if you claim #policelivesmatter but are simultaneously against any of the benefits that law enforcement get, are you really pro-police? Or, perhaps, you aren’t so much “sided” with the police but instead against minorities. I see you.