As my son approaches his 2nd birthday at the end of this month, I find myself remembering my pregnancy, his birth, and my maternity leave.  I am acutely aware of how fortunate I was during that time because my pregnancy was uncomplicated and his birth was a wonderful experience.  I have known many people, friends and co-workers, who struggled in so many ways with their own pregnancies and childbirth.

I am a social worker and I love my job.  After my son was born, the only thing that mattered to me was caring for him.  I was out on maternity leave for 14 weeks, which sounds like a good period of time to care for a newborn.  But I deeply struggled, emotionally and physically, to return to the workforce.  And, most unfortunately, what drove me back to work was my inability to manage finances without a second income.

I am very lucky that I have a wonderful husband who is employed full time and I could take maternity leave.  However, 8 of the 14 weeks were unpaid time.  Only 2 weeks were paid at my full salary; I luckily had banked 2 weeks of PTO.  The next 4 weeks were paid at 60% of my salary by the short term disability offered by my employer.  And so, I felt irrevocably forced back to my job.  Work that I truly enjoy and find very rewarding.

And what about my husband?  He wanted to take time off from work to spend time with our son.  So, after I went back to work, he stayed home.  He used 3 weeks of vacation.  Afterward, he was able to use sick time hours and go to work part time after I would get home at the end of the day.  We were able to stretch it out until my son was 6 months old, when he started daycare.

For me personally and professionally, I believe that paid family leave is a basic right everyone should be entitled to, no matter their circumstance.  We all need paid time off to address different medical issues, the birth or adoption of a child, parent, grandparent, and family care.

-By Sarah A., Plainville, CT

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