Dear Future Presidential Candidates,
For a few moments of your time, please picture the following:
A mother has a C-section. She is forced back to work just six days after giving birth. Yes, just six days after having her stomach cut open, she hands over her less than 1-week-old baby and returns to work. This mother must go back to pay for her rent and utilities and put food on the table. This mother is at work as her stitches are popping, and she is bleeding from her surgery. She wants to nurse her baby but isn’t allowed to pump in her place of work, so this mother runs out to her car every two hours to rush to pump for her 6-day-old baby. This mother also isn’t allowed to store her breast milk in her place of work, so she runs across the highway to a Denny’s restaurant that “allows” her to store her breast milk there.
And we are living in the land of the free, the country of opportunity, or are we?
This is neither a Republican issue nor a Democrat issue.
This is neither a mother issue nor a father issue but rather a family issue.
This is neither a lower class issue nor a middle class issue. Unfortunately, this is an issue for nearly every working family.
We are being given no choice but to hand over our very new babies before they have even gotten a chance to know who their parents are, let alone have sufficient time for mothers’ bodies to appropriately heal.
We are being forced to choose between the families we love and the jobs we need.
We, despite our honest efforts as working families, are cashing out retirement accounts 25 years too early and declaring bankruptcy to go into, well, survival mode.
We are being confined to the unnerving task of trying to pay the bills while trying to afford the ever-increasing child care fees.
We are being prevented from having the opportunity, in what is arguably the most critical time for both a parent and a newborn, to simply be, to bond, to develop a relationship that we have been anticipating for nearly nine months.
No, this is not a handout that American working families are pleading for. But rather as a country, this is our moral responsibility to begin putting families first and recognizing the human needs that families are being deprived of.
From the story of the mother above or the father who has to leave his newborn’s bedside just hours after birth to return to work, it has to stop.
Almost 4 million babies are born in the United States each year.
Approximately 334,000 babies are born each month.
Approximately 11,000 babies are born every single day.
As Blake Mycoskie says, “The power of a single idea, acted upon, can change people’s lives.”
So, I ask of you, future presidential candidates, are you ready to act?
Because we, the most powerful country which prides itself on the safety and fulfillment of its people, are long overdue.
It is time that America catches up with the rest of the world and puts a paid family leave policy in place.
A Working Mother of Four, One of Millions Who Has Endured the Unthinkable