Stacey Skrysak, a mom and news anchor with a passion for writing, recently opened up about how ridiculous the maternity leave laws are in the US. In a Facebook post, she shared that not only do women need to recover from giving birth, but the weeks after bringing a child into the world are far from relaxing.
“I’ve been on maternity leave for exactly six weeks. As I sit here with my newborn nestled on my chest, I couldn’t imagine heading back to work on this day,” she wrote. “But that’s the reality for so many women in the US. And it breaks my heart. It takes nine-plus months to grow and nurture a baby inside the womb, yet women are expected to leave their newborns just a few weeks later and return to work?”
What’s more? Tending to a newborn is certainly no walk in the park. Heck, most women can barely shower, let alone get some quality sleep.
“In six weeks that I’ve been home, I haven’t slept more than four hours at a time,” she said. “My days revolve around changing diapers, nursing and pumping, and trying to figure out why my baby is crying. And while my motherly instincts are loud and clear, we are nowhere near a daily routine yet. I couldn’t imagine going back to work right now.”
After some careful reflection, Stacey realized that six week isn’t nearly a long enough break for any new mother, especially if they’re battling conditions like postpartum depression or PTSD.
“At just six weeks postpartum, I couldn’t imagine going back to work, yet many women go back even earlier, just a couple weeks after giving birth. So many women face postpartum depression, anxiety, or in my case, PTSD. As I juggle the emotions and triggers of my past, I’m juggling the midnight feedings and lack of sleep. I still have stitches and I’m still bleeding, an obvious sign that I have not yet recovered from delivering my baby, even six weeks later.”
“But, until something changes in our country, women like me will try to balance our careers and motherhood the best we can.”
She continued: “At just six weeks postpartum, I couldn’t imagine taking my baby to daycare, in order for me to return to work. In between the diaper changes and doctor appointments, I spend my time holding my baby, staring at this perfect little human. But six weeks is not enough time to connect with our babies. Unfortunately, that’s the only option for so many women — we need to work because we need the income. And that means finding childcare for our newborn babies . . . that alone can lead to added stress.”
While Stacey used some of her vacation days strategically, she admitted she’s one of the more fortunate new moms. At the end of the day, she knows the situation in the US needs to change.
“There is no standard paid time off for women on maternity leave in our country,” wrote Stacey. “Some companies compensate, while others offer time off without pay. I’ve saved up vacation time and I’m being compensated through short term disability. I’m one of the lucky ones. Some countries receive up to a full year with paid leave after they have a baby. But, until something changes in our country, women like me will try to balance our careers and motherhood the best we can. Some women are left with little time to bond with their newborn child, let alone heal their own body. But as moms, we do our best juggling all that life hands us, and that means cherishing every minute we have with our baby at home, whatever time off that leaves us.”