Birthing Rights: A Working Mother’s Dilemma

This mother’s day brought many things to mind. I am 28 years old. The exact age my mother was when she had me. Very terrifying. At 28, there are a multitude of things that I do (and enjoy) that would be shot to hell if I had to take care of a baby right now.  Let me lend some context….I have somewhat of a reputation among friends and family for not wanting or even liking children. As I’ve gotten older and met my fiance, I knew I wanted to have all of his babies (insert cheesy smiley face), but no time soon.

That’s not what this post is about. Mothers are the strongest people on earth, there is no doubt about that , but the unimaginable pain and the unpaid maternity leave that most employers in the US offer are two major deterrents (not to mention the demise of my waistline, but I digress).

I just watch a TIME video sent to me by my friend where John Oliver goes over the short comings of the US in regards to maternity leave, piggybacking on a conversation we recently had. I was immediately concerned. Sure, I’m not pregnant now, but in the future as I come into my career and adulthood I will be in the workplace faced with the decision (as many women today) to piece together time off using sick and vacation days OR return to work before I am ready or able to. Together my friend and I thought – how do we get behind this cause? After Googling a few different word combos (gaining paid maternity leave, paid FMLA, maternity leave in the US), we were met with disabled websites and closed petitions. What now?

A less political, but more personal thought yesterday was of the inexplicable pain that most mothers endure during child labor. This weekend I watched another video (gotta love the internet) where four guys had the chance to experience simulated labor pains. It was funny, but terrifying. Several friends and family members have described the pain to me. Reenactments ensued. Expletives were shouted. Things were torn. The pain is something that doesn’t last forever and is seemingly bearable, so I digress yet again.

In a time where gender inequality (among other very important inequalities read: #blacklivesmatter) is at the forefront, I wonder why gaining some type of paid maternity leave across the board isn’t a larger part of the conversation? Thinking that someone or group HAVE to be talking about this, I did a search for maternity leave info-graphics (I’m a visual person) and found this one that was packed with tons things I didn’t know:

Maternity Leave in the U.S. TakePart.com Infographic
Via: TakePart.com

Unfortunately, this and most of what I found is from 2012. The sad part is, at the bottom of the info-graphic, we are urged to ‘Do Something’ and sign a petition at site geared towards working mothers. Alas, that too is from 2012 and has since been disabled. Where do we go and what do we do to make this a bigger issue? It may not mean to much to some people but as a woman who plans to have children and maintain my career one day…..I’m worried.

dionna camille

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