I’m just barely out of my first trimester, but I guess the idealistic dreamland of early pregnancy (what pieces of it weren’t clouded with dry heaving and exhaustion) are over. Today I tried calling HR to figure out my options for maternity leave, and (without going into too many details) they’re not good. Basically, because I am due at the end of May and outside of my 9-month academic contract, by the time I return to work in late August, I will have exhausted my entire eligibility for sick leave. In other words, I get no maternity leave.
This post isn’t really about my woes, though, because I know I am among the luckiest. I am a full-time employee with benefits dealing with a planned pregnancy. And I work in academia, so (even though I am not eligible to use any of my accrued sick time to do so), I can take the entire summer losing only the extra money I usually earn by teaching some extra classes during this time.
But isn’t it messed up that my scenario is the “lucky” one?
For comparison, here’s a look at maternity leave policies around the world. You’ll notice that the United States is lagging behind similarly developed nations by quite a bit.
This also happens just as Amber Scorah’s heart-breaking story about her three-month-old son dying on the first day of daycare.
Meanwhile, legislators around the nation work tirelessly to ensure that any woman who becomes pregnant has to give birth. Please explain to me how “pro-life” our policies can really be if we can’t even make sure that people are allowed to use their earned, accrued leave time to parent those lives?
The hypocrisy is sickening, and so are the twisted scenarios families go through every day to negotiate an unwinnable game of money, time, and care.
We have to do better than this.