I sat in the NICU in a daze.
“Ding Ding, Ding Ding!”
IV fluids- complete
“Ding Beep Beep”
Respiratory rate- dropping
Oxygen Saturation- Low
Cameron, otherwise known as the boy twin, had just finished a feeding through his NG tube. His alarms went off while he worked hard to release a preemie sized fart – poof.
The sounds of the NICU echoed in my head like the intro to the Pink Floyd hit “Money”. I had 12 weeks of FMLA, and my 12 weeks had begun. My Joy turned to Fear.
In the US the only nationally recognized benefit for parental leave is FMLA. Though it protects your employment for 12 weeks, FMLA is an unpaid benefit. Like many women in this country my pay is not a supplement to my family’s well-being; it is essential.
My choice to take 12 weeks was a sacrifice, not a luxury.
And yet, I am one of the fortunate. Many women who qualify do not have the choice to take the full 12 weeks of FLMA. They have to return to work after 6 weeks short term disability to avoid the crippling financial hit. Short term disability is not a fully paid benefit, and it is not available to all. As a result, some women go against their Doctor’s orders and take only 2 weeks!
My friend, let’s call her “Sally,” planned to take 6 weeks of leave. Her baby was born early and needed time in the NICU. She made the decision of considering the NICU as daycare, so she could spend her 6 weeks with her baby once released from the hospital. Sally returned to work 3 DAYS after giving birth and 2 weeks before it is considered safe to drive. She risked postpartum hemorrhage and bleeding to death in order to have time at home with her baby. That is a calculated risk that no one should be comfortable with yet many women face. She, like many, had no choice. In fact, approximately 25% of women return to work within 10 days of giving birth.
“What do you need? How can I help? What can I do for you?” The people in my life repeatedly bless me with their graciousness; however, it is often difficult for me to accept help or to articulate what is most helpful.
I need time to bond and get to know these new beautiful people who rely on me and their father for everything.
I need time to help my older children feel secure in their new roles as our family org chart widens.
I need time to heal from my emergency C-section and 9 month pregnancy.
I need time to make breastfeeding work, or at least give it a try.
After I tallied up the paychecks missed, insurance contribution due, hospital bills and new price of childcare, I was overwhelmed. My mother suggested I create a crowdfunding project to help fund my leave. I felt embarrassed as a working woman to seek crowdfunding as my only resort.
There had to be a better solution.
We can register for gifts, so why not time? People want to help. Why should I feel embarrassed for being truthful about the help I need?
We need to feel empowered to value the fleeting time with our families that we will never get back.
We need a shame-free platform where working moms can register for what they want more than anything.
We need to encourage and help working parents to take 12 weeks for their health and the health of their babies.
It is my belief that women are some of the most creative, focused, and determined beings I know, yet most of us venture into the transition of maternity leave and the return to work with little to no preparation. As a result, we are left feeling defeated, alone, and overwhelmed.
We need Take12.
Take12 is my answer to the maternity leave crisis. With Take12 no working mom will need to feel as helpless as I did. Through Take12 I am committed to building a community that will empower parents to mentally, emotionally and financially prepare for the transition of becoming a working parent.
If you are a mom preparing to take maternity leave, log on and create your Time Registry. We are here for you step by step as you set up your profile and prepare mentally, emotionally, and financially for your maternity leave.
If you are a Friend, Family Member, or Co-Worker of someone who is expecting and preparing to go on maternity leave- buy someone snuggle time, nap time, NICU time, an hour, a day or a week of time to spend with their bundle of joy. Follow along on their registry as the new Mommy updates you with pictures.
It’s time to give the most precious gift.