I don’t know about any of you, but I was naive enough to think that after child-birth everything would go back to normal. I could go to beach and swim, exercise, in general would be able to do anything I could do before.
Low and behold, that was not the case. The first two days I felt like I got hit by a truck and when I started to feel better physically, I came down with a child-birth related infection. I am now 4 weeks postpartum and still being reminded of things I can’t or shouldn’t do. I am not complaining – my body created life – in short, a miracle, a beautiful and amazing child that I can’t imagine life without. Recovery time is understandable and necessary. But I am reminded now that in 8 more weeks, I am supposed to return to work. For another 2 weeks, I am still 100% limited on certain activities. At my next doctor’s appointment, they can determine that I still need more time to heal, etc. The gist that I have gotten from mothers – in about 2-3 months things start to feel back to normal but it can continue for as long as a couple of years depending on your unique situation.
The guaranteed maternity leave of employers with 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, the Family Medical Leave Act is 12 weeks. That is, in 12 weeks from your last day at work, you can return and expect to receive the same salary and an equivalent job. During those 12 weeks however, you are not paid and if you are on the company health insurance you have to pay for that out-of-pocket.
We as a nation, as a community, are telling mothers that 1. you can take 12 weeks off, if you are able to forgo your expenses for that time and 2. just when you are starting to feel like you again and starting to get the routine of parenting your child, we are saying, stop all that and go back to work. Now this is only if you are lucky enough to be at a job that is mandated to give you the FMLA. Forget about if you work for a small shop with a few employees. You probably will either lose your job or be forced to deny your child the parenting they should receive.
12 weeks is not enough. A guarantee of your job/salary is not enough. We can and should do better than this.