Why One Heartbroken Mom Says 12 Weeks of Maternity Leave Isn’t Enough

Required, paid maternity leave is non-existent in the United States. Some workers qualify for Family Medical Leave (FMLA), which allows them to take up to 12 weeks off for a qualifying medical event, but unless you have the sick or vacation leave to cover it, those weeks off will be without a paycheck.

I was lucky enough to have a job that accommodated my staying home with my newborns (and beyond), but still, I was pretty jealous of my friend living in Britain, who got to stay home for an entire year with pay with her child.

And she’s not even a citizen, y’all.

This mom is getting real about how heartbreaking it is for so many mothers who have to return to work before they’re ready – whether they’ve had the full 12 weeks off or had to hurry back to work to put food on the table just days after giving birth.

Rachael Larsen, a director of product operations at a Salt Lake City education company, shared her story on LinkedIn, and many say it’s shedding light on what so many American women are going through postpartum, when they’re already dealing with so much.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

“It took me four years to have the courage to share this photo. Even now, it’s hard to look at. The shame around raising a family and working full-time is real. I took this on my first day back to work after my second daughter was born. I wasn’t ready. My daughter wasn’t ready. She wasn’t sleeping and was extremely fussy. I woke up five times the night before to feed her. I was exhausted. As a majority income source for our family, I was forced to suck it up, put on a smile, and get back to work.”

She continued like this, and you can feel her raw emotion in every word.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

“I know that I am extremely privileged. I was able to have some partial pay during my maternity leave and I was able to take 12 weeks off. I had a job that I loved at an amazing company with great bosses. I had a daycare facility that I could afford with great teachers I trusted.

But…I was not ready.

We need to do more to support parents and families. It may have taken me four years after I knew I’d never have another baby to share this photo. But, I’m glad that I have the courage to speak my truth now.”

Rachael finished by saying she hoped her post could encourage other moms, and also to help explain why the maternity leave issue in this country needs to be addressed.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

“Edit: THANK YOU for all of the kind words and support. I am overwhelmed by your compassion. I’m trying to reply to all of the comments but the feed keeps throwing errors. Please share this same support to any new parent you encounter.”

People have flooded to respond, all of them supportive of Larsen’s openness, and all echoing her sentiments.

Most of them have been there, too.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

Some know parents who have had to make due with much, much less.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

Many mothers wished they could spend more time enjoying those firsts, bonding, and fully healing before going back to work.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

It’s a choice no one should have to make.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

And yes, we need to do better.

Image Credit: LinkedIn

What do you all think about this post? What was your experience with maternity leave?

We want to hear your stories in the comments.