Updated: Nov 18, 2022
I can remember the day my maternity leave ended, a quick 12-week stint. Thank you, FMLA, for granting 12 weeks- why not 24 or longer?
Written By: Jordan Cassoff
My daughter had barely sipped out of a bottle yet, she preferred nursing. I drove an hour to work terrified my baby would starve all day long. I go back to a workplace that didn’t even ask me if I was nursing and needed space to pump. Why isn’t that part of HR 101, mandated for all companies big and small? Mind you, this was corporate America!
I drove an hour to work terrified my baby would starve all day long.
Thankfully, I had a coworker who had a daughter four months ahead of me, so she had a spot she carved out. It was the training room, it had two computers/desks, and that was what we claimed as our lactation room. There would be endless issues of the room not being available, and no one seemed to truly care.
My mom had come down to visit from NJ to assist me with the back-to-work process for the first few weeks. Then, my daughter would go to full-time childcare at a home daycare. In the middle of a terrible day back to work, my mom called to tell me my daughter had drunk a bottle. A weight was lifted off my chest, and I cried again (for the 10th time that day).
Returning to work so soon sucks, there is no other nice word. And I am considered lucky for taking the 12 weeks. I had a c-section, so that granted me 2 extra weeks of 60% pay and then nothing the rest of the time. It also gave me major abdominal surgery and pain for weeks. We struggled financially, but my mental well-being was so much better bonding with my baby.
A weight was lifted off my chest, and I cried again (for the 10th time that day).
The company I worked for at the time did allow me to do two days a week remote. That Wednesday, I was told to work from home. After two days of issues with pumping on site and losing my mind, I worked from home. And that was the day my brother died from a drug overdose in NJ, the state my mom left to come help me kick off return to work chaos. My brother hadn’t been answering that morning, and my mom had a bad feeling in her stomach. My Mom drove over in winter storm conditions to check on my brother. She found him dead on my childhood bedroom floor. He had been battling addiction on and off. He was only 24 years old and had an entire lifetime ahead of him.
My worlds all crashed and collided. I had a 3-month-old baby to take care of, my distraught mom needed to get on a plane and return to NJ, and I lost my baby brother. Oh, and my husband was traveling for work, so had to call the SAT phone to get him in. I can remember that week and day too well, it’s all ingrained in my memory. So, when I talk about wanting to extend maternity leave, these are the memories in my head. I can’t guarantee my brother would still be here if my leave was longer, but I do know I would have been a better mother and employee. I would have had less pain in my heart– a pain that has never truly gone away.
Meet the Author
Product Manager, Full-cycle Distribution & Procurement with Customers at the Core, and Mother of 2