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The Injustices of Paternity Leave

I remember distinctly a few years ago having a conversation with some friends about paternity leave. I didn’t really get it. Why should a husband get to take time off of work, he hadn’t pushed or had a baby pulled out of him, he didn’t need to recover from delivery. It was just so very odd to me, especially those who got weeks and weeks off when most women only get 6-8 weeks if they’re lucky.

My how time changes your perspective.

Now, as we have less than 2 months to go before the birth of our child, I am missing my ill-informed carefree days and wishing that my husband was among those who get weeks and weeks, paid, to bond with their child. But alas.

My husband’s work doesn’t do paternity leave. At all.

He was fortunate that way back in July before we were even pregnant, that he had already requested one of his 4 weeks of vacation for the year to be in April and another in May, which just happens to be when our baby is due. But if it weren’t for those weeks of vacation, he wouldn’t get any time off to adjust to fatherhood or to help his insane wife out. Furthermore, he gets a whopping 5 sick days a year and has already used one, and while his work year ends at the end of June, he certainly can’t afford to use them all in case he truly becomes ill.

And worse yet, he is supposed to choose which weeks he’d like to take his vacation in advance. Because obviously as a doctor he can predict when our baby will be born. We’re still working on some flexibility here, but to say we’re frustrated is a bit of an understatement.

There is a very reasonable chance that my husband will have to use sick days to be at the hospital with me when the baby is born. There’s a good chance he’ll have to return to work within a few days after our child is born. And while I know he doesn’t have any physical recovering to do (besides from sleep deprivation and his wife screaming at him for God knows how many hours of labor), his presence at home would be entirely invaluable.

I have several friends whose husbands get from 6-12 weeks of paid leave and it just seems so entirely unfair. I’m not saying that my husband needs to stay home for 6 weeks, because truly, I’d probably kill him by then, but more than 5 days would be really nice. Not having to worry about using all his sick days would be absolutely lovely. Not knowing that within a week or two he will be back to overnight calls would be the best.

But this is the life we’ve chosen, the job and career path we’re on, so all we can do is prepare ahead of time and ask our family for help when his few days are up. And stock up on sleep and time together now. Things are about to change, big time.

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