Paternity leave is fairly uncommon here in America. In fact, when I told some people that my husband would be taking a paternity leave with our third baby, several had never even heard of the phrase paternity leave.
Back in 2012 when my oldest was born, my husband was working full time as a nurse as well as taking classes as he was preparing to enter medical school. He had scheduled a few days off from work, but nothing past that. It was a similar story in 2015 when our second son was born. Now in his third year of medical school and doing rotations, he was able to miss a few days for the birth and getting settled back home and that was it.
Things were different the third time around
In October of 2017, we welcomed our daughter into our family. My husband is now in residency, and I was shocked to learn that he was able to take 4 weeks of paternity leave. It was such a huge contrast to how it had been when we brought the other two home. He was around to help with the boys when I was doing things with the baby. Or vice versa. I could spend special time with the boys as they adjusted to adding a family member while my husband got quality time with the baby.
Paternity leave is so important
I think it’s time we changed the narrative around the birth of a baby. Although mothers are the ones healing from birth, there is more to maternity leave than that. You are adjusting to a new life in your home. There is a stress that comes with that, but taking away work stressors can ease that burden. Also there is so much love and bonding that happen in those first few weeks of life. All of that love shouldn’t just be for birth mothers. Fathers and adoptive parents should have that same special time as well.
There is definitely a stigma with paternity leave. I believe men feel pressured to return to work, and there seems to be this thought that it is a burden on society to offer these leaves to new parents. But if we let parents take the time they need to adjust and grow as a family, we can ultimately create a better society with stronger families and happier people. I occasionally even found myself almost embarrassed to say my husband was taking that much time off because it seemed frivolous. But that is absurd.
It is not frivolous
I asked my husband his thoughts on paternity after his four weeks. He said he felt more bonded with our daughter than he did with our sons at the same age. He understood her needs and what it’s truly like to care for a newborn on a daily basis. He felt more at ease in taking care of her and was able to enjoy his time with her.
I am so thankful my husband got to spend this time with our daughter, and it certainly made things easier on me as well.