Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why this new mom wants some real answers from Trump and Cruz

Hey, you, that person intending to vote for Donald Trump, or Ted Cruz… Can we talk? Especially if you are a woman or a father, we really need to talk.

I try not to be too political online, I really do, namely because the inane memes that crowd my Facebook have really never done anything to change my mind about who I think should lead my country, but this needs to be said:

You all are worried about the wrong stuff. Scratch that, some of your worries are very valid. Terrorism is scary, and the economy is vitally important, and so are our civil liberties. I agree. 

But let’s talk about our children, who are, as we all know, really important for our future. You’re planning to vote for someone who is unapologetically pro-life, so clearly you love kids and think they are important, yes? I wonder, though, how you feel about making the distinction between pro-life and pro-birth.

Now, before your fingers fly to the comment box, please note that this is not a discussion of abortion. My beliefs on abortion are very simple and my feelings about it are incredibly complicated, as I imagine they are for any woman who has had a child. For the sake of focus, let’s not pull at that particular thread.

As a woman who has had a child very recently, though, I have come to very, very clearly understand the difference between being pro-life and pro-birth, and both of these candidates are definitely the latter. And that is very, very bad.

How can I presume to call these men pro-birth? It’s very simple- neither one supports mandated family leave.

Oh no, I said it, I brought up that socialist rhetoric the old guy and the woman on the other side keep spewing. There you go, reaching for the comment box again… but slow your roll. Let’s really think about this…

First of all, let’s talk about pregnancy. Though both Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz have children, I promise you neither one of them truly understands how hard pregnancy can be. Every woman has a wildly different experience, and I am sure some of you are thinking to that adorable woman that works in Accounting that gained 8 lbs, never puked, and just radiated maternal joy while she gestated. Some people do that.

Like many, many other women, I was not one of those people. I had 24 weeks of morning sickness, followed by a kidney stone, followed by prodromal labor, leading into an extremely complicated and scary delivery. Though I work for a great company and have a wonderful boss who gave me some flexibility to work from home, I also work for a company that's maternity leave policy is FMLA. That meant that any extended time I took off to care for myself during an extremely difficulty pregnancy was time that I wouldn’t have available to spend with my son after his birth. Since 12 weeks already seemed so, so short, I pushed through but was largely miserable for most of those 40 long weeks.

And there it is.

Issue 1: Pointing to FMLA as an answer for maternity leave means that, from day 1, women have to choose between caring for themselves now and caring for their child later. This is not a pro-life policy because it completely overlooks any quality of life for the mother. This is a pro-birth policy.  

Now, can we move on to after birth. A stunning portion of women in this country don't have access to FMLA because of the size of their employers, the length of their employment, etc. This means that some women in this country go back to work too quickly because they simply cannot afford not to. This brings us to...

Issue 2: Not offering paid leave makes women choose between paying their bills or caring for their child.  This is not a pro-life policy because decisions about a two week old life should not be made solely on the basis of money. This is a pro-birth policy.

But hey, even for those of us who were lucky to have the ability to take a full 12 weeks off, and maybe even get paid a little for some of it through short-term disability insurance, life is not honky dory. Let's look at this from a very practical bent. Most babies don't start to sleep for long stretches at night until around 4 months or approximately 17 weeks old (Google it! Or just look at this article). Again, that fortunate woman in Accounting is telling you all about how Little Johnny slept through the night at 3 weeks, but she is the exception. For most of us, this doesn't happen until a full five weeks after the lucky moms trudge back to work. 

Let's not talk about mom's health and the fact that exhaustion has been linked to post partum depression, which means more use of healthcare (hey, and isn't that more cost for the taxpayers if these are people who have subsidized insurance through Obamacare?). Let's talk about paying women who are working on no sleep for 5 weeks. And here we come to:

Issue 3: Exhausted, depressed women are not super productive. How can we Make America Great Again with an army of zombie women helping to steer our workforce? Sorry, Mr. Trump, I know answering this might force you to have an actual plan, but it needs to be answered, and not with anecdotes about the women who work for you that have it so good. I want a real, honest answer of how you can address this or why this isn't a problem. You're a businessman, right? So this should have you see dollar signs sliding out the door. And again, aside from the financial implications for corporations, let's talk about how this completely disregards the health of the mother again, which again makes this a pro-birth and not pro-life policy. 

OK, here goes into the dangerous territory wherein I quote all kinds of left-leaning news sources and their commie-pinko ideals, but stay with me. Studies, many, many studies, show that paid leave is good for moms, good for babies, and good for the economy. Those are the magic words right?

Issue 4: Why are we arguing against something that is good for the economy? 
Here are my left-leaning sources. Get ready to discount them and post 15 personal blogs that have no validated information as a response! 
This doesn't even go to pro-birth vs pro-life. This goes to common sense. 

And now... now is where I am really going to piss some of you off, but please note that it isn't my intention. Being pro-life, or as Ted Cruz has been quoted as saying, wanting to legislate to "defend the dignity of life," but opposing a mandate on family leave is very telling about the core beliefs of these politicians. Here is...

Issue #5: These candidates want to tell women what they can do with their bodies, but do not believe they can tell corporations what to do with their money. Again, please, please, please keep the abortion debate out of it. Let's focus instead on what we've already discussed. Pregnancy is hard, leaving your child too early is bad, working while exhausted is bad, but you HAVE to do those things as a new mom unless you work for Netflix or Facebook. Oh, and there is an entire rabbit hole we can go down about the cost of child care, the availability of programs for moms who are struggling financially, or funding for early education. Since the Republican candidates do very little yelling about these things during their debates, it's hard not to assume that these don't fall on the "not that important to us list." Which means that, though life is precious and begins at conception, for Cruz and Trump, its value deteriorates rapidly once the cord is cut. 

Frankly, this boggles my mind! I want an explanation here of how someone can claim to believe in the sanctity of life, but be against making provisions for the appropriate care of that life as soon as it leaves the hospital? How can you claim to think every life is a gift from God, but that the right of corporations to set their own maternity leave policies outweighs this? 

I really could keep going here. I could share the story of what it felt like to drop a not-yet-three-month-old baby off at day care to go back to work. I could explain all of the post partum complications that have been particularly difficult to juggle now that I am a working mom, but I really think that part of our issue here is debating by anecdote. Screw that lady in Accounting. She is the exception. Facts, statistics, and studies are the rule, and they all say this is the right thing to do. 

And there it is... I am ready for the comments. I will even start them for you: "What boggles MY mind is how you can write this when..." 

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