Dear President Obama,
I am thirty-two years old and seven-months pregnant with my first child. The experience of growing my family with my loving husband is an experience I have looked forward to all my life. In part because my childhood was a difficult one, marked with childhood abuse and the economic struggles typical to many first-generation immigrant families. I worked diligently to secure an education and build a professional career. I gained for myself privileges I never had growing up, and felt elated at the thought that I would be able to give my child a better life.
I held a management-level position at a well-established organization, so when I found myself in a career transition at six-months pregnant I was terrified. I knew the possibility of an employer wanting to hire me at six months pregnant was slim, and in any case, I would not have access to family leave under existing federal law because I would be employed for less than twelve months when my baby was due. On top of it all I knew any personal stress would hurt my baby. My health practitioner told me directly that my stress hormones were flowing directly to my baby and it was entirely my choice whether that is what I wanted for my baby. I learned the particular vulnerability a woman feels when she is protecting a life inside her. Though I’d always been a fighter in challenging situations, I found my instincts driving me to seek safety and to protect my child. I had to choose between the health of my child and my career.
This week I started a job with an employer that truly honors family values at work. My employer’s policy provides me with paid family leave when I have my child in two months, which goes above and beyond what any existing law requires. They have gained my utter loyalty and dedication. This policy made it possible for me to continue to contribute to the workforce, with the humanity of paid leave to care for my newborn when she arrives. This means my aspirations for both my family and my career are intact. It means I didn’t have to make the cruel choice between them. This should be the norm for working families in America, not the exception. It is time we caught up with the rest of the developed world. Mr. President – you can help.
Your voice is needed in support of these crucial measures. By this letter, I urge you to (1) support a national family and medical leave insurance program, and (2) urge local mayors and governors to support paid family and medical leave laws in their jurisdictions.