Author:Farsad, Negin
Position:HEMMING AND HAWING - Brief article

Ah, the joys of pregnancy! When I'm not breathing heavily like a French bulldog, I'm leaving my keys in the refrigerator or... crying about leaving my keys in the refrigerator.

Like most pregnant women, I'm trying to plan. I'm planning for a smooth pregnancy (even though Mother Nature might have different plans for me). I'm planning closet space for all this baby stuff (even though it seems excessive and I'm certain my mom didn't have a "wet wipes warmer"). And I'm planning to seamlessly transition back to work from maternity leave while feeling like utter garbage (something I'm told is impossible).

In fact, the most "fun" parts of pregnancy are the night terrors I get from thinking about the transition from maternity leave to work--mostly because, I don't really get maternity leave.

I know what you're thinking: Night terrors sound healthy for a pregnant woman. Totally! They're great. And when you're an American, they're extra terrory because we ladies in the U.S. of A. get A) no respect and B) no maternity leave. It's not mandated by federal law; it's not fully recognized in the political discourse as a big issue; and, culturally, we pretend like those precious early months of babyhood are absolutely compatible with eighty-hour work weeks, the gig economy, and the American obsession with productivity.

As an abstract idea, maternity leave is very popular. According to one poll, 93 percent of Americans agree that mothers should receive some paid leave after their babies arrive. The other 7 percent presumably think you can throw a baby in a drawer with a KIND Bar and it'll be just fine.

The good news is that there is not much of a partisan divide on the issue, because 96 percent of Democrats think mothers should get paid leave and 88 percent of Republicans actually agree. (Little known fact: It doesn't matter what political party a baby is born into, it still needs care.)

People in much of the rest of the world have also come to the stark realization that babies aren't self-cleaning ovens. The prime minister of New Zealand just had a baby and she allowed herself six of the eighteen weeks of maternity leave that her country covers. The United Kingdom, Italy, and Poland are all in the top ten of maternity leave for industrialized countries.

But the country that puts us all to shame--try to guess it! you won't guess it!--is Bulgaria. That's right, Bulgaria, the hamburger patty between a Romanian and Greek bun, a country that we think about...

To continue reading