US Moms Are Crowdfunding Their Maternity Leaves

Yet another reason to love being Canadian, we'll never have to crowdfund our maternity leave

People set up GoFundMe accounts for everything it seems these days. Dog need surgery? Set up a GoFundMe page. Want to go on the school trip to France? GoFundMe. Heck I’ve seen people set up GoFundMes to send their kids to private school. So I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, though it is quite depressing, that there seems to be a growing trend towards crowd sourcing fundraising efforts to take a longer and paid maternity leave in the United States.

Seriously, how said is that?

To say I feel blessed to live in a country that grants a significant maternity leave is an understatement. I was able to take a full year with both children, something I know my American friends and family would kill for. In a country where you’re pretty much at the mercy of whatever leave your company sees fit to grant you, many parents in the U.S. are forced to go back to work long before sleeping through the night is even a pipe dream.

Yes, the Family and Medical Leave Act in the U.S. mandates 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but how many people can afford 3 months with zero income? Not only do we get 50 weeks of allowable leave here in Canada but we get government assistance the entire time. I know I couldn’t have afforded 3 months unpaid.

According to the Huffington Post, if you search for “maternity leave” on GoFundMe, you’ll get a whopping 1,300 hits. “Family leave” will get you 800 more.

Buzzfeed shows that people have all sorts of reasons for setting up the account, from not wanting to have to rely on credit (which, sorry, you will totally have to do anyway! Babies are expensive!), to not having had any time with the baby at all.

Luciana Barnes, for example, had a preemie daughter who spent six weeks in the hospital before she was released to go home. On her GoFundMe page she wrote, “I would like the opportunity to bond, nurture and emotionally support my daughter before I’m forced to return to work.”

Ugh. See? Sad!

There are plenty of moms here in Canada who forgo the paid leave we enjoy. Some simply don’t want to stay home, others can’t afford to, even with the government support and some don’t qualify because they didn’t have a job long enough prior to having their baby. But the fact remains that we have a good thing going here in Canada, made all the more obvious by how bad our neighbours to the south have it.

When my baby was 6-weeks-old she was screaming bloody murder 20 hours a day and the remaining 4 hours were broken up into non-consecutive 45 minute increments of sleep. There is zero possibility I would have been at all effective in the work place. Heck, back in those days, on two separate occasions, I washed my hair with face wash and put cereal in my coffee cup and coffee in my cereal bowl.

There is no doubt that here in Canada, things could run better, government could be more efficient, we could use way more services and would enjoy lower taxes. Our system isn’t perfect and the mat leave pay we get is barely enough to scrape by for most families.

But it’s there, it helps us scrape by and it allows us to stay home with our babies to be a part of their lives in the first year and adjust to adding a member to the family, one that probably cries a lot and sleeps little. At least here we have blessed to even have the option. 

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