I don’t want to give up the job that I love, as a therapist for a healthcare charity, but the coronavirus might make that impossible. My beautiful baby boy, Jayden, is now almost seven-months old and my paid maternity leave ends in August. When it does I’ll be completely stuck, as I can’t get any childcare for months.
I expect I’ll have to take unpaid leave, maybe until January, but my husband’s salary alone isn’t enough to pay our mortgage so we’ll have to take a payment holiday, too.
Even when I do find a nursery place for him, I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back full-time. The fees are so high I’ll pretty much be losing money the more hours I work. I’ll probably have to cut down my hours, and pay, by about two-thirds.
It’s taken me 10 years to complete my degree and my masters and get to where I am now in my career. Taking an extended period of unpaid leave will set it back massively. I’m terrified of how my employer will treat me because of it.
We don’t have family nearby that could help and my husband is a key worker so can’t take the time off to look after Jayden. It’s much harder for men to take parental leave, so most often it falls to the mother and it’s costing us our careers.
Money is tight at the moment. I’m having to get friends to donate clothes for Jayden and not buying anything for myself. It’s really affecting my mental health – not just the financial worries and concerns about my career, but the fact that I’m stuck inside all day with none of the support new mothers would usually get.
I have a history of depression and had a very distressing labour. The doctors said I’d get follow-up support, but because of the Covid-19 situation I’ve heard nothing, and am really struggling mentally.
I’ve heard from thousands of women in the same position. They’re also at home alone, having to take unpaid leave because they can’t get a nursery place, using credit cards to pay for the family shop and worrying about losing their jobs. Lots have already been told they’re being made redundant.
That’s why I decided to start a petition to extend paid maternity leave by three months in light of the coronavirus. It’s already been signed by 225,000 people and evidence sessions on it were heard by Parliament. The Government’s first response was shockingly poor, but we’re going to keep trying to make sure new mothers aren’t forced to give up their careers.
It’s so important for our mental health and those of our babies, too. My husband and I are the only two people to have held Jayden. Suddenly throwing him into a nursery with lots of other babies will be incredibly painful, both for him and for myself. We need time to introduce our babies to the world without worrying about making ends meet.