When I had my daughter, everything went smoothly. But even after a “simple” birth, I struggled. I was bleeding constantly, had to take constant care against infection and was physically exhausted. And, like about one in seven women, I experienced postpartum depression that made me unable to function on any but the most basic level.

I was incredibly lucky: My job offered 12 weeks of paid parental leave. But many have to return to work almost immediately, even after complicated births and with postpartum depression. Others I know have had to take major financial hits to care for a sick family member or deal with the death of someone close.

We can all agree that’s not right. Everyone, no matter how much they make or what they do for a living, should be able to take care of themselves or a loved one without going into debt; risking their job or housing, or making other terrible trade-offs.

Most of us will need paid family leave at some point – but the majority of Mainers don’t have access. It doesn’t have to be that way – L.D. 1964, now in the Legislature, will create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program in Maine. That would mean hundreds of thousands of Mainers could put their families first without having to choose between paying their bills and taking care of themselves or someone they love.

I urge our representatives in Augusta to support L.D. 1964. It’s something we all need.

Nora Flaherty-Stanford

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