As someone who used to live in Chicago, I have often thought about what it would be like if I had had my girls in America, instead of Canada.
For one thing, I’d be broke. Unless I had killer health insurance, my three week semi-private stay and the weekly doctor visits, ultrasounds, and specialist’s appointments would have run a bill of several hundred thousand before even contemplating the girls’ care. Here, we don’t have private insurance beyond our government care and our only hospital-related expense was parking.
We also couldn’t have survived the NICU time without my parents helping with Buds. I wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time with the girls if we had been an island without family nearby.
The biggest, and most shocking difference would be the mat leave. With only six weeks, like in Chicago, I would have been back to work at the beginning of our NICU journey, and way before I felt totally at ease after the section, not to mention I would have had to wear yoga pants to work, or go naked.
We’re pretty lucky here that we get almost a full year of paid mat leave, I really can’t imagine it any other way. Maternity leave is just assumed here, and why wouldn’t it be? Yes, many mums here do go back before a year, and some dads step in at that point, but you can’t walk into a mall here without running into a gaggle of mamas.
With Buds, I was off for 14 months and I wouldn’t change that time for anything. We did programs and went on adventures. We hiked and swam, read stories and sang songs. It was just the two of us for so long that we got to know each other, and I truly became a Mama.
I was so sad to lose time with the girls. I would have lost three months of my maternity leave to the NICU. Thankfully, we have options here that give us back our time together. With all the doctor’s appointments and exercises we have, I’d hate to look back in two years and think I wasted my mat leave.
I really wish my American mama friends got more time. The first six weeks are the absolute hardest, and then you’re back to work; sleep deprived and covered in spit up.
I hope that I am able to enjoy my days with all three kids, and we’re so lucky to live in a city where we can explore so much. To think my girls at three months have already seen pandas, lions, and a baby polar bear.
I have a feeling that no amount of appointments will take away from this year with my three musketeers.