Dear Editor,

As COVID-19 continues its spread, one thing is clear: Ohio and the nation need paid family and medical leave.

As a mother of two, this need was front and center for me after the birth of my second daughter Ellie. Home alone with Ellie a week after giving birth, I became so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed. I had no way to take care of her, let alone myself. My husband and parents had either exhausted their paid leave and vacation time or simply had none. Things escalated when I had to go back to the hospital for treatment, forcing my husband to come home from his job to help get me there.

During that time I felt so alone, frightened and frustrated. I was told by well meaning people — who couldn’t help because they had no time off left — to just stay in bed all day. That’s a fine option for someone who has adequate assistance at home, but I had a newborn and myself to care for alone. How was I supposed to eat if I couldn’t make it downstairs to get food? How was she supposed to eat?

I know I’m not alone. New moms across the country are struggling to get the support they need following birth, and 1 in 4 have to return to work just 2 weeks after giving birth. We deserve better. Our families deserve better.

If we really are a country that values family, then we have to have public policies that support working families. Tell Senator Portman the time for paid family leave is now.

Casey Newman