STORIES

Kirsten’s Story

“Having experienced both worlds, it is just night and day. The stress we felt after our first was born — that stress just wasn’t there with our second. We were really able to focus on our family, bonding with our newborn, making sure our eldest was adjusting. That’s time you just don’t get back. No family should feel stressed during such an important time of growth.”

Kirsten is a nursing assistant at a VA center. Her husband is an engineer in the Navy. When their first child was born, Kirsten went back to work after only six weeks and her husband went back after two weeks. She’d had to save up all her PTO and sick time, work overtime, and some of her colleagues donated their leave to her to avoid going without pay. But now that all federal employees who have worked full-time for 12 consecutive months are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave per year, it was a completely different experience when their second child was born in February. They haven’t had to stress about juggling work and wellness visits, or whether they can pay the bills. Her husband has been able to be much more present with both children. He is enjoying bonding time with the new baby – he regrets not having that time with the first.