Mary Laura

As a teacher, I was really hoping to time the birth of my first child to coincide with the end of a school year. It didn't work out that way -- Isabel was due just before the start of the year. At first, this seemed like the worst possible timing. But then things changed. The last week of school, my blood pressure spiked. Midwives and doctors recommended taking medical leave so I could reduce stress and physical activity. I didn't have to because I would be on summer break. What followed was many, many doctors visits and hospital stays, culminating in HELLP syndrome - a life threatening condition for both me and my baby - and an emergency c-section. While Isabel was not born premature, she certainly was not ready to come out of the womb and required intense support just to eat for her first few weeks of life. Thankfully my husband was able to take some time from work as it took both of us to get the baby fed. I'm so lucky to have had as much time as I did to stay home with her to get her healthy. Frankly, I would have had to quit my job if it weren't for the generous leave I was able to take as a DC government employee. I look forward to the day when other DC residents and workers can spend as much time caring for their new babies as I did.