Mamas, recovering from childbirth is hard. So hard. You know and I know that your significant other is essential to the healing process, whether we’re willing to admit just how vulnerable we are or not. Childbirth via vaginal delivery or Cesarean section—we need help. The help may be different or for different periods of time because every delivery is as unique as the little bundle of joy we are welcoming into the world. But the end result is the same: we just aren’t capable of taking care of ourselves, this little person we created, and the other little people in the house. And while I was blessed with 12 weeks of recovery time by my employer, it is just as important for the other parent to have some time off, too.

All of my births have been C-sections and I am fortunate that I have a partner eager and willing to make the recovery process as easy as possible for me. For the first few weeks of life for every one of my children, I didn’t have to change a single diaper. I didn’t have to give them baths. I had help with cleaning pump parts and someone making sure I was drinking enough water.

My husband took a month off. Although I wasn’t quite healed when he had to go back to work, I was much better than the four weeks prior to that.

I needed my husband in those weeks.

I needed someone to help me out of bed and help me clean myself.

I needed someone to chase the toddlers around and pick them up while I recovered from major surgery.

I needed someone to make sure that I ate and didn’t try to manage the house right away.

I needed someone to balance out my raging hormones and calm me down when I felt overwhelmed.

I needed someone to take over parental duty so I could breathe.

My husband needed to be there for me, to be there for our children. And while I am grateful for the time he took off of work to spend with me and our precious children, I only wish that he was granted the same parental leave as I was: 12 weeks.

No, he didn’t have to recover from surgery. But he had to help me recover and help keep me emotionally stable.

No, he doesn’t have the “equipment” to feed our child. But he cleaned parts and was still able to bond with our newborn in other ways and even use a bottle.

He took our children to their well-child appointments while I was incapable of driving and lifting a car seat.

He stocked the refrigerator and pantry so I didn’t have to leave the house.

He got out of bed and made breakfast for excitable toddlers while I cradled a sleeping newborn.

He took care of me and the baby and the toddlers.

He made the process the easiest he possibly could for me.

He bonded, cradled, rocked, bathed, changed, fed from a bottle, and sang to sleep—he did everything I could have done, yet I was the one granted leave because I am the mother.

So while I am so very grateful for the 12 weeks I was gifted to be off, I only wish he was gifted the same amount of time because with the exception of a physical healing process, he was every bit as needed at home as I was.

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Anastasia Smothers

Anastasia is a mother of four children under four and a proud wife to a veteran. When not with her children, she works full -time and also has a part-time position as a substitute teacher.