We asked parents in the BuzzFeed community to tell us about their experiences with leave after welcoming a child.
1. "I wore Depends and cried in the bathroom at work because I still had stitches."
2. "I felt amazingly lucky, but even 16 weeks felt far too short because I had tremendous postpartum anxiety and depression."
3. "I hated spending time with my husband alone because I didn't want to miss any more time away from our son."
4. "I thought I would be sad leaving my baby at day care, but it was a relief."
5. "I feel very lucky that I got to ease back in and maintain my career growth."
6. "My boss thought a mom's place was at home."
7. "I was able to help around the house while my partner recovered from giving birth."
8. "Having a child as a lesbian and being treated just like any other mother at work was a touching and life-changing experience."
9. "My postpartum depression made it hard for me to get out of bed, let alone go back to a customer service job."
10. "People were judging me for not taking more time."
11. "While I was on maternity leave, my credit went down 100 points because I couldn't pay my bills."
12. "I was too nervous to ask for pump breaks at my new job for fear of sounding needy."
13. "My boss called me daily while I was out, and I actually went and met with customers 10 days after giving birth."
14. "I returned to keep [our health insurance]."
15. "After [two months] they start to be more aware and want to interact and bond. Just as that begins, you're supposed to leave them for a large chunk of the day."
16. "Against my doctor's advice, I went back to work after four weeks post-C-section."
17. "I came back and this sleazy guy had usurped a lot of my role/authority."
18. "Those first few weeks are so important to establish breastfeeding, and I felt like that was stolen from me."
19. "I struggled worrying about my six-week-old being in a day care."
20. "My child was hospitalized his entire, short life and passed away at 22 months ... the lack of paid leave added increased stress to an already stressful time."
21. "I'm not sure how we would have managed through the post-birth period if I did not have the flexibility that I did."
22. "If we cannot separate puppies and kittens from their mother until they are eight weeks old, then why in the world do we expect a woman to part with her infant so soon after birth?"
23. "We live in a country that doesn't make it easy for households to only have one income. But at the same time, our employers don't allow for the realities of parenthood."
Submissions were self-reported and have been edited for length and clarity.
For some perspective, here's a roundup of experiences from parents around the world.
A line in this post has been updated to clarify the US's approach toward paid parental leave.