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NYS Family Leave Won’t Help After Stillbirth: Mom

Women struggling after stillbirth are being denied paid family leave, says an angry mother who wants the law changed.

Cassidy Crough, 34, lost her daughter Olivia aged 36 weeks when the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Crough gave birth on March 17 after 16 hours of labor.

“I still gave birth to a human. I still suffer from all the postpartum symptoms that every other woman has, the heavy bleeding, the depression, the inability to lift heavy objects,” she said.

“Your approach is thoroughly demoralizing and disgusting,” she said of New York State.

Her nightmare began during a routine appointment about a month before her due date.

"I gave birth to another human" says Crough.
“I still gave birth to a human,” says Crough.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

“I was just on a high and thinking about how grateful I was, how excited I was to meet her and be her mother,” recalled Crough, a former Bronx assistant district attorney who just started a new job at a private Law firm in the US Hudson Valley.

She had noticed that Olivia seemed less active and requested that the fetus be monitored. It wasn’t the first time the nervous mother-to-be had made such a request. But this time the unthinkable happened: medical staff couldn’t find a heartbeat, and an ultrasound confirmed the worst.

“There is no heartbeat, no life,” her doctor told her.

The tragedy was made worse when the insurance company called and asked Crough to voluntarily withdraw her request for maternity leave.
The tragedy was made worse when the insurance company called and asked Crough to voluntarily withdraw her request for maternity leave.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

Crough, 34, and her husband were taken to the hospital where labor was induced. Olivia arrived the following afternoon, allowing the couple to spend around 90 minutes with her before having to face questions new parents don’t think of.

“Do you want an autopsy? Do you want to cremate them? Want a religious figure to bless them? What funeral home do you use?” Crough recalled. “These are questions you don’t expect when you’re having a baby.”

Going home empty-handed to Olivia’s “Pinterest Perfect” nursery with a bohemian woodland theme was devastating, she said.

Things got worse days later when the insurance company called to ask Crough to voluntarily withdraw her application for maternity leave – because Olivia had been stillborn. They instead offered a short-term disability that pays a total of $554 and gives only six weeks off.

Paid family leave in New York, available only to parents who “bond” with their baby, provides about $1,000 a week. Although Crough lives in Connecticut, she is not eligible for that state’s family leave, which she was told would take her under the terms of serious medical conditions.

“I’ve been through labor like everyone else and now I’m supposed to recover and come back in just a few weeks? I think that’s unrealistic and cruel,” she said.

Paid family leave in New York only applies to parents who are "connection" with her baby.
Paid family leave in New York is only for parents who have a “bond” with their baby.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, only eight states have paid family leave regulations, and only one, the District of Columbia, includes stillbirths and miscarriages.

“In our eyes, we’re still mothers, regardless of whether New York State recognizes us as mothers. My daughter was real,” she said, adding that she refused to withdraw her request for maternity leave and is now getting by on savings and the generosity of family and friends.

About 1 in 170 pregnancies in the United States ends in stillbirth. According to the Push Pregnancy group, which is trying to reduce the number of stillbirths in America, at least 25 percent of them are preventable.

"We are still mothers in our eyes, whether New York State recognizes us as mothers. My daughter was real" said Crough.
“In our eyes, we’re still mothers, regardless of whether New York State recognizes us as mothers. My daughter was real,” Crough said.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

Crough said she has reached out to several New York politicians to change the Paid Family Leave Act to accommodate everyone who is giving birth but has not yet received a response.

“It’s a huge loophole. I just wish that women and families of stillbirths and infant loss babies didn’t have to suffer like we do,” she said.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/14/nys-family-leave-doesnt-help-after-stillbirth-mom/ NYS Family Leave Won’t Help After Stillbirth: Mom

JACLYN DIAZ

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