No pay for my husband with cancer

I was working for what I call a mom and pop business. (12 yrs). We found out on June 26 that my husband had throat cancer. We were sent to Omaha on July 2 where we found the cancer formation was 3 times larger that earlier detected. In late November I had to have a part time person to do my work. My husband passed away in middle February. I did get my job back however was without pay for sometime. Took a lot out of savings to get me through that time.

Genelle, Morse Bluff, Nebraska

Grateful for Paid Leave

When I got pregnant with my first child, I was a new employee at Nebraska Children’s Home Society.  I didn’t have time to accumulate much paid or sick time to use for maternity leave.  Fortunately, NCHS offers employees 6 weeks paid leave for the birth or adoption of a new child.  Because of paid leave, I was able to afford staying home full-time for 8 weeks and then ease back in by working part-time for another 4 weeks.  People say infants spend all their time sleeping…not our child!  Our son was on the colicky side, so my husband and I had to take shifts staying up all night with him for 2 months.  I have no idea how we would have managed this if I had to go back to work sooner.  I would not have been able to function well on the job or have the time to properly bond and care for my son.  Everyone would have lost.  Instead, I was ready and excited to start easing back into work at 8 weeks.  Paid family leave strengthens families as well as the staff-employer relationship.

Amanda, Omaha, Nebraska

Sheena’s Story

My pregnancy was healthy and manageable until about two weeks before my due date. I started having trouble chewing, swallowing, and closing my mouth and one eye. I found out I had muscle paralysis on one side of my face. This lead to me delivering earlier than planned and going through quite a painful and lengthy birth. Luckily I planned to be out for 12 weeks on unpaid leave and had financial resources to help (saved PTO and sick hours and also short-term disability.) But the medical expenses for both me and baby soon piled up. And each doctor or hospital wanted me to pay $300+/month.

Nothing prepared me for the struggles I experienced with dealing with my muscle paralysis, healing from an unexpected c-section, failing at breastfeeding most days, and adapting to no sleep due to my beautiful, loud newborn.

I wasn’t emotionally or physically ready to return to work at twelve weeks. It was also torture to be away from my child for 8 hours a day.

Sheena, Elkhorn, Nebraska


Why not our state?

In 2015 I gave birth to my son at 32 weeks. Aside from the fear and stress of having a premie I had to decide when to start my maternity leave. The family medical leave act is the only reason I would have any time off and companies in my field rarely pay you during it. We made the decision that I would go back to work part time until we could bring our baby home.  Because of the pressure of only had a small window of time I struggled with the guilt that I was at work while my son was still in the hospital.  I was his mother, I should be with him. What I will never understand is that in America a family is not guaranteed paid time off and only have the FMLA to guarentee that can take any time off and still have a job.  I think without paid leave we are robbing families of the most special times in their lives of getting to know their children.  Many moms go back to work sooner then they want. I hope Nebraska will be a state that steps up and makes paid leave a guarantee for all parents.

Liel, Omaha, Nebraska

Paid Leave – A Mom and A Boss’s Story

When our family welcomed our first child I was a Nebraska State Senator and had the flexibility to stay engaged in my public service duties from home through electronic means the first few months as I was recovering from child birth, establishing breastfeeding, and learning all about the many wonders of having  a newborn. Thanks to these supportive strategies I was able to pass a significant amount of bills in my personal legislative agenda while ensuring my daughter had a healthy start physically and emotionally.

As our family prepared to welcome our son years later, our small non profit worked together to update our family leave policies to meet best practices. We found a way to balance legitimate business needs, support reproductive justice, and live our values. Strong family leave gave me piece of mind, strengthened my loyalty to my employer, ensured my son had a strong healthy start, and has become a unique recruiting tool to attract top talent in Nebraska’s workforce.

Danielle, Lincoln, Nebraska

About The Story Bank

The Holland Children’s Institute Story Bank is a place for Nebraskans to share the challenges and successes they have experienced relating to working and raising children in our state. Specifically, the story bank is a place to share stories relating to these issues:

  • Child Care
  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Paid Sick Days
  • Wages/Jobs
  • Workplace Issues

Your story is powerful. Personal stories remain the elusive and compelling complement to statistical data for change making. Your story can change minds, break past the echo chamber of political messaging, and conquer the cynicism of the apathetic.

In 300 words or less, your story can make a difference.

Visit our online submission form to learn more about consent and what will happen once you submit your story. Contact us with your questions or if you want to share a story with us another way.

Together, we can lift up real stories and experiences of Nebraskans across our state. Thank you for helping make Nebraska the national beacon in economic security and opportunity for all children and families.

Share your story!