Families across Oregon are having to choose between taking care of each other or bringing home a paycheck.

Most families piece it together in order to welcome children, take care of our elders and keep going in spite of health crises – but piecing it together is not sustainable for ourselves, our families and our communities. Read the stories below to learn more about why we need paid family and medical leave for Oregon right now.


“When I became pregnant I was very clear that I wanted three months off to be with my newborn.  As an African American woman I know the breast-feeding rate is lower for us than other women.  I also know of the tremendous health benefits to breast feeding and I wanted them for my child.

I work as a cashier at a locally owned grocery store and have been working there for the last four years. I was a full-time student when I became pregnant. I had no access to paid family and medical leave to take the three months I know my baby needed.”

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“I took time off for the birth of my first child and had no paid family and medical leave benefit.  Knowing that it would be a great financial stress on my family I tried my hardest to save all my sick days and vacation days to be used when I gave birth.  That meant I went to work sick when I was pregnant, and it was miserable for everyone.  I took sixteen weeks off to care for my infant, five of which I got paid.”Read more.

Amy Powers

I gave birth to my beautiful daughter but soon after found out she needed extra stay in the NICU.  My husband and I were extremely stressed and heartbroken to be discharged from the hospital without Aubrey.  At the time, I had no family leave, no benefits, and no financial support from my employer.  My husband and I could not afford to be at home to take care of my daughter.  I returned to work after a very short 4 weeks of unpaid time off because my family just could not afford for me to take any more unpaid time off.   It was such a time of financial hardship; I drained my savings and retirement account to pay for the four weeks I took off without pay.   The hospital bill took us two years to pay off.” Read more.

kevin and rachel and family

When our baby was born in early 2015, I was only able to take a couple days off work.  That was all we could afford.  Plus, I had to be back at the job or else my employer would have replaced me.   Our medical bills for the baby’s birth were high and we were truly scared we would end up losing everything.  Paid family and medical leave would have made a huge difference.  It would have meant security – not having to worry about not paying bills, being able to spend time with my family and not stress about the money.” Read more.

Kelly photo

“I live in Portland in a household of 4, with my husband and our 2 kids. I work with pregnant and nursing moms, as an on-call employee with no benefits. Working without benefits means that when I had my second child in October 2014, I had no paid leave at all.   With great stress and difficulty, we were able to save enough for me to be off work with no pay for close to 8 weeks. But our whole family was impacted by the loss of my income. We had to take my older son out of pre-school for six months because we could not afford it.  We applied for food stamps, something we had never done before.   When we exhausted our savings and ran out of things to cut out of our budget, I had to return to work and leave my newborn.”  Read more.


“My job as a billing administrator at a small health clinic did not provide any paid family leave, which contributed to my decision to leave that job when my baby was born, even though doing so has been financially difficult. The stress of not having income bears a great burden on my stress level, and I am very aware of the fact that each and every expense brings the total amount of time that I can be home with my baby down. When the money we managed to save up runs out I will be left to find a new job.” Read more.


“I am a pediatric nurse practitioner.  Every single day, I see children with serious conditions whose parents can not take time off work because they do not have access to paid leave.  As a health provider, my job is to prioritize the health of the child but I know that it’s also critical to the child and the family that the parents keep their jobs.” Read more.





“Despite a successful work history, I now have to limit myself to jobs that are close to home and allow me to administer my husband’s insulin every day. As a result, I am limited to low-paying, often part-time, jobs that do little to stabilize our finances. In addition, my sister was recently diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. She has a lot of doctors’ appointments and typically needs help getting there. Since I work only 3 days a week right now, I’m able to help her out. But I worry about the long haul. Her prognosis is bad. I need full-time work.“ Read more.




“When I was pregnant​ with my son, I was​ living paycheck-to-paycheck but I loved my job at Bora Architects. I ​considered the option of going back to work one week after ​my baby was born. I also considered the idea of quitting my job and applying for state/government assistance. My final choice was to stop paying bills for a long as I could and deal with the financial chaos later on.” Read more.



Emily Yates-Pollard (right) with her wife, and their son.

“I actually was able to take paid leave when my son was born but my wife was not. She was only able to take a week off and then had to go back to work. I really struggled being home by myself for three months. I had a really hard time emotionally and my wife had a hard time knowing that she could not be there to help me.” Read more.

Please tell us about your experience with or without paid family and medical leave here: