A Maternity Leave Is Not a Vacation: Letter To Author

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Meghann Foye is the author of the new book Meternity, about an editor who pretends to be pregnant so she can take some time off to figure out her life. Foye faced criticism last week for saying all women should be given paid maternity leave to focus on their personal lives, regardless of whether they have children. Since she has never given birth to a human I have written her this letter so she can understand what actually transpires during a typical maternity leave. 

Dear Meghann,

Thank you for your piece in the New York Post  about wanting to have all the perks of having a maternity leave but without any kids. How awful it must have been for you all these years to watch parents on staff leave the office at 6 p.m. to tend to their children, while you were always expected to pick up the slack for the rest of the corporation. If only you were given a break of equal measure so you could shift your focus to the part of your life that does not revolve around your job. Why waste your allotted vacation on travel and yoga retreats? As you see it a traditional maternity leave is an opportunity for a woman to have some self-reflection and parenthood is a path that provides a modicum of flexibility.

Here’s what you need to know. You are out of your mind. Here’s why.


Maternity leave is a temporary period of absence from employment granted to expectant or new mothers during the months immediately before and after childbirth. It is aimed at supporting a mother’s full recovery from childbirth, the culmination of nearly ten months of gestation resulting in the expulsion of one or more newborn infants from a woman’s uterus. To put it simply the act of childbirth is like pulling a watermelon out of your vagina. Believe it or not a human being needs some time to physically and mentally recover from this experience. You are not swilling champagne and flipping through stacks of magazines. It is not a time spent tasting expensive olive oils and going to concerts. You are squatted over a toilet while holding a railing as a nurse you just met takes a water bottle and squeegees your swollen glove box. You are bracing through post-birth contractions as your baby rips apart your nipples. You are wondering if there will ever come a time when you don’t have to wear a frozen diaper, mesh underwear, or sit on a donut shaped pillow.

Your “meternity” time would be a sabbatical. I am sure you would take the time to work on your tan, call old friends, and go to spas. Maternity leave, however, is spent shuttling your new baby to various doctor appointments to make sure they are no longer jaundice, will outgrow their acid reflux, and are within the normal percent rate for height, weight, and head circumference. A new mother would love to go wine tasting, but she’s got to be home to make sure the infant now residing in their house has enough to food to subsist. She is hoping the baby will nap so she do a load of laundry or take a shower because she’s covered in vomit. Your “meternity” time would be spent taking mid-day naps by a pool on a tropical vacation. A maternity leave is spent power napping while holding a child upright on the floor of a dark nursery with the sound of a wind tunnel in the background.

For your “meternity” leave you would probably pack a sarong, sunglasses, body oil, and a bikini.

Meternity Bag essentials

You know what you need for maternity leave? Industrial strength maxi pads, Tucks medicated pads, aloe vera gel, hospital sized changing pads, and a site bath. Awesome right?!

Maternity Bag Essentials


I am assuming on your “meternity” leave you wouldn’t have to explain to the steam cleaning company employee that the body fluid they detected on your couch was something other than your own blood which seeped through your leggings because you were too sleep deprived to notice? You probably would spend yours on a topless beach in the south of France and not topless in the kitchen with suction apparatus attached to it collecting bags of milk. You would meet new friends at museums or theater productions and not feel like the person who knows you best is the cashier at the CVS.

This “meternity” time would be valuable to your relationship with your boyfriend because you could focus on his emotional and physical needs. You wouldn’t have to explain to him that your doctor explained you can’t have sex for six weeks because your vaginal muscles may be temporarily stretched-out, you still have postpartum bleeding, your hormones have destroyed your libido, and you are insecure about the fact you still look like you are pregnant.

You would feel confident that at the end of your sabbatical you would return recharged and hopeful for a promotion and raise and not exhausted, guilt-ridden, and terrified of losing their job.


Maternity leave isn’t just clocking out. If you still think it is I encourage you to take a tour of a hospital’s labor and delivery wing. Listen to the sounds of a woman wailing as a human being emerges from their lady pocket. Then head to the recovery floor and talk to some of the mothers who look like they’ve just been pulled from a mine. Ask them if they would like to join you on a sailing excursion or roller skating during your “meternity” leave.

Let me know if anyone tries to strangle you with their catheter bag.

Thank you for your understanding.

Warm regards,


Maternity Leave versus Maternity Leave

Not exactly the all night rager you’d expect.










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Comedian, Author, and Host of Reality Life with Kate Casey podcast.


  1. Ryann

    May 3, 2016 at 2:11 am

    As a newly pregnant woman I have to say, I love this, but it also scared the sh*t out of me. ?

    • Amanda

      May 3, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Don’t worry it’s completely worth it! Once you get that baby in your arms you will forget what you just went through. 🙂 best wishes to you and your family!!!

  2. Samantha

    May 3, 2016 at 3:12 am

    Perfect. This woman is an asshole who made a ridiculous statement, and nothing I have read sums up why better than this article.

    • Shane

      May 3, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      What ^ She said!

  3. Amanda

    May 3, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    As the mother of 4 I completely agree with this. I found myself nodding in agreement around every sentence. This definitely brought a smile to my face. Thanks Kate you are awesome!

    • mm


      May 3, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      My people!

  4. Lana

    May 3, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Amen sister!! Thank you for your post…every word was accurate. Having had a preemiee the first time, I couldn’t go back to work and now with a second on the way (also trying to escape my “woman pocket” early) people think bed rest is Netflix, ice cream and magazines. ??

    • mm


      May 3, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      They are idiots.

  5. Momof5

    May 3, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you! That author was SO far out of touch with reality, it was mind boggling! If anything, this downplays how bad things can really be! (And sure, sometimes a recovery is easy, but I’ve only had 1 out of 5 births be a generally “easy” recovery, but even the “easy” recoveries still have all the obstacles listed).

  6. masu rubi

    March 1, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Great. Thank you for your article on Maternity Leave .

  7. Douglas Webb

    June 2, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Such a helpful article with lots of information about maternity leave. I am totally agreed with you. I think this post is aware women about maternity leave. If you had more insight i will greatly appreciate it. Thanks for the sharing such a helpful article.

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