Two months in to 2016 and everything is coming up babies!
My newsfeed was filled with announcements and gender reveals in 2015, and 2016 is proving to be no different.
No, I am not one of those people with exciting news.
I have checked that box, my #squadgoals are met, my heart is full and my bank account is empty.
When it comes to health news, I tend to turn off the TV or flip the page because it’s usually terrifying or it doesn’t pertain to me, but when Defense Secretary Ash Carter gave a news conference at the Pentagon last week, he piqued my interest.
Carter unveiled a series of family-friendly proposals for the military that would increase parental leave, child care and health care coverage, double the length of fully paid maternity leave for female service members and work with Congress to boost time off for paternity leave and adoptions.
Nothing is set in stone, but it’s one heck of a start. I firmly believe that the leave, for both parents, should be based on the number of children being born. Let me tell you, recovering from a C-section with one twin at home and having to go back and forth every three hours for the other twin was taxing.
Multiple births are not a rarity, either, so my idea isn’t that farfetched.
The rate of twin births in the U.S, reached a record high in 2014, according to an annual report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. There were 33.9 twins born for every 1,000 births in 2014. Births of triplets and higher multiples were on the rise from 1980 to 1998, when the rate peaked at 193.5 multiples for every 1,000 births. But unlike twin births, the rate has been declining for 20 years. Between 2013 and 2014, it dropped 5 percent to 113.5 per 1,000 births.
The next item on Carter’s agenda also struck a chord with me. He said he also intends to expand health care coverage to include more benefits for men and women trying to get pregnant. He is directing the military services to expand the hours that military child care facilities are open and the number of children that can be accommodated.
Can I get an amen?
Nothing is more frustrating than having two sick kids and your only option is to wait six hours in an emergency room or wait two weeks to be seen by a doctor, not even your primary care doctor.
Also, trying to get pregnant isn’t always as easy as the movies make it seem, but that stress, coupled with a high-stress job, is something else. I couldn’t imagine trying to plan a family as an active-duty female.
Planning a pregnancy is no small feat, especially when one or both parties have to deploy for months at a time and or trying to plan childbirth around someone’s more stable duty assignments. Family planning isn’t just on the woman. It’s also not easy on the men, who worry about injuries during their deployments to war zones that might impair their abilities to father children.
The health care coverage proposal is complex, but would involve increased benefits for women seeking more extensive fertility and pregnancy assistance. Specifically, he called for a pilot program that would extend health care coverage to active duty women seeking to freeze their eggs and men who wanted to freeze their sperm. The military already offers fertility services to wounded warriors, but this pilot program could be a game changer for many men and women.
As much as the medical system in the military has its issues, it did help me have the family I always wanted. I hope those couples who have been trying and hoping for years finally get their happy endings.