At six weeks postpartum, Taneisha’s paid leave came and went and her son was still in the NICU.

“I felt robbed of this experience of postpartum because both me and my husband were back to work before our son could even come home.”

At just 28 weeks, Taneisha, a first-time mom and military spouse, unexpectedly welcomed her son. Because of the complications during her birth, she delivered in Orlando—an hour drive from her home in Melbourne. For six weeks during her leave, Taneisha and her husband lived at the Ronald McDonald House where her son was staying so they could be with him around the clock.

But at the six-week mark, she needed to return to work.

“After two or three weeks of being back at work plus driving back and forth to the NICU, my son began going backwards in his progress. The mental exhaustion of going to work and feeling like ‘Is he ever going to get out?’ caught up to me. I finally decided to quit,” Taneisha remembers.

The decision was a huge financial strain, but Taneisha and her husband felt they had no other choice.

“My husband and I are pretty financially savvy and our family was incredibly supportive,” Taneisha explains. “For example, I didn’t get to have a baby shower before Rocket was born so instead of receiving clothes and things they gave us UberEats gift cards and things to help us out.”

Eventually, Taneisha found a job where she could work from home.

…and then childcare became a massive burden.

Because of her baby’s high medical needs, finding a daycare qualified to take care of him at a price point that made sense was nearly impossible. In Colorado, where Taneisha and her husband were now living, the average annual childcare is more than $15,000 per child, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“My husband and I took shifts for the first 18 months. We barely saw each other,” says Taneisha.

Today, Taneisha’s son is a thriving almost five year old. He is off oxygen—happy and healthy.

But the post-birth trauma still haunts Taneisha, which is why she’s so passionate about Chamber of Mothers. As co-chapter leader of the Military chapter, Taneisha is fed up and fired up because, “Not every mother has a textbook, straightforward birth and—even if you do—bonding in those first few months of life is so critical.”

Florida, where Taneisha’s son was born, is one of 37 states that has no mandated paid family leave.

It’s time to change that.

Chamber of Mothers, in partnership with theSkimm and I am a voter®, is launching our Vote Like a Mother® campaign. Our aim is to activate 100,000 mothers to register to vote.

Text MOTHER to 26797 to get voter registration info and a guide to the ballot items that matter most to moms so you can Vote Like a Mother®.