When our first daughter was born in 1996, my husband, Ed, took two days off from work. I took six months of “maternity leave,” which was unpaid except that I used two months of accumulated sick, vacation and comp time that I had stored.
I worked then as an attorney for a federal agency. Ed worked for a think tank, whose maternity and paternity-leave policies mirrored ours. Theoretically, we were both entitled to the same amount of time off, although nobody had ever taken paternity leave at Ed’s employer. We never considered his taking more than a few days off, something I began to regret the day he went back to work.