Founder and CEO, Allied Microbiota
On breastfeeding, bioremediation and bold baby brainstorming
My daughter was born early this January. She showed none of my husband’s irritating punctuality and arrived all of one week late, which was fine, I guess – except getting induced is not particularly fun.
Now, I have never been one to seek out fun – as the philosopher Deadpool said, “maximum effort, that’s my motto” – so given that, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that I decided to ignore the millions of dollars of effort Similac has put into making mom’s lives easier and go to breastfeeding exclusively.
It was not until I got started on this journey, with my mental pathways cleared by multiple nights of sleep deprivation, that I realized there were bigger issues in the world than environmental bioremediation.
I got into bioremediation because I wanted to clean up the land and water, to make lives healthier. But how is it enough to make sure our kids aren’t harmed by pollutants, when as soon as they are born, we set them up for failure by not letting mothers and fathers spend time with them?
I think it’s a moral imperative that a country should protect its weakest, tiniest and cutest citizens. Given this is a question of national character – a classic “public good” problem – this cannot be left to private companies to determine themselves.
At the same time, forcing a mandatory maternity leave brings up a parallel problem of women likely becoming disadvantaged in the workplace, owing to them having to take time off for pregnancy and breastfeeding. So, how can we make sure our kids are supported while women's careers aren't harmed?
I think the answer is in enforcing mandatory paternity AND maternity leaves. Say, three months each. Which the people pay for, if the companies won’t. I feel most companies will, but if they don’t, the government should be willing to pay … oh, I don’t know, your last tax year's monthly income or $3,000 a month, whichever is less, for three months each.
I’m making all these numbers up. But the spirit of the argument is a mandatory requirement, like conscription, to take care of kids, which applies to men and women. It’s the simplest way to take care of the issue.
I’m sure there are unforeseen consequences that I’m not thinking about. Don’t blame me – I’ve barely had any sleep, or coffee, this whole winter.