'My boss texted me while I was in the hospital asking if I was going to make it to work at all that week,' one TikTok user shared.
A TikTok video that has grabbed the attention of over five million people has ignited conversations about how messed up the U.S. workforce actually is. Posted by a new mom named Marissa Peirce, the video shows her stressing over whether the email she was about to send her boss sounded okay—all while she's in active labor. "Labor is stressful, calling out is even more stressful," she captioned the now-viral clip in which she is heard reading out her prepared email draft to her boyfriend to check whether he thought it was okay.
"Hey, [name]. I am in labor. I just got admitted to the hospital—smiley face. Would it be OK if my mom or brother picked up my paycheck tomorrow—question mark," Peirce reads, before turning to her partner to check whether her message sounds OK. She then smiles in relief as he quickly lets her know that it is "perfect." Since being posted in August, the 12-second-long clip has racked up five million views and thousands of comments from other TikTok users who could relate to Peirce's anxious state of mind while asking for time off. "My boss texted me while I was in the hospital asking if I was going to make it to work at all that week," wrote one person.
"I had to have my son 3 and 1/2 months early and the first thing I said when I realized I was having him was 'what about work,'" shared another. Several other TikTok users shared similarly disturbing anecdotes that highlighted how stressful it is for women and moms to be a part of the workforce. One even revealed that they had to find someone to cover their shifts while they were in active labor. "LOL, I relate so much. I was literally getting my shifts covered while waiting to get my cervix checked," they commented.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Marissa explained that the video was from last July when she gave birth to her and her boyfriend's son, Charles, and that she's an employee at a drive-thru coffee shop. "I went into labor at 2 a.m. on a day that I was scheduled to work at 10 a.m. I was overthinking this text message to my boss mainly because I have anxiety. I was a week and a half from my due date, so I was a little early for a first-time mom and no one really expected me to go into labor," she said.
Marissa explained that while she wasn't worried about her boss being upset over her missing work, she was very anxious about the whole situation in general. "I was a young parent, giving birth in a hospital in the middle of the pandemic—a week and a half early. Having to call out of work was the cherry on top for my anxiety," she said. "I empathize with all of the commenters talking about their lack of parental leave. I am extremely disappointed in the United States' lack of maternity and paternity leave. Most people that I know worked up until they went into labor, like I did. I know people who have gone back to work just weeks after having children."
"I was unfortunately offered no maternity leave and my partner was offered no paternity leave. He went to work less than 24 hours after we came home from the hospital," Marissa added. Despite not getting any maternity leave, she said she still feels lucky that her boss and work team were happily willing to cover her shift and duties the day she was in labor.