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I found out I was pregnant just as the pandemic was starting in 2020. As a sole proprietor, without any national paid leave program, that meant I had to plan for my business to take a hit for my maternity time, and then COVID happened. The confluence of a major economic downturn, with a new baby on the way and no safety net was incredibly stressful as a new mom, and a business owner. Thankfully, my husband works for a company that provides paid leave, but many small business owners aren’t as lucky to have a spouse with benefits. We need a national paid family and medical leave program to support self-employed job creators like me.

I own a photography studio in Morgantown. It had just undergone renovations and was newly completed when we had to shut down in March last year. As a pregnant woman, I was high risk, and so I shut down operations to keep myself and my family safe. My mother was also at high risk and had several medical emergencies during the pandemic. The time to be able to care for her, and protect myself, was only possible due to going down to one income and relying on my husband’s benefits. Paid leave was absolutely necessary when I needed time to care for myself, my new child, and my mother.

Jodi Hollingshead is the owner of As You Are Boudoir in Morgantown and a member of the Main Street Alliance.

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