A viral TikTok shared this week shows a mom showing the exhausting reality of maternity leave and all of the invisible loads of work that go along with it.
In a data visualization she presented to her colleagues upon returning to work after maternity leave, Kristen Cuneo made a point that represented every major task she took on while caring for her newborn—throughout the presentation, those points changed shape until they represented an enormous amount of time that took up the whole screen
Let’s be real @lifeof.kristenc is definitely the main character in this house.♬ original sound - Michael DiBenigno
“This is every diaper feed, breastfeed, and bottle feed for the first seven weeks of Autumn’s life,” Cuneo explains in the video, talking about her 10-month-old daughter Autumn. “Objectively, it’s a lot. And every data point took time, ranging from five minutes for a diaper change to 30 minutes for a feeding on average.”
Cuneo then deep-dives into the work that goes beyond basic care. “The real kicker is when it happens. 24 hours a day,” she says.
She points out one moment of rest in her huge chart. “The midnight bottle feed play by my husband in the third week made it finally possible for me to get more than a three-hour stretch of sleep.”
Cuneo shared the presentation on her husband's TikTok account (aptly named "@that.data.guy." It quickly went viral, amassing millions of views and likes.
The TikTok lasts under a minute, but the impact is strong among fellow American moms.
“I am 19 months [postpartum], been back at work for a little over a year, and yet this just made me cry. I wish more people understood,” one commenter wrote.
“I bet if you added in self care, house care, etc. it would just be a solid cube,” said another.
“Oh my god, this woman has to be before Congress," wrote one mom.
“People who don’t support family vacation think it’s a vacation,” another user said.
Living through the reality of maternity leave is one thing, showing it and explaining it in this way makes a powerful case for family leave and the need for more support for new moms.