Meet Lauren. She’s 260 Weeks Pregnant, and for a Very Good Reason

Why a woman would keep her baby in for five years

Headshot of Angela Natividad

This is Lauren. Lauren is 260 weeks pregnant.

“A Long Five Years,” a PSA by advertising creatives working with Biscuit Filmworks, recounts an absurd story with a prickly edge. Below, find out why a clearly encumbered woman would decide to keep a baby inside her well past the due date:

The film was created for the National Partnership for Women & Families, and it touches on a number of sore points: Neither Lauren nor her husband have paid family leave, so Lauren stockpiles vacation and sick days so she can give birth when her baby turns 6. (Ouch.)

The spot also points out that nearly every country—certainly every developed country—has paid family leave, with the glaring exception of the United States.

“Besides, what’s the better option? America having a national paid leave policy? That’s crazy,” says the voiceover—by actress and activist Sophia Bush, who donated her time to the project.

“Lauren is every person in our country who has struggled with having to balance work and the inevitabilities of life without the support of a national paid leave policy,” creative director Jessica Coulter tells AdFreak. She adds that the stakes extend to more than pregnant women and their families. It also includes couples who adopt, and people who are caring for infirm loved ones, or who are sick themselves.

Inspiration for the ad came from the Makers Conference, Coulter goes on.

“After a breakout session led by vice president Vicki Shabo of the National Partnership for Women & Families about the lack of national paid leave in our country, I felt moved to approach her about making something that could get the issue noticed and evoke change,” she says.

Coulter’s creative partner, writer Eli Terry, jumped aboard, along with broadcast producer Tara Leinwohl and director Aaron Stoller of Biscuit. “From conception to finishing, every hand that touched the film did so with complete willingness and love for the cause—and without the bureaucracy that comes with being an ‘official’ advertising project,” Coulter says.

“It was one of those special days,” Stoller muses of the shoot. “Everyone rolled up their sleeves and got it done with a smile on their face. I just hope our poor actor’s back is OK—the prosthetic was super heavy.”

Wry smiles aside, the team hopes “A Long Five Years” will trigger action from lawmakers and the public by confronting them with “the absurd reality too many working people and families face,” says Shabo, who represents the organization.

“Millions of people like Lauren are being forced to choose between their health, families and jobs every day. The consequences for families, businesses and our economy are real. Lawmakers who claim to value families need to take a hard look at our nation’s truly absurd paid leave crisis, and commit to advancing a comprehensive solution.”

Citizens especially have a vested interest in saying something. “We shouldn’t accept an America where nearly one-quarter of new moms are back at work within two weeks of giving birth, or where an adult child who leaves the workforce to care for a parent forgoes an estimated $300,000 in income and retirement savings,” Shabo says.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a widely-supported idea. Some “82 percent of 2016 voters—including 95 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of independents and 70 percent of Republicans—say it is important for the President and Congress to consider a national paid family and medical leave law,” Shabo says. “People must keep up the drumbeat for change.”

What’s more, there are no excuses; the concept isn’t experimental.

“Most other countries and a handful of U.S. states have figured it out. Businesses of all sizes understand the benefits of paid leave. And we know what works and what a national program should look like,” Shabo adds.

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@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.