Alexis Ohanian has spoken about how the period after his wife Serena Williams gave birth was “traumatising”, emphasising the importance of paternity leave.
In September 2017, it was announced that Williams had given birth a baby girl, later revealing that she had to undergo an emergency Caesarean section.
The tennis player experienced a series of complications after giving birth that put her life at risk, including suffering a pulmonary embolism that required multiple surgeries.
In a new interview with The Guardian, her husband, Reddit co-founder Ohanian, explained how their lives were affected by the arrival of their daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr.
“My wife and I… we have means, we run our own careers, we have family, we have literally every advantage we could ask for when a newborn shows up, and yet still it was such a traumatising period,” the 36-year-old said.
Following their daughter’s birth, Serena Williams was bedridden for six weeks.
As such, Ohanian had to take on the bulk of the parenting responsibilities, a daunting task considering he had never held a baby before.
“I learnt how to do a diaper and I learnt how to do all these things and just get comfortable with this tiny little person that I was now responsible for,” he stated.
“I feel a confidence and a calm that is a direct result of having that time early when I had no clue what was happening. But I figured it out and it worked.”
Ohanian also outlined how important it was for him to be able to take 16 weeks’ paid paternity leave after Olympia was born.
“I couldn’t imagine going through that as a husband and having to decide or even think for a second about choosing between your wife and your career. That is an inhumane choice to expect someone to make in a modern society,” he stated.
Ohanian has previously spoken about the need for paternity leave in the US.
A recent report conducted by Unicef discovered that the US is the worst offender among the world’s richest nations when it comes to paternity leave, where there is no national paid leave for policy for fathers nor mothers.
In an essay penned for The New York Times in August 2019, Ohanian wrote: “Nothing could have dragged me away from my wife and daughter in those hours, days and weeks – and I’m grateful that I was never forced to choose between my family and my job.”