A Day Without A Woman. 34 Weeks

Last week I participated in Day Without A Woman on International Women’s Day by attending a rally at my state capitol, wearing red, and not making any purchases that day.

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I did not strike. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, hoping that my physical absence may be felt, but my work would still get done. There are two reason I chose not to strike. One, being that I am pregnant, I will need the time off for maternity leave. My company offers FMLA leave, which allows me to be out for up to 480 work hours without risk of losing my job (roughly three months). But any pay I am to receive during that time comes from my accumulated sick and vacation time, so using it now means I don’t get to use it later. Some may say this is exactly why I should strike – to show that this policy is inadequate to meet the needs of new moms and dads. That we should have better paid leave policies for maternity/paternity. These are things that I agree with and would fight for. But my second reason for not striking is a bit more compelling…

I work with all women. My team is all women, and though we work for a larger organization that has these maternity leave policies, the work I am doing right now affects the long term careers of these other women. They were relying on me to meet a deadline with my piece of the project so they could continue with theirs. Our failure on this project would not affect the overall organization we work for very much, but it would affect the careers of these other women. It simply did not make sense to me to hold these other women back in any way. 

Striking was a good choice for many. In a different circumstance I would have participated in the strike. Not because I think that I suffer injustices at work for being a woman (like I said, working with all women eliminates a lot of the discrimination other women suffer). I feel I am adequately and fairly compensated and am encouraged in my career growth. However, it is not for me that I participated in the rally.

It is for all the other women who could not rally

  • women who do suffer injustices at work
  • women who are paid less than a man for the same work
  • women who cannot take personal leave without the risk of being fired or reprimanded
  • women who are sick of a mostly male government deciding what she can and cannot do with her body
  • women who are accused of “bringing it on themselves” when they have been assaulted or abused
  • women who are told they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough, short enough, funny enough, smart enough, nice enough or good enough to meet our impossible standards of women
  • women who are sick of being ignored

I rallied because I wish for a better future for my daughter. As women we have all felt at least some of the things I listed above. There are certainly more things that could be added to this list, these are just the ones that come immediately to mind. I know I cannot shelter my daughter from all of these cultural injustices and she will some day experience some of these. My hope is that it gets better as times wears on. I did feel an energy at the rally that was really encouraging. We need to keep the energy alive and not let it wane.

The saddest part of the Day Without A Woman protests were the attacks from other women. The last thing we need is to tear each other down for standing up for what we believe. Even if it isn’t something that you care about or believe in, we should be proud that we are even allowed to have our own opinions that can be expressed publicly! It’s the women who came before us that have allowed us this expression. How you use it is your choice, but isn’t that a beautiful thing too!

In pregnancy news I am 34 weeks today! Only 6 short weeks to go. I cannot believe we are getting this close!

Did any of you participate in any of the Day Without A Woman activities? How did it go?

Anyone with daughters have advice on raising them to be confident and secure? 

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

 

 

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29 Weeks 1 Day and Erratic Sleeping

I am 29 weeks and 1 day today and it’s a weird space to be in. I feel close, yet so far, from my due date.

It’s still a month and a half before I even have a baby shower. That’s a decent amount of time. But it’s really approaching quicker than I realized. I can’t believe it’s already been 29 weeks! Crazy.

And my sleeping has decided to become very inconsistent. It seems like I am only sleeping well every-other night. I cannot figure out why. I was SOOO tired last night. I had had a pretty busy day….

When I got to work I discovered my tire was leaking air! I am lucky I made it to work without going flat! A couple of coworkers tried to help me get the lug nuts off but we couldn’t and I don’t have AAA. So we called maintenance and I was really lucky they were willing to help. Sent a big dude who got them off no problem. Had I been on the side of the road I would have had to hope that someone would take pity and stop in the middle of their morning commute!

Later on I had physical therapy for my rib/back pain. Being pregnant is all kinds of fun! The physical therapy is only very slowly starting to help with this pain. But at least it’s something.

That was at the end of the day, so I went straight from there to take my car to the auto shop before they closed for the day. They’re only a few blocks from my house, so I left my car there and walked home. They’re a small shop so they don’t keep a lot of inventory on hand and had to order the tires for me, to be delivered sometime this afternoon.  My boss is super nice and flexible so working from home today was not a problem while I wait on my car. [I am writing this on my lunch break for those concerned about my work ethic 😉 ]

THEN Beau and I met with a doula last night. She came over to talk about her process and strategies and see if we were a good match. She was really nice and a lot cheaper than the first doula we met with, but she’s also newer to this work. We are meeting with a third option this weekend so I think I will save all the doula details for another blog.

Anyway – you’d think with all that activity I’d fall right to sleep! Wrong. I was exhausted after the doula left and definitely felt ready to hit the hay. But for some reason (pregnancy) I couldn’t get comfortable no matter what I did. Then my mind started working and I couldn’t shut it off. I probably drifted in and out of sleep for a few hours and decided to try my luck on the couch. That was worse. Nothing was comfortable! So I went back up to my bed. I finally did doze off, though I am not sure what time.

When Beau woke me at my usual time this morning I felt terrible. I sent a quick email off to my boss about working from home since I didn’t know my car situation and then fell back asleep an extra hour. Luckily boss was totally cool with working from home because I would have been LATE had I had to get myself dressed and onto public transit to trek to work. Instead I worked in my jammies at my kitchen table until I could take a quick break to shower and get dressed and write this post!

The problem is this keeps happening. Every other night I can’t sleep and then I am exhausted and am able to fall asleep the next day but then the cycle starts all over again!

Anyone out there with pregnancy sleep problems have any advice? I am not sure I can do this for 11-ish more weeks!

 

99 Days!

So I have been posting past experiences and not much of the ‘what is happening right now’ stuff. I am trying to get caught up to the now, but wanted to give readers some background to my journey. BUT today I looked at my pregnancy app. I don’t look at it every day, but I just happened to open it this morning at it said…

99-days

 

99 days to birth! I am down to double digits! I am getting more nervous and excited every day. I just faxed my FMLA leave request information to the HR department at my work. Having a baby as a full-time employee is a bit complicated. I am lucky enough to be employed by an employer who offers FMLA for maternity leave. I know that some smaller companies don’t have to. I am also lucky that I have accrued a lot of sick and vacation pay to help cover my loss of income while I am out. I will run out of it before I am back from leave, but it’s good to know I wont be going three months without pay. I can’t imagine what other women have to go through who don’t have the same options as me. It’s hard enough with support from your work.

Here’s the list of things to do now, and while on maternity leave, as it pertains to work:

NOW

  • Tell your supervisor!
  • Fill out FMLA request form and return to HR department with supervisor signature
  • Determine how much sick and vacation time you have available so you can take it while on FMLA
    • note: if you run out of your accumulated paid leave, the remainder of your leave will be unpaid. Because you don’t have money on paychecks you will not be able to make any paycheck reduction payments (so any bills that are paid directly from your check) – so plan ahead for that! This includes your health insurance. You will not lose your health insurance, but any back payments will be taken all at once when you return, so you may be paying two or three times as much on your first paycheck back. Plan for that too!)
  • Find out if your insurance payments will change by switching to a family plan, and by how much. Time to start budgeting for these changes!

WHILE ON MATERNITY LEAVE

  • As soon as she is born, get paperwork from hospital and forward it to HR department and let them know you are starting your maternity leave
  • Apply for a ‘life changing event’ through your insurance to switch to a family plan and/or add your new baby. It may take a bit to process but they will back-cover to the date of birth for any appointments for the baby you may have while you are processing everything.
  • You  may also want to enroll in a flexible spending account through your work. This will allow you to put aside tax-free money every month for child care expenses. They provide you with a ‘debit card’ of sorts that draws directly from your account. Some day care facilities will accept payment this way. If you chose not to do a flexible spending, you can apply for a tax refund at the end of the year. It just depends on if you’d rather have that savings along the way, or get a refund once a year. I haven’t decided which I will do yet.

 

I am sure there are more things I am forgetting. It feels a bit overwhelming at times, but I am sure it will all come together.

Mom’s who’ve been through this before… What am I missing? How was your experience handling all the paperwork while adjusting to a new baby?

When It Rains

AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2015

Looking back on those first few months of trying to conceive, it’s really no wonder that it didn’t work out. I had A LOT going on at the time and stress levels for both Beau and I were off the charts.

I had been working with a therapist over the last year or so to process my relationship with my own mother. I knew that Beau and I were gearing up to become parents and I didn’t want to repeat her unhealthy patterns. Not that she was a terrible mother, she was a single mother and did the best she could, but she has some major boundary issues. And as my brother and I got older she became more and more resentful that we didn’t “need” her anymore. Her way of getting us to behave was to lay on the guilt. These are things I struggled with for years. Always feeling guilty that I was letting my mother down, that I wasn’t spending enough time with her or was doing things that she wouldn’t like. Working with a therapist to talk through some of these things and get an outside perspective has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I totally feel confident now that I am not going to repeat old patterns and can have a healthy relationship with my children. (Though I also accept that everyone fucks their kids up a little bit)

But in July and August 2015 I was still working through some of it and at the same time my work was REALLY busy. I work in research and we were data collecting. I remember feeling like I could not get caught up at work. At the same time I was working my ass off I didn’t know if I would have a job past April because our grant funding was going to run out. We were scrambling to apply for more funding and the deadline for that grant application was September – and it was quickly approaching. But because there were no guarantees, I was searching for other jobs around that time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Beau was also in the midst of uncertainty with his job. His company was going through a transition of ownership, but he didn’t know who the new owners were going to be and how safe his job was – so he was also looking at other job opportunities.

It gets better. I had also injured myself playing soccer the beginning of July. I got kicked in the side of the foot/big toe area when myself and another girl were both going for the ball. I got the ball, she got my foot :/  I did’t think it was that bad, but a month and a half later it was still hurting to walk on it (and my job had me on my feet a lot). So I was scheduled for an MRI mid-August that revealed a torn ligament and I was given a surgical boot to keep it stable in order to hopefully heal it. So by end of August I was walking around a lot with this heavy surgical boot that was hopefully healing my foot, but also causing other pains in my legs and hips since I was basically walking with a limp constantly. So I also couldn’t exercise properly (my go-to stress reliever).

And of course there’s more: My niece who lives near me was getting married in Sept. Right when the grant for work was due. So my Dad, Step-mom, Brother, Sister-in-Law, and their 9 month old baby were all coming to stay with me for about a week.

By the end of September, I was beyond stressed/exhausted/overtaxed/worn out/ drained/spent.

I was ready to take a month long vacation from everything. But I was also ready to be pregnant.

 

Sorry this turned into such a long post!