We're Not Sick or on Break; We're Having a Baby

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's time to do something about the lack of paid parental leave in the United States. Does anyone realize that this deprivation leaves us in the company of such under-developed countries as Papua New Guinea and Swaziland?

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Yup! Been there, done that. I was the sole earner for our family back in 1989, and worked at a furniture store. I stayed until the day I went into labor, then was back at work within 5 days. The owner's daughter was pregnant at the same time, and she got to take several months off, at exactly the same time. No one even blinked. I remember suffering through having my milk come in at work and having to call home to get someone to bring me dry clothing, while I waited at my desk, wrapped in a sweater to hide my 'problem'.

My daughter, who is a single mom now, was working a minimum-wage part-time job when she was pregnant, and ended up getting help from the county, and stayed home for the first 4 months of her daughter's life. She managed to live on about $410 a month (her rent was $425), and was able to get 12 diapers at a time by going to the Christian pantry and watching a 1-hour video every day about becoming a Christian. In spite of this meager existance, she probably gave her daughter a better start by being at home with her. Frankly, I don't know how she could have afforded appropriate childcare on minimum wage, so maybe she made the better choice?

I'm a single 37 year old woman expecting in 6 weeks (a little girl). I have 2 teenage sons, so this was a huge surprise for me. Welcome, but surprising. :)
The day I told my full time job (of 2 years) of the wonderful news, things changed drastically.
My job, which was pretty laid back until now, became very stressful and full of animosity. My boss turned on me (we're about the same age!) and she started talking behind my back with the big boss and anyone else that would listen. All unbeknownst to me.
The next thing I knew, there was a meeting planned and I was told that everything I was doing was wrong (even though it had been right for the past 2 years, as I had great evaluations). I was given until (conveniently) the day I leave for maternity leave to get things 'right' or we would re-evaluate that day.
I can no longer work through lunch to make up dr. appts, which I could always do before (and everyone else still can). I have less than 1 week of vacation, and a few hours of sick leave, which I will undoubtedly use most of it up in appointments over the next few weeks.
I was also told that I am 'allowed' to take up to 12 weeks off (FMLA)(unpaid, of course), but (these are her exact words...) Anyone who takes over 6 weeks off is just being selfish.
With that said, I also have to figure out how to pay for my health insurance premiums while I'm on leave, since I'll be in 'no-pay' status, all while being on UNPAID leave.
Sorry to vent, however, this problem is all too well-known in the United States and I don't see any end to it in sight. Oh, and the exact same thing happened to the woman who held this position before me. She left, I came in.
The problem is that I can see what's happening, however, I can't prove any of it, so I'm stuck. Going to a job interview while you're 8 months pregnant, is a mute point (and my job knows that. They know I'm stuck). But that's a whole other topic... Trying to get a job while pregnant and showing.
Thanks for reading.