Nov 24 2014
I started to get an uneasy feeling at work sometime back in September, when things began changing in my department and I found myself increasingly excluded from meetings, decisions, and major projects. But every time I confided in a family member, friend, or coworker, the response was the same: “You’re pregnant; they can’t get rid of you now.”
I tried taking comfort in the legal protections offered to pregnant women but I knew deep down that something was brewing nonetheless. And sure enough, one day I was called into an HR meeting and informed that my position was being phased out and redistributed among other employees.
I can’t say the news was particularly shocking, but I still walked out of that meeting feeling angry and betrayed. After all, I’d been a dedicated employee for over four years. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 24 2014
Job hunting with a new baby is a stress that no woman should have to experience. But there I was, on the hunt for a new legal gig, in entertainment law no less.
I had networked and sent out hundreds of emails in a flurry of excitement, nausea, and hope that one of them would land me a new job, and if not, at least an informational interview. Being on maternity leave with my older child in day care and my husband working full-time, I didn’t have last minute babysitting arrangement to rely on if an interview should come up. But, when an email landed in my inbox with an offer to convene with someone about my job search, I jumped at the chance to schedule a time to meet. With two weeks notice, I had plenty of time to arrange for someone responsible to mind my child, lose another 10 pounds of unwanted baby weight, and find the perfect outfit without any spit up on it.
The night before the meeting, with my child sensing the impending separation, I got no sleep. Instead, my perfectly sleep trained baby decided to sing and cry all night long, ensuring that the only way to offset the dark blue bags under my eyes was if I wore blue eye shadow on my lids. Of course, my husband slept through this command performance. Read the rest of this entry →
May 9 2014
In college, Brian and I lived in a dorm which was known for one thing in particular: fire drills. Well, not exactly drills, more like people setting off the alarm in the middle of the night. For most of the first quarter, two or three times a week, approximately 600 of us would sleepily file onto the dark street in front of the building.
(Note to all college students: It is advised that you remove the pop tart from the foil before putting it in the microwave. Also, who microwaves a Pop Tart?)
After a few weeks of this, I created a routine before going to bed which consisted of setting out sweatpants, a jacket, shoes and keys so they would be easily accessible at 1 a.m. when the alarm was blaring. As I climbed into my little dorm bed, I would think, “I wonder if the fire alarm will go off tonight?” Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 24 2014
The Maine island we live on is in transition from winter to spring. Ice and snow have given way to alternating drizzle and sunshine. Frost heaves (out here we call them “Thank you ma’ams!”) are flattening themselves out, and back yards and sheds are filling up with freshly painted pot buoys. Murders of crows are sharing the roadsides with flocks of robins.
I’m transitioning with the seasons. We saw the baby in 3D at our last ultrasound, and checked her for growth restriction (all good!). My baby shower was perfect, sunlit, and tulip-adorned; full of delicious food, family, and friends. We even found places for all of the presents, thanks to the cleaning and reorganizing we’d already done.
The last transition before the big one will be handing my classroom over to my long-term sub. Miraculously, we were able to hire someone on-island with enough of a music and English background to cover all of my classes, and a colleague is directing the spring play. I applied for and received a sabbatical for the first half of the next school year, too, so in all I’ll have eight months home with my baby. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 7 2014
When NY Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, got word that his pregnant wife’s water broke on Sunday night, March 30th, he traveled from New York to their home in Florida, arriving in time for the birth of his first-born child, Noah, via C-section. Murphy then took the three days paternity leave permitted for Major League Baseball players to be with his wife before returning to the team. He missed two games including the Mets home opener.
Murphy has now come under fire on a few radio shows for choosing to be with his wife instead of immediately rejoining the team.
I immediately felt a fire within myself when I heard this criticism. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 17 2014
I used to fumble my words when someone asked me what I do for a living. Having a baby and being laid off while on maternity leave will do that to you.
My self worth bailed right along with my sanity. I was set to return to work 12 weeks postpartum as a counselor working with patients and families dealing with a terminal illness. I loved my job. As depressing as the population I worked with sounds, it was one of the most humbling and gratifying jobs I have ever held. Then, about four weeks into my maternity leave, I received notice that the company I worked for was restructuring and I was out.
The true story is that they tried to get me to quit so that I would not be eligible for unemployment. I held my own and finally got a statement from the new COO (who I never met as she started while I was out), conceding to the fact that they were indeed laying me off. I could have been over the moon to be laid off while on maternity leave, approved for unemployment, but instead I found myself deflated and defeated. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 4 2014
There is almost nothing more beautiful than my baby when she’s sleeping. She raises her hands above her head like she’s celebrating a Patriots touchdown and gets a dreamy look on her tiny, gorgeous face. When she’s awake, she gives me an amazing smile if I beep her nose or stroke her chin.
This time tomorrow, I won’t be sitting midday and nursing her as long as she wants. I won’t be rubbing her little tummy. I’ll be back at work–voluntarily.
I’m the sort of woman who leans in. During my eight-week maternity leave, I dropped in to work with the baby four or five times for one reason or another. On Monday, a co-worker said to me about my impending return to work, “Isn’t it so hard for you to leave her? It was always so hard for me to leave my kids.”
The answer to her question is no, and I won’t feel guilty about it. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 19 2013
Chinese ancients may have something on us modern Westerners. An old Chinese acupuncturist told my husband that back in the old country, women were made to stay in bed and fed soup for two solid months after giving birth.
Old-style Yiddish mamas have a special name for the postpartum woman: she’s a kimpeturin and is chided for lifting a finger to help with housework.
Modern-day America doesn’t seem to have the same respect for the recuperation needs of postpartum women (which explains why so many of them never heal properly from the experience of hosting a live baby in their wombs and then ejecting said baby in a miraculous but painful process that puts their bodies through extreme stress and acrobatics). Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 25 2013
It’s the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. I’m not sure if I’m speaking for all of us in saying this, but I haven’t even read it: I live it.
Friday morning, I shut the door in the face of my crying child who was yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! No go!” with guilt-inducing gusto. I was leaving her in order to go into New York to tape a television show which discussed, in part, feminism and work-life balance. Ah, irony: you’re so subtle.
It’s not just me, of course. The discussion on women in the workplace was kick started on the national scale this week.
On the one hand, prominent consulting group McKinsey has started quietly reaching out to female former employees who left to start families to see if they are now ready to come back to work. Goldman Sachs also runs a “returnship” program: paid short-term jobs for professionals who’ve been out of the workforce for a few years. In a 2010 report, the Wall Street Journal noted, “female senior executives cited the ‘double burden syndrome’ of balancing motherhood and work as the main obstacle to women attaining more top roles in companies.” Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 14 2013
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
– Some parents whose kids have yoga programs at school are pulling their kids out of those classes because they don’t want their children to become Hindus. (NPR)
– You’ve probably been told not to bribe your kid, but you probably do it anyway. Is creative bribery the answer? (NY Times)
– Jessica Grose offers a new plan for maternity leave. Give more of it (duh) and allow parents to take it anytime during the first year of the child’s life. (Slate)
– A surprising number of families are trying complementary and alternative medicine on their kids’ medical conditions before taking the children to a doctor, and many aren’t telling the doctors about the other treatments they’re trying. Not shockingly, this is not a good way of doing things. (TIME)