[written on Wednesday, September 11th, but life has been crazy since then and I didn’t get a chance to post it until now]
My co-workers and I were called into a meeting yesterday. At this meeting we were informed that we would be getting a substantial cut in pay and benefits, effective next pay period. Apparently, the small agency where we work is low on funds, due to several grants not coming through. It’s unclear how long this cut will last, but there’s no immediate way to regain the funding.
Perhaps there are worse times to get this kind of news, but the time when one is six months pregnant feels like it should be pretty high on the list. Roo and I had recently done some math about how we would afford the extra expenses that come with a new baby–the loss in pay during both of our maternity leaves, the extra medical bills, and the cost of childcare for two kids. We were feeling like money would be tight, but we were proud of what we had saved so far, and optimistic that we could make it work. And then this happened.
Tuesday evening was pretty miserable. I drove to pick up Tadpole at school, and couldn’t listen to the radio because my head was so full of panicked thoughts. I was running through our monthly budget in my head and trying to figure out ways to cut it. But we already live pretty frugally. We drive small, old fuel-efficient cars. We buy most of our clothes second-hand. We pack all of our lunches. We eat out only once or twice a week, and only at very inexpensive places. There’s not a lot to trim away here–certainly not enough to make up the difference between my old paycheck and what I’ll now be bringing in.
I was also trying to figure out what else I/we could do to bring in additional income. While it might be illegal to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, I imagine my chances of finding a new job (either full- or part-time) while six months pregnant are pretty slim. And I want to be able to take all of the maternity leave that I’ve earned at my current job, which means sticking it out at least through then.
But if I do that, I’ll need to start looking soon after Sprout is born. I really don’t want to spend my maternity leave looking for a new job. Life with a newborn is overwhelming enough; I don’t want to add sending out resumes and cover letters to the mix. Plus, I’m not thrilled at the idea of trying to get my spit-up-covered, sleep-deprived, maternity-leave self all dressed up and prepared to speak in the coherent sentences that are required at an interview.
I’m mad at my boss. She is good at her job in many ways, and I am often impressed with her ability to seek out funding in unexpected places. But I do feel like some of her recent choices led directly to this point and so I hold her at least partially responsible. And I’m really frustrated that she didn’t give us any indication that this might be coming.
I’m trying to remember (especially today), that things could be far worse. Yes, this is scary and overwhelming and will require some adjustments. But we are incredibly lucky to know that we can go to my parents for financial help if we need to (much as I hate to do that at age 35!). And, most importantly, it’s just money. All four(!) of us and our extended families are healthy. Sprout spent much of today reassuringly wiggling all over the place as if to remind me over and over to be grateful for her presence. As scary as it is to be dealing with this right now, it would also have been awful if it had come when we were still trying to conceive, because we probably would have had to put our plans on hold for a while.