Bad news and crappy timing

[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.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Bad news and crappy timing

  1. That is so stressful, regardless of the supports. I hope that something shifts soon.

  2. Ugh. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this stress. I’ve worked in the non profit sector for the majority of my career and I’ve gone through periods of financial instability like this before. My heart goes out to you all!

  3. Such shitty timing. I know it’ll all work out okay. I’m glad you have good supports in place to get through this.

  4. I left my job while in my second trimester. It was unstable and no one would tell me if I was going to have one next week, let alone after the baby was born. I’m glad I chose to lean on family and take care of myself. Hang in there!

  5. Oh no! What incredibly awful news. I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how stressful that is. We’re struggling with a pay cut that we planned and were prepared for, I can’t imagine having it dropped on me, especially if I had to work the same hours. That is just awful. I hope you can figure something out that works for you and your family.

    Abiding with you.

  6. Gahhhh. How stressful — I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this now. I know you all will stick together and be okay, but what a bad time to have a big ladleful of uncertainty. Hope things stabilize soon.

  7. Oh ugh. Nothing constructive to add, just sympathy. I took a pay cut and hours increase when my wife was entering her second trimester and she left one of her jobs to stay home with baby, but I can only imagine how it must feel to NOT be the ones in control of those decisions. I found it helpful to tell myself that people have raised many more children in far worse situations, but that sort of thinking only goes so far. Yuck. Good luck figuring it out; I’m sure you will.

  8. Oh, man. So sorry! Uno also works for a small non-profit agency and had her pay cut last year. Even now with me working again full-time, we’re similar to you guys, living quite frugally. The good news is that you CAN make it work. We’ve leaned on family for childcare, we’ve hunkered down financially, and it’s been ok. Thinking of you!

  9. Oy. I don’t really have anything helpful, I’m afraid, just sympathy. And I totally get what it’s like to be both grateful for the security net of financially supportive family, and simultaneously be not wanting to use that net. Good luck! I hope things improve on this front soon. At least it sounds like you have a good perspective on the matter.

  10. crazybeautifulchronicles

    There is never a good time for this, but I agree with you this is an extremely awful time. I wish I had more to offer but instead I will send virtual hugs.

  11. Oh dear! I’m so sorry, and yeah, what wretched timing. I’m sure you guys do good work, too, and the cuts will also reflect some changes that affect others as well. STUPID money.

  12. Pingback: The other shoe | pajamamommas

  13. K

    Crap crap crap. I’m so sorry. We’ve been there. Much love to you guys, I know this is no fun. ❤

  14. K

    Sorry that comment was meant for the LATEST post. Grrrr. Stupid WordPress.

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