Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Working 9-5...okay, 8-5

First, I want to thank everyone for their thoughts / prayers / good wishes for my mother. She had lymph node surgery last week, and the lymph nodes came back clear which is a really really good thing.

Second, I need to apologize for being such a bad blogger / commenter. Things have been a bit crazy at work. I used to be able to sneak some time at work to update my blog and comment on others, but not so much anymore. Just when I needed things to be slowing down here, my workload picked up. One of my co-workers got transferred to a new location, and I got stuck picking up a huge amount of the slack.

While they are all very nice human beings outside of the workplace, my co-workers are oblivious to how difficult things are becoming for me. I work in an academic library, which I am discovering is a much more physical job than I originally thought. There's a lot of standing up, bending to pull a 15 pound journal from the bottom shelf, pushing fully loaded carts, climbing onto a step stool and stretching to get a 15 pound journal from the top shelf, going up and down the stairs because the elevator is broken yet again. You get the picture. It's not the most physical job in the world, but everything is much harder with a belly in the way. I've made my boss aware (on multiple occasions) that I need help with the more physical aspects of the job, but nothing comes of it.

I am trying to balance being careful not to overexert myself with my need to save time for maternity leave. I will only be paid and receive insurance coverage while using my accumulated sick days. I have 65 days saved up, so that should get me close to 3 months off. Ideally, I'd like to take the bulk of that time off after the babies are born, and not before. Honestly, I still have absolutely no idea what will happen work-wise after the babies are born, and it's beginning to stress me out. Currently Elizabeth has a postdoctoral fellowship, which pays fairly well but does not offer health benefits. My job does not pay well, but it does allow me to cover Elizabeth on my insurance. Our original plan was that I would quit my job after the babies were born, because Elizabeth would surely have a job by then. Unfortunately, the academic job market is terrible. Last year was the worst year for job seekers in Elizabeth's field in decades- this year there are 25% fewer jobs than last year. It's a very difficult situation for someone trying to break into the academic job market.

Since we can't count on a job coming through for Elizabeth this year, our first plan was that I would go back to work after my leave is up since I have insurance. Elizabeth would quit her job and be a SAHM because her job does not offer insurance. It doesn't make sense for both of us to go back to work and put 2 infants in daycare. I am humiliated to admit this, because the rest of you seem so well off, with great jobs and homes that you own, but the cost of putting 2 infants in daycare would take up nearly every penny of my paycheck.* It just doesn't make sense to work so hard at a job I don't like, just so that someone else can raise my children. If I earned a bit more, it would be different because I would actually have some income left over that could be used for savings or household expenses. It just doesn't make sense to have someone else raising our kids if one of us could stay home and our financial bottom line would be the same.

Now, Elizabeth is considering staying on at her fellowship for another year because it actually brings in more money than my full time job. We would have to purchase insurance which would put us in a very tight financial situation, but we could manage. Either way, it's going to be a tough decision to make. I'm still hoping that a full time job with benefits comes through for her, because a larger salary + health insurance included would make our financial situation so much easier.

One of the things that's breaking my heart the most about our current financial situation is that with only one small income, we'll have to stay in our current one bedroom apartment. Like so many others, when I dreamed about babies in my future, I fantasized about decorating the perfect nursery. My mother-in-law threw us a baby shower last week, and we received some heart meltingly sweet home made gifts. I want a special place to put all of these lovely things. I want to give my babies a place of their own. In this regard, I feel like I have already failed them. Rather than giving them a little room just for them, we'll try to make the best of our terrible floor plan apartment and find a way to squeeze swings in between file cabinets, to fit an extra dresser and changing table in the bedroom without putting the bed and co-sleeper near the drafty window, etc. In the meantime, I'm trying to stay hopeful that something will come through at the last minute so I can give my babies everything they deserve.

And now to try and catch up on the rest of blogland!

*Elizabeth and I do combine our earnings for shared expenses. If we put our kids in daycare, it won't be coming out of my income alone. It just makes it easier to visualize the impact daycare would have on our finances by realizing that one income would essentially be gone.