Where to start? I came to the realization last night that part of the reason I haven't been posting is that all I feel like doing is complaining. I feel awful, almost all the time. Eating is a chore and no longer a pleasure. My face looks like a teenager's face (and not because it looks youthful). I'm exhausted. A constant intake of stool softeners has helped, but I still get painful cramps after eating. The snot never seems to stop and the constant drip down the back of my throat just makes me more nauseous. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to get through work each day. This means that I'm usually miserable by the time I get home. I haven't made phone calls or even sent emails to friends for weeks. I've hardly posted at all lately and I've completely quit commenting on other people's blogs (I'm sorry!). I've basically fallen off the face of the earth going from home to work and back again and nowhere else. Weekends are spent lying on the couch and forcing myself to eat and drink.
See? I have a lot of complaints. And it just seems so wrong that we've worked SO damn hard for so long to get here and all I can do is complain. Still. I'm over 10 weeks now and wondering when (if) I will start enjoying this pregnancy and being happy about it. When will I want to plan? There is really a lot we need to do and I would normally be in my element writing lists, starting to shop, looking at daycare options, thinking about names, reading books. But all I can do is lie around and moan. Every once in awhile I break down into tears pitying myself and hating myself for not loving every minute of finally being pregnant. Last night it took me 10 minutes to catch my breath after a crying fit. And it was a fit-real ugly sobbing, snot streaming down my face. On the one hand, the tears are a release for me and I know the hormones have a lot to do with these episodes. But it doesn't help me calm down and the crying always makes me feel worse. It took another half hour for my sinuses to clear up last night.
To make matters worse, I spoke with someone in HR at work yesterday and got some horrific news about our maternity leave policy. There isn't one. How is it possible to work somewhere for 3.5 years (and 3 years prior as a consultant) and not know this? I have no idea. I though I understood the policy as it was explained to me by one of the females in the department prior to my taking the job there. I was told that prior to 2 years of service, there was no separate maternity policy and you simply got 3 months unpaid leave under FMLA, although you would get some short-term disability at reduced pay for 6 weeks (I think). After 2 years of service , you were covered under short-term disability and were entitled to 3 months at FULL pay and up to 2 more months at half pay. I should have known this was too good to be true. The literature I received at orientation wasn't sufficiently clear to change my understanding of the policy.
I made life decisions based on the misinformation. I took the position and we actually WAITED to try to start a family until we were sure a baby would not be born prior to my 2 years of service (hindsight...sigh). I have passed up other opportunities and not even considered talking to headhunters because I was at my 2 years of service. I stayed at my job even though the insurance covered not a cent of infertility treatment (knowing full well there were other places in town that would pay for IVF) because the maternity leave was the light at the end of the tunnel.
HA! So much for that dream. If all were to go perfectly and I somehow manage to carry these two babies to term, I will use 3 days of vacation/sick time and then go on short-term disability and get full pay until my doctor releases me to go back to work (usually 6-8 weeks), even if I have a c-section. I will then switch over to using any unused vacation/sick time. My FMLA time will run concurrently from the start and will kick in as unpaid leave when all of my vacation/sick time is gone. This means that at best, I will be home with the babies for 12 weeks, most of it paid, but likely some of it unpaid depending on my vacation time. I will then have to go back to work with 3 month old twins and have not ONE day of vacation/sick time. The only way I would get the full 5 months of short-term disability is if there were a medical reason for a doctor to keep me from being released to work. The medical reason would have to be for me, not for the babies. (I suppose I should be grateful that I would at least get some short-term disability with full pay as I know some places don't offer it).
And if I end up on bed rest or having to stop work before the babies are born, it gets even worse. The bed rest time would fall under short-term disability after using 3 days of vacation/sick time. It would eat into the total allotted 5 months of short-term disability if for some reason I was medically unable to return to work after the birth. It also would eat into the 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave as it runs concurrently with short-term disability. For example, if I end up having to stop work 4 weeks prior to the birth, and my doctor releases me to go back to work 6 weeks after the birth, I will only have 2 weeks left of FMLA time. Unless I have more than 2 weeks of vacation/sick time built up, I will have to go back to work 8 weeks after the twins are born. 8 weeks! How the fuck am I supposed to do that? Even if they are completely healthy, this seems impossible.
This is a far cry from the 5 months paid leave (3 at full pay and 2 at half pay) I thought I was entitled to. How could I be so stupid? I am kicking myself and trying to figure out how in the world I was so misinformed. But that doesn't even matter. What matters is that I have no idea how I will go back to work after 12 measly weeks (at best) and it puts the pressure on to try to work right up until I go into labor to avoid eating into that time. Not a fun prospect.
Part of me knows I shouldn't be writing about this on the blog because it is work related, but it is just the facts and the fact is I'm really pissed off. And pissed off doesn't go well with nauseous.
See why I haven't been posting? I'm just a bowl full of sunshine.
(Please don't take this post as me being ungrateful. I know how lucky we are and I wouldn't give this pregnancy up for the world-even though I'm miserable).
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