Tuesday, April 9, 2013

And the hits just keep on coming...

Well, just when I had gotten a handle on things, had decided on victory over defeat, I was handed yet another blow this quarter basically makes me feel like the universe hates me, like I've done something terrible somewhere and this is a huge karmic slap.

Before I begin, let me say first that the J and I have talked about this, and we decided that while the specialist would probably sign off on it, and I could probably (and maybe should probably) keep trying, that what's going to happen in the fall might all around work out for almost the best.

According to my doctor, there's no medical reason to want to stay at home to take care of an infant over six weeks old. All the doctor's office had to do was write on the FMLA form, with my HR's approval (I brought them the email from the person in charge) was write "patient is requesting fall quarter for care of infant child," not that there was a medical reason or any other reason than what was--staying home to care for infant child. That's it. There's no legal or ethical conundrum here. In short, the doctor I really liked, sucks now, and he has gone from someone I actually have a whole lot of faith and trust in as a decent person to someone whom I simply see as a service provider who will make sure I don't die during childbirth. What this means then is that I won't be able to take fall quarter off for maternity leave as I had planned. Let me be clear: my HR department has approved my leave. I can take fall quarter off if I want to, use up my now remaining 8 days of sick leave, and then not get paid for 9 weeks or so. The problem is that because the doctor will only put the standard six weeks recovery on my FMLA form, I won't be able to request additional leave from the shared sick leave pool because they go by the dates on the FMLA form. This is the difference between no paycheck for 3.5 weeks and no paycheck for 9 weeks. And since there's no paychecks over the summer, I won't be able to save enough to cover the bare necessities for the fall (summer's going to be tight as it is!)

The problem, too, is that I had to make a decision about whether to tell my boss and try to get something other than 3 comp classes for the fall, since I wasn't on the schedule, nothing for me to teach was on the schedule because no one expected me to be around in the fall, because I didn't want to be in a position in May to be like, "hey, yeah, I have to teach now. Oh, a 2-3:50 MW and TR comp class and a 4-5:15 MWF comp class? Oh, yay, sure, that sounds great!" which for some of you may, but I despise afternoon classes. Truly (unless they are seminar type majors classes). I do not function well in the afternoon. And, three comp classes with a newborn? No thank you.

So I told my boss. I started crying. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that she feels incredibly guilty for not trying harder to fill the overload that I have and feels responsible for the stress I'm under (good, she should), but I get to use the student worker and grad assistant to help me out with grading this quarter--AND, also next quarter! It's not much of a compensation, but hey, it's something within their power to help out with the grading and stuff. And, while it's not maternity leave, and not ideal (but I'll get to that in a minute), I am being granted the very very very rare fall course release. I have the schedule I want, and although I'd prefer not to have a comp class, it's at least 101, something I've taught already here before, something I think I can make easy on myself (and if it means cutting corners, then I cut corners and not feel bad about it), and if I have to have a comp, I'd rather have comp in the fall than any other time of year. And the other class is the survey class, which I can do in my sleep basically. And they're back to back--8:00 & 9:30, which I like, and which also means that I'm done by about 12:30 on MWF, and I have TR off.

Here's why this isn't terrible and why the course release and this may all work out of for the best. Yes, I think it's true, at some point, especially in September, I'm going to regret all of this--not fighting harder to get a doctor to sign off on the leave so I can get paid leave, but I think in October when I get my full paycheck and in November when I get my full paycheck (rather than less than half), and I think when Christmas isn't a struggle, I'll be ok with working. But back to my point. If I were to push for the course release in the winter or spring, and it would most likely be spring, I'd be taking the release with two new preps--one upper division lit class (winter) and a grad class (spring), each of which requires waaaaaaaay more work than one freshman comp class. My parents, who were going to come in the winter, are now going to come in the fall, so I'll be able to have child care on demand (which I wouldn't have in spring), so that I can leave to go do some research or if I'm at home and in the middle of something, at least there will be someone to tend to the baby (unless I need to feed it) so I can keep working. Again, not ideal, but probably the best scenario given the situation. Plus, with the parents here in the fall to help with a newborn, there will be more help just with basic things like cooking and cleaning and dog walking that will also help me to recover faster (even with teaching) I think (although never having cared for a newborn, what the hell do I know, right?).

So yes, it's pretty shitty that I had to deal with a condescending nurse (whom I hope one day is only granted six weeks for her maternity leave so she understands what she's done because she was a real bitch actually and treated me as if I were trying to pull some scam on her), and that I don't get five months off (which I really needed/wanted after this shitty quarter), but I am getting some institutional/departmental support, I will have child care and time to be with the baby in the fall, even if I don't get to be a SAHM for a couple of months, and I'm pretty good about using my office hours for prep and grading, so if things take longer to get back so I can leave that stuff at work, then things take longer. It's really crappy and extremely disappointing to say the least, but it's not the worst thing ever. And while I know that just about everyone thinks that I should keep trying to find a doctor to sign off on the FMLA fall quarter leave, uncertainty stresses me out, and I already have everything in place now for the fall, and everything will be okay, and I honestly just don't want to keep dealing with this.

And yes, if this does mean that my doctor is actually some kind of dipshit and this won't bode well for the delivery, I know that I have a strong advocate in the J who is not easily swayed by scare tactics and who has training in abnormal/high risk births, not that I'm either of those or anticipate that being the case (believe it or not-- it's part of his military medic training--granted it's simulated with a $300k pregnant robot that has a robot fetus and is programmed with bodily fluids and contractions and all manner of "real life" awful scenarios), so I know if I'm freaking out, he will maintain a level head. Plus, I'm not one of those, "it has to be my doctor that I know to deliver the baby!" because I've never been that invested in him (if it were the specialist, that's a different story). Honestly, if he's out of town, or going to be out of town, I'm not going to induce early just so he can be there for it. As long as I get to meet the person who will be on call, honestly, I don't actually care. The baby will come when it comes regardless of who is there. So whatever. Labor is the last thing I'm worried about, honestly.

Anyway, there it is. I'm over all of this. I have a plan for fall. I have support in place for fall. And what I need is support--I know my doctor's office is full of asses. I know I should keep pushing for this. And perhaps I should look for another doc. But I'm not going to do any of these things that other people would. I have a plan. I am no longer stressed about the situation. I just need support, and to quote Julian of Norwich, then "all will be well."