Saturday, June 21, 2008

Clock Watcher and More Time Off

From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep and even at least once in the middle of the night my life is scheduled. Wake up, pump, get Max breakfast and dressed, get my self dressed, remember to eat. Pack up, get out of the house. Got to go. Got to go. Got someplace to be. Hope traffic isn't too bad cause it just takes away time from either Max or Ray and Nora. So, difficult to get to the NICU. So, difficult to leave. Ten minutes with Ray. Ten minutes with Nora. Fifteen minutes with Ray. Fifteen minutes with Nora. Back and forth back and forth during the allotted time for that day. Take time to pump, eat something, drink water, go to the bathroom. All those things take away from the precious limited time I have to spend near my babies. It's almost like two separate lives with two very different ways to be a mom. It is never enough. It just doesn't feel like it is ever enough. The animals follow me around the house meowing or panting when I'm home. I trip over them as I rush to do what I need to do because there just aren't enough hours. I curse at them in my mind and once or twice out loud when Max wasn't around. They need more of me too. More of me that I just don't have to give right now. One more thing to feel guilty about. My milk supply isn't growing and seems to have dropped off a bit. I haven't added the numbers yet. Is it the stress? Not pumping enough? Don't know when else I'd have the time. Heck, I even pumped in my car today to keep up the schedule. Not drinking enough water? Maybe bigger cones would help, but no time to find the breast center to get something. Just something else to feel pressured and guilty about. It's currently 103 out, dropping from 114 a bit ago. Max wants to get in the pool and swim, but I can't because of my scar (talked my mom into coming for the afternoon so he could get in). Max got a box of cooked noodles for dinner with frozen peas still frozen (likes them like that, but he's getting sick of them since I give them too much since they are the easiest) and a hot dog. He asks for sausage instead cause at least is something different; at least it wasn't another casadella or sandwich. Max is so tired at the end of the day that it is affecting his behavior. His schedule is pretty much non stop these days like mine. I'm finding it hard to deal with. He's only two. I really need to put him down for naps, but just can't. I don't get a break all day and just barely (most of the time) have the patience I need to get him to bed for the early bedtime. I feel like I am just a bad mommy to everyone right now, but don't know how to do it any better. What gives? In my mind, nothing can so I start all over and do it again the next day. I hate my schedule right now. I hate it. I hate being so darn scheduled. Life is hard. But, I love all my kids so much. I want to give them it all. Instead, I'm just giving them my best. I hope it is enough. I hope and pray it is enough.

My cousin comes tomorrow. I'm hoping it will help some. At least a little. If she can give at least a little time to Max, visit the twins a bit while I have a break at home with the older two (Max and her 11 year old daughter), be home more so the animals aren't as freaked. It won't be me, but it will be someone else consistent who is similar to me. I praying I'm not getting my hopes up too high for even a little relief. I know there will be some conflict. Two women can't usually live together for long without some conflict especially when one of them (me) is stressed, tired, and hormonal. But, we know each other well..both our strengths and our weaknesses. And, she will love them all, probably not as much as me, but enough. She's already agreed to get Max dinner and to bed on both Monday and Thursday night since I have 2 pm appointments both days (incision check with OB on Monday, therapist on Thursday) halfway between home and the NICU. Not only will this allow me to not have to rush out the door in the morning and then back home in the afternoon. Since I won't have to rush home so Noemi can leave, I can go to the NICU later after my appointment and stay until shift change. It will also allow me time to go to the second day of Max's preschool with Max. I would have had to choose between a NICU visit that day or school for Max. I would have chosen the NICU visit and sent Max with Noemi. This way I get to do both.


On the FMLA, yes, I can take an additional 4 weeks under FMLA, but FMLA is unpaid leave. With two babies more than 2 months in the NICU; two hospital stays for me two weeks in a row; normal expenses; and expecting to operate in the red at least the first year if not two just because of additional child care expenses.... I can't afford to take time off without pay if I can help it or without cashing out stock, an investment, or my retirement. My company offers 26 weeks of short term disability for my years of service at full pay. They only want to give me 8 of it for the c-section and nothing else. After as many years that I have worked for this company and less than a handful of sick days, over time when needed, they can damn well pay me my full salary at a time when I need it most through a benefit that is just sitting there unused all this time. Fine, I need to go see a therapist and tell them I'm stressed out. It's the truth. I'm not trying to game the system. Heck, maybe it will help, who knows. It's just one more thing to try to fit into a schedule that is already so brutal that I dare any one else to try it and not feel on edge and stressed.

I also still have 4 weeks vacation that I have not yet used in addition to the 4 weeks of unpaid FMLA. The state of California does have some benefits (an amount for 8 weeks, then half that available for an additional 6 weeks), but the amount is a drop in the bucket compared to my normal salary. Call me greedy, but I want the three months home with both babies like I planned before going back to work. After only getting to hold Ray for 30 minutes a day and still not being able to hold Nora, I'm going to need a lot of cuddle time with them. It's still a long way off, but they could come home on oxygen or sleep apnea monitors. The first few months home with normal term babies is hard enough (so I hear). The first few months home with preemie babies who have spent months in the NICU is bound to be harder and I can only hope and pray that there will not be serious health consequence as a result. And, what about the likely scenario of one (probably Ray) coming home sooner than the other. How do I manage that in a schedule that already has no give?

Anyway, I digress, bottom line is not only am I fighting for addition time off. Time longer than what FMLA and my vacation will give me. I fighting for it at full pay. Benefits are there for a reason and to be used when needed. I can see as no better time than now for me to tap into it. Basically, I want it all and I may not get it, but I'm going to fight for it. I don't think I should have to, but if I do. I do.


Anonymous said...

This crazy insurance/disability/materinity leave issues this country is facing is just awful. I'm so sorry that you are having to fight this. Just try to take one step at a time. The first few months with an new baby is so hard, but when you combine that with prematurity issues, NICU, twins, ect. it has to be incredibly stressful. Just remember that there is an end to all of this. Before you know it, you'll be home with two healthy babies, on a schedule, and sleeping through the night. I'm sure it will be a long road to get to that point, but you will get there. In the meantime, hang in there and know it will all work out. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I think you are doing great! This too shall pass. I hope Nora and Ray get stronger and bigger and come home very soon. Nancy in AK

Solitaire said...

Gosh, your post made me stressed just reading it. It seems too much for one person to handle. But you are doing great with the pumping, and the animals will cope for a few more weeks. I am sorry you are facing a tough time getting the disability leave - it just doesn't seem fair. But I hope you will be able to get something worked out.

Hang in there! You are a great mom, and everything will work itself out eventually.

John said...

What I have been doing to help relieve my stress level lately is taking this relaxation medicine called Absolute Calm. It's an all natural supplement and doesn't require a prescription. It's nothing too strong like Xanax and is good for normal, every day stress, I think you should try it out, here's a link: