Saturday, February 18, 2012

A bit of our story

What has surprised me as of late are the assumptions of others. For example, that mothers who work do so because they want to. That they're choosing careers or extra money over their children. Being a mother is so rewarding and wonderful but so very difficult at the same time. We do what we need to do.

Sometimes we have to work.

Sometimes life doesn't go as planned.

No one expects to bury their baby.

No one expects to buy cemetery plots at 33 years old.

No one expects to have a pregnancy so debilitating that she can't handle the commute to and from work. Or to have to work reduced hours or have to take a medical leave of absence.

When I was five months pregnant with the girls, the company Rich worked for was taken over by another company and he was told that his job was being eliminated in one year but, at any given time, they could give him 3 months notice. When you are pregnant with triplets, you are a walking time bomb. We had no idea when the girls were going to be born. Can you imagine starting a new job and then your wife gives birth to triplets? "Hey, I know I just started and I don't qualify for FMLA but I need to take some time off. Okay?"

No one expects the cost of triplets. No one expects to have a child with special needs.

Before the girls were born, Rich did look for a new job. He was competing with his co-workers in a saturated market. Our lives felt upside down.

When the girls were three months old, we moved most of our belongings out of our house and staged it for sale. We stayed with family while looking for a new home. Our house at the time was built in 1880, had no closets and uneven floors that wouldn't have worked if Anna needed assistance with walking.

We found a new home fairly quickly and jumped into the whole buying process. Up to this point, money was never a major concern. We still had some savings. Rich was set to receive a good severance package and collect unemployment while looking for a new job should he not find one before the big lay-off happened. Even if Rich was out of work for longer than expected, we would still be fine because I had a job I would be returning to. A well paying job where I was going to be able to work from home some days (saving myself 2 hours of commuting time) and work reduced hours during slower times of the year. Even if I was the only one working, we would be fine.

And then quite unexpectedly, I lost my job when the girls were almost four months old. Our savings were drained paying for two mortgages and a hefty line of credit. Formula for triplets costs $600 a month. And then there are diapers and wipes and co-payments times three.

I couldn't find a new job with a salary close to what I had been making. After months of searching, I hesitantly returned to the public accounting firm I had left in 2001. I figured that the evil you know is better than the evil you don't know. They were willing to give me a reduced work schedule right from the get-go but it was scary. During tax season, I would still be required to charge 40+ hours of billable time. During my first week, I was to fly to Atlanta for two nights for new hire training. The girls were still not sleeping through the night. No one understood the strain that my nightly absence would cause Rich and Grammy.

Really long (unblogable) story short - I was unable to accept the job because I didn't meet their independence rules due to a relationship with one of their clients.

The longer I was out of work, the more difficult my job search became. Shortly after the girls' first birthday, I came across an almost dream job. My resume was exactly what they were looking for. I knew people they knew. I was so hopeful that it was going to work out. And then I had a pre-interview call with the recruiter. "Who watches your kids?" "My mom." "Okay, tell them that your mom lives with you." "Well, she stays over some nights but she doesn't live with us." "Okay, but just tell them that she lives with you." "Um....okay?" "How long does it take you to drive there?" "About 45 minutes. Maybe longer if traffic is particularly bad." "Can you make it there in 30 minutes?" "Well, if there's absolutely no traffic, sure. But 128 on a weekday. There's going to be traffic." "Okay, you need to tell them that it takes 30 minutes. They once didn't hire a guy because they thought that his commute was too long."

So, yeah, that didn't really work out so well.

As part of Rich's severance, his former employer paid 100% of the premium for our medical insurance for three months. We were both still out of work when COBRA kicked in. $1,100. Luckily, we both found jobs within a week of each other.

This certainly isn't the life I planned but I'm trying to live it the best I can.

Click To Vote For Us @ the Top Baby Blogs Directory! The most popular baby blogs


Hope's Mama said...

And you're doing a brilliant job of it.

Julia said...

Can't imagine what that first year must have been like. It was more than hard for me, with relative stability, constant help, no medical issues and one baby less. What an amazing family you are.

Wiley said...

Amen to the fact that life isn't always what you plan or want, but it's strength to find a path and optimize it. I think y'all have persevered and found great strength and resilience. And while it's not always sunshine and unicorns, I think that is what makes you all the more strong and even inspiring.

Samantha said...

All that stress on top of raising infant triplets! You are doing a GREAT job!

Breenah said...

The whole "mommy debate" about working versus staying home is ridiculous. As long as you're doing the best you can for your kids, it shouldn't matter.
I think you do a fabulous job and your girls are absolutely precious.

Angela said...

You know what your girls are going to remember? Parents who love and provide for them, a Grammy who lovingly care for them, a house that reflects their needs and interests, and a mother who models a woman who nurtures her family, a woman with a career, a woman with creative expression, a woman they could choose to emulate.
All of the people who judge from afar are not contributing, but being divisive to all of us trying to mother the best we can. And who needs that?

From, a currently stay-at-home mom

Stacey said...

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation , a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." Your awesome, Sarah, and you've done an awesome job and you will continue to do an awesome job. Your not just doing the best you can, your doing the best anyone can do, and don't forget it! :) And remember, "Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful" (think I'm a quote person?)

Stacie said...

I am a working mom too and appreciate your post. Of course most mom would like to stay home but life happens and we make the best of it for our kids. Your daughter will have a respect for their mother who works so hard to give them a great and fulfilling life. I hope my daughter will do the same.

mommytocutiepie said...

Wow! What a journey! Sarah and Rich --- you both are amazing parents!! Sarah, you have to be one of the most selfless moms out there. Your kids will surely grow up to admire you and will be in awe, just as many of us do that read your blog regularly.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I can't imagine how stressful that time must have been. My hubby was out of work for 6 months and we didn't have kids then AND it was HUGE stress :)

Farah said...

You're awesome. Looks like you guys have come a long way. This blog is SO INSPIRING!

That's awesome that your company allowed you one extra day at home!

Emily said...

holy crap. I can't even imagine how stressful having two unemployed parents and three newborns must have been.

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing more of your story! I think it is awsome that you get to stay home an extra day with the girls now. Wish that I could work that out with my job but I am in sales so that is a no go.
I promised myself that I would comment more because I have been reading for over 3 years but only have commented a couple of times.
I can't imagine how hard it was that first year but it seems like you guys are doing so well now and back on your feet.

Tommie said...

You know what makes me sad? The fact that you even have to explain yourself. You work, whether you do it because you have to or because you want to is no one else's business. It is your life, you are doing what is best for YOUR family. I say keep doing what works for you and those who don't get it? Well, they'll probably never get it, no matter how well you explain yourself.

Kate said...

This is what I know. Some parents have to work when they would rather stay home. Some parents have to stay home when they would rather work. Some parents are lucky enough to be able to work or stay home because that's what they want. Not one of these situations makes anyone a better or worse parent or has anything to do with how much they love their kids!

Katelyn said...

Wow - that's a lot *pats on back*. I'm glad everything evened out in the end. I'm glad I live in a place where I don't have to worry about the cost of healthcare, and I can take a year of mat leave etc. But the cost of living is quite high, so if you're in and out of work or really underpaid (our economy's not much better these days) it's a tight struggle. Especially when you go to the grocery store and find you're paying almost $20 for meat for one dinner...and you ask, isn't this cheaper if we dine out? Nope.

Abbey Robertson said...

You are right, assumptions are never right. People have no clue what keeps momma's up at night. I can not imagine the sleepless nights like that and the stress that must have kept you up at night. I'm so sorry. You are a brave women and a fantastic momma. Keep up the hard work!

marie said...

I'm a stay at home mom currently, and struggling with finding a sense of self worth- as I was such a workaholic before baby. Yet I know I couldn't go back to work full time without feeling horribly guilty. I think there is just no winning at this mom-thing. I do wonder if, with the wonderful benefit of hindsight, you would have done things differently? Perhaps not bought your current house or bought a smaller one/lived a little simpler?

Anonymous said...

Sarah, You never need to explain yourself. I was told I was losing my job three weeks after coming back from maternity leave....of course that was just a couple months after buying our house to fit the twins and knowing we could never lose our jobs. That's life. And now that I am home full time it is a love/hate relationship. I miss the days of being valued other than for feeding/cleaning/playing and yet I love every minute of being home and having the little moments with the kids. So we do what we do because we have to and because we love to.