We still have a long way to go.

This is definitely a venting post so if you don’t feel like listening to a sleep deprived new mom on her soap box…move along…this post has nothing in it for you.

Growing up here in America you think you have it pretty good as a woman.  We have reproductive freedom (for now at least), we can work, vote, and most of us get paid somewhat similarly to our male co-workers.   I always thought that seemed to be enough, and then I had a kid.

First blow was lack of paid maternity leave.  I blogged on this back when I was pregnant.  It sill pains me to tell people when asked that “the federal government does not have paid maternity leave”. They gasp, and I feel embarrassed. Why?  because large companies typically offer a meager 6-weeks to new moms.  But our federal government, which should be setting the standards in my opinion, doesn’t give squat.  I’m glad to report that starting next week I will have exhausted all my accumulated sick leave and will be dipping into my annual leave bucket to cover the last 3-weeks of my maternity leave.  I could take a 3-week vacation…but I guess this is considered vacation…some vacation!  LOL.  Oh and keep your fingers crossed that Syd (or god forbid MOM) doesn’t get sick when I go back to work because I have no sick leave left to cover any time away.  A co-workers wife who works for a European embassy has an entire year off with her new baby.  I’m not sure of the details…I’m almost certain she is not getting her full salary during this time…but I know she is getting *something*.  Must be nice.

Second blow is the one I’m dealing with now…attempting to get my pump purchase and pump rentals reimbursed by my Flex-Spending Account.  This seems like such a no-brainer to me.  Its $$ I set aside tax-free to cover medical expenses, yet something that is considered to be ‘medical equipment’ isn’t reimbursable.  Huh?  I’m confused.  I’ve called, I’ve submitted claims…reject, reject, reject.  I even tried calling BCBS to see if they would just pay for it outright…the lady said No..but should have included a statement of the like:  No, we do not reimburse breast-pumps because that would promote breastfeeding and that would promote healthy babies which leads to healthy children and then we wouldn’t have any sick child visits and we wouldn’t make any money.

Luckily for Syd and me our pediatricians office has a nurse practitioner on staff who is also a lactation consultant.  Our weekly doctors visits with her during Syds first month were billed as ‘feeding problems’ instead of lactation consults which wouldn’t have been covered.  Our neighborhood lactation center charges $100/hour for a consultation.  Not cheap.  And definitely not something affordable by all women of varying socioeconomic classes.  Honestly if it wasn’t for my ability to get help from our pediatricians office for our $25 co-pay I’m almost 100% sure I would have given up on breastfeeding entirely.

Sadly, yes, BCBS  and Flex-Spending reimburses for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs.  Said bluntly, erections are more important to the Federal Governments health plans than healthy babies.  Disgusting.

I could go on…the maximum 5k we can set aside with a Flex-Spending account to cover child care expenses is just laughable.  That 5k will barely get us through 3 months of day-care.  And the measly dependent deduction we get for taxes.  Make you wonder why people even want to have kids, and maybe explains why some women choose abortion.  No one is willing to help them raise a healthy child, or give them time off to bond with their child.  I’m actually amazed the pro-lifers haven’t starting using this spin to get somewhere in congress.  Maybe instead of taking away our rights to abortion they should start lobbying for women and family rights, which in turn would give women and families the support and encouragement they need to have their baby.

Makes sense to me.  I can only hope and dream that by the time Syd is in this situation there have massive changes to support these rights which seem to be forgotten.  Sadly, we still have a long way to go before all women and children are considered equal to the big rich guys (and their erections) in congress.

Comments

  1. ok – because of the very points you’ve raised, I’m coming out of hiding to comment. maybe I can explain that later… but for now, your blog subject at hand is the very set of issues that I’ve grappled with over the past 2 years. I agree with you and feel the same anger and disgust towards policy that justifies as you say a Viagra reimbursement but denies the same consideration for a breast pump. Maternity leaves that are neither paid nor long enough. The lack of quality, affordable childcare available to families. There are so many aspects of motherhood today that are complicated, especially for a highly educated, motivated woman who also loves her baby dearly. May I recommend Judith Warner’s book “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety” – though she offers no answers, her book spans the range of these very issues of motherhood and then ventures into some examination of policy. At the very least she’ll justify your dissatisfaction with the current state of motherhood in our society.

    • midwestkids says:

      Hello Leslie! I’ve always wondered if anyone other than my Mom read this! ; D

      And I see you are from my favorite state (and city!) of Iowa…or at least spent time as a Hawkeye…which makes you super cooler. Thanks for reading, and for your comment! I will have to check out that book, even if it doesn’t solve our problems at least I can feel like I have company up here on my soapbox.

  2. mandysmusings says:

    Amen, Julie! I went on a similar tirade about leave last year, and I was fortunate enough to get my six weeks paid. James even got to use his sick time as paternity leave, and he’s on the federal payroll. I can’t believe the feds don’t pay for any maternity leave! And I’m not surprised you’re having problems getting insurance to pay for any BF-related expenses. I didn’t have the energy to follow up on my $125 lactation consulation fee when it got denied, and I never thought of trying to get my monthly breast pump fees covered. I only used it for a couple months, so it didn’t seem worth the hassle. I think the insurance companies are banking on that.

  3. Julie, I really do enjoy reading your blog; you’ve written about topics that are important yet rarely addressed (at least I feel!) by other moms. Plus, I love your sewing accomplishments – absolutely beautiful. I even sent the link to your blog to a friend who is expecting and wants to make her own bag so she could see – hope you don’t mind.

    • midwestkids says:

      Gosh no! Share away! Soon everyone should have some cute baby clothes to look at too if I ever get myself organized. I’m trying to finish a winter purse (LOL winter is almost over!) for myself that will also function as a more fancy diaper bag, before I start sewing for Sydney.

  4. Amen sister! We are still trying to financially recover from my maternity leave and what it cost to have Ella. And she will be 1 next week! Things really do need to change. Hopefully the government can get their act together and get us some health care that will help!

    • midwestkids says:

      Ugh Brooke it kills me to hear that from a friend. I wish I could help in some way other than spamming my representatives to vote for a health-care bill. I barely had enough leave to cover my time off…I’m using a bit of leave w/o pay here at the end. Luckily having Syd was free from a heath-care point of view for us…but day-care will be a monthly $1500 bill that is going to burn a quick hole in our pockets.

      Per another commenter’s suggestion I read the book “Perfect Madness”…it doesn’t give much help to the situation but at least explains why motherhood in America is the way it is. The 1st few chapter and last chapters were the most thought-provoking so if you get bogged down with the women’s-lib movement stuff in the middle just skip ahead.

      Hopefully it will be better for our girls…hopefully!

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