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.