At about 4.5 months along, my fiancé received a job offer in Los Angeles, and we had only a few weeks to make the transition. As soon as we heard, I was on the job hunt trying to ensure we didn't lose any income before our baby was to arrive. I was blessed to have found a job after only two weeks. I was sure that I would have enough time to train, save money, and have state disability as a safety blanket while on maternity leave.
I met with my HR department multiple times to get all my questions answered about the leave coverage and to make sure that our budget could allow me to take the entire leave (as short as it is). Every time we met, I felt more knowledgeable and confident that I would be protected throughout my leave. I never once doubted that all my hard work wouldn't be acknowledged.
A week after my little Isaac was born I received a letter from my employer granting me 17 weeks of unpaid leave (5 more weeks than the federal standard for job protection and what I thought I was receiving). I was on cloud nine! I couldn't have felt more blessed having the opportunity to spend a little extra time with my son before returning to the 40 hour work week. This, I was certain, was a sign that I was doing everything right.
It wasn't until week three of my leave that I received a letter from the EDD ( the department in charge of disability leave) stating that I didn't work long enough in the state of California to receive any financial support. I have been trying to contact the EDD for 2 weeks now, trying to find out why my last 4 months of work wasn't counted in my ability to receive state disability. Every day I have received the same automated message, that the maximum number of calls has been reached and to call back again.
When I first read that letter from the EDD I couldn't hold back the tears. It was impossible to believe that all my preparations didn't prepared me for this. That a huge rug was pulled out from under me. How could there be nothing for me? I had worked my whole life! I had three jobs in high school and college. I worked for everything I had. And now, when I am unable to work and I have nowhere for my son to go, there is nothing available for me because I don't have a long enough work history in this state? How is that fair? And there is no one who can answer my question? I'm stuck listening to an automated message telling me I have no hope.
Well I read an article today about a dad who was able to raise the money to stay home with his Down syndrome child for a year. I immediately thought to myself, "How could I put myself out there where I am nowhere as needy as that family? But I decided that my son is worth having a mom around longer than 6 weeks ( the longest we can go with one income). He is worth having the one-on-one attention he can't get at a daycare.
I can't imagine how many moms have to return to work too soon after giving birth and have to go without the ability to bond with their children. I am a firm believer of paying it forward and I know that the calls of other mothers who experience this kind of hardship will not go unheard. Until the United States can develop a program to protect mothers and newborns the way other developed nations have, this will always be a long and tough road for any parent. Being ripped apart from your new family because there isn't enough money to support that family is a travesty to the idea of tough love.
The amount that I am raising will allow me to stay home with Isaac for four months. That will give us time to create a sleep schedule with him, witness his first smile, and ease into the daycare life. Please, even if you don't help with a donation, please send this along to anyone and everyone you know. I believe in the power of social media and the good that can come from that. Please help us!
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- Morgan Lee
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