Two Years Later…Reflections of Being Laid Off

It’s been two years since I have been laid off. I feel immensely blessed because there are so many people out there that are unemployed and don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. Some people may think it’s strange that I make a big deal out of noting when I became unemployed, but I think it’s a way of counting my blessings.

Being laid off was such a shock to me. I was laid off one month after I returned from maternity leave. It was a poor time to be let go (as if there is ever a good time) because we were just getting back on our feet from the loss of income from my being on maternity leave. I was trying to adjust to being a nursing working mom that desperately missed her child.

I am not going to deny that I cried like a baby. I worried about where our next meal was going to come from and what would happen to little Sydney because she needed to have her shots. Thankfully, Michigan has the MI Child program, which ensures that every child receives the blessing of health care.

And though I was only unemployed for three months, the effects of being laid off will follow me throughout my professional career as well. I learned that being a “silent employee” doesn’t mean that you are protected from being let go. In fact, unless you are in the “in crowd,” nothing really protects you from losing your job. The best thing that anyone can do is do their job to their best ability, speak up when necessary and go home.

Now that it has been two years, I can honestly say that I am in a different place. I can look back on my former place of employment and remember the good times. I don’t harbor any ill will against anyone and can thoroughly appreciate the blessing the Lord gave me. Think about it..I didn’t have to search and search and search for a job. While I was laid off, I got to spend additional time with my infant and really had the time to prepare to go back to work. The Lord blessed me with another job within three months that has flex time, a working from home policy and allows me to work in the capacity that I truly enjoy (which didn’t happen right away, but thank the Lord it finally came!)

For those who are struggling being laid off, I am a living testament that it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Though it may be difficult, I encourage you to stay positive. Your blessing is on the way.


Career vs Parenting

I was late to work this morning because I was stuck watching The Today Show. The topic was on pregnancy after menopause and is it advisable for women to get pregnant later on in life. When posed with the question on whether older women should engage in the activity of attempting to get pregnant, Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC responded with a question of her own. “Women should ask themselves, do they want to have a baby or be a parent?”

Some women believe the question should be if they want to have a career or be a parent.  And for some women, career comes first.  Time ran an article, “Making Time For a Baby,” that featured women who chose their career first and ended up dealing with the challenge of trying to get pregnant after 40. Sylvia Ann Hewlett said, “many women embraced a “male model” of single-minded career focus, and the result is “an epidemic of childlessness” among professional women.” The article also presented a terrible statistic. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, once a woman celebrates her 42nd birthday, the chances of her having a baby using her own eggs, even with advanced medical help, are less than 10%. At age 40, half of her eggs are chromosomally abnormal; by 42, that figure is 90%.”

I watched a program on the Discovery Health channel focused on women who were struggling with these statistics. The women featured were over 60 and were very much interested in getting pregnant. They followed the women through the process of contacting doctors to solicit their help and interviewed family members to gauge their response. As to be expected, most of these women had some sort of health issue and were seen by those around them as crazy. But the women deeply wanted a child or for some, another child and were determined to make this happen.

While many of us, myself included would never think of having children so late in life, perhaps it’s not our place to judge. Who are we to judge, when we as working women, are more often than not penalized for having children. If you don’t think so, think about the looks you get when you have to run out the door early to take your child to the doctor or a soccer game and then come back to me. It is easier for career-minded women to focus on being successful in the workplace because they don’t have to worry about maternity leave or being passed up because it is perceived they can’t be a mother and do their job, so they can focus on getting ahead.

Watching these women reminds me of Hannah from the Bible. Hannah struggled in her family because everyone had what she wanted and some of the women around her didn’t mind reminding her that she didn’t have a child to call her own. The agony of having to watch these women with their children must have been terrible. But with a prayerful spirit and a belief that God would grant her request, she received a child at a late stage in life.

Perhaps the women of today symbolize the modern day Hannah.  At a later stage in life, after their career has come and gone, they look around and see that they missed out on raising a child. And while for some of them, their biological clocks have gone into retirement, there are some who receive a “late” blessing.

And who can turn a good blessing down?

The Real Deal Behind PAW (Pumping at Work)

Any Workin’ Mama that’s nursing their little one will tell you that pumping at work isn’t the greatest thing in the world to do. Don’t get me wrong, I would never stop breastfeeding my daughter, but because of the dedication that pumping at work demands, women need to be realistic and know their options.

I thought I was prepared. I have a decent dual-electric breast pump that operated by both cord and batteries. I have a nursing wrap that fits over me quite nicely. Nothing could spoil my zeal to continue to feed my daughter breast milk. Until I met where I would be spending my thirty-minute breaks…the bathroom. While many articles on the subject will say how unsanitary it is to pump in the bathroom, many Workin’ Mamas are left with no choice. In defense of my job, our floor plan is too open for me to pump in an office, if there was one available. So, three times a day, while I am doing mommy duty in one stall, women come in and out of the bathroom listening to the melodic sounds of my Lansinoh breast pump…and I get the opportunity to listen to them doing number 1…and 2. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s disgusting. One lady actually had the audacity to spray Lysol over the stall while I was still pumping!

It’s important for Workin’ Mamas to be prepared for challenges on the job if they want to continue to nurse their child after they return to work. Here are a few points to ponder before you return from maternity leave:

Decide your commitment on the matter

Are you really dedicated to breastfeeding? I have many friends who have either mixed their breast milk with formula or weaned their child off of breastfeeding because of their hectic work schedules. If you don’t think you will have time for 2-3 thirty minute breaks, perhaps you should look to other options for feeding your little one.

Talk to your boss before you return to work

There’s no disappointment in the world that can compare to making assumptions about a situation that don’t pan out. If you have decided you are committed and have the time to continue to breastfeed, talk to your boss about the location of where you will be doing the deed. That way if you are left with being in the public bathroom you can begin to adjust before you even cross the threshold of being back at work.

Be prepared for the smells

There are some people (and I am not faulting you for it) who will use the bathroom for their own purposes whether you are in there or not. Be prepared for it by focusing on the job at hand and picking your break times wisely. Try to use the bathroom to pump during off-peak times. In my limited experience, I have noticed that the after lunch crowd is the worst and have avoided many an experience by changing my pumping time for noon to 11:30am.

No one ever said that motherhood was easy, but if you are dedicated to continuing to breastfeed, I strongly encourage you to think about the pros and cons of pumping at work.

To purchase the Lansinoh breast pump, check out the Workin’ Mama store at Amazon.