Resolving Timeline Issues

Archive for August 2009

The Poptart is rolling over now. We are in so much trouble. She’s actually been rolling for about a week, but seems to have figured out how to do it now rather than it being pure accident.

Many thanks for the kind comments on my last entry. I feel much more stable now.

 

 

 

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 The short of it is that everyday tasks have seemed herculean to me over the last month. Shredding was the last thing on my mind.

For the last month or so, I have been feeling…off. I have been angry. And when I wasn’t angry, I was anxious. And when I wasn’t angry or anxious, I was sad. Often, I was all three at once. Getting up was a daily challenge and I dreaded daybreak, which I saw more often than not. Every morning, I’d hope she’d sleep just a little longer, so I wouldn’t have to interact with her as much that day. Every day seemed longer and longer until 5pm rolled around.

Last week, I had an optometrist appointment – a follow up to last year’s laser surgery. The poptart screamed all the way home, a good 30-40 minute drive. The thought crossed my mind that it’d be better to just ram the car into the concrete median, because then someone else would take care of me and the poptart and I could get a break. We both arrived home in tears.

I pulled it together long enough to feed the poptart and then phone my doctor’s office.

It is vaguely ironic when you phone the doctor’s office for help and get a busy signal. It’s somewhat like calling 911 and being put on hold, I imagine.

I did call back and made an appointment for Monday.

There were several times over the course of the few days from Thursday to Sunday and even Monday morning that I almost cancelled. And except for the almost-panic attacks in Zellers and Superstore I might have.

Anyways, I went. And well. Zoloft. Generally, I’m not much for pharmaceuticals. But I can’t afford to have any more time where I’m not 100% there for this:

8 weeks

Yesterday I spent the day away from the Poptart for the first time since she was born and it made my chest ache.

Yes, I missed her. But I don’t mean my heart ached (although it did a little). I mean my chest ached.

Note to self: bring the breastpump next time.

Last week, I was reading the Shredheads website and Kristen and Bill offered to partner people up to do some sort of exercise in August. So I filled out the survey and was partnered up with Samantha (who is divine, gorgeous and wonderful and very encouraging).

Then I was reading Mrs. Flinger’s site who has the “30 days of [blank]” challenge happening. And I thought to myself, because I am somewhat lazy, that I would kill two birds with one stone and do both at the same time. So I’ll be doing 30 days of the 30 day shred.

I also put in 30 days of learning CS4 in order to do up a proper baby book, but that went the way of the dodo before it even started. Or I can start later.

Maybe 30 days of procrastination is needed on that. Yeah! That’s it!

ANYWAYS.

I have done 2 days so far of the 30 day shred. And oh my lord. I am sore. But I feel good. I am following along with the beginner modifications mostly with a few of the more advanced moved thrown in for fun. And its an awesome workout. Pretty much anyone can carve out 20 minutes/day for themselves. Carving out an hour or more is more difficult. My only complaint with the 30 day shred is the jumping.

And no its not the aching knees (but God knows I have that sometimes too). It is the BOUNCING of the chestal region that is associated with the jumping.

Because the three on that video? Are the founding members, President, Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. And I am not. Further I am lactating and (a) am somewhat larger than usual (see: 38C to 36E – yes E) and (b) cannot wear an underwire. One thing I wish Jillian Michaels would talk about is the necessity of wearing a good supportive sports bra when one is, uhm, well-endowed.

So I started this on Wednesday (yes, I know its two days late) so I’ll be providing an update on the progress every Wednesday. And moaning about how My Legs Ache and My Arms HUUUUUUURRRRRT on twitter in between. Look for the #shredheads tag.

PS – I will be doing measurements and before and after photos. I might share them here. I haven’t decided yet.

This post is part of the Carnival of Maternity Leave over at Strocel.com. Visit http://www.strocel.com/maternity-leave for more posts on maternity leave from August 3 – 15, 2009.

When I found out I was pregnant last year, we were surprised. Not at the pregnancy itself, but at the timing. You see, I’d gone off birth control in March or so when my prescription ran out. By September I was pregnant. My job was really going to hell in a handbasket, and there’s somewhat of a major event happening in Vancouver next year – I didn’t want to commute while that was happening. This couldn’t have been better timing.

In December, Darren quit his job – for the best really since he was miserable there and was out of work for 3 months. He’s in a much better place now, making more money and is able to leave work at work. It did however, drain our savings.

I went on maternity leave about 5 weeks (give or take) before my due date. It was Easter, a long weekend and seemed like a good time to break off. On April 14, I applied for Maternity and Parental EI benefits and was told that it would be about a month before its approved, given the state of the economy and the larger than usual numbers of people applying for EI.

Me: A month? So if I don’t hear anything in about 6 weeks I should call?
EI Agent: No, no, no. It’ll only be 4 weeks. I promise.

(Dude, I work for government; I know that 4 weeks usually means 6 or longer)

On May 17th, the Poptart was born; my EI claim still hadn’t been processed. I waited another couple of weeks then phoned because I was getting these reports in the mail to fill out even though I had asked to be exempt from them. Every time I phoned or went to the Service Canada office, I was told I didn’t have to fill them out – yet they kept sending them. None of the agents had any idea why I was receiving them.

 Normally, the wait wouldn’t be an issue, but my employer provides a 6 week top up to 95% and we were running kind of tight at that point.

At the six week mark, I phoned the automated system again and listened to the whole message which said that I had to fill out the reports in order to get my claim processed.

Me: [hits 0, listens to muzak]
Agent: How may I help you?
Me: So I applied for my maternity EI over a month ago and a decision still hasn’t been made. Also, I keep getting these reports to fill out in the mail, and I asked to be exempt from them. Your automated system tells me I need to fill them out in order to have a decision made. The agents tell me I don’t need to fill them out. So which is it?
Agent: Okay, first, I’ll flag your account and have the agent dealing with your file contact you within 48 hours. And I’ll check with my supervisor as to the reports.
Me: And I would like an email explaining that either I do or do not have to fill out the reports.
Agent: What?
Me: I want something in writing that I do or do not have to fill out the reports. This is ridiculous.
Agent: [goes away, puts me on hold]
Me: [Muzak]
Agent: Okay, you don’t have to fill out the reports.
Me: You’re sure? Because your system says differently.
Agent: Yes, because your file hasn’t been processed, its just in the pile with all other applications.
Me: So where’s that email?
Agent: Its coming. Is there anything else I can do?…

Within 12 hours I got a call saying my file would be processed that day. I got a back payment within 72 hours.

Anyways, it got me thinking: maternity EI should be a no brainer once your Records of Employment (ROEs) are in, especially if your ROE is submitted electronically by your employer. Maternity and Parental EI is based on the number of hours you’ve worked in a certain period of time. I knew I had the requisite number of hours for the maximum benefit. How difficult is it to create an algorithm that runs a check against the number of hours and performs the calculation of your benefits and trigger a conditional approval? All that would be necessary would be for a quick check to make sure that everything is in order. Those Maternity/Parental EI forms could be dealt with by a few agents once a week. And that would reduce the stress on new parents who not only have a newborn to deal with, but also have to deal with government bureaucracy to get a pittance of EI benefits.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have a year off to spend with my daughter. This is MY year with her because in a few years, she’s going to be Daddy’s Girl. I don’t think its fair that my income is cut in less than half – yes, you get 55% of your income to a maximum of $447/week. So its not 55% if you earn more than $812/week. Which I do.

I don’t like running that tight on money. There’s enough, but we have a bit of a cashflow issue, particularly at the beginning of the month after the mortgage, strata fees and my continuation of benefits have come out. We’ve trimmed pretty much everywhere we can, and quite honestly, my complaints are not those of a lot of other people. I should feel lucky that we all we had to do was go down to one car, cut out the maid service, cook more, and go to using my own cloth diapers rather than having a service. And I do feel lucky.

But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Canada has a low population growth rate; it may even be negative now. If the government wishes to maintain its population, then it’ll have to change the way maternity and parental benefits are. In addition to streamlining the process so that approval is immediate, it would be great if it would be an actual 55% of your income. Or more. It somehow only seems fair to do that and relieve some of the pressures on new parents so that they don’t have to choose between work and family.

At the end of the day, though, being able to spend this time with my daughter really, really makes up for it.


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