A few weeks ago, a friend of FB's who left The Big G to help found the company I will always remember as Twatter offered FB a job. This has happened a couple of times before — friend will call FB, they'll chat, friend will sing the praises of Twatter and flatter FB with compliments about his skillz, FB will politely decline job offer.
This time, the friend called at a time when FB was feeling a bit down on The Big G. He was transitioning off one project and onto another, thinking about all the things that aren't 100% perfect with the company, and feeling a little restless about the future of his career. So, he listened a little more intently to the offer and started looking into it. Last week, he flew out to San Francisco for a round of interviews which went pretty well — he got a formal offer at the end of the week.
All along, I have been supportive of his changing jobs, sometimes veering a bit too much toward advocacy for it. It's an exciting offer — a chance to work at a dynamic company with a bright future, an opportunity to work with exciting people on the cutting edge of his profession, an impressive line on his resume that offers some great perks (like a flexible work schedule). There are definitely drawbacks — he will almost certainly take a pay cut and he will work from home (great for plugging some holes in our childcare plans, not great for motivation and interaction with co-workers). Most distressing is that he will have to give up the benefits that made The Big G such a great employer — stellar insurance and 7 weeks of paid paternity leave.
Allow that to percolate for a moment. He is giving up 7 weeks of paid paternity leave approximately 10 weeks before I push a baby out of my vagina. The new job wants to give him one week off — he's negotiating for two. Either way, we will not get the 7 weeks of family time I had been looking forward to. Maybe it was always too good to be true.
I'm not going to lie — I am worried. This is not really an ideal moment for us to be switching health insurance. I am insured through the University, but have no idea what their maternity benefits are like because we have been using his insurance for all of my prenatal care so far. I don't even know when my insurance runs out — I was supposed to pay out of pocket if I wanted to be insured during my maternity leave, but didn't bother because I was double-insured anyway. I need to make sure I'm covered ASAP, even though it will probably cost me a few thousand dollars to cover fees that are usual taken care of by my grad student $ package. We would continue going to the midwives even if we had to pay the full cost, but I don't know if we could afford to keep seeing the perinatologists at Tufts if there is a gap in our insurance. My cyst has been stable, so maybe that's ok, but what if I need surgery in the fall?
I'm not as worried about the pay cut. We do not live extravagantly and have put away money over the last 5 years. The townhouse across the row from ours sold above the price we paid for ours after being on the market for less than a week, so I am confident that we could always go back to renting on short notice if we needed to liquidate quickly. This means we may not be able to move to a bigger house as soon as we would like, but that was always a few years away anyway. It still makes me a little sad — I recently found a wonderful house in an almost mythically good location for a very reasonable price, but FB has been so stressed out that I haven't even shown it to him.
I am worried about FB, though. I don't think he understands how hard it is going to be to start a new job at a time when he is going to be sleep-deprived and stressed beyond all prior experience. He is not a good sleeper at the best of times, and when he doesn't sleep well, he can barely function — he is grumpy, headachy, and lethargic all day after a bad night. He sleeps with a mouthguard because he grinds his teeth so hard in the normal course of events. I was hoping that his extended paternity leave would allow all of us to ease into a sleep pattern that would allow him to survive, but that isn't going to happen now. I'm afraid that the stress of a new baby plus the stress of a new job (not to mention a chronic ear problem that has been tormenting him for months) might be enough to send him into a total breakdown. It has happened before — not recently, but catastrophically, and those have been some of the worst times of my life.
Please, please, please be a good sleeper, little baby. I don't know what we'll do if you aren't.
For the record, I was an angelic sleeper as a child and was sleeping 6-hour stretches in my first week of life. FB, on the other hand, had inconsolable colic for months on end. These patterns have not changed discernibly in the intervening decades. I have teased FB that he will have primary responsibility for Snapdragon if she is colicky, since it is clearly his fault. The truth is that I'm terrified that she will be and he will be sorry we ever had her. I thought that we would be ok — that the long leave and the careful planning would allow him to adjust gradually — but now I'm worried that a cyclone of stress will set him back to where he was five and a half years ago, when I was honest-to-god terrified that I would come home one afternoon and find him dead.
Maybe that is just my hormones pushing me to concoct worst-case scenarios, but I have to be on top of the warning signs. And since I know that my #1 job in terms of mental health protection is to keep him from becoming overwhelmed, I can't help but feel like I'm staring down an oncoming train.
I should not get ahead of myself. Still, there have been some less-than-encouraging developments today. Though the offer is firm, FB is still negotiating the salary and benefits. He is supposed to hear the final compensation offer this evening. I encouraged him to wait until he hears it before giving notice at The Big G, just in case he decides to walk away, but he felt like he owed it to his coworkers to give them as much notice as possible. He thought he would be able to work until the end of July and finish out his current project, but I just got an IM saying that the Legal and HR people want him out ASAP because he is going to a competitor. ASAP as in tomorrow. He's stunned and unprepared and freaking out.
In all likelihood, I will look back on this post in six months and smile because everything turned out fine. I will have a happy, healthy baby and a calm husband who enjoys his new job. But the road to New Year's looks considerably bumpier today than it did a month ago. In my search for the silver lining, at least I can say that labor is not the scariest thing in my immediate future.