Saturday, February 3, 2018

Taking the Leap

It turns out that I misunderstood my boss... they aren't planning to lay off my medical assistant. Phew! I got that news a week later.

But since then... They did lay off our administrator (he was terrible and deserved to go... but how will they manage the program without someone to steer the ship?) and a nurse practitioner at the one site that had two nurse practitioners (and the only one non-unionized so there was no issue of her "bumping" another NP out of her job) and a front desk person there (because, again, the only site with two). And in two months our billing person will go. That seems very concerning since she chases all our incoming revenue. How will our income drop without someone to hound the insurance companies for the money they owe us? Supposedly the medical assistants will be trained in some of this work but I am dubious... they already are busy with the work they do in the clinics.

In any case... I realized that despite the good news about my medical assistant, I had gotten really excited about Mexico. Unlike last time, when I was overcome with anxiety about the long list of things to figure out, I am excited (if still daunted) by the adventure.

Since my last post, I've booked flights to Mexico in April, arranged visits at two different schools there (one is a full three day visit for both my girls), set up an Airbandb (with a pool, a huge win when traveling to a new place with few toys), scheduled a tour of a place I might like to work, and booked a babysitter! Not too shabby.

I'm trying not to make any firm commitments until after this, our second visit to San Miguel de Allende, and especially until I've seen the schools but... I realized on Friday (while speaking in Spanish to my pedicurist!) that my heart as decided. We are going to Mexico next year! (Short of some disastrous experience in Mexico or something else going terribly wrong.)

I asked my medical director for her support in my asking HR for a leave of absence and she readily agreed, which is wonderful. I haven't officially requested a LOA yet but she emailed HR on my behalf (not specifying who she was asking for) and HR didn't seem to hate the idea... said it would be considered, and decided upon by a bunch of factors. So fingers crossed it might work out... but I might not want to come back after a year! And I might not want to come back to this job. I'm pretty tired of the many ways it is broken, even while I still love the patient care (and feel pretty good at it).

In the meantime... we move downstairs to our new-to-use, newly remodeled, apartment in a week! I can't fathom how our contractor is going to get everything done but he continues to assure me that it will be ready. I finally mentioned the idea to Amelie today for the first time. It's still so messy down there that it's hard to explain to her that that will be our home.

I'm anxious about all the work ahead of me -- I'm not packing at all, just hiring guys to carry things downstairs and put them away -- but also SO excited to have a beautiful home that I got to design myself! It feels like I dream I never dared to have. I never thought it would be in my reach. And it seems nuts to leave it behind so quickly to move to Mexico but it would be more crazy to stay here and miss out on the adventure of a lifetime because of a mere apartment.

I'm so excited to be taking the leap! I know that I if I skipped it because of fear I would regret it for the rest of my life. The time to do this is now.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Work News?

We've been preparing for a once-every-three-years state inspection recently, which has meant long hours and general misery, doing lots of extra paper work and trying to make the clinic look a lot more polished than it actually is. I like to think I provide high quality clinical care but the actual setting is pretty shoddy. Hopefully families don't notice it and see our space as just another room in a very old school building.

Anyway, while speaking with my medical director about our preparations, she let it slip that the hospital is considering laying off our medical assistants! This would mean that in addition to seeing patients and the hundred layers of documentation involved with seeing patients in a school health program (ie without help), I would also be expected to pull charts, greet patients, submit billing forms, take temperatures, treat boo-boos (I see all the serious injuries and every single head injury, no matter how minor, but she handles the bumped shins and minorly scraped elbows), order supplies, make ice packs, handle school forms...

Basically, a single day working solo makes me want to poke my eye out.

So I told my boss -- I think I've found my line in the sand. If she goes, I go.

I should also mention that my medical assistant is amazing, the best I've ever had, and I'm loyal to her. But working solo would be sheer misery and a disservice to my patients.

I was fuming all afternoon about our conversation... but a few hours later I had a change of heart. I started to feel LUCKY that I had found my limit.

I have always been afraid of leaving this job because I wanted my children in this school,

But a week prior, I had dinner with a close friend who is retiring. As he talked about his upcoming travel plans, I felt a wave of envy. I wanted to travel and explore too.... but I didn't want to wait until I retire, and then travel alone. I want to go NOW. With my girls. While they are still young enough to want to travel with me.

And then I started to think about a Waldorf School I had heard about in Mexico. I had thought it was too far outside of town to be a viable option... but I suddenly realized that this was surely a solveable problem. My nephew just switched to a Waldorf school in his town and his whole family is thrilled with their experience. I went to the school's Facebook page and found the contact info for an American parent with a child in the school and started messaging back and forth with her.

I'm now really, really excited about the prospect of moving. I mentioned this school to Calliope (without mentioning anything about my job) and she immediately jumped up and down and squealed "Ooh, I want to go!" (The school is based on a farm and she is enchanted with the idea of farming... she wants to be a farmer and live in a treehouse when she grows up.)

I've committed to contacting the school and arranging a visit. They require a three day visit for the child so the teacher can assess her. I won't make any other plans until we make the visit. But just committing to a trip to Mexico before the summer is a very big step.

If my employer decides not to lay off our medical assistants... then I have an even bigger decision to make.

Our funding is still not assured for next year. We got a one year reprieve this year. We have a lot of political support now and things look promising but there are no guarantees. I'm tired of the uncertainty and feeling like we are constantly operating on a shoestring. I know my boss is tired of the politics and will be hiring her replacement soon, and I don't know what that person will be like. This will be my fourth medical director in eleven years.

And if I could not work at all for a while... why wouldn't I choose that? (I think.)

I don't think I would be happy not working for long -- though perhaps if I stepped off the treadmill of life I would surprise myself! -- but I have an amazing job opportunity down there. My ideal would be to take three months to get us settled and to take Spanish classes and exercise classes and just be very available for the kids... and then gradually get involved with this non profit down there. Of course, I might hate it. I don't know enough yet. I will visit when we go in April to check out the school. But it sounds amazing.

I hate the idea of renting out my brand new apartment (I did mention that I bought an apartment downstairs, right? And that I'm currently renovating it and am in contract to sell my "old" place?) But on the other hand, that's not a reason to stay. And I could live on what I make renting the place. And next year is my last year of having to pay for full time child care for Amelie... one more year of living in the red every single month. Why not not work that year?

Of course... what if I love it there and never want to come back? Or what if I am miserable (or the kids are) and I want to come back after three months and can't? (I guess I can always get a sublet back in Brooklyn, right?)

Many things to think about!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

He's Here!

Lucky, our donor embryo sibling, was born just after midnight on December 25th. Since his family celebrates Christmas (ours does not), he's a Christmas baby for them.

He was 7 lb 14 oz and 21 inches long.

Calliope and I were lucky enough to get to meet him when he was just 36 hours old.

He's gorgeous... unlike my newborns! 

I was very nervous to meet him -- but also glad I was going to be able to get it "over with" early.

But it ended up being very easy. I was thrilled to meet him like I would be thrilled to meet the brand new baby of any close friend. What's funny is, of course, that Leslie and I were not close friends at all before this all started. And now we are in this strangely intimate relationship where we have this amazing connection on one level and so many gaps in knowing each other on another level.

But being together was wonderful. While I didn't feel a particular connection to him, it was wonderful to cuddle a snuggle newborn... until Calliope politely made it clear that my lap was her real estate, not Lucky's. I was so happy to get to see her parents being so in love with their first grandchild, and to meet her proud brother and his wife for the first time. 

I read an article on FB today that was posted by an adoptive friend of mine. The article talked about the sense of loss that adoptive children often experience. And how using the language of adoptive parents "choosing" their children makes children aware, then, of how someone else didn't choose them. So nowadays it's apparently recommended that adoptive parents instead just say that the birth parents were unable to care for their biological children, hence the adoptive parents stepping in.

Reading this made me wonder if Lucky will feel a sense of loss as adoptive children do? I certainly hope not -- and certainly, this is different from adoption -- but I can't know for sure that he, or my girls for that matter, won't feel a sense of loss about his upbringing.
We are smitten.

Showing Lucky his Birth Day cupcake from Calliope

Monday, December 18, 2017

Is Something Missing?

I've been struggling to do the Geneen Roth style intuitive eating.

Partly it's that I just don't always want to think about every morsel going into my mouth. I don't think I drastically overeat but being hyperconscious of every bite is exhausting.

Perhaps because of this, I don't feel like I've lost any weight and in fact I feel like I've gained a little.

It feels impossible for me to lose weight but gaining is frustrating. I'm wondering if I need to cut out sugar again. And maybe wheat as well? Even though I HATE the feeling of having food rules.

But then I start thinking that something is missing from my life. And I think that thing is... FUN.

I'm not getting enough pleasure in life. Deferred pleasure from making my children is lovely but it's not enough by itself. I had been trying to go out twice a month for a Mama's night out but things fell by the wayside with all the real estate transactions and preparing for renovations. I think I've been out once in the last month.

(I got to go ice skating with Calliope yesterday and she wanted to skate together, holding hands, and it was very sweet. The sun, the cold air, the music, watching her gleefully glide across the ice.... all brought a smile to my face. Everything apart from bringing her home with her friend Eleanor and listening to them squabble the whole time.)

This sounds silly but I think reading -- you know, actually BOOKS, not the Forum or Facebook -- would help me recharge. Reading feels like practically sinful self care. But it's hard to find a book that excites me. And then my library card just stopped working for some reason. Usually I use it to download ebooks (so I never have to actually go to the library). So now I can't use my library card until I can make time to go to the library. Not easy when I commute with a six year old who is slow moving, especially when the commute involves extra walking. But I have one afternoon commute this week where I am traveling solo. I just have to plan ahead.

I hope that might help.

Anyone else suffer from a lack of mom oriented fun in her life? What have you done to help yourself recharge? (Hint: bubble baths aren't my thing and sweets clearly aren't working well for me.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Peace... and A Reminder to Myself Of What to Think About When I Lose My Way

Relaxing over hot chocolate after skating lessons 

Well, apparently dumping all that yesterday on you guys helped. I've been feeling more peaceful now.

Telling myself over and over that everything is all right for now. I have my job. I have my girls. I have this soon-to-be beautiful apartment that I got to design to my specifications. Lucky lucky me.

IF I'm told that I will lose my job... I will not panic. Not begin posting my resume far and wide within ten minutes of getting the news. I will breathe. And wait.

I will give myself time to figure out what << I >> really want. Without inserting the needs and desires of potential future employers. Most likely,  I will decide to take the girls to Mexico for the rest of the school year. I will try to find a renter for that time without committing to a full year, as my real estate broker insists I need to. I can at least TRY to find someone before sacrificing what feels safest for me, which is just the school year. And not get rid of or sell all my belongings, either.

I should be able to rent out the new place for a good sum so that would cover our living expenses, hooray!

And IF we go to Mexico, I can not work at first and just BE. Be with my girls, figure out schooling for them without urgency. Maybe volunteer part time at first -- but not right away -- at the amazing non profit down there. Take some Spanish classes. Breathe. And only once I feel centered, make decisions.

The only thing I need to do right now is figure out when and how long I want to visit Mexico this summer. This seems like a good idea, to spend more time there and find out more about what it might be like to live there. Spend some time at the non profit that would give me a job should I need one. Lucky me, I know!

"Visiting Christmas" at a friend's since we don't celebrate -- trimming the tree and
dressing up as angels.

Help walking ont the wall with beloved SMC friend Annabelle -- she lives downstairs
and she and her mom are family to us. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Renovations Starting Soon, and Job Stress

Isn't that an enticing title? Ugh.

Things are about to start happening quickly with the new apartment. The contractor came by last night to pick up keys and a check. Tomorrow, Wednesday, he and the demolition guy will start removing the kitchen cabinets and floor. The closet and bathroom doors will go as well. And Friday the kitchen cabinets, new refrigerator, and all the tiles (for both bathrooms and kitchen) will be delivered. As soon as the base cabinets are assembled (we are doing Ikea cabinets so everything has to be put together), the floor will be installed and the base cabinets so the counter template can be made next week. It takes at least two weeks for the counter to be cut to order, possibly longer since it will be done over the holidays, so that has to happen right away.

Things are moving more slowly upstairs with my current apartment. I live in a big co-op building and unfortunately our slow moving management company still hasn't finished the building's financial statements for 2016... as we near the end of 2017. Unbelievable. Understandably, the buyer's attorney wants to see those statements before his clients sign a contract. But it's now been close to three weeks since I verbally accepted their offer (on Thanksgiving Day) and I'm starting to get a little anxious. Luckily they agreed yesterday to put their deposit into escrow even before seeing the financials. And our building manager thinks the financial documents will be ready in a week or less. As soon as they review those documents, they will sign the contract and send it over to me. Once I sign it, they still have to get their financing in place and also do an application for the co-op board. Reviewing that application by the board can easily take a month and I assume they won't start until the financing is in place, though I'm not sure about that part. So the three month clock for all this hasn't even started yet. It's amazing that we can stay in my current apartment while the new one is being renovated but I'd rather not own two apartments for too long. Still, I'm mostly reassured that things are very likely to work out just fine.

Work is less promising. Supposedly "people" are pursuing funding to make up for our massive budget cuts from the state. That has to be figured out by the end of the year. I am still getting my paycheck -- I guess I should be grateful for that! -- but they haven't paid into our union pension fund in many years. Our funding right now is only for the year -- typically we get funding from the state in five year cycles. For some reason this cycle the state decided to take two thirds of our funding and give it to upstate New York to start new clinics there. While I applaud the expansion of school based clinics everywhere, stealing from Peter to pay Paul seems asinine. And so we limp along. Without any supplies so far, though supposedly they are coming... soon.

What is especially frustrating to me that some of our clinics -- mine and my colleague Anna's -- are very productive. We see a lot of patients. We diligently collect insurance information -- my assistant is constantly sending requests home for updated insurance informaton. We work HARD. And then our other two sites... One sees about 25% as many patients as I do. The other sees more patients... but only as first aid visits, none as billable visits. I think her feeling is that her patient families won't agree to share insurance information. I think this is bullshit. I think some of her families don't want to and so she shrugs and gives up without explaining that this is not a free program -- we rely on reimbursement from insurance companies in order to fund a program that provides health care, free of charge (to patients) for all children, regardless of insurance and immigration status.

Needless to say, this is infuriating. And we aren't, it seems, allowed to talk about it. And my colleagues are just accepted as is. They won't lay them off because they feel, it seems, it's not their faults. Again, bullshit. I work hard because I choose to. They could make the same choice. They could petition the school and the PTA to help educate parents about why they need insurance cards from families. But it's work. And it's easier not to do work.

Oh, and my vaccine refrigerator keeps malfunctioning. Despite being brand new. And each time I lose thousands of dollars in vaccines. That our program will be billed for. (My colleague who only does first aid visits hasn't given a single vaccine in YEARS. I give hundreds each year. But zero at the moment... despite a list of children who don't receive mandatory vaccines immediately.)

So I'm walking around with low level anxiety all the time. It never leaves me lately. I thought explaining all that might make me feel better. Unloading it.

And then there's our current political climate which just feels unbearable.

It's enough to make a person wonder if she has an anxiety disorder.