Saturday, January 25, 2014

Never Enough

(I wrote this a few weeks ago, and was too afraid to post it. Things are getting better, but these thoughts are still a legitimate part of this pregnancy and I want to remember it.)

Wondering why there's complete radio silence lately between my weekly pregnancy updates? I was prepared for the physical discomforts of pregnancy, but I'm having an immensely hard time dealing with the hormonal outbursts, irrational thinking, and anxiety, and I feel like I finally need to talk about it a little bit.

First of all, I'm sad that I'm sad, because I wanted pregnancy to be so blissful. Don't get me wrong, I love the weekly changes I notice taking place, and it's so completely surreal to be on this side of the exam table for once, but I'm grappling with a loss of expectations and I feel like it's something no one really talks about during pregnancy. For me, a lot of my anxiety and remorse centers around-- what else? Work. The axis around which it feels my life has revolved this past year. I miss the simple days of having one job. I had no idea how good I had it!

[The meat of this post may be a bit of a pity party. Please proceed with caution. And allow me to say that I know things could be SO SO much worse. This is simply a reality that I'm having a hard time with right now.]

My first 5 years as a nurse, I hoarded my PTO for an ever-elusive maternity leave. This time last year, dissatisfaction and a lingering feeling of restlessness drove me to leave my full-time day shift position for a Monday-Friday job in a high-risk OB clinic. By June, I was finally ready to admit that the clinic was a terrible fit for me. Of course, by then my day shift position was long-since filled and the NICU census was down, meaning they weren't hiring at all. So I left the clinic without a backup plan.

I searched for 2+ months, managed to find two jobs to cobble together an income, and got pregnant. On the one hand, I'm so grateful. Unemployment was much rougher than I had anticipated, and I'm very thankful that it only lasted two months. I do enjoy my current jobs and the variety that they provide, but it's hard to juggle two very different schedules. And so I still find myself where I started this whole mess: with a lingering sense of dissatisfaction. Without all the side perks of a job with benefits. It's a harsh reminder that the problem really lies within, not without, right? It's been an expensive lesson to learn.

When this baby comes, I'm looking at 8-12 weeks without a paycheck. No PTO to receive base pay for a month or two, no FMLA to receive partial pay for a few weeks after that, no free delivery at the hospital I worked at... It's entitled and bratty, I know. But truly, it's just not the picture-perfect scenario I imagined and planned on having in place for our first child. (Six years of neonatology and perinatology experience reminds me that there are an infinite number of things worse than no PTO for maternity leave. I do know that. But again, this is simply what I'm struggling with at the moment.)

I'm SO VERY GRATEFUL to have a baby on the way, and I'm so completely lucky that Ross has a stable job with benefits. We're blessed in many, many ways and we know we're able to live on one income if we have to... we've been doing that for roughly half of our marriage in one capacity or another. But to be honest? It's a really hard pill for me to swallow that I'm barely contributing now, and I'm going to be contributing even less in another 20 weeks. I'm used to being the provider. I'm used to having the backup plan and the job security and the good insurance. It's really humbling to know that I'm working my butt off on nights and weekends and home visits and I bring in less money than ever. Tax season has been a lovely reminder of that. It's really true when they say, "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?" All those hours of unused vacation, all that planning... gone.

I know it's selfish, but this has been surprisingly hard for me to deal with. A large part of my emotional response to all of this is probably due to this time of the year, which is always rough for me. Pregnancy hormones and massive life changes on the way are definitely not helping. Then getting all 4 of my W-2s in the mail this month was a slap in the face. 2013 was an expensive lesson in what does and doesn't truly satisfy, and my tendency toward remorse and regret and anxiety has never been stronger.

You know what? A job will never satisfy or fulfill me. How many times have I said that and then turned back toward the work and tried to make it a tidier picture of what I want it to look like?

On a good day, I can still see that nothing is an accident. God has so precisely ordained every one of these circumstances. Even if my decisions were selfish or downright sinful, he is using them to show me more of His goodness and provision. But some days? I miss my old job so much I can practically taste it. I get bitter when I hear old co-workers complaining about the very job I was complaining about 12 short months ago-- they don't realize how lucky they are. Day shift! Insurance! PTO! I'm realizing I have a bit of a self-pity complex, and my problems always have to be bigger than everyone else's. That's not right and it's something big that I need to work though. (Then again I also tend to make reckless decisions that cause bigger problems with ever-rippling repurcussions! I need to work on that too.)

I don't know. This is all ugly, but I feel like I need to get it off my chest. Get it onto this page and turn to a new one. I desperately need God to break into my dark heart today and get past my stubbornness to once again remind me of his grace and truth. My mom and several sweet friends have been reminding me of this, but it's hard to hear through the tears. Some days, I feel like my bad decisions are bigger than God's provision and God's love, and that's just not true.

This sermon has been sitting with me all week and it couldn't have been timed better. (It really got pertinent for me starting at 20 minutes in, if you want to listen to it-- which you should!) There are so many truths in it that I needed to hear: Sometimes Jesus' delayed response isn't a contradiction of, but rather an expression of his love. I can't measure God's love by the absence of frustration and pain in my life. These are truths that I know deep down, but my pride has gotten in the way of my belief lately. I need these to wash over me again and sink in even deeper. Because a paycheck will NEVER be enough. The dream job will NEVER satisfy. And paid 'maternity leave'? Well... that's still a sore subject for now.

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