Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jobs, Money, and other stuff

I had a lot to discuss with my therapist yesterday. First was my appointment with the perinatologist, which I already went into detail about.

Next was the fact that my former employer called me to re-interview for my old position. That interview will take place on Monday. I'm just not sure what I think about that whole situation. I started the job the first week of March 2009. I have a lot of insurance background, but this was a different type of insurance, so another woman and I were in a 7-week training class. I really enjoyed learning this aspect of insurance (short term disability claims) and thought it would be a good match for me. However, since I apparently conceived Addison February 14th or 15th, I found out a couple weeks into the new job that I was pregnant. I was VERY worried about having to drop that bomb on my new boss. Well, turns out I didn't have to. I finished the 7 weeks of training and started my first day "on the job" on April 20th in my cubicles with a brand spankin' new name plaque, only to be called to a conference room with a couple of Suits at 10:30am. I was downsized, along with a bunch of other employees, after just 7 weeks on the job. However, the benefit package was killer (15 weeks severence was just one of the things they gave us). I pulled Calvin out of daycare and actually saved money during those first 3 months. Then, for the first time in my life, I applied for Unemployment Benefits, which I've been receiving ever since. Frankly, it seemed like such great timing that I would be let go while I was pregnant. I was able to take care of myself and spend time with Calvin before the baby came.

At first I thought it was perfect timing that they would call me back now. Then, almost immediately, I felt like I didn't want to have to go back to work at this moment. But I've been feeling that, for many reasons (including the fact that Unemployment isn't going to last forever), I really need to jump at this opportunity. I don't know how many of the former employees they are interviewing (I did talk to my former trainee buddy and she is also interviewing), but they have only one--or possibly two--spots to fill. So there is a chance I won't even get an offer. Anyway, I guess I'm just telling the story for self-talk purposes (like pretty much everything else in this blog).

The third thing I wanted to discuss was a crazy life insurance policy issue. Addison was born on a Wednesday. By Thursday evening we had a diagnosis, prognosis, and our world crashed down around us. Chris immediately let his boss know what was going on. I was discharged from the hospital on Saturday. We took Addison to hospice on Sunday. She died Wednesday night.

Well, the craziest thing happened on the Monday she was alive. We were at home when Chris got a call from the HR person at his office (he works for a huge international company). She told him how sorry she was about Addison, and then, knowing full well that Addison was going to die any day now, told him that the company had a dependent life insurance program. Chris was hesitant at first, but agreed to make a 3-way call to the benefits division to get a life insurance policy set up on Addison that would become retroactive to her birth date. After Addison died and Chris returned to work, the HR person told Chris that she would help him file the claim for the life insurance policy when he was ready to do so. (Seriously, have you EVER heard of an HR person going out of their way like that to help an employee and actively seek to spend the company's money?) Long story short, we got a check for $10,135.47 in the mail this week.

This brings up all sorts of emotions for me. Of course my husband and I both have independent life insurance policies on ourselves. We have a child that will need to be financially cared for, should one of us die. However, I have always believed it to be wrong to get a "pay off" after the death of a child. I was so fanatical in this philosophy that I called my insurance carrier to cancel the $5,000 "freebie" rider for my son that was automatically attached to my policy when I set it up 3+ years ago. I always figured if he died, forking out cash to cremate him would be the least of our worries. Oh how my thinking has changed.

We are very budget-oriented people. My husband doesn't make a whole lot of money as a legal assistant, and he is in school for his Paralegal Certificate. Overall, we are quite frugal. I love to get a deal. Okay, perhaps I'm obsessed with getting good deals. I clip coupons, pore over the weekly grocery store ads, transfer prescriptions between drug store pharmacies to get the gift cards, buy second-hand toys and clothes for Calvin and clothes for myself (I'm not ashamed to shop at Goodwill), and refuse to eat out without a coupon. I frequent,,,,, get the point. There was a time when my husband and I owned a home, 2 cars (read mortgage, car payments, and $30k in credit card debt). Owing so much money made us feel trapped. We moved to Georgia and have been determined to live within our means. We are amazed at how well we can live here compared to Southern California, even within our budget. We now rent a little house and have no debt other than a car loan balance of about $6k. The other car (minivan) is paid for.

I never really believed the life insurance money would come through. It always seemed sketchy that we could have this baby in hospice, just waiting for her to die, and THEN buy a policy on her for $ .48 a week or whatever it cost us. We both really thought there would be a denial on the claim. And we were okay with that because, frankly, who has a baby, finds out she's going to die, and then has MONEY even remotely enter their conscious thought. Obviously, the thought of a life insurance policy never entered our minds before HR made the call to Chris. So when it really happened, it was just weird. And I'm not going to lie. I deposited that check into the bank and immediately made an electronic payment to pay off our car loan. So now we're debt-free and it feels good. And we have money in the bank. Within our budget, $10k means A LOT for us.

But in some small, crazy way it feels like we traded our baby for $10k. I know how twisted that sounds. And of course I know that we would have given damn near anything to have a healthy Addison with us now. We would have paid millions--if it meant financing or begging or stealing or all of the above--whatever it took, we would find a way to get it, if any amount of money would have saved her. To have her here and healthy is all that we cared about. But it still makes me feel guilty.

We are considering options for donations to make in Addison's memory. We definitely want to give to NILMDTS, for starters. But even so, it feels like blood money in a way. So I discussed these thoughts with my therapist. I need to say things out loud. I need to share my emotions. I need to hash and re-hash in order to rid myself of the crazy feelings.

But in going through this life experience with death, I've changed my view of how money plays into it. I think a $5k rider is absolutely appropriate to carry on any child. I've learned that when shit like this happens, the LAST thing you want to think about is balancing your budget. In the hospital when we found out Addison's fate, Chris and I walked downstairs to the Starbucks and got lattes. I didn't eat much in the hospital, but I drank a latte every day. We didn't care what budget category that was coming out of. Hell, I just wanted the caffeine as a way to say SCREW YOU to the universe because I wasn't going to be breastfeeding and having to think about my caffeine intake. And I was pissed about that.

As the early weeks passed and we lived in the haze of picking up cremains and looking at urns and receiving "Sorry for your loss" cards by the handful and making sure our living child was fed and bathed...the last thing on my mind was paying bills. Honestly, I couldn't tell you what was on my mind during those weeks. Not much of anything, I guess. And the budget fell to bits with the arrival of Christmas. I didn't care about getting deals. I was in survival mode and I had a list of people to buy presents for, dammit.

Wow, this has turned into a strange rambling. It sucks because all my thoughts of jobs and money and school (I've thought about going back) just fades down to nothing in the face of losing my child. My baby girl.

Addison, I just miss you. I want you. I wish you didn't die. I love you so much and will love you forever.


  1. I've always been budget focused too but after Matilda died, I just didn't care. I've lost a bunch of receipts I need to send into our health insurance to claim back. Normally I'd be turning the house upside down looking for them but now I'm just not and hoping they turn up.

    I don't think you should feel guilty about the life insurance because you're right - we've got enough to worry about without worrying about money on top of it.

    I've thought about going back to school as well - I just can't find the motivation to actually look into it.

    Good luck for the interview if you decide that's what you want.

    Your last paragraph made me cry.

  2. I think that the HR person who got you the life insurance for Addison was a very wise and compassionate person. It's something that you don't hear about everyday for sure but oh how I wish we had had some insurance when Calvin died. Not because I want to cash in on my baby's death but because in the months that followed, we were both so paralyzed by our grief that work was put aside. My husband couldn't even leave the house for two months after our son died and insurance money would have helped us out tremendously. I don't think you have anything to feel guilty over, in fact I think you are very blessed to have someone with enough foresight to arrange this for your family given the circumstances you were facing at the time. I have always had a policy on my oldest daughter but never got around to insuring Calvin or Georgia. I'm sure we couldn't have insured Calvin anyways with his heart defect but knowing that if anything happens to our oldest daughter, God forbid, that we have bought ourselves some time to grieve. Anyhow, now I'm starting to ramble but all I wanted to say Rebecca is that it is NOT a bad thing at all to have done, if you can, try to look at it as a gift instead of a trade off. Best wishes for your interview by the way, hopefully it will go the way you want it to. Hugs

  3. You didn't get blood money, and you didnt trade your precious one for cash -- NEVER think that! Something terrible happened to you and your family, and someone was kind enought to look out for you and make sure you got something that was available to you (the insurance policy). Whatever you did with that money you honored her, she wants you to be happy. Never, ever feel ashamed. Anyone with half a brain knows that any one of us would give our own lives, and all the money in the world to have them back.