- Posted October 7, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Shutdown over: What next?
My baby just wants to meet his grandparents
My husband is one of those deemed to be an essential employee, and he has therefore showed up at work each day this past week, ostensibly seeing to business as usual. Our struggle may come financially, it is true, if the shutdown lasts long enough to delay my husband's future paychecks, but more emotional tolls await us in the nearer future.
About two months ago, my husband and I had our first child, an amazing baby boy who is known perhaps more by his nickname Bean than his actual name. Due to my husband's job, we live thousands of miles away from any of our two rather large immediate families. We have put much time, money and effort into maintaining family relationships, and so far it has been worth every bit of it for us to keep these connections alive and strong.
Six months ago, knowing that our coming little bundle of joy was something that we wanted to share with as much family as possible, we planned a grand tour across the country to introduce our awesome Bean to everyone. Before he was even born, tickets were purchased to spend a week in Minnesota with my husband’s parents and the following week in Utah with mine. Siblings and good friends were informed of our plans and they in turn made their own plans to be there for us.
The month we foolishly decided to make this trip? October.
We are supposed to be flying to Minneapolis this Wednesday, October ninth (also known as my 29th birthday. Happy birthday to me), but if this shutdown is still in effect, Sam and I will not be on that plane.
As it has been decided that my husband is so very "essential" to this federal government, he is far too "essential" to take his already planned and submitted vacation leave. Family leave is also out of his reach right now and even his sick leave is a no-no. Heaven help him and any other essential worker as we move into flu season...
My husband and I are not the only ones who are facing such disappointments. Sam knows of one coworker who has invested thousands of dollars to take his young family on a cruise. Cruise companies are not known for their flexible, last-minute refund policies, so the losses this family faces if they are not able to go are huge. Several more coworkers’ wives are due to have babies in the coming weeks. Without the option to take any kind of approved leave from their jobs, they are faced with the choice to miss the birth and first weeks of their child’s life or to accept going into furlough status- a choice which could easily throw their pay, insurance, and professional good-standing, among other things, into turmoil.
As a woman who just a couple of months ago went into labor while my husband was at work, the thought of having to make such a decision makes my heart ache.
The effects of these consequences will touch the lives of any who can count a federal worker as one of their loved ones. My parent's and sisters’ plans for our longed-for trip will go on whether or not Sam and I are able to be there. How can they not? My five sisters and their little families have made their own arrangements. They have booked flights and taken time off work and arranged to miss school and informed other friends and family members that they are coming to town. We have a photographer booked to take family pictures for the first time in six years. We have had our yearly tradition of serving dinner to the local Ronald McDonald house scheduled for four months. Countless other plans have been made and talked about and dreamed of for so long and it will be just as hard for the rest of my family to not have us there for this lovingly planned week as it will be for Sam and I to be stranded at home.
That is just my side of things. I cannot speak for my husband as to his own struggles, but I assure you they are just as real- perhaps even more so. My parents, at least, were able to come to Virginia to see us shortly after our Bean was born, but Sam’s parents, knowing of our planned and impending trip to Minnesota, were waiting for us to come to them. Had we known what would happen, we all certainly would have made different choices, but how were we to know? How were we supposed to plan for something like this?
We could not, so we did not.
None of us deserve what is happening right now. Sam and I do not deserve to be denied this hard-earned break from our grueling day-to-day life. My mother does not deserve to be kept away from a daughter who lives so far away. My in-laws do not deserve to miss out on meeting their newest grandson while he is still small. And, perhaps most sadly, our tiny son, who can be blamed for none of this, deserves all of it least of all.