Did you leave your job and awesome health insurance when you got pregnant?

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Photo by Frank de Kleine, used under Creative Commons license.
My husband and I are in our early 30s and we really want to start a family. We got pregnant last August, but sadly had a miscarriage in October. Before becoming pregnant we decided that after the baby’s birth I would quit my job so I could finish my master’s and move on to a doctoral degree. I hate my current job (and I don’t use the word hate lightly!)… but it’s in the same universe as what I want to do, has really great pay, and awesome health insurance. On paper it’s an amazing job, but I find it wholly unsatisfying.

I have hit an emotional and physical wall. I want to try to get pregnant again but I also want to quit this job that is draining me of all I have. I can’t sleep, and my stress is through the roof. I know there are a lot of options for low-income women in California, but I can’t help but feel irresponsible by letting go of the good pay and the health insurance.

Has anyone out there in parent-land ever given up a great gig (and insurance) while pregnant? — Carrie

Comments on Did you leave your job and awesome health insurance when you got pregnant?

  1. I’m asking this same question right now! I’m pretty sure the decision is going to be yes, I’m giving up the job, because I’ve about had it. I’m in a similar situation, not only does the job look good on paper, everyone, and I mean everyone, constantly tells me what a great job I have and how lucky I am- so on top of feeling guilty about giving up the job as we’re talking about getting pregnant, I feel guilty about giving up the job since clearly lots of other people are in worse situations. But I keep telling myself that somewhere out there someone must want my supposedly awesome job way more than me, and I should let them have it! And I’ll go be awesome with a baby. Because I’m tired of being miserable.

    Anyway can’t wait to read the experience of people who have actually done this, because I’m definitely freaking out about giving up my income and insurance!

  2. If you are truly unhappy with your job, and it is stressing you out this much I’d suggest leaving with or without baby on the way. it will hardly help you, your chances of getting pregnant again, or your future baby if you are stressed and will make the experience more worrying and unpleasant for you – which it shouldn’t be! Especially for someone wanting a child this much.

    Personally, I’d take the leap. It can be scary, but if you are happier you are going to be healthier so you may not even need the health insurance! 🙂

    Good luck with baby-making and I hope whatever you decide, you find peace with your decision 🙂 x

  3. This doesn’t directly answer your question, but if you’re planning on going to grad school you should be able to get insurance coverage through your university. I’m a PhD student now and health insurance is part of my funding package, but even non-funded students are eligible for the Student Health Insurance Plan which is pretty inexpensive. (Tangentially: The first rule of grad school is don’t pay for grad school. Don’t go to a PhD program that isn’t funding you!)

    (p.s. I’m sorry about your miscarriage. I got pregnant in January and lost the pregnancy in March.)

    • The thing about insurance provided by universities to graduate students is that it often isn’t very good, and often only provides minimal coverage. It can be great if you have only the occasional health issue, but it can be not so great if you need to use it a lot. The initial cost may be low, or included in funding, but other costs (such as co-pays for prescriptions) can be very high.

      I’d advise anyone planning to rely on a university plan for health insurance to read it over carefully before committing to it.

      • One thing that can help is looking for larger universities that also have medical schools and teaching hospitals associated with them. As a PhD student, I had the best insurance I’ve ever had in my life, for which I paid absolutely nothing, because I happened to end up at such a school.

        • concur — depends on the school.

          in grad school and in medical school, i had FANTASTIC insurance and didn’t pay for it. (i understand that i paid, indirectly, through tuition/fees/etc; i just never saw that money so it felt free.) 🙂

      • I think it does depend a lot on the program, and is of course something you should research along with the academic aspects of the schools you’re looking at. I happen to have pretty excellent insurance at my university, but I’m at a school with a grad student union that fights for our benefits.

      • Schools with unionized TAs/RAs often have great coverage. At UW Madison (where I am currently getting a PhD) we have the same coverage as regular employees. It’s completely comprehensive and for a full family we pay $100 a month. Going to grad school with kids, or having kids when you’re in grad school, is doable, but choose a university carefully. I can vouch for UW Madison as an incredibly family-friendly place to go to grad school!

  4. Carrie, I did exactly that when I found out I was pregnant, but so that I could move clear across the country. Unfortunately it was also the best job I’d ever had, but I wanted to raise my son closer to the rest of my family so it was a sacrifice I would make over and over again. If you are truly unhappy, do not beat yourself up, it is SO much more important to be happy and have a mental sense of well being then to be “stable” and stressed. I now personally spend about 1/3 of what I make on health insurance, but just having given birth it is well worth my sacrifice. In all honestly there are plenty of great options for low-income pregnant women and mothers, you just have to research a bit and ask around to find what works best for you. But leaving your job (and the money) for a happier life? Definitely well worth it in my opinion. And the best of luck be with you and your future baby(s)!

  5. Can you save enough money while working to cover many/most health expenses during pregnancy? My husband and I were able to save $8000 before I got pregnancy, and that more than covered my birth center birth. Of course if there’d been a medical emergency or if I’d wanted a hospital birth it would have been way more difficult, but it’d still be at least a cushion…

  6. I quit my job, which was the one providing us all with health insurance, when my son was four months old. I wish I’d done it earlier. We ultimately got individual insurance (my partner is self-employed), which works for now.

    If you’re healthy, and it’s a reasonable possibility for you, consider seeing a midwife and planning an out-of-hospital birth. Often that can be less expensive out of pocket than a hospital birth. Obviously, don’t put your health at risk to do it, but it is worth considering.

    It’s also worth noting that many student doulas work for free, and all DONA-certified doulas are encouraged to donate their time here and there, so if you choose the hospital route (or even if you’re at home/in a birth center), you shouldn’t have to forego doula support.

    Quitting your job can be terrifying, especially when you’ve got a small person in mind, but sometimes that leap into the void is a really good thing. It was for me.

  7. I had a job I hated but I had planned on going back to work after the baby was born. Turning point for me was when I was home after 2 days, with staples still in from the c-section and my boss asked if I could come back early or work at home on some jobs. My first baby, 2 days old and my boss wanted me to come back to work, even though I had 6 weeks leave and told her the day I was coming back. Anyway, I quit. It was scary, I stayed at home, money was tight. But then my husband moved onto a great job, with better pay, money is not so tight, we had another baby. And he just recently got a raise and another great job. So now we can think about private schools for the kids. Or taking vacations (which we never did before) Yes we scrimped on a lot, and bought a lot of consigment used clothes and toys, but it was worth it.

    If I had it to do over again. I’d would have quit much sooner. Why? Because my OB suggested I go to a therapist because the stress of my job was placing stress on the baby. And my job was asking me to work weekends and late nights. It was risky, but worth it. I even had a have a drs note to leave work before my due date.

  8. Having medicaid or some other state sponsored medical coverage in case you or your baby require medical intervention is fantastic and worth the hassle. Then you can decide to use a birth center or midwife at home out of pocket. It is my impression they can not force you to use the medicaid once you are enrolled. My birth center birth is only $4,000 (which is being covered at 90% by our private health insurance yeee-haw). I would not financially chance having an uninsured hosp birth, the risk of having a c-section is 1 in 4 or higher in this country at the hosp and those can cost 20G *gulp*. I’m a PhD student now and do not use the student health insurance (it is awful at my univ.) but other school may be different.

    I had a great job and gave it up to follow my PhD dreams while simultaneously parenting my daughter (now I have another on the way) 😉 I’m a bit biased!

  9. I didn’t do this, but I would dare say it’s likely more feasible if you’re looking at a midwife/birth center/homebirth option. These often cost less than hospitals and as such are more affordable options for you, however, I don’t know how they expect payment to be made – specifically when. It might be worth determining which midwife and center you want to use before quitting your job. Then you can determine an estimated cost of their services for your pregnancy and save that money before quitting your job and starting your attempts to get pregnant.

    Maybe by doing this, you can turn around your utter hatred of your job and struggle through for a couple more months for the end greater reward yet not have to suffer through it while actually trying or being pregnant. Use this time to re-budget your life, changing your lifestyle to that of a single income. I think it’s completely possible but takes extra planning in the forefront to give yourself some peace of mind.

    The one thing I will say is you will undoubtedly change one set of stresses for another. The grass is always greener they say and no matter what, you must do what you feel is best, but don’t be misled by your daydreams of a pregnancy free of STRESS because you’re out of the job you hate. This is not meant to be a Debbie Downer or a “You’ll see” statement. It’s just a be ready because Pregnancy (as I’m sure you already know) has many stages of mind sets, worries, fears and stresses that can be impossible to predict no matter how good or bad a pregnancy might go. The strangest things can set you off and stress you out. 🙂

  10. PS because we live on 1 salary while I am in school, we are having our 2nd baby on the cheap and it is not that hard! I have been lucky to not have to buy one thing so far for this pregnancy, I was able to get maternity clothes, a co-sleeper, high chair, stroller, tons of toys and cloth diapers from currently breeding friends 😉 The only true essentials in my book for my baby is my boobs, medical insurance, which can be easily accessible to kiddos through the state, a great car seat, co-sleeper or bed-sharing, a high quality baby carrier (ergo or mei tai), cloth diapers, start savings for new baby (college or general cushion) and some thrift onsies….everything else they sell at Baby R Us is a “nice to have” Thinking this way puts a lot less stress on new parents 🙂

  11. Yes, I’m giving up a very good-paying job with insurance. I don’t like my job, either but I know it’s a good one. I feel badly for my husband because I know the financial pressures on him are going to be great. So, I’m pursuing keeping the job part time and working from home. If that doesn’t work out, I will quit.

    It actually would make sense for me to keep working even with the added child care costs, but the thought of someone else raising my child just makes me cringe. I would love to be a full-time mommy. Career has never meant that much to me, really.

    • I’ve never seen this comment on OBM before, and it just strikes a nerve. Working moms are also raising their kids. Yes, during the day someone else is caring for our kids, but I think of “raising” as transmitting values, shaping beliefs, establishing relationships. “Raising” kids isn’t just being with kids every minute of every day. If that’s what you want, that’s fine and I respect it, but I am no less of a mom because I work.

      • I don’t think that the poster was having a go at working mothers. She is in a position where she and her family can make it work if she is a stay at home mum and since that is super important to her it would be her first choice.
        Personally – the idea of going back to work after my little one is born makes me sad. I was raised by a stay at home mum, and I want that for my kids too. Likelyhood is that I will have to go back part time, and that’s just the way it is. But if we could make it work on one wage, I would take that option. I think that that is a perfectly legitimate opinion, and in no way reflective of what ‘should’ be done. It’s what I want for my life and my kids.

        • As I said before, whatever choice you want to make regarding going back to work or staying home is just that, your choice. The phrase that I took issue with was “someone else raising my kids.” No one else is raising my kids – just me and my husband and the village we have created for them.

          OBM is just such a supportive community, and I think that one of the ways that it can continue to be that kind of community is that we don’t fall into the easy linguistic traps. For instance, I prefer “unmedicated birth” to “natural birth” because the flip an “unnatural birth” is just so judgement loaded. I prefer the term “parenting” to “mothering” because both men and women “parent.” And there are others, but I’m too tired to think of them now : )

          I mean this in the most non obnoxious way possible: I hope that you can stay home if you want to do that. And if you have to return to work for whatever reason, I hope that it works out as well. And I hope that, if you have to go back to work, you realize that you are still very much raising your child, not pawning that responsibility off on someone else. Sometimes we don’t do ourselves any favors with the cognitive shortcuts either.

  12. I say go for it, too. I was uninsured and had a homebirth in CA. While financial security would have been nice, both myself and my partner were (and still are) unable to find jobs (despite our two fancy Masters degrees). There is no perfect time for a baby, but I believe if you want one, you’ll make it work despite your financial situation. CA has great state insurance plans for babies and moms (up to 6 weeks postpartum for the mom, and a year for the baby, I think) and I agree with pervious commenters: it may be more financially feasible if you go with a home birth/midwife or birth center option. (Our midwife was around $4500 for everything: prenatal care through 6 weeks postpartum.) We were on MediCal (my baby and I) and it was a good backup plan, in case we needed it. There was a birth center in the area (north of the bay area) that would take MediCal, so you may be able to use that option, too. Good luck!!

  13. My question exactly, except that our new baby just arrived and I’m thinking about leaving my job for full time grad school in the fall. Happy to see everyone’s supportive responses and positive experiences.

  14. I have mixed feelings on this one if you have a job and insurance in this economy I say keep it, especially if your back up plan is applying for medi-cal, an already over stressed system. I’m just saying there is a pregnant 16 year old out there who needs it more than you do. on the other hand I just had a baby and I don’t plan to go back to my crappy job with health insurance after my leave is up. My husband is self employed so he has no insurance he makes enough money to cover any doctors appointments we may have provided that everyone is healthy I can also tell you from experience that making too much to qualify for medi-cal and having large medical bill is very scary . My 3 year old was in the NICU for 2 months when she was born it took me nearly a year of arguing with every form of government before medi-cal decided they would cover the $500,000 bill ; that is more stressful than your job… I promise. I would hold on to your health insurance until you knew for sure nothing was wrong with you or the baby then ditch the job and do what you want with your life.

  15. I live in California, too, and you might be interested to know that Medi-Cal will cover birth centers and midwives (just check whether they accept Medi-Cal). For all you taxpayers out there, birth centers and midwives cost the state WAY less than paying for poor women to go to a hospital.

    Most HMOs will not, and if you have a PPO you have to see whether the birth center or midwife in your area in in your provider network or not. So quitting your job might be a good option if you want to try a home birth. Also, because you’d be on Medi-Cal, you wouldn’t have to pay if you had to transfer to hospital if the home birth didn’t work out.

    I chose a high-deductible PPO with an HSA so that I could use my HSA money to pay for a home birth. But if we end up transferring to hospital, I won’t have any money left in my HSA and will have to pay the full deductible before insurance will kick in.

    But do your homework. If you have the option of getting health coverage through your husband, you might not qualify for Medi-Cal. You can also look in to AIM (Access for Infants and Mothers), depending on your husband’s income.

    One thing I recently read about becoming a SAHM in general is that you should keep your job but pretend that you have only your husband’s income. Do this for 6-12 months. You can save your entire paycheck, or you can give yourself a reality check if you find that you’re constantly needing more money than just want your husband makes.

    I have been through a lot of job stress/depression lately, too. And I always made too much money to quit. And my partner has a good job but doesn’t have health insurance. So now that we have one toddler with another on the way, I need to keep my job to keep the health insurance.

    Another option is to see if there’s anyway you can cut your hours, work four-tens, or telecommute some or all of the time. This might make your job easier to deal with. I just think if you can hold on for a little longer, it will be worth the extra money, and you can always quit later.

    Also, be sure to check on the timing of quitting your job. If you go on maternity leave and then decide not to come back, you could end up owing your company back-pay for the insurance premiums while you were out. Sometimes you have to come back to work for a couple weeks or a month before you can quit without owing them money.

  16. I wish I had. My job is also “perfect” in that I set my own hours, and half is worked from home. However, it’s high stress and working with crisis situations, so it takes its toll on me. My son is 8 months now, and I’m trying to find a way to work PT or not at all. I’d much rather be spending my time with my son. I feel like I’m missing out, even though I have family watching him. I also have him on my insurance, and it’s very expensive to get added on to my husband’s, so I’m not sure what we would do about that.

    However, you might stick your job out until the baby comes. Get the insurance to cover your birth so you don’t have to stress about it. I had a midwife, but still ended up with a medicalized birth due to complications. Also, some women decide staying home isn’t for them after trying it out during maternity leave (albeit, those are the HARDEST weeks/months). This will also give you time to save, get the things you need without stressing over those things.

  17. I’m at about 14 weeks now, and in a month, I’ll be leaving my stressful workplace, yay (and fantastic state employee health insurance, boo) because my husband got a job on the other side of the state. The cost to add me to his health insurance is more than $500 a month, and with one on the way, we can’t afford to NOT have insurance. (Florida is not very progressive.)

    I’m surprised this hasn’t come up yet, but I’ll probably opt to continue my current insurance under COBRA (http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm). I’m not sure how much it’s going to cost, but I think it will be around $350/month. It will be much cheaper to continue this for the duration of the pregnancy than to pay for prenatal/birth care out of pocket. When I’m completely recovered from the birth, I’ll look into getting an individual plan for me and the spawn. I had a not-so-great one before I got this job, and it was around $120/month.

  18. As a slightly different perspective I opted to stay in the job I hated until a month before I’m due. Luckily the insurance was a non-issue, thank goodness for Australian Medicare, but the extra salary was a big factor.

    The reason I mention that I went through this same thing when trying to get pregnant and was miserable. But once I got pregnant and knew I’d have an eventual end date things got SO much better for me at work. I felt more comfortable setting work-life balance boundaries, I stopped stressing about little dramas, and the stress dissipated.

    That said I was lucky to have an easy pregnancy with no morning sickness. I think dragging myself into the office would have been a lot harder in that case. But if you can stick it out for a few more months to get insurance coverage of all those pre-natal visits and have a little extra cash cushion, you may thank yourself later.

  19. I try to be a “follow your bliss” kind of person, but there have been a number of realities in my life that have made it hard to advocate that route. Namely that when my daughter was 5 and my son 2 my husband lost his job (I worked, but part time as a teacher – he was the primary earner – thankfully we got insurance through me) and then later that year he was diagnosed with cancer. I cannot tell you how many times we said “thank god we have good insurance.” Should he have gotten cancer? No. He was 40 years old, in good health, etc. I don’t know what your job is, but the stress of a health crisis isn’t peachy, and I literally cannot conceive of trying to deal with that stress and ALSO not know how we would pay for it. Of course the vast majority of children are born totally healthy, and the vast majority of moms have no medical complications. But there’s always the “what if…” Personally, I know I couldn’t live with myself if something went wrong and I wasn’t protected. That’s me. I’m a worrier.

    My advice is to look into ways to minimizing work stress. A cognitive behavioral therapist could help. So might yoga, meditation, hypnosis, exercise. etc. Unless you are seriously suffering abuse at work (harassment, etc), I think you should stick it out. Not forever, of course. Save up (like really a lot), figure out how you can cut back to live on one income, get pregnant, have a baby when you have good insurance, and then get the heck outta Dodge.

    Good luck.

  20. If you do decide to quit, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
    Medi-cal isn’t a for sure thing. Not everyone qualifies. I lost my health insurance from my work at 4 months pregnant while being on worker’s comp (I hurt my back the same time I got pregnant) and I couldn’t get insurance through my husband at the time. When I applied for Medi-cal after a ton of people encouraged me too, only to find out I didn’t qualify. My husband makes 300/month too much.
    My friend has two kids, cervical cancer and her husband is on disability and she doesn’t qualify for Medi-cal either. GO FIGURE.
    Just make sure the net is there before you make that leap for sure.
    Good luck to you in whatever choice you make!

    • THIS! If you need state health insurance, you need to understand how it works in your state. I used to work with medicaid eligibility (in the Midwest) as part of my job. Being eligible for medicaid is based on standards set by the government, not on a general sense of what people think someone should make to qualify. Income limits can vary by a child’s age and they can change considerably for a woman once a postpartum period of a couple months ends.

  21. Yeah … unless the stress of your hated job is a danger to the pregnancy, I would keep insurance. Pregnancy and birth is just so unpredictable.

    Despite how much I disliked being pregnant, I was extremely low risk. In fact, I’d just seen the paper work from my OB to that affect four days prior to my son deciding to be born at 36 weeks. Not super premature, but premature enough that there were some scary moments. Didn’t help that we discovered during labor that I had a tilted pelvis, which caused its own complications. Ultimately, I didn’t have an emergency C-section and he didn’t end up in NICU. BUT I am very aware of how close we came to both. He’s 9 months old and I’m still dealing with the costs from the extra pediatrician visits he had to have due to weight loss in the first few days.

    If you can get good insurance through school, then this is a not issue. But I definitely wouldn’t try to go into pregnancy with no insurance at all. Even with hefty savings, you just never know what could go wrong.

  22. My daughter is 8 months old and we are going to finally take the leap and I am going to be quitting soon. My husband is a PhD student and since his funding is up at the end of this year, he was very lucky and found a job that was family friendly, his research friendly and will actually allow him to work on his PhD more since he won’t be crawling around after a baby anymore (he is an awesome stay at home dad right now by the way). We will technically be making less money and we have to try to sell our house or he will continue to drive an hour away (which we both do now, just in different directions). I am not happy with my job even though it is awesome on paper and we decided that money has a way of working itself out and that being happy and not waiting to be happy is important. (we are going to buy our own BCBS insurance, which is like 100 times more expensive than insurance is now, but it is worth not having a lapse in coverage. we are just going to super budget.) I wish we had done it sooner, but I’m glad we are doing it now and after he is done with grad school. We did a lot of research before making the decision, but that is basically what the conclusion was no matter what – be happy. It isn’t worth stressing yourself or your body over a good job with money and insurance. I hope you make the decision that is right for your family – we wish you lots of happiness!

  23. I’ve oknly skimmed the last few comments so I don’t think this has been covered, but do you know *why* you hate your job so much, and is it something you could change? You’ve probably gone over and over it, so this is probably old news! But sometimes it can come down to one or two things that you might be able to tackle, or work out how to make it more bearable! I’m a big ole scardy cat when it comes to it though, good luck with the decision!!! 🙂

  24. I was in a similar situation. My compromise was that I knew that I needed a) the health insurance and b) the paid maternity leave. Don’t forget maternity leave. If you haven’t signed up for short-term disability coverage, do it now. You can’t sign up for it once you’re pregnant. I kept my decently-paying job that I hated until the baby was born and my costs were covered. I then left and started a PhD program. It’s been a major adjustment in terms of money, but I’m much happier, I’m on a track that I want to be on, and I actually see my daughter more than I would if I were in a full-time job, which makes me happy. Personally, I wouldn’t quit before you have a baby, only because this economy is killer. If you have an idea that your time there is finite, it might make it easier to get through it. But I know how you feel – having a job you hate can really drain your spirits.

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