Wednesday, February 6, 2013

the case for paid maternity leave

For the longest time, I identified myself as a Republican.

As I've gotten a bit older, I find my views shifting. I definitely qualify myself as more of an independent these days.

I am no longer against gay marriage (I plan on writing a whole post discussing this soon), but I am pro-life. This becomes murky for me in the cases of rape, incest, maternal health, etc. I think our healthcare system needs to be improved, but I'm not quite sure what that should look like and how much the government should be involved in it. I have no real opinion on gun control, I believe women should receive equal pay as men, and I think the U.S. should get its troops out of most of the countries we're currently in (places like Japan, Germany, Australia, the UK).

One of the biggest things that has turned me off about the Republican party, though, is their obvious hypocrisy. Although, in their defense, I suppose all politicians are at least somewhat hypocritical.

Paid maternity leave: the U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid maternity leave [1]. When I had Elden, I did not receive any compensation while I took my 6 weeks of maternity leave. I used 2 weeks of vacation time to get some money, but we went a month on Jon's income alone, which was less than $800. That coupled with the delivery expenses (even with my decent insurance, it cost us somewhere on the order of $2500-$3000 to have him) has actually left us with some lingering debt towards delivering him. For a party that places such an emphasis on family values, Republicans sure do overlook one of the critical parts of creating a family: the cost/ability to even have children. Insurance coverage, or lack thereof, of fertility treatments is an entirely different problem that I'll save discussing for another time.

As a family that relies on my income to merely survive (we would be at extreme poverty levels on Jon's income alone), the lack of paid maternity leave really hurt us. I'm not suggesting that the government subsidize maternity leave, but if they feel like getting all up in the healthcare insurance industry's bizznass I think they should consider forcing (creating?) some short-term disability-type benefits. For instance, my employer currently does not offer short-term disability. I've looked for it independently, but it seems as though any insurance company that sells to individuals explicitly excludes maternity leave, and even then, I was only able to find two companies that even sell policies at the individual level. I've heard the argument that everything has a price and it would affect consumers in other ways.

However, this is already affecting the taxpayer. States that had no paid maternity leave saw nearly 25% of new moms receiving an average of $749 in public assistance in the year post-birth. States with paid leave saw 10% of new moms receiving an average of $358 in that year [2]. Monetary issues aside, studies have shown that maternal and children's health benefit in the long-term when paid maternity leave is offered because it encourages breastfeeding (which has shown decreased breast cancer risk in mothers to stronger immune systems in babies, to name a few) [3]. When babies are not breastfed, studies have also shown that there is a delay in childhood immunization administration, financial hardship, and postpartum depression [3]. Finally, paid leave has been shown to improve the odds of women returning to work [3].

For a country that is so concerned about its declining birth rate [4], you'd think this issue would be more on the forefront. Paid maternity leave improves birth rates, dubbed 'familism' [5]. And don't even get me started on childcare expenses for working parents. Jon and I have discussed what it would look like to add #2 to our family and even if we sent both kids to daycare part-time (less than 25 hours/week), it would cost us at least $13,312 per annum at our present, surprisingly affordable daycare provider. This number exceeds $20,000 per year if both had to go full-time. That's pretty ridiculous, people. Our current combined income is modest--we are somewhere in the middle of the 15% tax bracket for 2012--and when you throw in student loan repayments (just mine; not sure what we'll do when Jon's out of deferment if he can't get a job that pays more than minimum wage) of approximately $500/month and daycare expenses to keep us above the 10% bracket, we don't even break even every month. The way the system works now is we either work and contribute to society via tax dollars while seriously struggling to make ends meet due to lack of maternity leave and staggering daycare expenses, or we forego working to avoid the daycare expense and therefore rely on public assistance to put food on our table. If that's not a broken system then I don't know what is.

I'm hoping that as the current Congress moves towards 'aging out' of politics, younger politicians with a better societal worldview will see the benefit of enacting some sort of a paid maternity leave policy. In the meantime, please consider signing the Working Mother petition for paid parental maternity leave here.

23 comments:

  1. I love this post. I know alot of women who stay mom because it's cheaper to stay home with the kids than to send them to daycare.

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    1. Agreed! I'm pretty sure that if we had a 2nd baby before Jon is done with his Bachelor's (which would mean that it was unplanned) he would basically have to drop out of school to stay home with the kids. Once he's moved onto his Master's degree, if he's able to take only night classes, he could conceivably stay home full-time OR he'd have to find a decent full-time job so that we could afford daycare while we both worked. It's so frustrating because we want a big family and aside from the daycare expense we would be able to afford more kids. It stinks that daycare is the reason family sizes are often so small!

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  2. Very well written and informed. We ran into many of the same problems you are experiencing now. When I returned to work, all my income went to childcare and student loans. I often found myself questioning the value of my degree that I wasn't using and still paying for. I hated working because it was a vicious cycle. I needed childcare to work so that I could pay for childcare, UGH! I always joke with Cameron that we should have had kids at 18, then I could have gone to college for free and childcare would have been free too! I joke about that, but sadly many people use this huge flaw in the system, making us all hurt.

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  3. You ARE getting paid maternity leave, and/or daycare assistance. It's just called "a tax deduction", you get a tax break of $3,800 for having a baby when you itemize, and you get it every year for each child until they are 18 years old or so. And guess what? It is republicans that favor larger tax deductions and lower government spending while democrats favor lower tax deductions and higher spending (which in turn leads to higher taxes). It is obvious the republican policy FAVORS families (no hypocrisy).If only your tax bill was lower maybe you could afford those things you mentioned rather than hope someone else pay for them. Did you ever consider waiting a year or two before having a baby so your husband could finish school first? Neither of you are very old, 25 or so? Maybe that would have helped. You already "think" like a democrat; have someone else pay, rather than a republican; why can't I afford this? When you add them all up (state,federal,city,gasoline,property,sales,alcohol,license fees,tariffs,etc..., it is your tax bill that is the largest bill you have, even more than your house payment. Keeping more of your own money, for whatever you want, is better than a handout for a specific need.

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    1. Whoa, first of all, please take a deep breath and perhaps consider emerging from hiding behind your cloak of anonymity. Now that you've calmed yourself down a little bit, let's have a rational discussion. My husband and I DO plan on waiting to have a second until he finishes school and are taking preventative measures as such. However, as I'm sure you're well aware, the only 100% guaranteed form of birth control is abstinence which has no place in a marriage (at least I don't think so). That being said, if I were to accidentally get pregnant between now and when my husband finishes school, what do you propose exactly? That I get an abortion if I can't afford childcare so I continue to work? Based on your clearly right-leaning views I have a feeling that goes against everything you stand for. I once heard the expression that Republicans love babies until they realize their tax dollars have to support them. Additionally, with regard to your tax deduction argument, that still does NOT cover maternity leave expenses, nor does it even TOUCH daycare expenses. Two situations changed for us for our tax return for 2012: we bought a house and we had a baby. Do you want to know how much bigger our refund was for 2012 over 2011? About $1500. Want to know how much daycare (alone, no monthly expense coverage while I was on leave OR delivery expenses) cost us in 2012? $1664. So where did that big tax break go exactly? Next, I NEVER said I wanted the government to pay. I would LOVE to have the option of a short-term disability fund that *I* contribute to but I have thus far been unable to locate one that covers maternity leave and is available to individual policyholders. If you know of one I would be more than happy to start paying into it to cover myself. Even if it's a government-backed short-term disability policy that individuals pay into, I'm not asking for a handout. I just want OPTIONS. Finally, yes, we did have a baby young. That being said, I'm pretty damn proud of the fact that we are paying for our own house, health insurance, have 2 paid off (by us) cars, car insurance, utilities, groceries, student loans, etc. However, not everyone is as fortunate as we have been and life circumstances (such as getting laid off of a fantastic job when the market tanked while your wife is pregnant, which I know of a couple that happened to) occur and there should be viable options for families.

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  4. Who I am doesn't matter. Your post today was clearly political, just read the first line. The point of my comment was also political; high taxes mean less disposable income. That part you ignored, and you chose to focus on the few personal decisions that I brought up as if I was attacking you, I was not. Many people put off buying a home and having kids until they are financially secure, it's a valid question. You say you just want options? I agree, just not the one were someone else pays for a service they do not receive. I was just suggesting that voting for conservatives who will lower your taxes can have a significant positive impact on your finances. I'm convinced that most people don't know their TOTAL tax liability. Voting is much easier and more effective than bashing republicans and signing petitions to mandate paid maternity leave. By the way, you did imply that you want the government to pay when you said "the U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid maternity leave."
    A few more thoughts:
    1) It sounds to me as if you and your husband are handling life quite well despite the struggles. You probably don't need assistance. Good for you.
    2) I would never suggest abortion under the circumstances you described.
    3) There is another 100% method to prevent pregnancy: it's called gay marriage.

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    1. It matters who you are--you should be confident enough in what you believe that you're not afraid to associate your name with your opinion. Furthermore, if you're someone I know personally, I sincerely hope you know you can tell me your opinion without any ill will from me. We're allowed to disagree and still be friends (or family).

      That being said, I did not address your tax comment mostly because I didn't realize that was a point you were trying to make. However, I think a lot of republicans use decreased taxes as a way to shirk their social responsibilities. Furthermore, cutting taxes really won't do much to help those who need it most. Take someone who works full-time but only makes minimum wage. In Ohio, their annual gross income would be less than $16500. The average rent in the Cleveland area is more than $700/month, so with that alone the employee is left with $8100 to pay utilities, groceries, any health/insurance bills, etc. Do you really think cutting taxes is the solution? In our case, even if you cut our taxes by 5% the amount we would save is less than a few thousand per year which is still not nearly enough to put a dent in childcare or expenses to survive a few months on maternity leave. Finally, requesting that the US mandating maternity leave does NOT imply that the government pays for it. It simply means the government makes it a law but how that plays out is up for discussion. As I said, I have no options to pay for any sort of coverage for myself. The maternity leave laws vary so greatly in our country--small businesses such as the one I'm employed by are actually exempt from many of the existing policies--but I was one of the lucky ones to be working for people who are flexible and understanding. In response to your final thoughts:
      1) You're right, we don't need assistance. That's not to say if we accidentally got pregnant with a second or I were to become injured and unable to work we wouldn't require help.
      2) If you don't suggest abortion and you don't want your tax dollars to support my family if that situation were to arise, what WOULD you suggest we do?
      3) I'm going to go ahead and assume that you weren't taking a shot at my belief that gay marriage should be legalized. In any case, I'm sure you're aware of adoption, IVF, artificial insemination, and surrogacy; all allow gay couples to create a family.

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    2. Just a thought to add to this conversation between you two:

      I think the problem is that when we start expecting the government to solve our problems, it robs us of our humanity. We should look to our families, our friends, our churches and our communities, rather than the almighty government.

      There are a lot of options for working-parent families, but they are tough. However, consider that no one is forced to go to college and take out student loans, no one is forced to have children and no one is forced to work at a particular job with particular hours, health insurance and maternity leave. You just have to get creative and enlist the help of friends and community to solve problems!

      For instance, full-time daycare is not the only option. I know many people who use a combination of opposite shifts with spouse, baby-sitting trades and SAHM home daycare. The going rate in non-urban Ohio and PA for SAHMs to watch a child in their home is 4.5 to 5 bucks an hour. That is much cheaper than daycare.

      (Also, there ARE daycare subsidies for low to low-middle income families)


      Consider another option, rather than buying your own disability insurance, just a certain amount every month to save up for your own maternity leave. Other creative options include renting out a spare room in your house (if you have one) or perhaps move in with friends or family while your husband is in school and drop down to a nominal housing payment. There are ALWAYS options...and they don't have to include the government.

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    3. Danielle:

      As a 49 year old childfree woman, I strongly suggest you buy a big calendar, X-out four days for no intercourse and apply the other methods available. It strikes me with some of your flippant comments..."if you were to get pregnant with your second etc..." WELL DON'T!It's amazing, I have had plenty of lovers and not once have I ever had to worry about these things. Included a husband of 5 years and a common-law for 13 years. Now why do I write you? Here's what's required of you whether you buy it or not: We need you to make tax revenue and a pretty good one, you have a child and want more. Also what are the chances of your husband finding work in his chosen field and making a substantial income and one that pays not only for your children (future ones), but don't forget yourselves. (Individual citizens must pay for military etc.) Can you in the next decade guarantee you won't end up cash poor and may need the taxpayers. You buy a house and have a baby, baby's don't need houses just a little crib. So do us a favour: Buy that calendar. Please!

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    4. I just want to clarify that I have nothing against individuals who choose not to have kids. I think that's a perfectly respectable decision. That being said, your suggested method will not help me in my given state seeing as I haven't gotten my period since I got pregnant with Elden in 2011. What four days should I X-out? Furthermore, from what I gather, the natural family planning/abstinence method you suggest requires many more than four days per month to sufficiently prevent pregnancy. Finally, we have considered Jon's ability to find work in his field and he is not opposed to getting a job in something unrelated to his degree if that's what our family requires. In fact, he has offered more than once to drop out of school, get a factory job, and therefore reduce our financial burden. I have encouraged him to stick with it because I believe a degree is in the best interest of our family more than rolling in some cash at this point in our lives. Also, no one can actually predict what will occur in the next decade to cause them to be cash poor (or cash rich). We could sell our house for twice we paid and get cash rich. One of us could die (God forbid) and the other will receive the sizable life insurance funds and be cash rich. My company could go belly up and we could be cash poor. We have some savings that we can rely on temporarily and neither of us are too proud to get jobs at McDonald's if that's what it comes to. If you can guarantee that in the next 10 years your financial situation is solid no matter what happens then I tip my hat to you. And while I agree that babies don't need houses, our mortgage/property tax/homeowner's insurance each month is actually less than what we were paying in our former apartment (which is still less than the average housing cost in Ohio) and we are building equity. Plus I think our former neighbor is more than thrilled that she didn't have to live downstairs from a colicky baby that screamed 9 hours a day, 4-6 days per week the first four months of his life.

      In closing, I would like to reiterate one more time that I do not expect my government to pay for this. I seriously just want to be able to pay into my own short-term disability policy to cover my own expenses, especially if something goes awry that prevents me from working a significant portion of my pregnancy. My suggestion for government involvement was more for policies that protect new parents and not so much financial support.

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  5. Hi me again:

    One more thing and then I promise to stop white -knuckling the evolutionary ladder and in advance and a big fat "I'm sorry": YOU'RE SO PRETTY, OH SO PRETTY. No really.

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    1. There are so many things I don't understand about this comment...

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  6. Hi me and again:

    Danielle, all the other girls, the ones with the paws and the ones with the hooves get so annoyed by cheesy women like you. What's up? Over 140M kids to adopt. Not enough for you? Get real. Instead of hanging by the thin thread of Mc's or some default method, do best the universal scripture: CHOICE. With your understanding a building would be missing an outside wall, a car with only three wheels -- get the point? I think the best template in life is to ask yourself this: What if everyone did what I do and walked my philosophy. Yikes what would we do, keep praying that somebody would pick up OUR tab or hey let's make a nominal living and thus pay some itsy-bitsy income tax. You walk with three, start paying. And all the other girls rather you stop at one. I can hear their growl. To bad you weren't mommy _______ (fill in the blank), the kingdon of animalia is extensive. Did you know and do you care? Mommy Human. xxxxxx

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    1. I hope you realize that this comment made absolutely no sense. Please clarify if you want me to respond...

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  7. Danielle while I have a few typos how can this not make sense? The other girls, species-extinction, overpopulation. And little tax revenue if master-degree job doesn't pan out. Right now what are you paying in tax revenue. Many people don't care about your freebees. You are a dinosaur, the past, speed-up to satisfying the dire straits. Cheesy women contribute to this not solve it. You're not an individual thinker, at best you are a "wiki" girl who spews out the lame and who lacks any sense of actuality. You see reality is up for grabs, a million miles long or maybe an inch. So have a look and have a listen....I want to be proud of twenty-something women knowing the future will be worked out with intelligent. Smarten up...you do your reading it seems, now do some niche. Something a little less popular. Cute baby, everybody wants their baby on the www for everyone to see. Weird people like little babies, keep pictures on facebook for those you know. Why not, is my suggestion so bad. Lots of people post pictures and the herd mentality continues. Now go be smart, make me proud and put down that curling brush. You want lots of kids? Describe to the discerning eye how this is not lame and unfeminine. The feminine nutures, anchors life, all life, not just the human embryo. Other "moms" get to choose between their right hinny or their left when they cull their own, we get neonatal. We're the thinkers...Really? Think Danielle, think, I'm still rootin' for ya kid. Go for it, do what's not selfish and absolutely useless. Whatcha got, oh and your children are the future? Show me the escrow, show me the beef!!!

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    1. No one I know (and I've asked several) can decipher your stream of (un)consciousness, so I am still having a difficult time responding. With regard to your orphan comment, if you knew me at all you would know adoption is actually something we hope to be able to do someday. Can we adopt 140 million children? Sadly, no, and right now even adopting one is simply not an option for us. Next, I'm not trying to be popular in this blog. I share my life on the internet the same I would with a dear friend. This is not a business nor do I care to strive for a "niche." That being said--you tell me to stray from the herd yet you want me to strive to make you, a faceless stranger who is afraid to put a name to her comments, proud? I couldn't care less whether you are gravely disappointed or incredibly proud of my beliefs and actions. Your curling brush comment couldn't make me laugh harder. I spend less time on my appearance than I do washing dishes (damn, I bet you hate that I'm a woman who enjoys housework!) because I am focused on providing for and interacting with my family. A family who I happily chose, who I would choose a million times over, and who I hope to expand one day. Asking for options that would better allow me to expand my family (again. not a government handout since you seem to miss this comment every single time, but rather something that I personally pay into so I can draw from it if/when the time comes) hardly makes me unintelligent. To be unintelligent would be to have sex with my husband without any protection whatsoever and throw caution to the wind. I'm trying to make plans so that I would never have to rely on "handouts"--even in the event of an accidental pregnancy. If wanting to be a wife and mother makes me a dinosaur then so be it. Apologies for not fitting into your mold of what the ideal woman should be. If I'm so lame you might want to stop setting yourself up for disappointment by returning to my blog...

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  8. Danielle, you lean into things. You will take each line somebody writes and pick it apart like it is your little piece of chicken on a plate. I like that you lean into your blog but lean in the same direction as me, your child unknowingly will very much appreciate it.

    Nothing unconscious about what I type, is this a book, no, must be brief. And I'm emotional over this. EFFFing sue me, I want the best for your child, a world that will not be suffocating itself with bad air and water. Your child's fine now. And so were a lot of peoples' and then they weren't. Auto-immunity has gone from 4, less than two decades ago to over 80...even our toes will be war-r-ing. Again, I enjoy that you put such effort forward but hey for the most part, I'm on your side. You have the child don't you? And it seems I care more about his future than you do. You care about his immediate future, I care about when he is older and vulnerable. Oh sure with technology we can feed everyone, the extra 2 million to come... but wow! will it be expensive. And water territory, forget about the land wars.

    So do you still want a large family? That is the point to me spending this time. I'm self-employed and real good at it. Your welcome for my tax dollars.

    Now Danielle, since you show yourself to be studious and have absolutely no excuses to jump this question: What about the other "mommies"? You avoid this question like the plague, speaking of plagues... So answer the question, the "Ladies" are postured and awaiting your response. The primal is the most conscious. Speak to them, there is no "unconscious" in them. They fight everyday for survival, try it sometime. They also self-regulate, the deer "girls" for example, have the ability to absorb their own embryos and they do, they have to, no choice. Speaking of self-regulation, no period in a while? Even more reason for you to buckle-up now baby. Tell that to your husband. However, you have the womb. I love the womb, beats the hell out of the stork. Love storks, you know many different stork species are under the threat of extinction.

    Answer the question. The other "girls", they are waving and waiting. Don't be fooled cause they wave without hands, even the ones with the thumbs are giving a "thumbs down".

    Remember five days later, your air is globally everyone's and that droplet of ocean water, (the water that grows more acidic and is becoming more and more inhospitable to the oxygen-producing plankton), it is the Indian Ocean one day and the Atlantic some time later. I love when there's oxygen in the air. Yeh, I can live another day. So let's have more babies, more lifestyle, and more... Answer the question...since you say plenty which is cool, what do you write to them? How about, if I may, you start the letter with....Dear females, I have the hair and you have the fur, I have razors and reasons to use them and you do not....(I think this is an appropriate beginning to your letter Danielle) now please I urge you, I'm interested. Whatelse? Add to the letter.

    P.S. I leave myself anonymous because it is the message, it's not about me. If I gave you a name, what next an address. I am the same 48 year-old women who posted early. The rest, irrelevant. Is any message, less or more meaningful with a name. You have a "poser" way about you, minus the goth. Instead of posing be meaningful, stick to the content. Clearly I'm bold enough to give you a name.

    Still waiting...

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    1. I hadn't responded to your "other mothers" comment because I have no idea what point you're trying to make with it. Are you suggesting that there are animals who want me to tell them something? Am I not also fighting for my own/family's survival, metaphorically speaking? I must work to supply shelter and food. If I were to lose my job, you better believe I'd need to find a new job to survive (and I would make every effort to do so--even if that means working in fast food). I'm still unclear on the specific question you want me to answer. Make it clear or I will "continue to avoid it like the plague" simply because it makes no sense to me.

      And yes, I'm sure you care much more about my son's future than I do. It's only logical that since I don't preach conservation/environmentalism on my blog I have no regard for life (human or otherwise) in general.

      I'm also uncertain why you tell me 'you're welcome' for your tax dollars? I've never had to rely on government support before, so I have never benefited from your tax dollars... I may not be self-employed but I do work a full-time job that pays into the tax system. So I guess you're welcome, too?

      Finally yes, I do still want a large family. Did I explicitly say I want to give birth to all of these children? No. I want a large, blended family. Could that mean Elden is our only biological child? Yes. Could that mean (due to the financial planning I have referenced throughout) that he ends up being the only child we ever call ours? Yes. Do I think people who adopt should be able to pay into a short-term disability type insurance plan so they can go on maternity leave when they bring home their son or daughter? Absolutely yes.

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  9. P.S.S. Danielle adoption is terrific, but as you can gather from what I've typed above, nothing that you type substantiates your claims, merely having thoughts about it without planning never suffices. If your large family is spawned from adoption or fostering than awesome. It's about NOW, not THEN, THEN is gone... nothing is good other than these methods of family-building. So a challenge not to your sincerity but your "planner". You don't plan, you have just well-defined your default. Still waiting and so are the girls...

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    1. Read the first paragraph I wrote above at 10:47 am with regard to your "Still waiting and so are the girls..." comment. You. make. no. sense.

      And we are planning, in fact. I have previously contacted (and received literature) the local department of children's services to learn about foster parenting and foster-to-adopt.

      By "NOW, not THEN" - what is your point? It's unclear.

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  10. Danielle, a strong suggestion. When you do a blog which includes your life remember to write with some angles covered. You don't want to be thought of as flimpsy, then don't set yourself up for it. Re-read your post. Why do you think others have posted, what are we all unconscious? Find ways to make more money rather than just shuffling around the little we have. Your methods will cost somebody else something. Danielle this post I write isn't to offend you, I want to challenge (and I am scrappy) young women who want families. Blended? Okay inevidably some babies and bless their soft squeezy heads, will be born. But 'blended', it will soon become much like 'moderation'. One person's moderation is another's excess. And to some others around the corner, it will be some sort of life's challenge. Only two t.v's, not three, OMG.

    Again Danielle, what I write is also directed at the millenial gals, I ony know you from what you have written. You seem to figure things out as you go. You do well at this, I hope you do well. Adoption isn't cheap even with the taxpayers involved, but who knows McDonald's does have managerial positions which are quite lucrative.

    Seriously re-read what you have written. What about the cost of having a baby #2 and fertility treatment? Very few people would leave out the adoption part in your initial entry, if that was ever your intent? You mention other things like fertility treatments. So should the taxpayer pay for these also? If I hadn't mentioned adoption, nor would you. The system's not broken honey, you are too immature. You can barely make it above poverty level, you might need help, this is what you write....and you have Eldin? What's up? Student loans? Get yourself together, silly girl.

    I wish you well... now put that energy of yours into something remarkable. I've spent a good 1.5 hours on you. Not bad, I don't usually bother so long, and I am super tired. Have to go back to earning some substantial money. Money's never the point with me. Kiss the frog into the prince, screw the prince, I'll keep the frog.

    Bye Daniel, I wish you well. xxxx

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  11. 'Cept if fostering's just for the money. If so don't bother, and if not, OMG how will you afford baby #2, aren't they sooooo expensive and aren't you barely making ends meet. Really, leave the literature alone and buy that calendar. Tootles.

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  12. No, fostering's not for the money, it's to love children and provide them with a family. Also, just because I got literature to start planning does not mean we are going to jump into this tomorrow. We just wanted an idea of the process and time commitment (for things like classes, not actual parenting). You keep mentioning the calendar yet when I mentioned the flaw in that you said not to follow menstrual cycle methods. You are contradicting your own comments. Get it together and write something rational, easy to understand, etc. or do yourself a favor and go away. I'm not offended, just annoyed.

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