April 26, 2015
I have never resigned from a job before. My jobs all had natural endings. Two years here, three years there, some one-year gigs like DRC. So this is new territory for me. When we moved here in 1992 it was not because we had jobs. It was supposed to be my year off. I’d never had a year off, even when my children were born. That was always a little sticking point in the marriage, not that I minded being the bread-winner until his career was solidified, but I’d worked since my fourth grade paper route, and really wanted a whole year off. I just wanted to be a full time mom. Sleep all night. Be there in the morning and evening. Stop being a tired cranky bitch.
We had enough money to live for awhile while he found a job. We lived in a tent and built the little cabin together. The kids helped by handing me shingles, cleaning up debris, and collecting dropped nails. It was a great experience, at least in my memory; there may be some psychological trauma for the kids they’ve left off the list. We’d read all the Little House on the Prairie books and this was an adventure they could relate to.
The Women’s Center was an idea back then that was burgeoning into reality. The job fell in my lap. I had planned to start my own practice in a little house that I’d rent or buy, but this was already the plan for the center. It was a fantasy come true, except that I wouldn’t be the boss. For many years that made it quite a bit easier. I never got the year off because who could really pass that up? It was a sweet little shingled house next to the hospital. The five of us who started the place all had the same commitment to women and success of the place. The conflicts that arose with insurers or administration were handled together as a team and we were quickly more successful than anyone predicted we would be.
We outgrew the building after the first few years, but we compensated. We staggered our hours so we weren’t all working at the same time, we gave up our meeting room to accommodate charts and office staff, we begged for small improvements like windows that didn’t let in frigid air in the winter and stayed open in the summer. (We had sticks holding open the windows when the weights broke.) We had fundraisers that brought in paltry amounts to offer some education sessions we thought were needed. We worked really, really hard, much of it on our own time. We believed in that place. The feedback we’d get from grateful women made up for the meager compensation.
The administration was a balance of male/female energy for a long time. That started shifting and as it tilted more toward the male side, the Women’s Center had to argue harder and harder for a safer environment (needed repairs to the building never got done; OSHA would have closed it years before), equal benefits, and a fair allocation of resources. After threatening a gender discrimination suit, we finally got a new building. We were willing to take anything that would give us 1. a furnace that worked, and 2. enough space to work together on the same days. Our requests were not outrageous.
It’s been a busy week. Having been away for two weeks, and having a partner who had a family emergency and was away for all that and more, there was a lot to do. Several babies also chose this week to make their appearance in the world. It feels good to do what we are good at. Our new center has so much potential. Our labor and delivery unit is the most perfect hybrid of birth center and hospital. Yet, the future is uncertain. Obstetrics is an expensive service to offer, and despite the fact that is the one service that will be eternally necessary, there is always talk of closure. People are starting to ask what is going to happen when I leave. I have to tell them I don’t know yet. The powers-that-be haven’t shared a plan with me. It seems to be a secret. I’ve got a good plan, but no one has asked for it.
I had to google “How to resign from a job.” (So weird to use “google” as a verb.) I have had so many moments in the past few years when I wanted to quit because of how we’ve been treated. But, I didn’t, and wanted to do this in the most professional way that would ensure a smooth transition. I do now regret that I didn’t stay in independent practice. That I gave up the control for a regular paycheck and health insurance. I didn’t want the burden of the business side of it. And with giving up that control I might have to watch all I’ve worked for and strived to maintain, go swirling down the drain.
I wonder what will happen to our feudal medical system. It feels one card away from collapse some days.