Good Ideas for Meetings
So, I'm knocked up on my last year of grad school. There's some great stuff about that (leave, no teaching), and some hard stuff about that (insurance). I'm trying to document some of the things I'm going through and have done, since they might be useful to others. Below I'm putting some meetings that I either had or wish I had had.
Before You're Pregnant
HR: There are a few things HR can do before you're pregnant. Firstly, if you enroll in short-term disability benefits before you become pregnant, you may be able to use them while on leave. I wish I had done this. It would have kept about a third of a paycheck worth of cash coming in on FMLA. Secondly, some employers offer a dependent care FSA. UT doesn't, but such programs allow you to use pre-tax dollars to care for a dependent. Usually that's better at tax time than a withholding.
If you're worried about discrimination or a lack of reasonable accommodations for you, you might mention that, too.
When You're pregnant
University health center: They can confirm a pregnancy and hook you up with a flu shot for free, or close to it. At UT, I saw a nurse named Joyce Fleming, who had a lot of information about the next steps. She helped me figure out what doctors are in my insurance coverage area and who practices at the hospital by my house. If university health care is free and convenient, take advantage of it!
HR: Get clarification about your insurance benefits. There's probably a deductible and a out-of-pocket cap with your plan. Ask about that. Get a ballpark idea of how much this all might cost, and what appointment co-pays are. Also, at this meeting ask about leave options.
- I lose coverage two days after my baby is due. COBA via UT is far, far too expensive (about a thousand dollars a month). Stay tuned for my adventures getting enrolled in ACA coverage, which is much cheaper for equivalent care.
- If you're having a summer baby, make sure you understand what coverage remains. This may depend on if you were an RA or TA in the spring. Because I'll be on RA, I lose my coverage the day my employment ends (if the baby isn't on time so I can sneak in 11th hour FMLA).
Boss: Your boss can help you on a few fronts.
- If you're teaching, they might be able to help you find some RA funds for when you're very pregnant.
- If there are any hazards in your work that will require accommodations, you probably want to manage that earlier than later.
- If you have field work or strenuous stuff you won't be able to do, your boss can help you sort out how to stay on track to graduate.
OB: Settle on a provider and make an appointment. Some providers won't see you until 12 weeks. I went to one where I could get an ultrasound at 8 weeks. Since I've had a pretty asymptomatic pregnancy, this was a sanity saver.
Dentist: Pregnancy can cause gum issues. Best start tabula rasa.
- Specialist doctors: I'm asthmatic, and I've not had any issues. I take a couple hits of albuterol before going running, and it's been fine. But managing special conditions you have is important, so don't forget.
Well, that's what I've learned thus far. Tell me what else pregnant grad students should do to care for themselves and their developing young!