I Need a Time Machine

Posted: 2007-11-28 in General

This is a venting post and not typical of what I post here – you've been warned.

My wife's due date is December 28th, but she's scheduling to have a C-section on the 20th.  My first daughter came 3 weeks early, so if this one follows suit, that means any time after Dec 7th could be D-Day (delivery day).

I was scheduled to go to India in November for a factory acceptance test (FAT).  It was supposed to be November 4-21, getting back in time for Thanksgiving.  Then they pushed it back to after Thanksgiving, and suddenly the trip was November 26th – December 17th.  I told my boss that I could no longer go on the inspection, as there was a chance my wife would go into labor while I was in India, and it would have taken me about 2 full days to get home from when I was first notified.  He seemed okay with this, understanding my reticence to be so far away, and suggested that I'd take care of a couple inspections in late November and early December in place of the FAT: one locally and one in Houston.  I agreed, thinking that they would be the first week of December at the latest, so I'd be ok and still around for when the baby was born.  My boss and the only other experienced electrical engineer still in the office left for India on Monday, so they were really depending on me to do this inspection so they could get this $6 million piece of equipment off the books before the end of the year.

Yesterday, they said the Houston inspection would be next week (as I expected).  I told my wife that and while she was worried, she finally said she would be ok with me going and I promised her I wouldn't travel past the 7th of December.  I just found out today that the inspection in Houston has been scheduled for December 10-12.  I called up my wife to have her help talk things through in my head on what to say to them to let them know that I did not want to participate in this inspection if it was after the 7th, but my wife took the start of the conversation in a way I hadn't intended for her to, and started to get upset that I was asking her to decide whether I should go on the trip or not.  By the time I got her to understand I was really looking for help on what to say to these folks, and not asking her to make a decision, we were both in tears on the phone.  I feel like crap, mentally, still, an hour after we talked.

After she gave me some suggestions, I went and talked to the Project Manager about my situation, and that I really wasn't comfortable leaving town with less than 2 weeks to go before the due date.  He said that he was trying to get them to push up the inspection to December 5th – 7th, but in the meantime I should try to get in contact with my boss (who is now in India) and see if there is anyone else who could possibly go in my place.  The prospects really are slim, since pretty much all of the department is out in the field right now.

It's currently 8:00 PM in India right now.  I emailed my boss and told him that I really didn't feel comfortable going on an inspection so close to the due date.  I told him that I would definitely go if it was the 5th-7th, and even though I didn't want to jeopardize my job, being in town for my family for those two weeks before the scheduled due-date just in case was really important to me.

My boss normally checks his email in the evening, but if I don't hear from him in an hour, I'm going to call his international cell phone and try to get a hold of him before he would go to bed.  I'm really nervous – on one hand, I REALLY want to stay in town and even the 5th-7th would be a little risky if something weird happens – on the other hand, I feel like by telling them I can't do it, I'm backing out of a work commitment and possibly causing a big problem for the company. 

I may be getting paranoid, but I really think that this could be a fireable offense.  The Family Medical Leave Act only keeps them from firing you if you take off work AFTER an incident, not just because you did not perform your required work because you were preparing for a family-related incident.  The rational part of me keeps telling myself that they'll understand and be lenient, but I'm shaking here, nonetheless.

I feel sick.
I definitely don't want to upset my wife any more than I already have.
I want to be here for my wife and baby, just in case.
I don't want to get fired.
I just want to go home and crawl into bed and put the covers over my head and not think about this for a while.

Update: I managed to get a hold of my boss on his cell phone a little while ago and he's OK with me not going if the inspection can't happen by the 7th.  Just like the rational side of me thought, he understood my feelings and the fact that these are special circumstances that don't normally occur.  So things are looking good, and I might finally be able to relax a bit here and get my mind back on work.

Read and post comments

  1. Steve Betz says:

    Oof — I don't have to tell you — stick to your guns and do what's right for your family. No one gets old and grey and thinks, "Oh, I shoulda stayed late a little more often…" Hopefully, the inspection-situation will resolve itself satisfactorily…
    Oh and a buddy of mine's wife was due in mid-December, and they got a 7lb Thanksgiving surprise — 3 weeks early!


  2. grrrace says:

    ditto on what steve said. he's right. 🙂 best of luck…


  3. Ross says:

    Thanks for the well-wishes (although I didn't need to hear about the 3 weeks early thing to further my worries!) – it looks like the situation is pretty much resolved for now – I got a hold of my boss in India and he was very kind and said he understands, so it looks like I'm off the hook from having to make a job/family-changing decision. Now the toughest thing to worry about is probably finalizing the baby's name!


  4. Steve Betz says:

    I vote for Steve/Stephanie…. 😉


  5. grrrace says:

    i'm glad that it got worked out :)i vote for grace if it's a girl 😛 but steve's a good name for a boy 😀 hehehe.ps – your music player there is on Poe. LOVE poe!


  6. glad that it all worked out for the best, good luck on the naming.


  7. Hieronymus says:

    Good to hear the boss understands that these things just can't be controlled. I'm not sure how much of a connection can be made between one birth and the next. At least for us, the differences were equal to the differences in the end result:-)


  8. Budd says:

    I have never had a traveling job. I think it would be cool, but I guess you have to miss out on a whole lot. I am glad that your boss understands.
    Now you never have to leave again. "I can't go, the baby might start rolling over/crawling/walking/speaking/speaking whole sentences/using the potty/preschool/kindergarten/birthdays." That should cover you for the next 5 years. J/K.
    Hoping for a healthy baby.


  9. Ross says:

    Thanks for the good wishes. I actually don't travel very much – a project's design lifecycle lasts 2 years, and it's only in the last 5-6 months that I have to go do inspections, most of which are local and don't require me to travel. I've probably only got about half a dozen inspections that can't be done in-town, and most of these are 2-3 days, max. The India trip is the biggest exception; since it is for the most complex system in our plants, it takes a few weeks to check out properly.I don't think I could handle a job that really required me to travel regularly. I would miss my family too much, and I need familiar settings to regularly come back to…I hate living out of a suitcase and while I can deal with a trip here and there, I wouldn't want the majority of my time to be jet-setting all over the place…


  10. crankypants says:

    whew! glad that worked out for you.


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