Getting Laid Off: How the Worst Thing Became the Best Thing

laid offJune 22. A date that, for me and my now wife, had been historically characterized by exciting and memorable events in our life. On that day in 2017, we got engaged in the Puerto Rican rainforest. In 2018, we checked off a ’90s childhood bucket list item: visiting the Hocus Pocus house in Salem. In 2019, we attended our first major-city Pride Festival in Chicago.

On the morning of June 22, 2020, we actually joked that this day wouldn’t be nearly as memorable, as we were in the midst of the prime COVID era. Little did we know, by 10 a.m., we would be proven very wrong.

Alex (my wife) and I had worked for the same company since we met in 2014. That came to a screeching halt when I got a phone call that June 22 telling us we were both being laid off effective immediately (along with a significant portion of our co-workers). In an instant, we were left with no income or health insurance for our household (yes, that was also cut off immediately), and it felt like our world was crashing down.

Did I mention that we were in the middle of trying to have a baby and were just three days away from our IVF embryo transfer? Between those medical expenses and buying our first house a few months prior, our savings account was non-existent. How were we supposed to knowingly bring a life into this world when we had absolutely no way of supporting it? There were a LOT of tears that day (and a lot of alcoholic beverages, as well).

laid offAfter recovering from the physical and emotional hangovers the next day, it was time to pull ourselves together and come up with a plan. Updated resumés in hand, we would spend the next couple weeks furiously applying for jobs, cashing out our IRA accounts, signing up for COBRA ($1,600/month, yikes), and, oh yeah, hopefully getting pregnant.

Long story short, not only would we soon find out that I was, in fact, pregnant, but we were expecting twins! And the morning (read: ALL DAY) sickness was hitting hard. I had never experienced that level of exhaustion, either. I physically couldn’t get through a day without napping by noon. Growing two humans was grueling, to say the least, and I was mind-blown that people did this while also working a full-time job.

But, given the lack of available event planning jobs during COVID (hence why I was laid off) and how much I was struggling physically, it soon became apparent that starting a brand new 9-to-5 just wasn’t realistic for me. I am also a people-pleaser, so the idea of telling a new boss that I would be leaving to have babies in less than six months made me more nauseous than the morning sickness.

Alex and I decided that I should take advantage of this time off and focus on growing two healthy babies. By the way, I am extremely aware that although we were in a tough spot, I was still very privileged to make the choice not to return to work while pregnant. Thankfully, Alex had started a great new job and we had health insurance again, so that took off a large chunk of pressure for us.

For all the anxiety I have, I like to think that I am still an optimist and try to make the best out of the cards I’m dealt. I used my newfound free time to create an Instagram account to document my pregnancy journey with twins. I knew I wanted to be completely open and honest about my experiences as a lesbian, as an infertility warrior, and as a twin mom-to-be, in hopes of showing others they are not alone.

I didn’t realize that along the way, I would discover my love of writing, photography, and connecting with so many other like-minded people all over the world. I realized that although my entire 14-year professional career had been in corporate event planning (and I was very good at it), it was not the path I wanted for my future. I was about to become a mom. I didn’t want a stressful job with long hours. I wanted to be present in raising my kids, especially while they were little.

READ: The Day That Made Me a Stay-at-Home Mom

After my twins were born and I was officially a stay-at-home mom, something I never imagined I would get to do for my kids, I continued to share my experiences online and really dive into the struggles and beauty of SAHM life. I had built a modest following and caught the attention of one of the co-owners of Jacksonville Mom who asked if I would be interested in writing for the popular local moms’ blog. After putting it off for months (hello, imposter syndrome), I joined the Jax Mom team and met some more amazing mamas in our city.

laid offPlus, all that time spent on Instagram as a hobby while I was jobless and bored was paying off, and I was actually becoming pretty good at it. Social media work opportunities began to come my way and I quickly realized THIS was why I had been laid off. This new career path had me truly excited about work for the first time maybe ever.

If you had asked me on June 22, 2020, about my feelings on the day, I would have told you it was easily one of the worst times of my life. Now, three and a half years later, I can reflect on that day for what it really was: The catalyst for a total redefinition of who I am and what I want out of life. It gave me the gift of time. Time with my babies that I will treasure forever. Time for a career overhaul. Time to find me again. I can now say that getting laid off turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Follow Jess’ at-home journey with twins on @doublethedinneys!

Jess Dinney
Jess Dinney is a Florida transplant who grew up in New York but has been living in Jacksonville for 8 years. After working as a corporate event planner and conference manager for 14 years, Jess is now a full-time stay-at-home mom to her 1-year-old twins. In her free time (wait, twin toddlers, what is free time?) Jess loves spending time outdoors with her wife and kids, going to Jags games, and trying out new restaurants around town. Follow her on Instagram @doublethedinneys for the low-down on twin mom life, LGBTQ advocacy, local food tours, and more!


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