By now, you’ve probably heard the name Tim Armstrong—a.k.a. the CEO of AOL that found himself in hot water after making an unfortunate comment in a town hall meeting with his employees. Armstrong planned to cut employee retirement benefits related to the burden of two AOL employees with “distressed babies.”
“We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were OK in general. And those are the things that add up into our benefits cost. So when we had the final decision about what benefits to cut because of the increased healthcare costs, we made the decision, and I made the decision, to basically change the 401(k) plan.”
If I was the mother of one of those “distressed babies,” his explanation would hardly sit well with me. The mother of one of the distressed babies spoke out to share her birth story in this recent Slate piece.
Horrifying doesn’t even begin to describe it. I was fortunate enough to have a positive birthing experience, and whenever I read stories like this, my jaw drops at what it must have been like to go through a living nightmare at the moment when you were supposed welcome your baby into the world. If you share such a story, my heart goes out to you.
This wife of an AOL employee gave birth to her daughter prematurely and without warning at 1 pound, 9 ounces. She was told her preemie baby had a one-third chance of dying, as well as a one-third chance of severe disability. Her daughter spent three months in the NICU and was described as a “feisty” baby that beat the odds.
In order to save her life in preterm labor, which many article commenters insensitively called a “miscarriage,” she became a million-dollar baby, referring to her medical expenses. This whole story was difficult to read because a close friend of mine had a similar experience in repeat surgeries needed for her young son that racked up hospital bills upon hospital bills.
The mother of this distressed baby shared her side of the story and called out CEO Armstrong for his judgment and hypocrisy. Not only did Armstrong cut employee benefits on the day he revealed the “best quarterly earnings in years,” but he also judged a family in a very dire situation.
No woman wants to have a premature baby. No family wants to put their baby in the NICU for months. I truly appreciate this mom sharing her story and speaking up, but I sincerely hope that she didn’t read the comments on her original article. Not all of the readers were sensitive to her plight, and a few even went so far as to imply that she would have been better off miscarrying to save money. That’s just sick.
(photo: Getty Images)