Marina Moya, 24, was a team lead at Caterpillar, a construction machinery and equipment company in South Texas. With production declining, Moya was let go in early May. We first talked to her that month, as she and her husband sorted out how to make ends meet with one income and as they planned for the birth of their first child, who was due in late October or early November.
VICTORIA, Texas — It is stressful going from $18 an hour to zero, especially when you’re pregnant. I try to see it as a blessing in disguise.
I assume my unemployment payments will go extinct in October. I don't know how it will be to handle the bills. They all add up. My husband makes good money, but I don’t want to put it all on him.
When our lease is up in February, we’re going to go to my mother’s. She has a four-bedroom, doublewide trailer and only uses two rooms. When we leave, my husband's pay will probably drop drastically. He makes $25 an hour at Formosa Plastics, working for one of their best contractors.
With these unemployment payments we're getting — the extra $600 each week — I try to save everything.
I did buy my son a crib, changing table and stroller — I got the big, really expensive things out of our way because I know that I'm not going to get this extra income later.
The federal benefits expire at the end of the week. I got approved for $472 per week. That's enough for me to keep my household together.
My husband was out of work for two weeks. He didn’t get paid for it. Two people from his unit tested positive for the virus, but not in his group. They closed down that whole unit and had them quarantine for 14 days and get tested.
His test came back negative, so he was able to go back. When he didn't get paychecks for those weeks, we had to use that rainy day money. Our car insurance and phone bills were due. My tire popped out of nowhere. So I see the payments the government gives as money for those times, when you have nothing.
Things have been going a lot better since. I started a new career path or am trying to. I registered to do the online basic safety and sanitization class last week to be a nail technician.
I don't really let friends come over and it seems kind of cruel, right? I guess you can say I'm very paranoid, especially with all the new cases that they're showing among pregnant women. I don't want to risk that being me.
Early September: ‘My husband and I are really good at saving.’
I started my third trimester. The baby keeps me up at night. When I really want to go to sleep, he is just like, "No, I don't think it's time to sleep.”
I would still be working if the pandemic weren’t going on. I can’t imagine having to be at work with the way my sleep schedule is and my body is. It is a lot of stress on your body, in general, to be doing work on your feet for eight hours a day. I can’t even squat down right now to pick something up if I drop it.
I am done with the online sanitization course for school and finished the basic introductory course last week. The campus opened back up; they called me and asked if I was ready to start the in-person class. It was a course of about 32 people, so a lot. I don’t feel comfortable going. I told them I was going to wait until after I have my baby.
Even if I were to go, starting school is kind of like a job. You get maternity leave, but only for so long and you have to return right away or you lose your grant. I didn’t want to do that.
I only have about $2,100 left in my state benefits. They’re saying that if you run out of benefits, you automatically get re-enrolled for a three-month extension at a lower amount. I don’t exactly know how that is going to work. I am a little nervous, you know, not having any income at all, but my husband and I are really good at saving.
Late September: ‘I’ve never voted.’ And she doesn’t plan to.
I have one last unemployment check, and then I won’t have benefits. With Texas opening back up to 75% and bars opening back up, it feels unknown whether they’re even going to offer much assistance anymore for the people who need it because the unemployment rate has dropped.
I haven’t been thinking about the election at all. When I see political posts, I scroll right past them. I’ve never voted. My mom and grandparents never have either. I feel like no matter what decision I say or think is best, the powerful people are going to make their own decisions.
My family has always said, “Whatever is meant to happen in the world is going to happen, no matter what, and you are a very little percentage of that change.” They’ve been very honest.
In America, my family is technically an outcast. My grandparents were illegal. Eventually they got their papers, but it took them about 15 to 20 years. They didn’t think, “Oh, we need to keep America great” afterward because if my grandparents had been caught, they would have been taken and we would have all gone back to Mexico to live with them.
If you don’t go through it, you wouldn’t understand it. I personally didn’t go through that, and my mom was born here, too. But with my grandparents, you had to watch them be worried and stressed all the time. Any day my grandpa went to work, he could have not come home. If they were driving without statuses, a car wreck could have happened or they could have gotten stopped for traffic violations and not have come home.
It was living in fear in a way, so politics were a scary thing for my grandparents and they weren’t something we cared for growing up. Not that we didn’t care, but we lived in fear of them.