Money and Fetuses: The (Optional) Costs of Pregnancy

Prenatal yoga and exercise classes. Specialized massages. A pillow that, as my husband notes, looks like a “squid.” Fetal doppler. Maternity clothes. Classes to learn how to breathe and how to not have a panic attack when a human being is taking his or her own jolly time squeezing out of your hoo-ha. Maternity photography. Birth photography. Fresh 48 photography. Doulas. Elective ultrasounds (in 3D, no less.) The opportunities to spend money before you have a baby are endless.

But babies are expensive, and the rational self would avoid spending money on anything right now. The “I’m pregnant” self says “I want to spend a little more money to prepare myself for this insanity that is about to happen to my body, and possibly document it in a meaningful way.”

So far, the most I’ve spent on this pregnancy is on maternity clothes. I don’t think I have even bought that much (and I never have anything to wear), but it adds up. I’ve also taken two (free trial) prenatal exercise classes, and one prenatal yoga class for $20. I have yet to invest in any sort of photography or specialized ultrasounds.

Fortunately, my insurance is amazing and maternity care as well as childbirth (as long as I keep my job, knock on wood) is practically free. That is amazing. Any other insurance I’ve had in life and that same process would be $10k or more. So, there’s that. Can’t I spend a little bit on this process? Or, given that we’ll need $300k-$400k for a downpayment on a monthly mortgage of $7k per month, I better just save every penny I have until the day I’m old and wrinkly and can maybe buy a house for my family?

I’m really struggling with how to spend money at this stage in my life. It’s a complete first world problem, and one I am well aware I’m lucky to have. That doesn’t change having it. I’m at a smidge under $600k in net worth right now, and I feel proud of this accomplishment (which is well over my goal of having $500k in the bank before I have my first child.) Still, the more I have, the less I feel comfortable spending. I also acknowledge the older I get, the less valuable my money becomes (less time to compound) and in my 30s I’m still in an era where every dollar saved is likely $4-$17 in 30 years. So, even though inflation makes this slightly less attractive, I look at everything I buy now — an $80 exercise package for the month, for instance, and figure I’m spending $360 of retirement money, if not more. And, despite the goal of buying a $1.5M home (small home here) and having $2M in my retirement accounts seeming like a pipe dream, I still have this drive to get there, which means – no yoga, no doula, no extras.

And, for women across the world, this is totally normal. People give birth and don’t spend an arm and a leg on all this other stuff. They may spend money to furnish a nursery (another area I’m saving money in, since we have a one bedroom apartment and no nursery – just room for a crib!) I mean, it’s also easy to spend a small fortune on preparing for baby — when they aren’t going to remember anything you provided them as long as they are safe and comfortable in the basics. However, I will remember my maternity. Shouldn’t I invest a little in some comfort and the excitement?

The big expenditure I’m deciding on is the photography. I think it would be amazing to document the birth process (even though I’m sure at the moment I will feel absolutely horrified a photographer is there) — and, especially capturing that first moment when I hold my child. My husband can surely snap a photo on the iPhone, but then he won’t be in the picture, and we won’t have anyone else with us for the delivery.

There are some photographers that double as doulas, which I’m interested in only because I know I’m going to have massive panic attacks while giving birth and it would be nice to have someone there who understands what’s normal and isn’t. I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to get an epidural — theoretically, I will because I hate pain… but, if there’s anything I hate as much as pain, it’s anything getting near my spine. The fear of being paralyzed via epidural (even though i realize that’s a rare side effect) is enough to possibly have me feel a big ol ring of fire. Maybe.

I guess I’m also really — interested — in the natural pain of childbirth. I won’t be, you know, in five months when my vagina looks like the scene of a mass knifing…. but, at 34, this may be my only child and only opportunity to experience this thing that we as humans have been doing since, well, the beginning of humanity. As painful as it is, I’m curious how the human body performs in this moment of pushing a 10 pound create out of an orifice that also, at other moments of life, is supposedly described by the adjective “tight.”

If I do go to the natural route, it seems having a doula is a good idea. My hospital has a bunch of midwifes, so maybe that’s enough. And, as reality and the pain set in, I’m not going to avoid getting an epidural just because I thought I wanted to experience this pain. I’m going to decide in the moment and be open to  all options. I’d like to prepare for a natural childbirth, just in case I feel up for it. And, maybe I should hire someone to help me prepare?

It doesn’t matter how much I spend or don’t spend on this child and my pregnancy – I’ll be happy to have a healthy child. I’m still in that surreal moment of pregnancy where I don’t feel anything yet other than getting fat. I’ve seen baby inside of me via ultrasound a few times, and I know the miracle of life is rapidly forming right in my belly. It’s a bizarre thing to know. I do feel like it’s a person, not just a fetus right now at 20 weeks, in the sense that I’ve seen its hands and nose and eye sockets and it has stared us down in the ultrasound. It’s my baby in there, and I hope to the world that s/he is ok and will be happy with the life we can provide for her/him. I know I won’t be able to provide the same kind of life I had growing up–but then again my parents are born-again assholes so maybe that’s a good thing. I hope it is.

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2 comments

  1. Elle says:

    I heard after a certain point in labor, it’s too late for an epidural and doctors refuse to administer it. Good luck with whatever you decide!

  2. Angie says:

    I loved having a doula & felt it was totally worth the $800 that we spent. The doula was the only person with me & my husband through the whole birth process. I would imagine that even the midwives at your hospital will be taking care of multiple patients. Also, having her there to make suggestions about how to keep me comfortable allowed me to have the birth experience that I wanted. It also made my husband more comfortable to have someone there who was familiar with the birth process & who could advise him on what he could do to help me.

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