All posts by Joy

When to tell work you are pregnant…?

The start of my last menstrual period was Oct 30, 2017, which makes me 4 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Other than the cold and bloating and occasional bought of nausea (no vomiting yet, luckily), I don’t feel pregnant yet. Well, I feel different, not necessarily pregnant.

Assuming my first trimester is successful (no miscarriages), I have less than eight months until I’m sitting at home with a tiny little fragile baby on disability from work. It seems rather unfair that I can’t even warn work of the impending time off for two more months. In planning 2018, now all I can think about is how I can’t commit to projects in the fall — but I can’t actually say that or plan around this likely absence. It doesn’t help that another woman on the team is currently on maternity leave — and while everyone seems quite supportive of this — it’s clear the team is hurting without her. We don’t have redundancies and our roles are specialized, so when we leave, even for a short while, the impact is definitely felt.

Had I been with this employer for years– or even one full year — before going to on maternity leave, I’d feel a bit better about how this is going to progress. As it happened, I got pregnant the cycle that started the same week I began my new job. That means I’m giving birth at 9 months into the new gig AND not eligible for FLMA. FLMA is the federal law that requires employers (with 50 or more employees) to give you 12 weeks off (unpaid) and guarantee your job will be there when you come back. Now, I don’t foresee my boss deciding to replace me for a 12 week period of being out, especially since I have a fairly good relationship with him – but stranger things have happened in the world. At the moment, I just feel like I’m lying to him. Trying to get pregnant and the possibility of being pregnant while planning was one thing – actually being pregnant is another.

I’m not sure how to approach this. I wish my company had a very clear “this is our maternity policy page” on our intranet, but it doesn’t. There is a portal to ask questions to a rep, but that rep is likely based in India and hasn’t been able to answer any of my questions appropriately. So the next step is to actually talk to HR. Do I tell HR I’m pregnant? Do I ask in the hypothetical and let them assume? Do I wait until I’m 3 months and then deal with announcing and figuring out what the policies are?

I know we do have short-term disability coverage, paid for by the employer, which is hugely helpful as it covers 66% of pay when you’re on disability, for a few weeks. I believe I’m eligible for this regardless of my start date (and I have proof I wasn’t pregnant AT my start date, in case that’s an issue.) Then there’s the California disability coverage, which is 55% of your paycheck, up to a certain amount that is not 55% of my paycheck, but it’s still something. I’m unclear if I can have both of these at the same time (or if I should.) Then, I believe my company offers 4 weeks paid for leave… but I may be making that up. I can’t find where I saw that in writing.

The other concerning thing about my company (and many companies these days) is that we have “unlimited vacation.” That sounds great and all, but what it really means is that I have no ability to save up / accrue PTO to take off in addition to any paid leave I get. I’m planning on taking minimal – if any – time off before having my kid (unless I have to) and hoping my one trip to a family wedding (now in my third trimester, yikes) will be a week I can work remote. But – how do I make the case that I haven’t taken any time off to date so I should be eligible for X days/weeks. I always assumed I’d just accrue the time and take it as needed once I give birth. But that doesn’t work with this unlimited vacation concept. I really don’t understand how with unlimited vacation as a policy a company is allowed to cap your paid time off anyway, since it’s “unlimited,” but when it comes to maternity leave they have a law that lets them work around it. Nothing against my company in particular — this is just an issue with the “unlimited vacation” that’s so popular these days, that I loathe.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. My boss knows I’m 34 and he even brought up how great this company is when it comes to having a family in the interview process, in an effort to recruit me. Maybe he didn’t mean “get pregnant immediately” but that’s the way it happened. At this age, I really can’t afford to wait for the right time, especially with my infertility issues. Even now, there’s a high risk of miscarriage and there’s nothing I can do about it. We may be back to the drawing board – or we may be buying a drawing board… for a toddler in two years.

I don’t do well with unknowns.

Open Enrollment & Pregnant: Anthem or Kaiser? PPO, HDHP or HMO?

It’s quite the luxury to fall pregnant the month of open enrollment. This means hubby and I can (theoretically) make smart financial decisions when it comes to selecting health insurance for next year which covers both the birth of our first child and their first six months of medical care.

Even with this great fortune, it’s unclear which of our options is the right one. Luckily, my company provides relatively good insurance. Given how much health insurance costs in this country, the $200-$300 we’ll be paying a month as a couple (and $200 to $400 as a family) is nothing compared to what insurance on our own would cost. Still, I want to make a smart choice here.

It’s hard to make smart choices when the data is all hidden. Plus, not every decision in life should be based on financial impact alone. Delivering a baby is serious business, and having the option to choose my doctors (especially in case anything goes wrong) feels, to me, like a must have. My husband disagrees.

As a “Kaiser baby,” he speaks highly of the whole Kaiser health system (which also happens to be our lowest-cost option by far.) While some people report Kaiser is horrible, it seems to be that they have their shit together in California. Still, it makes me incredibly nervous to switch to a new health system now with its own style of care.

According to the calculator provided by the open enrollment system — with maternity care and other costs this year (for family of 2) our Kaiser total out of pocket costs would be $3000 or less for the year, whereas Anthem PPO (low deductible) would be around $5000-$6000 and Anthem HDHP would be $8000 (but also includes a $6900 contribution to HSA pre-tax, so that’s about a $3000 discount long term if we buy and hold.)

Financially-saavy me thinks — go for Kaiser — it’s clearly a lot cheaper and it’s not bad – just different. People who dislike Kaiser seem to have rare medical conditions that the organization doesn’t find fast enough since they have no incentive to spend more money on your health, and you have to advocate for yourself. Their maternity situation actually seems to be well regarded. It might not be a horrible idea to go to Kaiser and save $2000=$5000 next year. Lawrd knows we’ll need it for daycare* (more on that in another post.)

Before I was pregnant, I found an ObGyn who looks great (lots of 5 star reviews online) and she didn’t have an opening until January so I booked it a while ago. I planned to talk to her about infertility but now that I’m pregnant, it works out that it’s week 10 of my pregnancy and likely ok to be my first prenatal appointment (I’m assuming — especially since my Reproductive Endocrinologist provides ultrasounds and bloodwork until I’m turned over to the Ob.) I’m just not sure if that trade off is supposed to happen at 8 weeks or if 10 is ok… but I’ll find out.

So… I’m leaning towards Anthem… even though it’s a waste of money. If we start with Kaiser now, we’re stuck (I’ll have a pediatrician selected for my child through them, and unless that doctor is horrible, we’ll likely want to stay with that pediatrician for our child’s entire… childhood.)

Regarding the Anthem options – I’m torn between the HDHP and the PPO. The PPO is cheaper, according to the calculator, and for my husband it’s nice that it has a $250 deductible. The monthly cost is definitely higher and doesn’t include any company contribution, so that’s why it starts to even out. Then the HDHP has that HSA which I love so much, being able to invest nearly $7000 in pre-tax dollars in an account we can invest in and use for healthcare later in life. That $7000 invested over 10 years at 5% would be worth $9.4k – $2.4k back, plus the $3000 or so savings in taxes up front, which is $5.4k, which covers the cost of the difference between this plan and Kaiser.  And that’s with 5% growth and only over 10 years. So is Kaiser really cheaper? — That said, we’d have to pay $7000 up-front now out of our take-home income (though it would only feel like $3500 lost, comparable to the Kaiser costs, I think?)

Either way, I’m fortunate to have a job that pays well enough to be able to be able to decide on this. Keeping my job has never been this vital, and every day I step in the office I know I have to get my game face on and make this work. Somehow. I haven’t told my boss yet that I’m pregnant (one doesn’t do that until week 12 or so, apparently), but I’m nervous about sharing this news with him since I’m not covered by FLMA until 3 months after giving birth to my child. More on that, later…

November Networth and Budget Recap ($541,989)

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November was a reasonably successful month for networth growth. According to NetworthIQ, my networth is now $541,989. This is a 2.98% (or $15.6k) monthly increase from the end of October.

End of Month Spend Report

Income: $7826
Spend: $3907
Remainder: $3919

Spend Breakdown

  • Rent: $1350
  • Auto: $284
  • Bills: $170
  • Entertainment: $48
  • Food & Dining: $707
  • Health: $114
  • Infertility: $563
  • Shopping: $1821*
  • Travel: $190
  • Other: $10

Went a little (ok a lot) crazy with shopping this month… mostly due to the Sephora Rouge sale. Don’t judge. I’m planning to return a chunk of items I bought that I don’t need, so that will hit December’s spend. Had I not gone psycho on shopping, this month would have actually not been that bad.

Despite spending way too much at Sephora (*this includes all of my hair products for the year, which I acquire for 20% off. And, other things I don’t need.)

My budget goal was $4400 in spend and I actually only spent $3907 so while that’s close, I’m $500 under my target spend. Not bad. I can do better, but not bad.

And all this spend was BEFORE I knew I was pregnant… so I’m definitely going to focus on cutting down the shopping habit going forward. The good thing about living in a 1 bedroom apartment is that it’s hard to go too crazy buying things for the soon-to-be newborn. And, I now have a very real “why to save” goal ahead of me… coming in 8 months! OH MY GOD. My objective is to save as much as possible before baby comes. That, and kick ass at my job so my boss allows me to work remotely and keep earning income when I return from a very brief maternity leave. (AH.)

December Spend Target: $2950 spent / $4876 saved

  • Rent/Home: $1350
  • Auto: $300
  • Bills: $200
  • Entertainment: $100
  • Food & Dining: $700
  • Health: $100
  • Infertility: $0
  • Shopping: $100
  • Travel: $0
  • Other: $100

 

When to Start Planning for Baby and… How to Handle at Work?

With an embarrassing number of HPTs (home pregnancy tests) scattered about my bathroom, all with faint or not-so-faint double lines, this whole “I’m actually pregnant” thing is starting to feel more and more real. I’m still super early… which means miscarriage is quite possible, but the double lines now 16 days after my trigger shot means either I have a ridiculously slow metabolism or I’m at least somewhat pregnant.

For better or worse, my husband and I haven’t seriously considered life after having kids — because, with infertility and all the unknowns of if we could have kids, we didn’t want to get our hopes up. I mean, we discussed it a bit —

  • Can we manage to raise a child in our 1 bedroom rent controlled apartment until the kid is 2? Yes. Um. We think so. 
  • Will we raise our children with any specific religion? No. I’m Jewish and he’s Christian (both super non religious) but we love our holidays so we’ll each focus on the cultural traditions and not much else.  Father has agreed that kids will be “Jew-ish” by the nature of Jewish law (mom is Jewish, so are the kids.) But hubby isn’t giving up Christmas or Easter – I’ll just have to amp up the excitement I felt as a kid around Purim. 🙂

  • Will we send our kid to daycare? Well, we haven’t discussed this too much yet… his father lives nearby and we think he’ll be quite helpful in babysitting when asked as he’s retired and basically sits around all day (and he does like little kids, luckily.) Husband’s mother lives in a horrible mess of a house with cat droppings everywhere — while she can put together a super fun and creative holiday game for kids, we’ve agreed our future children will not be stepping foot in that house and that grandma is not allowed to watch them without us around / in the other room. My parents live far away, and my mom has made it clear that she thinks it’s so horrible how all of these parents these days are having so much help from their parents… so I’m not asking her for anything other than family pictures when we visit.

Ok, so… that leaves a zillion other things to figure out in eight months. I’m admittedly terrified. I’ll be almost 35 when I have my first kid now (assuming this bean sticks) and that’s as good of a time as any. But, really, how the fuck are we going to make this work?

Husband won’t discuss until my blood tests come back positive. I get it. He doesn’t want to get his hopes up either. But I’m freaking out here. In a good way. And also in a not so good way.

I just started my new job a month ago… which, yes, means I got pregnant (theoretically) basically the week I started working. This means I won’t be eligible for FLMA (unpaid 12 weeks off with guarantee to return to work) and who knows if my company will offer me their minimal maternity benefits given I’ll have to take leave so soon after starting. I’m mildly concerned, to say the least.

My company, from what I’ve read in the very limited literature on maternity benefits, says that they offer 4 weeks of paid time off. I’d love to save up vacation time to use but since the company offers “Unlimited Vacation Time” (my favorite bullshit new-age benefits policy that screws over employees), there is no way to save up time… other than not taking ANY vacation before I give birth (or, only a week before I am due?) and try to make the case that I am using vacation days. But how many can I take as part of this “unlimited” vacation policy? I’m planning to estimate based on the informal conversation I had with my boss before joining… ~15 days are acceptable to take off per year as part of this policy… so if I don’t take any for 9 months, that’s a little over 7 days of PTO I’m entitled to (yes, a whopping extra week of maternity leave, if they’ll agree to this.)

Now, the good thing about my job is that I could potentially do it from home at that point. There are people on my team who work remotely, and it seems to be an acceptable work setup for the company. It’s part of the reason I took the job. The actual work I’m responsible for can also mostly be done remotely (although I prefer face time with the team.) So, my current vision for how this plays out is that I have a very health to-term pregnancy, work until a few days before my due date, give birth on my due date or earlier, and then after the 4 weeks off (if my company gives that to me) I start working full time again but remotely.

That’s all nice and dandy in thought… but, is it really doable? I’m not a young mother at this point… since I’ll be nearly 35 while giving birth… and at this point with my infertility treatments I’m not ruling out a multiple birth. So many things could make this so much more complicated and what do I do?

I believe I do have disability benefits (short term) for 66% of my salary after the 4 weeks, for a few more weeks – maybe that covers some more time off. I’m not sure if I’m eligible for them after 9 months at the company… (at least I can prove I got pregnant AFTER starting and after my benefits would have kicked in.) I’d like to ask someone about this but… it’s not ideal to announce anything or ask HR anything until you’re 12 weeks along, so, perhaps I’ll wait.

I’m also concerned about first trimester “morning” sickness. I’ve already been nauseous on and off and it’s supposed to be too early to feel this way (though some boards say with multiples you can feel this earlier – uh oh.) I’m fairly sensitive to just about everything, so I’m unclear how I am going to keep this a secret even through my first trimester anyway.

The other good news, however, is that I’ve worked for my boss before, and he basically told me when I interviewed that if I want to have a family it would be good to think about joining this company (vs a smaller company like ones I typically end up in.) And he’s right — even though the benefits for maternity leave aren’t Google/Apple/Facebook/Netflix-level awesome, they’re better than the nonexistent maternity policies of most startups. They at least exist. Someone on my team is actually on maternity leave right now, so when she comes back I can ask her how she managed it.

I’m mostly worried about the first year of my kid’s life. I like working, but I’m so concerned I’ll just be too exhausted to think straight. We can’t afford to live on one income (especially not my husband’s income… his is about $65k and mine is $165k (plus potential of $50k-$100k bonus, etc. annually) so, I have to work. It’s the only way we have a shot of ever being able to afford to live in more than a 1 bedroom apartment. Assuming I can get half of my bonus each year ($215k), and he starts working as a teacher for ~$50k, then as a couple we’re making $265k and… that’s enough to live in a two bedroom condo in a reasonably nice area here, plus save for the kid’s college and such. I think I want to work, but I don’t like not having a choice… in case there are complications.

…I know plenty of women DO work shortly after having a kid… but it happens that my close friends who are married with young kids are either stay at home moms or work but work from home for themselves. I don’t want to miss my child’s first moments… I know it will all go by so fast.

Meanwhile, where on earth are we going to put a crib in this apartment? We have the space — our living room is rather large and so is our bedroom for a 1br… but, either we put a crib right next to our bed in between it and my husband’s desk / office… or, we put it in the living room. The living room doesn’t have air conditioning so that’s probably a horrible idea. Especially since the baby will be due in August.

Fortunately, I’ve hit that random goal of saving over $500k before getting pregnant – so I know there’s a cushion. But I don’t want to drain that unless I really have to. My goal is still to work full time and not take much time off to have my kid(s). But who knows what the future holds. I’d like to have a path to renting or owning a home with at least two bedrooms. I’d like to have a husband who is willing to talk about this stuff before I am officially pregnant… but as he’s going back to school this spring for teaching, and will be still taking classes and working when the baby is born… I don’t know how we’re going to do this. We’ll figure it out. But I’m really looking forward to when this blood test confirms that I’m indeed pregnant so perhaps we can start planning our future together.

On Turning 34 and What This Year May Bring

I’ve been dreading this moment… but I guess it’s not that bad. Today, I’m 34 years old. As I’ve noted before — 34 is an age that’s no longer a smidgen of “still 21.” 33, somehow, as close as it is to one’s late 20s, can still have moments of play back to ripe out of college “it’s ok I’m too young to know better.” 34 – I’ve finally given in and admitted I’m a real adult.

So, what have I accomplished in these 34 years? And what did I hope to accomplish in them?

As a child, I definitely never pictured myself beyond 30, so it’s hard to say what I thought I would be like. I definitely assumed after 30 I’d have a husband and children, although I had no clear vision of exactly what that would look like. I couldn’t even imagine finding a husband, so I successfully accomplished that without understanding how or what it would look like!

In my 34 years of life, I’ve accomplished (in no particular order:)

  • Got married / found a guy who will put up with me and loves me, who I love equally back.
  • Invested/saved over $500,000
  • Been through 3 careers and… 10 jobs (which may or may not be an “accomplishment” but for the sake of my birthday I’m calling t one.)
  • Successfully moved across the country from my family and set up a life in an area where I knew very few people, and built a life for myself here.
  • Learned that living in a one bedroom apartment with two people can be an acceptable and enjoyable way of living.
  • Became closer with my sister (even though she lives on the east coast) and hope to continue making that relationship stronger.
  • Mostly gave up on trying to be a normal person and instead started accepting myself for the weirdo I am.

Now, what’s next? What does 34 hold? If my hopes and dreams and potentially accurate test are right, 34 might hold the birth of my first child. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much — but after $4000 spent on infertility treatments, it would be an absolutely lovely birthday gift to actually be pregnant this cycle. And, as of 8:30am on Friday, November 24th, this is quite possible…

I took a “trigger” shot on Nov 10 at 9pm (which is HCG – the same hormone that turns pregnancy tests positive) but it should be out of my system by now. Although I wasn’t supposed to, I’ve taken cheap-o stick pregnancy tests (not the digital ones) for the past three days, to start “testing out” my trigger — and the first test was very very light, you had to squint to see the line. By yesterday the line was definitely there. Today, it’s still light but also definitely there.

As I’ve read (too much about), there are still so many things that can go wrong at this point in a pregnancy (if it is a pregnancy.) It could be a chemical pregnancy. You could (likely) miscarry within the first few weeks. Or later (that would be awful.) There are SO MANY THINGS that can go wrong.

That said, I’m convinced I’m having twins* (haha) that will be born in August. I’m aiming for 8/8/18 since the due date, if I’m currently pregnant, would be 8/4/18 and what’s a few more days? Time to start doing those Kegels, amirite?

(*note – twins are possible since I had two mature follicles at my last ultrasound before the trigger, and given how much nausea I felt last week around supposed implementation time, it could be more than one. OR, it could be none. But, anything is possible right now.

Even though I’m still a bit of a mess, I really do feel ready to be a mother. As ready as I’ll ever be. I’m 90% done with cleaning my apartment (not just cleaning, but organizing all my crap and getting rid of things I don’t need) and I just feel like I’m at a place where I can go into mommyhood in a 1 bedroom apartment and be ok with it, especially with one kid, at least until they’re two or so. Then we’ll have to figure things out.

The extra good news is that my current job/company is fairly flexible with some employees working remote. That means if I can knock it out of the park for two years or so, perhaps we could move somewhere more cost effective and I can maintain the same role/salary/benefits, which would be amazing. I am, quite frankly, terrified of being able to keep my job through what will likely be the birth of my 2 children (If I can have kids) as I already struggle with my mental health challenges and I’m sure lack of sleep will make it difficult to be a high-value employee. But I’m going to do it – somehow.

I really hope this pregnancy test is accurate and not still showing my trigger shot. I got those horrible headaches and that nausea last weekend, which would have been around the time of implantation.  No implementation bleeding, but apparently that only happens in about 30% of pregnancies.

Here’s to a great “34th” year on this earth. My goals for this year are pretty simple… have one child (and keep that child alive and healthy until I’m 35), buy a couch, keep a clean home, keep my job, and hit $600k networth by (or shortly after) turning 35. I’m feeling good about my prospects, except maybe the having a kid part — but I could be pregnant right now so that could be the easiest goal to hit of them all.

I want kids more than I want a house.

Continuing the “downsized American Dream” theme, I’ve been thinking a lot about the next however many years left of life I have, and I’m now comfortable with the sentiment – I want kids more than I want a house.

This all came to be when I was thinking about the potential cost of various infertility treatments just around the corner, and asking myself if spending $30,000-$100,000+ on IVF made any sense when that money should be going to the downpayment on a house.

But then, I thought about how empty that house would be without children – and, how, without kids, I don’t actually even want a house. Maybe a two-bedroom apartment… but I don’t need that much more space. I know the more space I have, the more crap I’ll collect, and I certainly don’t need to be collecting crap.

Today I’m on CD20 after having a very strong trigger shot on CD11 (I assume based on some charting that I ovulated very early on CD13.) I’m hopeful, but in a cautiously optimistic way, that this cycle worked. That, after $4000 on infertility treatment for child #1, I can move on to spending $$$$ on childbirth and the kid him or herself once born – not just trying to make my body work like a healthy person.

But I realize that the odds are still very slim I got pregnant this cycle – or that I can get pregnant at all, at least without super expensive infertility treatments. I could be pregnant now, and I want to be, but I can’t do anything about that until it’s time to take a test (next weekend-ish.) And, if I get “AF,” it’s back to the drawing board. We have to decide quickly if we want to do another $950 Femera & TI cycle, if we want to move on to IUI ($2500 cycle), or straight to IVF ($30k.) It’s impossible to make the “right” decision. It’s harder to even make any rational decision when I’m turning 34 and beyond PCOS I know in 1 year any natural fertility I have will start to “rapidly decline.”

I’m glad to not be 34 with a gaggle of children, but I also worry that I waited too long. I was still in the “don’t get pregnant” mindset they instill in you in high school… i.e. “dry hump for a second and you’ll end up pregnant with AIDS and Herpes and whatever this weird rash is we’re showing you a picture of right now.” Although a woman’s 20s is prime time to have children, in society today, we’re encouraged to wait… to focus on our careers. And, to be honest, I wasn’t ready anyway. But, what they don’t tell you is that when you turn 30… you’re running out of time. Your 20s come and go and suddenly you are approaching “much harder to get pregnant” zone. Time is running out.

I am, admittedly, freaking out about turning 34. Or, maybe freaking out is the right term. I’m accepting it, but also it’s surprisingly a very emotional transition. I’m no longer in my “early 30s” – which was, you know, just like the late 20s and the late 20s was an extension of the mid 20s which was that age you want to be always. But 34… 34 is really the turning point to middle age. It’s closer to 40 than I’d care to admit. Not that there is anything wrong with being 40 but 40 is that age you are before you turn 50, and 50 is half way through your life, if not more than that, and more than half way through your healthy years (not to mention the healthy years of your loved ones who are aging as rapidly as you due to the nature of equal opportunity time.)

On the other hand, I feel good about turning 34. I feel like it’s time to get my life in order because I have to. I’m not longer an age which is some made up extension of my mid 20s. I am definitely an adult. I’m an adult who is more than ready to have children and I hope I can. I am an adult who can admit that my once dream of owning a 3-4 bedroom, 2-3 bath house with a backyard and gourmet kitchen is just a dream – and not necessary to be happy. I’ve saved over $500k which once felt entirely impossible, and I did this before having kids, which was my once unreasonable goal. I’m well on my way to a stable retirement – assuming I can maintain employment at about what I’m making right now – for the next 15 years. By 50, I may be in a very good place to let loose and enjoy life… with my kids who then would be teens and/or pre-teens. (Gasp.)

There are many variations of “home” as are there variations of “family.” But, I want children more than anything, and I am now comfortable with doing what I have to in order to make this happen. I don’t want – yet – to think about when to give up. I’ve got a long way to go before I have that conversation with my husband… and myself.

My downsized goals: chasing the miniature American Dream

The baby (singular or plural) may – or may not – happen. But, I’m turning 34 NEXT FUCKING WEEK and I feel like I need to have some new goals in my life. Some new goals that involve not living like a just-graduated-from-college person for the rest of my life.

I was absolutely fine living my 20s in shared living situations to save money, and my early 30s were completely acceptable sharing a 1 bedroom apartment with my husband. But – as I’ve taken home $160k+ per year, minus taxes, for the last 3 years – I wonder what on earth am I doing this for if I can’t have some semblance of the adult life I want.

All the east coast dreams of the grande house with the huge backyard are gone. I’ve downsized my objectives – but I still have them. I’d like to own a house on not-the-crappiest street. I’d like to be able to take time off in the future (in health or in sickness) and not worrying about running out of money. I’ve made progress, but I still have a long way to go.

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The plan (with flat stocks):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $600k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $685k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $770k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $885k

OR

The plan (with ~5% growth):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $625k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $740k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $862k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $990k

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This all assumes I can perform well in my current job for the next four years, age 34-38, and not take significant time off, all while (hopefully) having two children.

My goal has always been to have $500k in the bank before having children. I have obtained that goal. My next goal is to have $1M in the bank before 40. Ideally well before 40. I’d like $1M in the back as my emergency fund and retirement fund and the fund which I do not touch. Over this same time, my husband will be doing what he does and not investing his money because he’s very risk averse. This is fine, because he will be saving up for the down payment on our (not in this part of the country) house.

Assuming I have one child in 2018/19 (age 34-35); and one in 2020/21 (36-37); by the time I have achieved this plan, I have one child who is ~3 and one who is ~1. This will enable us to, before we have to think about putting the kids into school, move to a part of the country where housing is more affordable. My husband can continue his career as a teacher in a region it is more cost effective, and I can perhaps pursue an entirely new career – or take time to spend at home with the kids.

I realize $1M is NOT “early retirement.” This is step two in my… however many step, not very well thought out plan…

Step 1: $500k before having children (age 30-35)
Step 2: $1M before 40 / + $200k cash downpayment (husband)
Step 3: $2M before 50 / + home 33% paid off (or more)
Step 4: $3M before 60 / + home 66% paid off
Step 5: $4M before 70 / + home 100% paid off / retirement

I’m not sure if any of that makes sense. So far steps 1 was achieved (woohoo) and step 2 seems like it might be achievable, if I can hold on to this job for the full four years. I am going to hold on to it with all my might. The having kids things definitely may throw a wrench in this plan regardless, but I’m hopeful I can take minimal time off for my kids when they’re really young (and/or work remote and still do my job, which might be possible)… then, after four years, we leave. We have to leave. We will never be able to afford a house here. I don’t know why that’s so important to me – I realize homeownership is a horrible financial decision – but it is. I can’t shake it. I want to design my own bathroom and kitchen… I’d like a backyard I can sit in and enjoy the sun without feeling the prying eyes of others all over me. I want a place for my children to grow up and a home to know.

So, that’s the plan. It suddenly seems all so very short term. I feel quite old. 34 is no joke. 34 is just a few years away from 40. And 40 is no longer fake adulthood. It’s serious, full-on, you’re an adult – and you’re only going to get MORE adult until you’re PAST that… and, I’m trying not to freak out about that, because I know life is so very short, and I need to just enjoy the moments and try to achieve some semblance of both freedom and control before I’m too old to enjoy it.

 

Before You Get Pregnant: How to Plan For Maybe Baby

Some people get pregnant in a heartbeat. My friend was one of those people. She’s thrilled to have a child (at 35, she wanted kids, and time was no longer on her side) but she just found out her company offers 0 days paid maternity leave. The state provides some time off at 55% of her pay, at least, but she’s very concerned as having a child isn’t cheap. It’s horrible to have that surprise — a full-time job and no maternity leave.

I’m unsure yet how much to worry about my own potential pregnancy. Potential, because I’m spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on infertility treatments – and still have absolutely no idea if any of them will work. Not that anyone knows when they’re going to get pregnant – but it’s certainly hard to plan anything when it’s quite possible I’m entirely barren. Or, maybe I got pregnant last night.

Unless you work for a company that is filled with (and likely run by) women, chances are, you aren’t going to have a clear understanding of your company’s maternity leave policies until you need them. I know that I work for a company that (I think) provides four weeks of paid maternity leave — far more than most women get in this country (like my friend, who will get nothing.) If I get pregnant in the next three months, I won’t be eligible for state and federal protections in terms of keeping my job if I need to take unpaid time off. I believe I have short term disability which covers some of my income, but certainly not enough of it to provide much of an option after I have a kid – if I have a kid – I will be going back to work after four weeks… and hopefully negotiating work-frome-home with my boss. But given my current boss is hiring someone under him to be my manager at some point, I have no idea who that person will be, or if they will care to be flexible with my schedule should I need that flexibility.

Given I’ve never been pregnant before, I have no idea what I’ll want or need. I certainly imagine it would be hard to leave my tiny hypothetical baby when they are so young. And I also would assume I’ll be absolutely exhausted at that point. But – I may not have kids after all, so should all of that challenge come my way, I should be grateful.

What’s harder now is negotiating my role with my boss, as there are opportunities which require travel and I know it would hurt the company to commit to them and immediately get pregnant. Yet, I don’t want to limit my career growth just because “I may get pregnant at some point possibly but who knows if it will happen.” But one cannot have this conversation with her boss. I can’t say, well, I’d like to take on this responsibility which requires travel but my husband and I are trying to get pregnant via an infertility specialist and there is a chance that at some point in the next year I will get pregnant, but there is also a pretty big chance that I won’t.

One cannot be open like that at work. My boss has to, then, assume that I want to have kids, given I’m a married 33 year old who hasn’t had any yet – and to be fair to him, he has to plan his whole organization based on who is able to do certain tasks now and for the foreseeable future. Then again, anyone – any man – could get sick at any moment — and no one is limiting their job opportunities because they may get too sick to travel.

But that isn’t bothering me much — I’m ok at the moment to pretend like I’m going to get pregnant and play life out as such. So I likely won’t take on the responsibilities which require monthly travel — that’s probably for the better anyway since I need to be home for all of my fertility treatments (though, I could probably time them around my travel schedule as long as it wasn’t too intense.) I’m trying to get in the groove at work and really just accept and be happy with NOT seeking a promotion or career growth. My #1 objective right now, other than starting a family, is to have a role that will provide me flexibility when I have kids. That means just doing a good job with my tasks that can be completed remotely one day — proving my worth enough that I can remain gainfully employed through the first years of my child’s life, as long as there are no unexpected layoffs.

I’m trying really hard to tell myself that it’s OK to not “lean in” —  I don’t NEED to be VP soon or ever. It’s fine that former colleagues my age are already in executive roles. I don’t need to be an executive and I don’t even need to be a manger. I can be a workhorse. A producer. Someone who gets shit done and fast. Someone who people trust to create great work. Hopefully, I can actually do that – and continue to do that as a mother with a newborn.

All of this is hypothetical, obviously, since I have no idea if I can have kids. Literally, at this moment, I could be pregnant… with a singleton or even with twins (I had two mature follicles from the Femera before the trigger shot.) We’ll know in two weeks if this cycle was successful…

I just wish my husband would talk to me about the what if we are successful part of this journey. I know it’s hard for him – to want kids and to be healthy and to have a wife that is medically broken. He is super supportive of this process and is ok if we can’t have kids, although I know he’ll be very disappointed about it. But – I want to be able to talk about planning for what if we do. I know he doesn’t want to get his hopes up… and probably figures we’ll have nine months to plan once I get a BFP. I just am so worried about it all. Even if we didn’t have all of this crazy and costly infertility stuff to deal with, having a kid is clearly no joke. I want to give my kid(s) a reasonably good life. I want to plan for the future. I want to feel like we are working as a team towards a common goal.

DH is going back to school to become a teacher this year. That’s great and all, and I’m supportive of that, but still worried. His income will drop to about $50k a year, which will definitely not be enough to support a family of three. I don’t expect him to support the entire family – and his potential teaching career will allow him more flexibility to stay at home with the “kids” while I’m at the office. It’s probably a very good plan. I need to keep my job – this job – and stay as long as possible. With my bonus and RSUs I can make up for his lost wages changing to a public service-style profession. I don’t think we can buy a house – ever – but do we really need that to be happy? I just don’t know how much a kid(s) will cost, other than – a lot. It will be a while before we go broke (I do have $500k in stocks, minus taxes) – but, that doesn’t make me feel much better about the future.

It really isn’t worth worrying yet since I still may be entire infertile. But, if I am, I want to focus more on my career now because then my career IS my baby. In any case, the next few years are going to be rough, with or without kids. I’d prefer with, and I’m hoping I have to figure this all out vs not.

Infertility and Me: Another Cycle, Another $1000 Hope

The pills may or may not be causing these headaches. Maybe it’s just the stress. The new job and will-I-or-won’t-I-be-able-to-have-kids stress. The I’m-turning-34-and-having-a-mid-life-crisis-for-the-next-20-years stress. The I thought everything would magically be in place by now in my life (well, I never actually imaged myself any older than 25 even well after I turned 25) stress. All that stress. And all this headache.

Breathe.

If I can’t have children… I haven’t gotten there yet. I haven’t let myself think that yet. I’m turning 34, but people have kids until they’re 40. Or older! Sure, it’s more unlikely, but 34 is still child-bearing age. I didn’t wait that long yet. Plenty of people who have trouble having children do. Eventually. With help. Or without. It will happen when its meant to happen.

My younger cousin gave birth to her first child today. I’m thrilled for her. Over the moon. But I can’t ignore the fact that this is a major emotional moment in my life, albeit one that really has nothing to do with me. As the oldest cousin on both sides, I always assumed I’d be first to most life steps. I’m the oldest by a few years, and no one has been rushing in my family to get married or have children. With 13 cousins, myself included, she’s the first one to have a child. I still remember her practically in diapers. Now she has her own child in diapers.

So do all my friends. Or, my friends have toddlers and some of them have pre-teens. Facebook tells the story in pictures that document just how quickly we all grow up. I want to slow time down, but I can’t. Except maybe if I get pregnant – I hear those are the longest 9 months of your life.

Looking around at this mess of an apartment – that I need to clean tonight – that I need to keep clean… this mess of a life, this… imposter of a professional who is trying one. more. time. to be put together enough to hold down a damn job (not a great start when an exec tells you this morning that you look tired. “I’m not,” I replied, realizing immediately how defensive that sounded. How awkward. An admittance of my exhaustion in my denial. I wanted to say – ‘but last night I actually slept a full 8 hours.” Put your head down, put your head down, don’t say a word.

I know if I am going to have kid(s), I need some semblance of stability in my job. Some ability to handle stress because I AM COMPLETELY AWARE that children are not walk in the park, with the exception of when you’re actually walking with them in the park (and even then.) Part of me questions if this whole desire to have children thing is so off base because of my mental illness and my natural inability to procreate without outside help.

But. Then. My biological clock pseudo kicks me inside like a massive ghost contraction coming from deep inside my uterus from a place that can only be described as a wormhole to the forth detention of motherhood. A longing. A desire. A fraudulent want to have a little being (and then a bigger being) be in need of my attention, my love, my care. A little person who I have to keep alive. Someone to raise to be confident and love her or his self. Even though, I know, there’s not much you can do when it comes to these things. But, I can offer what my parents never offered me – unconditional love.

It all seems so fanciful of an idea right now anyway. The odds are so slim that any given cycle will work. And then, there’s the high rate of miscarriage amongst women with PCOS — I just won’t let myself get my hopes up. I wonder, at what point do I throw in the cards and say enough is enough. Enough bleeding money. Enough headaches and stomach aches and two week waits and feeling like a failure yet again. If I were to get pregnant, I’d want to keep it a secret all to myself (and my doctor, of course) so that I won’t have to deal with the pressure of losing a child should that happen before its born.

Our journey now is just $1000 a month. Or so. Next year I can change insurance and it might cover a tiny little bit of the costs. It’s so hard to understand what exactly is covered. Not IVF. But then, what else counts as “infertility treatment?” Only one insurance plan offers anything. Called them and they said I should talk to member services to find out. Member services said since I’m not a member yet, so I should talk to sales. Sales said I should talk to member services because I’m not enrolling as an individual. It went on like that for about an hour on the phone until I hung up in frustration.

We haven’t don’t IUI yet… and that may be included in what’s covered at 50% by the insurance. However, if I don’t know what they charge for an IUI, 50% could be more than paying out of pocket at a clinic. Fuck healthcare’s lack of transparency in this country. Seriously.

But, I’m lucky to have the money to spend. Yes, I want to save $1M by 40 and yes, these infertility treatment costs are eating into that dream… but – as long as I can keep my job (key thing) then it’s worth it. I have the money. Unlikely so many other women who really don’t have the ability to do any of this. Or who go in debt over infertility. It is a trap and such an emotional journey even the most fiscally responsible can make devastating mistakes based on hope.

It is such a lonely journey. Yes, I am on a billion Facebook infertility groups, with woman posting pictures of their ovulation kits and pregnancy tests and cervical mucus and various forms of fluids that come out of their nethers (#Iveseenitall). I went, once, to an infertility meet up which ended up being run by a woman who has been unable to get pregnant after 3 years of infertility treatments, a religious woman who refuses to do any infertility treatments, and another woman and her husband who spent tens of thousands of dollars on infertility treatments that didn’t work. As someone just getting started on the journey, I felt completely out of place. It was very awkwardly passive aggressive. I left and did not go back.

People don’t talk about this stuff… unless you have a close friend or family member who has been through it. A family friend did have IVF in a state that paid for it, but it worked for her – twice – on the first try. And she didn’t have to pay anything other than co-pays. So, sure she can understand the emotional challenge of the treatments, but the financial challenge is just as draining.

My husband is extremely supportive and I’m so fortunate to have him. In those Facebook groups women talk about how their husbands are upset about their infertility, and all the problems they have. My husband knew about this from long before we were married, when I told him there’s a big chance I can never have kids. He chose to marry me even though he really wants kids of his own. And we’re still hoping, but I know he’ll be there by my side childless or with an accidental litter.

Still, I feel quite alone in this. The nurses are fake nice and the admin just wants you to come in and pay and keep the cash-cow clinic in business. More treatments. More failures. More money. For them.

Next year is going to be rough, for sure. I’m really giving myself until 35 to get pregnant, at which point, I’m not sure how I will react. That’s ~14 cycles… 14 tries… including this one… to get pregnant. Some of those will likely include IVF if the basic treatment plan doesn’t work. IVF and all those amazing drug cocktails that will undoubtedly make me even more crazy, albeit temporarily.

And I need to keep this job. I have no other option.