Category Archives: Parenting & Motherhood

The Cost of Childcare: Year 1

As our “being pregnant-ness” sinks in, hubs and I are starting to discuss childcare – you know, keeping our child alive when we’re at work. My husband plans to be going back to school during our kid’s first year of life, being in class from early morning and not getting home until after 7:30pm. I’ll be working 8-7. We definitely need a plan for baby watching.

At the moment, I plan to take 12 weeks off from work. I believe 4 weeks of that will be fully paid, and another 8 weeks will be covered in some part by short term disability. I’m still not sure how that works. But then once those 12 weeks are up, I’m back to work. Continue reading

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.

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.

Focusing on What Matters

Some days are better than others, but I’m feeling a lot more positive about this transition today now that I have been able to take a step back and breathe a bit. It’s certainly not the end of the world — I’ve been through this before and I’ve recovered. Yes, perhaps the three-strikes-your-out mentality is apt for this situation… lasting 6 months then 12 months and now 18 months in similar jobs and roles, improving a bit each time but clearly not fast enough to survive.

It tastes bad to be forced out, but the taste is always bittersweet. At the tail end of one opportunity is the beginning of the next, even if I can’t see it yet. I’m optimistic and for once feeling ok about taking some time to just pause and take time to figure it all out. My focus right now is shifted to finding health, happiness, and building a family. Continue reading

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: A Contract with 2017

2017 – how did you get here so quickly? Time continues to fly by, and  although my bank account is looking healthier than it did a few years ago, I am still the same old person. 2017 already looks a bit shaky given our political climate (how on earth did Trump get elected president? So #unpresidented). Anyway, 2017, here are some things I want to accomplish in you — which sounds awkward but you are a year and therefore I’m not doing anything obscene by entering your cavernous orifices via January 1. Continue reading

On Being a Good Mother

My feet touched one door and my head barely touched the other as I sprawled out across the backseat of my parent’s car. I was listening to the soundtack of any given trip to any given family gathering. It was a mix of 1950s rock & roll with a recurring intrusion of violent arguing in the form often in the form of my mother complaining about the direction my father would take to the freeway and my father throwing violent temper tantrums in reaction to the criticism. I don’t have many memories of specific instances in my childhood, just all of them merging into this blur of Doo Wop and screaming at various frequencies – my father’s low and unsettling, my mother’s high pitched and with the potential for dog-genocide across the entire Tri-State area.

Sometimes I close my eyes and try to remember my childhood, as I know the little girl me has died a long time ago but still I want her to come back. I want the few memories I have good or bad to live on in my mind even if all I remember are the fights and the chaos and the uncomfortable moments. I remember the waft of chlorine dancing into my lungs the second I walked into the pool cub in the summer, doing hand stands and somersaults underwater and holding my breath as long as I could. I remember going over to my grandparents for thanksgiving with our loud and boisterous family and running off to cause mischief with my next oldest cousin who managed to be even more ADHD than I was. I remember the day I brought my pile of rocks collected from my home landscaping in to show and tell in a Halloween pumpkin from McDonalds and I included the skeleton of a small fish that I ate at my Portuguese neighbor’s house and saved because I was fascinated by the bones inside of a living create as much as I was fascinated by the smoothest and shiniest of rocks. I remember being sent to the principal’s office in second grade because this other kid and I were child-flirting and he pinched me on the arm so I pinched him under the eye because I always have to one-up my competition and he immediately started bawling and I was for the first time in my life in trouble with anyone other than my father. I remember sitting embarrassed in the principal’s office and coming up with a plan to get out of my parent’s finding out. Continue reading

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Working Moms: When is the best time to have kids?

The answer I get re: when is the best time to have kids is “there is never a best time to have kids.” I’m sure that is true, but there is definitely “a time when it becomes harder / impossible to have kids” (at least naturally), so I’m trying to make that deadline without pushing it too much.

When I was younger, I thought 30 was old. I’m now turning 33 in 3 months. Thirty-three is fine age to have kids, but I always thought I’d have my second by 33. Now I’m looking at not yet even having my first.

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How Lack of Maternity Leave Hurts Working Women

I’m 32 going on 33 and my biological clock is tick-tock ticking. If I’m going to have at least one child, it’s most likely going to occur within the next 1-3 years of my life. I have significant savings so I can afford to take time off to have a kid, but that doesn’t make the whole lack of maternity leave situation any less stressful.

The US is still the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. In fact, the US is one of just two countries in the world that doesn’t ensure any paid time off for new moms, according to a report from the International Labor Organization. The other: Papua New Guinea. Continue reading