Category Archives: Pregnancy

Just Another Post of Sadness RE: Being Priced Out of Bay Area Housing

I really try to take life one day at a time, because thinking too far into the future puts me in a constant state of unproductive panic. Right now, I need to focus on the next four years of our lives:

  • 2018: baby #1 born (0 – 6 mo), I turn 35, 1 yr at job
  • 2019: baby #1 turns 1, I turn 36(!), 2 yr at job
  • 2020: baby #1 turns 2, preg w/ baby #2(!?!), I turn 37, 3 yr at job
  • 2021:  baby #1 turns 3, baby #2 turns 1, I turn 38, 4 yr at job

Then we… GTFO of the Bay Area. >Insert frown face and sad heart.<

I know we live in one of the most expensive places to live in the entire world. When I moved here 12 years ago, I knew that too. However, I didn’t really understand how the expensiveness of “San Francisco” wasn’t referring to just the city. It actually meant that one cannot afford to live anywhere within a 80 mile radius of the city.

While I didn’t grow up here, my husband did — but unlike many others who grew up here, unfortunately his parents never purchased real estate so there is no property in the family (other than the home his grandmother owns, which is a complete tear down once it needs to be sold.) His mother also has to figure out what to do — she, for better or worse, has been living (I think) rent free her entire life in her mother’s house. So she can buy something somewhere, but she won’t be able to buy out her siblings to purchase the entire property. We have no roots here as a family, financially anyway. Unless we somehow win the lottery, the reality is we are going to have to leave.

I’m seriously considering staying in the 1 bedroom until that point. Our rent control is helpful. We still have increases at inflation (it’s not like the SF 1% rent control or whatever that is), but it helps knowing our rent won’t go up $1000 a month in a year. Really, if we could get air conditioning to work in the living room / kitchen area, and I could get my husband to be open to the idea, I think we could make this work. At first, kid shares bedroom with us. Then, we move our bedroom into the living room and kid has the bedroom. When we have #2, perhaps we switch. Or something like that. But we have enough space here. I just can’t leave my kids in a hot room with no air conditioning, and while I could survive a few unhappy years without cooling my husband would not sleep and would be miserable.

My husband has tossed around the idea of moving to Seattle. I’m not a fan of this idea, namely because I don’t like cloudy skies and I don’t like constant rain. It’s also really not that much less expensive than it is here, as salaries would be lower and we’d have to deal with long commutes anyway. I’m not sure there’s any perfect city out there (we’re not moving to Austin, husband likes it grey and rainy, go figure.) Denver is a maybe but it doesn’t feel right for us – and we have absolutely no family or friends there. Really moving back east (for me) would make the most sense… perhaps to CT or NY, though prices are high there too… just within reach, with more options, better public schools, higher taxes, but lower cost real estate.

Then the crazy part of me starts to think – what if we could live in this one bedroom apartment forever. With one kid, and if we could figure out how to cool the other room, we could make it work. It wouldn’t be the life I had hoped for – but we wouldn’t be any worse off than other families who have no choice but to live in a one bedroom with multiple kids and other relatives. Is it really that bad? I value my privacy… but I can go for a walk and spend time in the park. So can my kids. It will force us to spend more time outdoors vs in our home, which is better anyway. We’d have more money to take trips. We could even rent an AirBnB for birthday parties. Maybe, at some point, we’d move into a two bedroom apartment. Or, whenever we reach that threshold of insanity, we’d move out and far away.

I’m angry at myself for not buying property in 2011, at the bottom of the last bubble. But how could I have known? And, the reality is I couldn’t afford much then either. Six years ago, my entire net worth was $145,000. After taxes and penalties, say that was $100k, with my 401k and everything. So, I’d have 20% down on a $500k home. Which. Still. Didn’t. Exist. Then.

Case-Shiller_Simpl-Percentages

Even if there is another drop in housing prices here, that means that job security is also out the window – not the best time to buy. Unless you make $500k a year, I just don’t see buying a home here making any sense. The reality is a basic home will cost you $1.5M – that’s about $7600 a month in mortgage, insurance and taxes, not including any maintenance. We take home $9000 a month after tax… and that’s IF we both have our jobs with no periods of unemployment in the next 30 years. It’s not even like we can cut back on things like travel or going out and afford a house. It’s just… impossible.

I mean, maybe if I figure out how to become a VP and increase my base income to $250k a year with a bonus that gets me up to $500k… but even then that’s super risky on one high income. At that point, maybe I’d feel more comfortable staying in the area and renting a nicer property for $5k a month… but owning here is simply out of reach.

I’m not complaining – I’m just sad. Sad because after all of this investing and moving up the corporate ladder, it’s still impossible. It feels unfair – even though I know it’s not. It’s just how the game works. I had a few chances of striking it rich in startups. They did not pan out. They usually don’t. My RSUs now could support a percentage of a small downpayment in four years… but by then that $1.5M house will probably be $2M. I’m not sure it will ever come down again.

So, we say goodbye to the Bay Area, when the time comes. We pack up and move to who knows where. I work remote or get a new job or change careers. We find ourselves a house with a backyard for our kids to run through the sprinkler in during a hot summer day. We try to make new friends and rebuild our lives. I’m terrified of it, but that’s life. Had I known 15 years ago what I know now, perhaps I would have done it differently. But, then I would have never met my husband, never have this future child to be inside me, never have felt this, well, happy. Yes, this is about as happy as I get. 🙂

 

There’s SO MUCH Baby — STUFF.

Baby stuff is inherently awwwwww-inducing cute because it’s small and therefore it’s adorable. Old me would be spending my entire paycheck already buying random baby things I see along the journey of pregnancy that capture my heart. Slightly less bad-with-money me knows that not only do I not need to buy a bunch of crap for my embryo/soon-to-be-fetus today, I don’t need that crap – ever. 

My preliminary research into “baby shit” (not the literal shit, I’ll deal with that soon enough) — is that there are, not surprisingly, a zillion options for every item you may want to buy. Stroller? How about a foldable one so it fits in your tiny apartment? Or one you can jog with because – while you don’t jog much today, the visual of you jogging with your baby at the local park in the Tesla of Strollers is such a glorious thought? Maybe you should get an expandable stroller (possibly a good idea) so when you have a second kid, you can add a seat easily and not have to buy an entire new stroller in 2-3 years. But, of course, you’re then betting on having a second kid while the other one still wants to be in a stroller (that is the game plan, but with infertility and then maternal age issues, who knows if it will happen.) Get the expandable stroller and it’s heavier than necessary for one kid… why bother? Those jogging strollers sure look nice…

And how about where the baby sleeps? I want my baby to be comfortable — but is it just me or is it ridiculous to spend $200+ on a sleep situation that will last approximately 3 months of your babies life? Even $50 on a bassinet that lasts 3 months may be a poor financial choice if you can invest in a $200 crib that will last at least 2 years.

The good and bad news is that having baby in a one bedroom apartment means that we don’t have a lot of space for baby things. It surely limits us on how much money we’ll waste on nursery stuff… there won’t be much of a nursery to speak of. Luckily our 1 bedroom is quite large and the bedroom itself is huge. We selected the apartment a few years back because it was the only one we found with sizable rooms and a crap-ton of storage space (still no where to put my bike other than the living room, but plenty of shelving and closets.) The bedroom itself is large enough to fit our California King-sized bed, the clunkiest, ugliest in-room air conditioner you’ve ever seen (necessary in the summer, used by my husband year round, brrrr), a random exercise bike, and my husband’s office (desk, printer stand, etc.) It’s a big room.

My thought as of now is that we’ll move the bed out a bit more into the center of the room (against one wall) and turn the corner the bed is against now into the “nursery nook.” We’ll get some kind of side-sleeper arrangement or a crib (I’d prefer something that will scale with age and not last just 6 months or a year.) Some options I’m considering are The Baby Bay Bedside Sleeper ($365) and the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper (~$200).

The other issue / positive thing is that all of these items will make their way to our baby registry, and some family members may contribute to our needs for baby. I hate to say it this way – but in the case of showers, you want to make sure you’re asking for things you really want and need. I kind of failed at this at our wedding (hello five sets of fancy Kate Spade China still sitting in their pretty hot pink boxes on our living room floor.) But, and this is going to sound horrible, you want to get the most out of the registry as well. For instance, your parents may decide to splurge on one really nice item for you — vs thinking about it as a total dollar amount. So they decide to buy your crib. Well, you can ask for a $50 bassinet that will last 3 months, or a $300 crib that will last much longer.

What I don’t want to do is ask for or get a lot of crap. I’m strongly leaning towards not finding out baby’s gender until birth (husband wants to know like, yesterday so he may find out early and taunt me until baby pops out)… but not knowing baby’s gender, besides making it a fun surprise at birth in that magical moment, also makes it much harder for people to buy you stupid gender-specific crap that you don’t need, like one too many light pink onesies.

In any case, my objective is to purchase (or request) as many items that will scale with age, and ideally last for baby #2. I say all this just 5w7d into my gestation and… miscarriage chances are still quite high, so I’m trying to not get too baby-crazed yet. But, y’all can tell, I’m a bit baby-crazed. My husband is too – in a different way. I’ve always teased him that he was “born a dad trying to be cool” and I have to hand it to him, he’s going to be an incredible father. Between just having a natural parental instinct and loving kids in all of their crazy, he’ll be a wonderful dad. And he’s been giddy like a school girl ever since finding out we’re pregnant. It’s totes cute.

Anyway, I guess this blog is transitioning into a mommy blog of sorts by default. I’ll still write about other stuff but right now I have to figure out family / baby finances. Given this blog is anonymous (I hope) I might start another public blog on raising a baby (those mommy bloggers can make some serious bank… this blog isn’t designed for making money, it’s designed for saving money — less visits to therapist, more ranting on HECC!)

So, in terms of what we actually need, there are lots of little items (bottles and such) but I think the primary things are:

  • somewhere to sleep (ideally that scales with age)
  • somewhere to eat (high chair)
  • super safe seat for the car (car seat)
  • stoller (ideally a small one that is portable)
  • changing pads (in lieu of a changing table)
  • baby carry thing (for doing baby yoga. haha. not.) 
  • pack & play w/ basinet (for bringing baby to places other than the living room)
  • swing or jumping thing (I liked to jump as a kid – apparently I was given the name Mexican Jumping Bean. Is that racist? Eh, it was the 80s. Anyway, I want to see if my kid likes to jump too.)
  • Baby bath tub – not sure this is necessary, but super scared of baby drowning so having a smaller tub in the larger tub would be helpful.

I think that’s it? Other than the smaller items like the bottles and bibs and baby spoons and diapers and thermometer and such. Moms/Dads out there, what am I forgetting? Any advice on “must have” baby stuff? And what seems like a must-have but should be avoided?

 

To Move or Not To Move… That is the Question

7 months, 3 weeks in counting until the arrival of baby “E” (we have two names picked out for girl or boy child, both start with E, so calling it baby E .) 7 months, 3 weeks is not that much time before our lives change forever.

Outside of finally figuring out how to keep my apartment clean, focusing on obtaining stability at my job, and trying to eat healthy and exercise and such, I’m perturbed  by our housing situation and whether or not we should move or stay put. The general consensus until my anxiety attack of this last week was stay put until kid is 1, then figure it out / move to a two bedroom / etc.

But then I started thinking about how I will be going back to work after 3 months (maybe sooner) and my baby will be 45 minutes from my office. What if something went wrong? What if I just want to go home to breast feed at lunch time? What if we are both sick and need a separate guest room for his dad or mom to stay overnight to watch the baby (assuming they’d be willing to do so?)

Our options are as follows:

  • A. Stay put. Live in our 825 square feet, 1 bedroom, 2nd floor, $2400 a month apartment for the first year of Baby E’s life.  Possibly husband’s father comes to watch baby a few days a week… he doesn’t drive but can take the train down to us and my husband would pick him up and drive him back. We haven’t asked him yet but hubby thinks he’ll be interested in helping.
  • A2. Same as above, but find a daycare close to my office to put young baby in, vs having husband’s dad watch kid. Then I can visit the child at lunch to nurse. I’ll still have to pump at work, but I’ve been reading a lot about breastfeeding and I’d like to have the option to breastfeed during my lunch hour. This won’t be possible if it takes 1-1.5 hr to get home and back.
  • B. Move closer to my office into a 2 bedroom apartment, likely $3500-$4000. Options include moving really close to the office (I’m not in love with the area) or back to the town that we DO love where my husband’s parents both live (neither drive, so this would make it super easy for them to get to us if needed)
  • C. Buy a house / condo closer to work. Ok, this isn’t really a very feasible option, but it’s on the list because maybe we could make it work. My monthly take-home income after tax is about $7500. My husband, for now, makes about $3000 after tax. When he starts teaching that will be more like $2000? (*who knows what will happen w/ the new tax plan, but we’ll be making even less if we can’t deduct state income tax.) So we’re looking at about $9000 a month after taxes – if we keep our jobs for the next 30 years and all…

More on option C… I’ve always said (and still believe) buying a house is a bad financial move. Yes, where I live, in the past 5 years houses that were selling for $800k are now worth $1.3M… $500k increases in a very short time. They may go up forever, but probably not at that rate. Even if they do, all the other houses nearby are going up at the same rate… so it still won’t be possible to trade in and move into a nicer place (unless you leave the area.) To stay in this area long term, renting seems like the most financially-wise option.

However… now I’m having a child (knock on wood) I’d really like to have stability for Baby E. I grew up in a nice middle class development where generally you could walk into the street and not get hit by a car. It was very family friendly and just felt like a permanent home, not an apartment where I don’t know any of my neighbors and everyone is so transient. There’s benefits to that as well (with my social anxiety, it’s not like we’re going to be bringing jello molds to our neighbor’s house anyway) — but it would be very nice to be part of a community and live in an area where I’d love to push a stroller down the street. Not that where I live now is horrible… there is a nice park around the corner… it’s just, fine for us as DINKs, not for + kids. I really would like a private backyard, even a little tiny one.

So… I keep coming back to the house buying thing. It would certainly be easier to house buy now before baby comes vs after (I think?) Especially given how we like to look at a billion options for everything and houses here tend to get overbid and snapped up fast.

In reality, though, we probably can’t afford a house. I don’t want to buy a condo but I’d be open to a townhouse (with no one above or below.) A townhouse might not be a horrible idea since the outside of the home would be fixed by the HOA and we could focus on upkeep of the inside only. I’d prefer no shared walls at all, but given our income, we’re going to have to compromise somewhere. I don’t want to be on the bottom floor in a condo, though, with people walking upstairs. Right now I’m in a 2 floor apartment and we’re on the second floor. The walls are thin and we can still hear things through them, but it’s not too bad…

For buying property, according to the Smart Asset calculator, we can afford a $1,000,000 home (with a $200k down payment.)

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The problem is, we can’t get a heck of a lot for $1M here. I did include a $700 a month HOA (which is high but reasonable for some of the communities I’ve been looking at closer to work) — we’re not going to get a house for $1M.  And this assumes I’ll be keeping my job of at least $160k income and my husband $55k income for 30 years consistently starting at the beginning of the mortgage. So much for early retirement.

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So, we could go that route. Find a $1M 2br, 2ba townhouse (still very hard to do around here) and hope that we keep our jobs for the next 30 years. If our total monthly payment is $6000, and I paid $3000 a month and hubby paid $3000, then… I’d be ok with $4000 left in post tax money a month… but he’d be using his entire salary on the mortgage. It would be very tight. Maybe in 20 years we’ll have a lower monthly payment then a comparable mortgage. But we’ll also be stuck if prices go down or we need to move for a job. It’s probably not a good time to buy… and it wouldn’t be horrible to wait one more year anyway and stay in the 1 bedroom to save up money for a downpayment… but it seems silly to move closer to work and pay $3500-$4000 a month for a two bedroom… at that point, shouldn’t we just bite the bullet and buy a home?

 

So how does this whole working mother thing work again?

I have no idea what I’m in for this summer, but I do know it’s going to be the hardest year of my life. With the reality of maternity leave (and lack there of) settling in, I’m starting to play for 4-6 weeks off from work (4 weeks are fully paid, 2 would be at ~25% of my salary.)

Today I ran the numbers of taking 4 weeks off prior to my due date and 3 months off after (12 weeks.) Even with some paid leave, I’ll be losing $20,000 worth of salary…. enough to put the baby IN DAYCARE for the entire year. As much as I’d love to stay home with baby, it just doesn’t make sense.

I’m in a bit of a dream world right now… I have absolutely no idea how this all works in a logical, survivable fashion. My husband will be going to school full time this summer and throughout next year in order to get his teaching degree, and I’m due Aug 6. We think his dad will help out with the baby if asked, but I hate to put that on him (he’s not a young guy) – though I think if we pay him a fair rate he’ll at least appreciate the extra income.

Still, I don’t have a clear picture of this working. I really can’t lose my job… and I’m hoping my boss still likes me enough this summer to be flexible with remote working and I can be productive without any sleep. Hah. That’s not possible right? I guess I’ll make it possible. Or I just front load a lot of work by working weekends leading up to birth and try to make it look like I did it all remote?

In all seriousness, though, I’m terrified. I’m 34, I can’t exactly wait any longer to have a baby… but how am I going to make this work? Yes, I have $500k in savings as a cushion, but if we have any hope of affording a house around here (I’m looking at 2br, 2ba houses for $1.3M or $4000 a month in rent) then I cannot give up the salary beyond what’s absolutely necessary. We may not go broke immediately, but all of the work saving and trying to prepare for a not-so-horrible retirement will be ruined – not to mention we have to start saving for baby’s college fund, future wedding, et al.

Is it so absolutely ridiculous to plan to work up until a week or so before my due date, and then go back to work (2-3 days a week working from home) about 6 months after labor (assuming a non surgical birth?)  Some people out there do it because they have no choice – though while it might suck, it’s clearly doable. I’m pretty sure my coworkers and boss would appreciate my commitment to work, especially since I’ll be nine months into the new job when I have to take maternity leave.

Part of me wants to take a lot more leave. I read all these posts about women who wish they took more. I’d really love to take six months off to bond with baby and get used to not sleeping and all of that. I’d be bored, sure, but I think six months is how long a mother should be able to take off when they have a child. It seems to be this much in other countries as par for course.

Six months is definitely not possible with our $2500 1 bedroom rent, insurance costs and baby costs. Is three months something I should just do and hope it all works out in the end? I feel like even if I’m home on maternity leave I’m going to end up working anyway… my job is just so easy to do away from the office… easier to do vs not do. It’s the going to the office bit that’s going to be rough…

I wish we lived closer to my office. It’s only 30 minutes away in no traffic but the times I travel for work hours it’s 45-50 minutes. Not horrible… but I don’t want to spend an extra hour-and-a-half a day traveling when I could be with my baby. I also wish we were closer so I could go home and nurse on lunch breaks. We talked a little bit about moving today, but it just doesn’t make a ton of sense. Our 1 bedroom apartment — while a one bedroom – is quite large… and we have rent control which keeps our rates down a bit. The in-apartment washer and dryer is amazing now and a must-have for baby IMO. The commute is not great, but it could be worse. It will be doable if I only have to go in three days a week…

Even with all of that, I’m just paranoid now because I know I have to go above and beyond at work to secure my position. I’d be doing this now anyway because I want my boss to be happy with my work and I want to help him succeed… but beyond that it’s so important that I connect with other senior leaders in the organization and become not just a disposable employee but someone known for doing great things for the org. I’m taking baby steps towards that… but it’s something I have to fully invest in over the next… seven months. I mean, I really only have seven months before I take leave, if I go on leave four weeks before my due date. That’s so crazy – that’s just over two quarters of work.

Anything can happen in seven months. I could lose my job. I could get sick and need to take more time off. Morning sickness can kick in… as early as next week… and I could be vomiting all day, unable to focus on work at all. So many what ifs…. and this is before the kid is born.

This all makes me long for the olden days when women stayed home and took care of baby and the guy went to work. Scratch that. I don’t really want that. I think I’ll appreciate my job even more when it’s an excuse to get away from a screaming baby and an exhausted cranky husband. 🙂 BUT… the body wants to be near baby. Pumping seems so damn unnatural (because it is.) Yes, there is a mother’s room at work and I’m sure I’ll figure it all out… but pumping takes a lot of time too… I’ll leak and stuff like women do and be embarrassed and it’s all so horrible. My company is like 80%? male like most tech companies so it’s just not a place where there are tons of young mothers. Maybe that’s a good thing because I won’t have to compete for the mom room?

Anyway, I’m probably hallucinating when I think I’ll be able to go back to work at 4-6 weeks, but that’s currently the plan. Without any protected leave I worry for my job. With my stock grant I really need to stay employed and do an amazing job for the full four years… if I do that, and the economy doesn’t totally collapse, I can hit my $1M networth goal and perhaps then start thinking about taking some real time off to spend with my kids. That’s the dream. And I’ll only get there if I succeed in this job and become as irreplaceable as one can in a corporate environment.

Till next time,

HECC

 

It’s Official: I’m Making a (One) Baby

The silent drumroll of my 5w4d ultrasound this morning might have revealed more than one yolk sack, but the grande reveal was one sack and one beautiful progesterone-producing cyst. In other news, so far I have a very healthy pregnancy with one darling little blob starting to develop into a human being.

I know pregnancy is a normal thing… but it’s still crazy to think there’s a person growing INSIDE of me. I’m sure it will be equally crazy yet more conceivable when it gets really big and starts to kick. I’m absolutely terrified of childbirth but, I guess I’m on the rollercoaster and there’s no turning back now! Baby is going to grow and come out of me, whether I like it or not.

Today, I started to really freak out about maternity leave. I talked to HR and got very little information… nothing to calm my fears.  Given I’ll be 9 months into the job when my little one is born, I won’t be eligible for FLMA. We did not go into this in my meeting because I didn’t actually tell them I’m pregnant… I just said I’m researching for future family planning. But without FLMA, I have to rely on the kindness of my boss to not fire me for having to take leave 9 months into my job.

I still don’t understand how short term disability works. I think I get 4 weeks paid fully via work, then I go on STD. I’m unclear if I can take STD and SDI (state) at the same time, and if the concept is that this is supposed to add up to my full paycheck (or close to it) for 6-8 weeks? But without FLMA, does it even matter if I lose my job? And, even if I keep my job, what are my financial responsibilities for health insurance when I’m on leave — do I have to pay the entire amount? I know (now) that I can’t take any PTO (since I don’t get PTO) as part of maternity leave, but it’s purposefully vague regarding if I can take it the second I get back from maternity leave or not… so, can I? Should I “save up” my “unlimited” PTO so I can take a few extra weeks off to bond with my baby — or should I go on vacation now because no matter what, I won’t be eligible to use it once I’ve been out on maternity leave? Who knows.

I just wish I could get some straight answers at this point. Is my job at risk? What % of my salary will I receive and for how long? I know with 4 weeks paid I’m way better off than most people in this country. I can’t imagine not having any paid leave, especially without savings. It’s all sorts of ridiculous that this country that claims to be so “family first” and “anti abortion” and such doesn’t give a shit about what happens once the baby is born.

I’m just hopeful I can keep my job. My goal is to stay in this job for 4 years… and I can’t lose it 9 months in!

 

 

To go to the doctor, or not go to the doctor – that is the question

High deductible health plans are great when you hit your deductible – except when they’re not. Specifically, they’re not great when over the course of the year you have to start over paying your deductible due to company health plan changes and/or changing companies. Thus, this leads me to move away from my former infatuation with the HSA-enabled HDHP.

In November, my $2600 deductible restarted. I figured I could survive until the end of the year without seeing a doctor. Then, I got pregnant. And then, I got sick. Sick with a cold / sore throat / lost voice that’s likely a virus that has no cure anyway… not worth a doctor’s visit and certainly not worth spending $300 on. I already made that mistake a few times this year when I didn’t realize my deductible had not only reset, but doubled (thanks to my former company who didn’t notify me that as of Aug 1 they switched plans and the $1500 deductible was now $2600 and reset *cough*bullshit*cough.*) Yes, that cost me $1000 in medical fees that I expected to be covered due to a series of “fuck I lost my job and I’m incredibly depressed” psychologist appointments (nothing like a surprise $1000 bill you fix your mental health!)

But now, I’m going back and forth on whether to go to the doctor. Being pregnant changes things. I’m five weeks, two days pregnant… and, 3 weeks, 6 days away from a brand new year of health insurance and deductibles. Since I’m switching to Kaiser, my medical costs are going to go way down next year (it’s a $1500 out of pocket max, no deductible,  no more surprise charges PPO BS. I hope I do not regret this decision.) Can’t I just stop talking for a few weeks (who needs a voice anyway) and hold out?

I do get to see my reproductive endocrinologist tomorrow – or at least the nurse – and perhaps they’ll be able to advise if I should do anything about this stupid cold. Luckily, my follow up appointments for my pregnancy at my RE are “free” (well, covered by my monthly $800 cycle fee) until I’m handed off to an ObGyn… so I’m hoping they can help at least provide some medical advice of what to do if I’m super sick and cannot talk.

The good news is I haven’t had a fever yet. I know fevers can be dangerous to baby and the second I get a high fever I’m paying that $300 and going to the doctor. For now, I think I just need to figure out how to get some rest and eat a lot of chicken soup.

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.

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

Here’s To Getting Pregnant in 2017

There will be plenty of TMI posts this year, so if you prefer to avoid reading about infertility and all the fun that goes along with trying to get pregnant when your body doesn’t work properly, quit reading now. If you want to follow along with my journey attempting to get pregnant, then read ahead.

Infertility can be caused by many different issues — endometriosis, ovulation problems, poor egg quality, PCOS, tube blockages (male and female), sperm problems, sperm allergies, and general unexplained infertility. Or, if you’re really lucky, you can have a combination of any of the above. Continue reading