Category Archives: Pregnancy

Am I Having Another Baby?

Given it took months and $5000 of fertility treatments to conceive our first child, I was momentarily bewildered by a very faint pink line on a cheap-o pregnancy test I took two weeks after our first month trying for number two. I joked to myself, as I do, that of course my previously infertile PCOS-ridden womb would get pregnant the first month we tried. I’d be taking the test on Mother’s Day weekend, so it was only appropriate to find out that I was to become a mom – again.

I had taken a test two days prior and it was negative, but I figured I’d waste another cheap-o test and move on with my life. I was convinced that it was impossible to have conceived this month anyway, since my husband and I missed the time in the month I thought I was fertile. But then, as I blurred my eyes at the test, I saw not one, but two lines. I blinked. I waved the strip in the air. I walked away and came back. I took a picture of the strip and sent it to a close friend who knew I was hoping to get pregnant by fall. She responded, “you’re pregnant.”

I dug through my drawer of random things I never used and pulled out the more pricey early response tests I saved for when I might actually be pregnant. Took one. The positive line came back dark pink. “I’m pregnant.” My friend, with one more photo to document proof, confirmed.

Suddenly, my next year flashed before my eyes. I had imagined it all, but not quite so so soon. And with the coronavirus, everything became much more difficult and scary (I was aware of the pandemic when we were trying and decided at 36 with fertility problems and the hope to have at least one if not two more kids, we should get on with it — I figured we’d probably get pregnant in a few months and I’d be giving birth in spring 2021, maybe around the time a vaccine would be available–not exactly January 2021, in the middle of what could be a bad second or third wave.)

So the next year blur — a stomach growing bigger and bigger, being unable to sleep well and having all the horrible third trimester symptoms, not being able to travel to see my mother or sister or visit my childhood home that needs to be sold, the worst possible ways one might have to deliver with COVID-19 around–laboring with a mask and with full-blown corona symptoms unable to breathe, and then just the reality of now having 9 months to move from our one bedroom apartment (a needed impetus to stop being so frugal and get more space), I sat there and took in the reality of what this little pink line meant.

And despite all that worry, I felt really happy. I pictured my son, not able to interact with any other kids these days, having a sibling to grow up with. He has no cousins, and it’s unlikely he will have cousins (my sister is our only hope and if she does have kids it won’t be for quite a number of years), and I want to give him a family (this is also why I want 3 kids even though that’s kind of crazy… we’ll see how I do with two.) I pictured my kids growing up together and fighting and laughing and having fun and being silly.

I went to get my son out of his crib and he was the first to hear the news, and he kept my secret all day. We often jokingly ask him if he wants a brother and he exclaims “or sister!” so I asked him again and told him there is a baby in my stomach. He’s 22 months old so he isn’t going to understand but I made a cute video of telling him and planned to show it to my husband at some point. I knew he would be quite surprised.

That evening, as he was putting my son to bed, I sent him the video and told him I took a cute video of our son but it was too big to upload to instagram. I videoed him watching it. At the beginning I go “do you want a brother?” and so on. My husband, watching the video clueless looks at me and says “it’s a good thing you didn’t post this to instagram, people will think you’re pregnant” (classic) — a few seconds later, when the video reveals me handing a positive pregnancy test to my son as his “present” my husband figured out that he was right about one thing… people will think I’m pregnant.

But over the last weeks, I’ve had some reasons to think that this baby won’t stick. I won’t go into details, but I ended up having an early ultrasound and with only a gestational sac and a yolk sac seen, it’s possible the baby isn’t growing and isn’t viable. It’s also possible I’m just earlier than they think (which I know is true at least somewhat) and we just need to wait and try again in a few weeks. So I’m in wait mode now. I have another appointment on June 15 and will find out if there is a baby or I’ll have to make a horrible choice between getting a D&C, taking a pill to miscarry, or waiting for my body to handle it naturally. I’m hoping I don’t have to make that decision, but accept hat may be the case. I’m 36 now, and it’s just more likely that anytime I get pregnant we’ll hit a bad egg. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s good news either way–I’ve proven I can now get pregnant without fertility treatment, and I should be able to again. And if I am actually pregnant, well, that’s terrifying but amazing and I really can’t wait to have a baby again and grow my family and continue building the life I want.

I successfully achieved having $1M before baby #1 and I wanted $1.5M before baby #2 and I should get there, adding in my husband’s savings. And $2M before baby #3, if there is to be a baby #3, also seems possible. My personal capital account, which shows our pre-tax networth, is at about $1.4M right now. That seems insane to me, as I still remember looking at my mint account with about $10k to my name, wondering how on earth I’d ever save $100k. I have a good $350k sitting in cash for a downpayment (and soon will have another $50k more thanks to some strong performing company stock vesting soon) so everything is really just working out… somehow.

Why is it I still feel so out of control though… afraid to purchase a home… afraid to make any commitments or live slightly less frugally? I really want a home. I want a reasonably nice home, which seems to cost like $2M in the Bay Area, but I’m willing to settle for something a little cheaper, like $1.7M (sigh) and handle a house that isn’t perfect but that is a place to call our own… a place to make our memories. It’s time to leave this 800 square foot apartment and move on with our lives. I’ll miss it, but I won’t miss it that much. Not if we have a home of our own.

At this point, I’m waiting until my appointment next week to see how much we need to rush the moving situation. If there is no baby, then we have a little more time. If there is a baby, then we have less than nine months to move. Even if we wanted to, we can’t legally stay in a one bedroom with two kids. So here we are, family of 3 maybe about to become a family of 4, in the middle of a pandemic, having to buy a house and move and set up our life and figure out if we move south to have a little more house for our money or stay in the area we want to live and have a lot less house or who knows. I realize financially renting makes way more sense but I’m at this point where I feel like what is the point if we don’t have a home to put down our roots in… and a sense of stability and a place that is ours. I’ve saved $1.2M on my own and I know that’s not enough to really buy a house here… but on the other hand, having all that invested in the stock market is risky too and while it will probably perform well over time, why avoid buying the one thing I really want just to have a big number in the bank?

I hope I am pregnant and I hope this forces us to move and find a house and meet our neighbors and be grown ups and grow up. Life is so short and I can’t believe I’m almost 37 and really almost 40. I thought I’d be a lot more settled by this age, but I do think that my 40 I want to have some serious domestic accomplishments, not just financial ones. And I hope that when travel is possible again I can have a guest room for my mother and sister to come visit. I hope I can have a yard to have friends over and sit around a fire pit and maybe eventually buy myself a hot tub though that will probably never happen but it’s a thought. And a garage where I can store my bike and some other things so my living room doesn’t have to be my storage room and my living room and my son’s room with his crib and toys and slide and rocking horse. And my bedroom doesn’t also have to be my husband’s office.

I guess I’m tired of making smart financial decisions and want to make ones that make my life better now. I know I’m so fortunate to be where I am and have what I have. With all that is going on in the world right now, especially the injustices against the black community, I feel guilty being concerned with any of this mundane life stuff. But life still goes on, even as the world needs a big kick in the ass and a whole lot of fixing. I’d like to figure out how to contribute to fixing the world too, but I think part of that comes with my settling down and not having to spend a lot of my energy thinking about “what’s next” and instead focus on stability in my own life and how I can then give back to the world.

Anyway, lots going on right now. I very well may not be pregnant… but I could be. If I was 5w6d at my prior appointment, or even 6 weeks (which I think I was), then maybe it was just too early to see the fetal pole and heartbeat. Or maybe the doctor I saw (not my normal doctor) rushed the appointment and didn’t spend enough time looking because she knew if she found it or didn’t, it didn’t really matter at this point… she was just confirming the pregnancy was not ectopic, which it wasn’t. She did say maybe it’s just earlier than we think and gave me a glimmer of hope pointing to a little speck on the screen saying “maybe something is growing there” so there’s nothing I can do but wait.

…And even if my next appointment, where I think I’ll be 8 weeks and some-odd days, shows a healthy embryo and heartbeat, I can still miscarry at any time or have other complications before a healthy baby is actually born. So I don’t want to get my hopes up. My last pregnancy was relatively smooth, but my childbirth was not. I am trying to just have not expectations here other than hoping that I remain healthy and safe through whatever happens. And that maybe all of this leads to purchasing our home and really starting our life as a family together–I realize that owning a home is not a requirement to do that, but it still feels like something that needs to happen before I feel like I’ve made it as an adult.

 

Why I’m So Stressed Out About Maternity Leave

Three months ago, I met with the director of benefits at my company who, after congratulating me on my pregnancy (then just starting my second trimester), told me point blank that I was not eligible to take more than 6 weeks off immediately following the birth of my child (paid or unpaid.)

Due to the way the California policy works, I would be eligible to take 12 more weeks off (6 of them semi paid, 6 unpaid) once I hit my “year” mark at work, but given I’d only be at 9 months when I would give birth, I was basically SOL.

I did ask if I could use any vacation time to make the leave longer (since we have “unlimited vacation time”) and was told no. I asked if I could take an unpaid leave and was told that I would be let go if I did not return to work at the start of week 7. It basically seemed like I had no choice, so I just accepted it, three months into my new job, grateful to have any protection and moved on.

But now that baby is just around the corner and I’ve been talking to more moms, I’m terrified of going back to work at 7 weeks post birth. Like, I will be nursing every two hours through the night and I just don’t know how I will be able to do this. Even if I do make it to the office I’ll be a zombie and useless. I’ll certainly perform poorly leading to getting let go anyway. I mean, I’m not sure I’ll suddenly be on my A game again after 10 or 12 weeks post birth, but it sounds like at that point baby might be sleeping a little bit more through the night, and hopefully so will I.

So now I’ve contacted the head of HR and I am worried I’m just making things worse for myself right now. But I talked to my (newish) boss who basically told me she wants me to take all the time up front and I tried to explain to her I can’t. Maybe if she talks to HR I can, but really they’d have to work something out as it seems like I can’t do this on my own. I’m already so terrified about pissing my boss off–I am not the type of person bosses like to begin with, so I’m just really trying to keep my head down and get my work done… but now I feel like I’m just a walking target the next time they’re looking to downsize or just get rid of that one person who doesn’t fit on the team.

And it sucks because I don’t even want to take that much time off… I feel like I’m doing ok now… not great, but ok… ok enough to maybe every day not feel like I’m about to get fired. Except when I’m gone for 8 weeks or 10 weeks or more, well, then people will forget about all the effort I put in this year and I’ll be back to square one. And regardless of when I go back I’ll certainly be more exhausted even if I try not to be since I am baby’s food source.

There are days I think I should just quit but I know I can’t. There’s the salary plus the health insurance plus the fact that my stock is worth a substantial amount and I don’t see any of that until early next year. I’m fortunate to be in this situation but at the same time I’m crying every single day because I don’t know what to do — how hard to I push HR? I’m so new to this job. I don’t deserve any protection. I know that my skillset is somewhat unique and hard to hire for — so there’s a chance they wouldn’t find a replacement for me in the extra six weeks I’d take. There’s also a chance they would.

Part of me feels like I should just shut up, come back to work at 7 weeks postpartum and hold my breathe for the rest of the year until I vest my first chunk of stock and get some of my bonus (whatever they decide to give me) and then if I’m completely frazzled and ready to jump off a bridge I can consider leaving if necessary. I don’t WANT to leave but at that point I may need to. Or maybe I won’t. But at least then I’ll have made it through phase #1 and should be at about $650k networth. It would still be very upsetting to leave as I’d be throwing away my career at that point, along with substantial upside, but I’m scared and feel like I’m constantly on edge and really just not doing so well from a mental health perspective right now.

I wish my husband cared to make more money but he doesn’t. He provides in so many other ways and will be home to take care of the kid while I work, and for that I’m grateful. But the costs of living here are just really too high and he could be making more if he wanted to but he consults for one small business on a part-time basis and never really gets raises so every year his income is worth less and less. Now with baby the flexibility is worth a lot but it just feels like we could be in so much of a better place if he had any interest in financial stability for our family. I know that’s not his thing and I knew that from when I first started dating him, so I can’t put this on him at all. It would just make it easier if we both earned about the same, but we don’t. It would make it easier if I was better at my job or wasn’t having a baby, but all these things are not the case.

I feel really really really shitty about asking HR for more than the 6 weeks, and for every single conversation I have with my boss about my leave. I feel guilty for having a kid and I feel guilty for knowing I won’t be able to dedicate the time I want to raising it because I’ll be so paranoid that I will look bad at work that I’ll probably increase my time and output at work compensate. All the while I’ll likely be extremely exhausted. Maybe I’m thinking too much worse case scenario but how awake can one be waking up every  2 hours to nurse all night?

So many parts of me want to just quit but those parts want to quit because I hate the guilt and embarrassment of being a pregnant woman less than a year into a new job and dealing with crappy US maternity leave policies and also not wanting to seem like I’m entitled to anything just because I made the choice to be a mom. I guess if it gets to the point at 7 weeks where I just cannot return to work for my mental wellbeing, I don’t, and I deal with the financial consequences (which would be brutal to the tune of $100k-$150k+ in lost earnings, depending on when I return to the workforce.)

And I have no one to talk to about this which makes it even harder. I can’t talk to my boss–she wants me to take all the time up front and doesn’t care (nor should she) about the pay or no pay situation. I can’t talk to HR because their job is protecting the company. I can’t talk to my husband because he knows I lose my jobs often and just sees this at yet another one of those situations. I can’t talk to my family, they don’t understand. I can’t talk to my friends–my female friends who have kids have husbands who make $300k+ per year and either are stay at home moms or run part-time businesses. I can’t talk to my therapist about it because this isn’t a mental health issue this is a I need advice on how to handle maternity leave issue. So I just feel really alone right now and that’s what hurts the most and leads me to this very dark, hopeless place. I’m trying to be excited about having a baby but I’m just scared. I know I’m lucky to have even 6 weeks of covered leave at semi pay, but what happens on week 7?

 

 

Maternity Leave and Not Losing Money

Maternity leave in the US is a joke, especially compared to the rest of the world. But, that joke is my reality for the next year, so I have to figure out the best way to deal with it–especially since I’m the primary breadwinner in my household (well, sort of – we split everything 50/50 but should shit hit the fan it’s my savings that will ensure we’re not living on the street.) Anyway…

My income is just worth a lot. If my husband made a substantial salary and I was, say, a teacher or social worker (no offense to teachers or social workers) it would be less impactful to our household income for me to take a few months off. However, when I look at the cost of my time off, it’s really expensive. Continue reading Maternity Leave and Not Losing Money

Just Spent $500 on Prenatal Exercise Classes…

Well, since my childbirth is practically free, I’m splurging on exercise classes. Why? I’m gaining weight way too fast and it’s not going to be pretty in a few weeks.

While I got my weight down to 140 before my wedding (and was about 150 at my wedding two years ago), I since have been yo-yoing between 165 and 180. Right before I got pregnant I was around 168, then my first trimester I shot up… too much… too fast. Continue reading Just Spent $500 on Prenatal Exercise Classes…

Money and Fetuses: The (Optional) Costs of Pregnancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Everyone Knows I’m Pregnant

The cat baby is out of the proverbial bag. My Facebook “friends” list of 1000+ and 60k+ followers is aware, if they’ve been paying any attention, that I’m pregnant. I sent out an email to my coworkers recently informing them that I’m not just getting fat, I’m also pregnant. My boss replied all and added the head of the company, so now he knows too. They all know.

I guess it’s a bit of a relief. I felt weird announcing it in a meeting, or one-off to my peers so the word spread unevenly. It’s not like I participate in small talk as the norm, so bringing this up out of nowhere would be odd — “hey, so and so coworker, I know we don’t talk much, but I’m pregnant.” Continue reading Now Everyone Knows I’m Pregnant

Can you teach empathy? Pregnant daughter of narcisstic parents would like to know…

My sister and I surprised my parents this weekend with the news – I’m pregnant. While I envisioned the surprise – in a normal, loving family -to go something like this…

My parents would meet my sister, who was visiting for the weekend, and she would enter their condo and go to her room to pull out a gift from me to give to them, without them knowing. I would call “from the west coast” as a coincidence, to say hi, and they’d mention my sister just arrived. Then my sister would give them the “gift” and they’d open it to see inside something that clearly stated they were going to be grandparents. At the moment they were having a loving, emotional, “we’re so happy for you” reaction, I’d knock on the door and they’d be further surprised that I was there, not across the country, to celebrate with them this wonderful news. We’d embrace and cry, especially since they know and understand how much we’ve wanted children and how hard it has been to get pregnant, and we’d all go out to celebrate, excited for them to be grandparents, excited for my sister to be an aunt, and excited for myself and my husband to soon be bringing new life into the world. Continue reading Can you teach empathy? Pregnant daughter of narcisstic parents would like to know…

So I told my boss that I’m pregnant.

It was as awkward and uncomfortable as I expected it to be. At 15 weeks, I figured it was time to spill the beans. Even though my boss may have ignored my rampant weight gain, eventually he’d figure out that my growing stomach wasn’t just due to age and binging on carbs.

So I told him. In our regular meeting, I knew I had to find the time to bring it up. There’s never a good time. I thought of starting the meeting with “I’m pregnant,” but he started talking about a different topic immediately so I had to wait until he asked his standard question “how are you?” — Continue reading So I told my boss that I’m pregnant.

14 Weeks Pregnant, 2 Weeks Until I Tell My Parents!

Today I have officially entered the second trimester. I’m fortunate that my first trimester was actually not that bad–no major morning sickness outside of mild nausea if I didn’t eat anything in the morning. The side effect of NOT having morning sickness is that I did gain weight — too much weight — during the first 13 weeks of this pregnancy. I had plateaued for a while at 11 lbs gain and then shot up to a total of 16! Yikes.

Outside of my rapid weight gain, though, what I’m really concerned about is this 6 weeks maternity leave situation. The more I think about it, the more upset I feel that my work does not allow me to use any vacation time (since we have “unlimited vacation” they do not have to approve any and it’s not possible to accrue PTO) so I have no choice other than to head back to work at 6 weeks post birth or quit. Since I have no plans of quitting (and it would be rather devastating financially for many reasons) I’ll be headed back to work fairly soon after I meet my first child.

Continue reading 14 Weeks Pregnant, 2 Weeks Until I Tell My Parents!

My Messed Up Maternity Leave Plan That Makes No Sense

The good news, is I get some paid maternity leave. That’s more than most women in this country can bank on. I’m extremely fortunate that my company has to follow the laws of the land (in this case, California) to provide 4 weeks of “before due date” and 6 weeks of “after delivery” protected leave with some pay (via state disability, and the case of my company, a few weeks fully paid.)

Now, the good news is that I get ANOTHER 6 weeks of semi-paid leave after the first 6 weeks of disability. The bad news is, I’m not allowed to take it until I hit my one year mark on the job — which means I’ll have anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months (1, if I give birth on my due date) in between leave #1 and leave #2. I thought maybe they’d allow me to take a week or two unpaid, so I could be home 8 weeks with newborn, but no dice. Basically, they are strict about these policies. Since we have an “unlimited time off” policy I’m, ironically, not allowed to take any time off (vacation OR unpaid) after I get back from my 6 weeks. That seems kind of f’d, esp the whole not being allowed to take UNPAID time, but that’s the law – and my company is not going to go out of their way to provide anything beyond the law, esp to someone who is so new. I can’t blame them, but it still sucks. Continue reading My Messed Up Maternity Leave Plan That Makes No Sense