Category Archives: Anxiety

So Long 37.

37. You’ve been… a year. Saying goodbye to 37 seems like closing the doors on an era. An era of grasping on to the last remnants of my fleeting youth that in actuality was gone long ago. I don’t know what it is about “38” because it’s still squarely in one’s 30s, but it feels so close to 40 it might as well be. And my husband is turning 40 early next year, so I feel whoever gets there first ages both partners in a marriage to the next official decade of life.

The last few years of my 30s may or may not include one more child, but I’m really torn on that for so many reasons. More on that in a bit. It likely will include changing jobs, because this one is getting worse and worse by the day and the compensation next year no longer makes it worth while to stay. I just feel like no matter what I do I am not capable of doing a good job in this role. I’m not sure where I am capable of doing a good job but it’s certainly not here. I’m not getting fired so I’m clearly not doing the worst job possible. I try my best and it seems that my work ethic and positive attitude keeps me gainfully employed. But I’m fucking tired. Tired of the craziness that is my job where I can’t focus on any projects because I’m constantly thrown new things that take a lot of time and won’t actually help the business improve but are just pet projects from leadership. Did I mention I’m tired? Like, emotionally, mentally, physically drained.

And it’s not just because I have an almost-one-year-old and a 3 year old going on 13.

… So. I was gung ho about the 3rd kid thing with wanting a girl and then lately I’m just feeling like maybe that’s asking for things to go really bad. What if I die in childbirth? What if IVF gives me cancer? What if I have a girl and she hates me from the moment she slips out of my womb?

Possible.

But also, logistically, I’m not sure I can handle 3 kids. Now that my youngest is becoming a little human with his own needs and my oldest is his own growing mind person monster I want time to spend with both of them, together, and alone, as well as time to spend alone and alone and alone with my husband and so far I haven’t been good at any of these variables. I’m not thriving at work. I’m not thriving at home. I’m not thriving at anything. Except maybe gaining weight from binging on carbs to fill this pit of fear and confusion I feel at any given time.

Well at least I’m not fucking manic at the moment. So there’s that.

I sink deep into the sheets of the bed below me and wonder all sorts of things and don’t know the answer to any of them. I worry about my son who can’t handle noise and puts his hands over his ears when anything hums or buzzes and I wonder will he outgrow that or if not how does he handle living in a world that is made for people who are able to tune it all out? I worry about my younger child who is growing up with less attention than my first, who is being shoved by my 3 year old at times, and all the conflicting parenting advice on how to handle sibling conflict (while also being committed to ensuring he doesn’t get seriously hurt.)

I don’t know anymore. I feel old and like I’ve managed to do a lot in my life leading up to 38 and yet not enough at all. Like at 38 one should be VP or at least have some serious skills they are confident about and able to go into a job interview and be like “I’m the shit and if you don’t want to hire me I don’t care.” But what would I even say in a job interview? I babble. What do I know? I know how to serve the needs of sociopathic executives who are convinced they have the most brilliant ideas. I feel like this is not a worthwhile skill and even if it is, it’s not one I particularly want to be known for. I can’t. Do. This. For. Much. Longer.

I did one project the head of my department liked but he asked for some changes then the head of my team gave me feedback and I made changes and she really liked what I had written (even though I knew it wasn’t actually good so no hard feelings there) and then the head of the department was like WTF is this and clearly was not happy with the changes and so now I’m scrambling to put something together they both like at the last minute when I’m supposed to be on vacation. Luckily this vacation = sitting at my mom’s house and trying to pack up my childhood home so I have some flexibility but still — I really needed the mental break. My plan was to take 2 weeks off but I thought if I got 1 then that would be something. But here I am still working and I don’t know when it will stop. I’ll get Thurs and Friday off because everyone does but then I’m back.

Hey, at least when I’m back it’s December. I’m 38, ok, that sucks, but better than not making it to 38, and it’s also the final countdown to my final vest and final significant employe stock purchase plan purchase and bonus and 401k match and then I can leave whenever I have the energy to do so and find something better. It’s all finally here. It’s not a life-changing amount but it’s the end of what I committed in my brain to stay for and here I am and there… I have 117 days until I really have no significant reason to stay. They will go by fairly quickly I think. I have a lot to do. Even if I fail at the things I’m doing I don’t think anyone will realize it until well into those 117 days as long as I’m trying. Which I will be. I never stop trying. Trying isn’t exactly getting me anywhere though.

Curious what my performance review will say. In past years I wrote these long self reviews trying to highlight everything half decent I did over the year. This year I just threw together a few bullets. I have a different boss this year so maybe he won’t notice but I realize what I write doesn’t actually matter and I don’t deserve a great review. I’m either a 3/5 because I’m good enough to keep but not good enough to try to keep, or a 2/5 because I pissed a few people off over the year by missing deadlines or not communicating well or both (been there, done that, don’t think I did it this year but who knows.) I’m pretty sure a 4/5 is impossible for my role and abilities and a 1/5 I’d be fired already and a 5/5 isn’t real so… yea… I’ll be surprised if I don’t get the 3/5 but maybe I sucked more than I know over the year and I’ll hear all about it in January when reviews come out. I got a pretty sizable bonus when I got a 2/5 last year somehow so I’m thinking I’ll probably get a bonus again this year… and then… I don’t know. I really don’t know.

I wish my husband would be the type of guy who said “wow you’re clearly miserable and I want to do something that will make you happy — do you want to take some time off work? Maybe we should consider moving out of a HCOL area for a while and see how that goes so you don’t have to work so much? Or maybe we stay here but I apply to jobs that pay enough where you can work part time?”

He’d never say any of that. And I don’t know how I would react if he did. But wouldn’t it be lovely to have a husband who would be willing to put himself out there, do something that makes him a bit uncomfortable, to try to help his wife out a bit? Am I asking for too much? I mean, yea, I know who I married. And I don’t expect him to be CEO or anything but there are a few reasonable options at this point that would allow me to be maybe slightly less miserable and I don’t think he’d be willing to entertain any of them. So it’s up to me as always. I think a new job could help, but I don’t know how I can be successful in any job since I’m not actually good at anything. I just want to sleep and exercise and try to eat healthy and take some time to recover from the last four years of being beaten down so much (not to mention having two babies.)

Anyway, I guess this is what it’s like to be almost 38. And then to be 38 en route to 39 and then 40. And maybe one more baby. Or maybe no more babies. And hopefully enough money to pay the mortgage and the bills. At least. And watching my investments crash and being sad about how as a normal human the only way to get ahead and beat inflation is to invest yet that’s so risky even though it’s supposedly not that risky as long as you’re diversified and don’t need the money for years but who knows what the future holds so yea it’s all a gamble and it feels pretty shitty to have to gamble what you’ve earned in order to have a shot at a half decent future.

And that’s for someone who is privileged enough to even have that option… I’m aware so few are.

So here I am. Well. Hello 38. Nice to meet you, I guess.

Finding Balance in an Off-Kilter World

Sell the house. Pack everything up. Take the $500k of home equity after realtor fees, consisting of $325k downpayment and $175k in gains, give or take, and move to most anywhere else in the country where one can buy a nice house for $500k or a few hundred k over that, get a part-time or otherwise flexible remote job w/ a tech company in my field, make less money but ultimately still refrain form dipping much into our $1.25M in taxable stocks and $750k in retirement savings. Spend a lot of time with family. Have a big private backyard with grass that is green because it actually rains. Maybe make some new friends. Spend the next 20 years of my life taking it easy, slow aging to 57. Not doing anything revolutionary at work, but it’s not like I’m revolutionizing anything now in my current field.

If I stay I can probably save a bit more. Maybe a lot more. But does that really matter?

It’s all a dream though because my husband will never leave. Despite refusing to earn more he won’t budge. Well, he’s offered moving to Seattle but $500k won’t get you much there either and I’ll fall into depression with the frequent grey skies. It’s a no-go for me.

But I definitely feel like I’m ready for a change. The things that matter to me today are different than they were years ago.

I still want another kid. That kid will likely require IVF. In my mind I’m committed to the Bay Area through that experience. I’ve written a bit about this before, but timeline wise… I start IVF when I’m 39. Hopefully get pregnant before I’m 40. Have the kid at 40. Hopefully have good maternity leave in whatever job I take next. And strong stock that gains (well, nice to have.) We stay in this home for at least 3 more years. Maybe it keeps going up in value. Maybe it comes down in value. It seems like Bay Area housing just goes up and up but it also still seems impossible for this place to be worth much more without work on it. I’m hesitant to put work into the house as I’d rather just leave. I hate having people work on the house when we live here. And each relatively minor project thus far has been a PITA.

I don’t know where we’d go. I don’t think my husband will leave. He won’t even move to Sacramento where we could spend less on housing because it’s too hot there. I have a very limited, very expensive radius where he would be open to moving. So I’m trapped.

I recently watched the series MAID on Netflix. It shared the story of a young single mom with nothing who was emotionally abused by her partner and who tried to start a life of her own but, without the help of others, couldn’t make it work with government support alone which had too much red tape. Anyway, it got me thinking a bit about abuse. Not that I’m being abused by my husband (or that I am any more than I emotionally abuse him) but it’s interesting to think of such dynamics in relationships…

I grew up in a domestic abuse situation. My father emotionally and physically abused my mother. He didn’t drink (thank god) but he constantly yelled and told my mother horrible things and gaslit her. I have a lot of trauma from this and so it’s hard for me to communicate properly in a relationship or be in a healthy relationship. Odds were for me to end up in an abusive relationship and I’m proud to report I’m not in one. Or am I?

Well. If I am I’m abusive too. My abuse is in deciding one thing then changing my mind. Because I feel incapable of making decisions and am used to having decisions made for me. I’ve told my husband that his father can live with us until his mother buys a house (which is dependent on her mother dying as she will then have no where to live as she lives in her house), and that he can work his part-time freelance job and stay home with the kids and I’ll keep working. Since I manage the household finances I know I need to provide for my family and make things work. The setup isn’t bad financially right now. His father pays $2k a month, which brings our $7k a month mortgage down to $5k. I figure that half of that is going to principal so in some sense we’re paying the same for the house as we were for a one bedroom rental. Maybe my math is off but it’s close. The real money suck is the cost of ownership and the lost gains on the downpayment that sat for a while, but that’s long gone. The house happened to appreciate a lot this year so maybe we’re close to break even.

My husband is pretty simple. He’s happy here. I mean he doesn’t love the area we moved to but he doesn’t hate it and he acknowledges with our financial situation we can’t afford to live in the are we both would prefer to live (never mind if he got a full time job we could.) He has a lot of anxiety (can’t say more or less than mine but different) and seems incapable of holding down a full time job. And we both agree that it’s better for him to be home with the kids vs send them to daycare.

I complain a lot. About stupid things. About not-so-stupid things. I look at our bank statements and think wow — I can’t say I deserve the $ I have now but our lives could be so much… better. I shouldn’t have to feel trapped in a job with leaders who are sociopathic and bosses who tell me I have a horrible personality for leadership. Perhaps I do but that’s besides the point. I’m tired. Exhausted. I’m trying my darnedest to just push through because the more I complain the less chance my husband will agree to the third kid. Which I know sounds manipulative on my end too. He wants to have a kid of the opposite sex as the two we have now, so he is agreeing to the plan for a third kid but I can tell he’s not sold.  That said he wasn’t sold on the second kid and he loves the kid more than anything. I think the one thing we’re really good at is being parents and loving our kids. I’m scared of a third but at this point my life is my kid’s life anyway what’s one more?

Where the abusive behavior comes in is in his inability to accept that I’m allowed to change my mind. Maybe I’m not. Maybe because I do it all the time about important things and drive him crazy I am at fault here. But some things you don’t know until you know. I thought I’d be fine working and seeing my kids only a few hours a day. I didn’t understand how tired I’d be. I didn’t realize how four years later I’d still feel the same way about my career and see it as a dead end of stress and exhaustion. I don’t know if it’s wrong to think that in a marriage one’s partner should care about them and they’re well being and lean into what would make them happy and/or helping them find it. I’m not the best at that either. But I bought this house because it (sort of ) worked for his father to live with us (and gave up the master bedroom suite for this to work) and I ordered him a fancy treadmill because he wanted to be able to work out at home since he can no longer go to the high school track at 2am now that we’ve moved away from the safer area (even though I always though that was a bad idea!)

It’s interesting too because I’m watching now my friends going through what is a variety of situations with their lives. Those who are still with their partners from their 20s and early 30s seem less than happy. Those who have started over seem to have shifted what they wanted in a partner and are happy now albeit also in interesting setups that are maybe not the best long term.

One friend, still married, has a hard-working husband who is never home. He owns his own business. She shares that he’s never around to spend time with the kids outside of holidays and other major events. She got her nice house and attractive husband but I think she’s quite lonely. She also doesn’t think he runs his business well to make the most income but last I’ve heard he doesn’t want her meddling in his professional life. She works in a low-paid job so is stuck. She seems happy with her kids and friends but I’m not sure life is what she wanted.

Another friend got married quickly to a man who didn’t seem like a fit in order to start her family. She had big dreams of becoming a SAHM and having a husband who earned enough for a nice house and to support her family. Well her husband was depressed for a number of reasons. She put up with him not asking for raises or seeking to get ahead for her family. But then she found out he was cheating on her. And he left her for the other woman. She actually met up with the husband of the other woman and fell in love with him and a short time later they got married and had another child! Now they live in a large house with five children and are trying for one more. Luckily the guy made good money so he could afford it even with the crazy alimony he pays to his ex wife. She was able to quit her low-paid job and become a full-time stay at home mom. She seems exhausted but also it’s the life she wants.

And yet another friend who ended up a single mom due to her boyfriend being batshit has been struggling to get by despite having a reasonably well-paid career. Lately her hours were cut and she didn’t know what to do. But a boyfriend from the past reappeared. He seems to be wealthy — owns his own business and maybe has millions of dollars. He’s throwing money at her to help her pay her bills. She feels bad about taking it but also needs the support to afford her mortgage and daycare. She seems to really like the guy, despite that he has an aversion to telling her that he loves her. She thinks they might get married and have more kids. I haven’t met the guy but she’s known him for years and I think in some way having an old bf come back into your life can be a good thing because you’re not blinded by the novelty of a relationship but really valuing the good parts of the relationship. So she seems like she might be on her way to a happy, stable life.

And another friend still with her (first) husband tells me that her husband says mean things to her and while she earns more he doesn’t do anything to help around the house. She’s at her wits end though they’re still together so maybe she’ll put up with it.

I mean, relationships are complicated. And being a woman is a strange thing in modern society. It’s still acceptable to quit your job and become a SAHM and have a husband who earns enough to pay for the entire family (though not always possible.) And it seems in most cases where I see friends being happy it’s this setup. Even my Bay Area friends have this setup. Some were the wife quit others were wife works a passion project but it definitely isn’t about earning income (and some years actually looses money.) I’m sure every couple has their ups and downs but this seems to work.

So I try to put myself in the mindset that I play that traditionally male role in the household. And if I do I really can’t complain about anything. My job is to pay for my family. Men usually don’t talk about how much they hate their jobs with their wives. They just deal with it or get another job. They don’t talk about moving because they try to make their wives happy. They feel like this is their responsibility. Maybe they like being in this role and having that responsibility. Maybe I like it a bit as well. It makes me feel like I have some value in this world.

I guess I still feel like I’m in a mildly abusive relationship. But maybe every relationship is mildly abusive. Because there’s a tension that comes from being stuck with someone who doesn’t share everything you want in life, feeling like you have to make them happy but also try to find your own happiness when the world tells you as a parent (esp as a mom) your happiness comes second or third. And maybe you don’t know what makes you happy anymore. Because before the world was your oyster. You had hopes and dreams. Everything was set up for you to be something and do something big. And now it’s clear that’s not what life is about. The time for when you could be something or do something is behind you, statistically speaking. So your life now is just about trying to stay healthy for as long as possible and teaching your children how to be good people and how to go after their hopes and dreams before it’s too late for them too.

If I had a clear picture of what I wanted that would help as well. It sure sounds like moving to a lower cost of living area would help the stress levels but a huge part of me doesn’t want to give up the opportunity that exists here. I don’t even know what kind of opportunity there is since I don’t want to pursue work at a startup or being VP even if recruiters are reaching out to me to interview for these roles. I would NEVER see my kids. I don’t want a job that requires a lot of (or any) travel. I’m torn between staying in my current role where I am miserable precisely because there is no opportunity for growth (or to earn more) and not wanting to grow and seeing other roles at the same level of work paid even lower without moving up. What makes me sad is the feeling of being trapped. I’m not actually trapped. But I can’t rationally change anything because things aren’t that bad right now. Even earning $250k next year after my stock drops off is pretty darn good. If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would jump at a job making $250k I would, of course say yes!

I don’t really want to be a SAHM mom either. It’s Sunday morning and I’m hiding from my kids (who are with my husband and now with my FIL) writing a long blog post. I took them out all day yesterday for a hike and lunch and drive and I’m super exhausted now. I couldn’t do that every day of my life. Working is a lot easier!

But what I’d like is for my husband to not make me feel bad about the fact that all these things are grey. For him to support me in that I agreed to his father living with us before I experienced him being here. Before I experienced our bed in our family room with no privacy for a year. Before I found out that it wouldn’t work like it did when his father came over on the weekdays to help out but instead his father would come out of his in-law every morning even on the weekends when I just wanted to have my family in the house. How this lack of boundaries makes me incredibly anxious and how it is important to me that my husband watches the kids on Sunday mornings while I have some alone time in the office. That we need to treat our areas of the house as separate units. That even if he comes out for a short while it makes me feel uncomfortable in my own space. That I would never just go into his in law without knocking or assume that I can do that. I failed to understand how the boundaries would be set. And it all went to hell last year anyway when I had a newborn and I was grateful for the help. But now, I just want a bit more privacy. I want to be able to walk around my house in a robe and feel ok about it.

This all impacts my marriage a lot. I feel like my husband doesn’t actually care about me. He would likely say the same in reverse. So that’s not good. I am trying to get my things in the house cleaned because that’s a huge issue and I know I need to keep my stuff organized (with my ADHD it can get quite bad.) And it seems like he’s unwilling to care about me in the least until I can do that. I accept that as it has been an ongoing issue. Never mind that my income makes it possible for us to live here at all. Or that I’m still breastfeeding our youngest child and can’t be on my own for more than three hours at a time. But I agree my mess needs to be cleaned up. So I’ll do that. But I don’t get the sense that he’ll change at all for me. He doesn’t care to. Because he’s convinced he is always in the right. Maybe he is. He always makes me think because I came from such a messed up family that I don’t know how things should be. I question myself whether I do. And sometimes when I complain too much and it has been a particularly rough night he flips out and while he’d never harm me he starts hitting himself in the head and shaking in frustration and it’s really scary. I realize that I am harming him and I need to stop. I need to stop complaining. I need to stop telling him one thing and changing my mind.

Mostly he’s a mellow, calm guy. But when he’s tired and frustrated he can crack. It scares me. It has happened a few times. Once over a stupid thing where he was putting together a kitchen set for my son and put the wrong screws in and I asked him to fix it and he freaked out. I don’t remember what the last fight was about. I think because I ask him to do things and then he doesn’t do them well and then I make comments about that and he gets really mad. And always if I chew with my mouth slightly open he treats me like I’m a 2 year old. Should I chew with my mouth open? No. It’s a bad habit and it’s disgusting and I shouldn’t do it. But the way he treats me really upsets me. I mostly try to not eat around him. He just gives me this look and puts his fingers to his mouth and it makes me feel like I’m shoved into the ground, like I’m a little girl being scolded. You know, little me earning $250k+ a year and supporting the family. Being treated like shit because sometimes I chew and make noises with my mouth. Is that acceptable?  I don’t know. I guess I make him feel bad about a lot of things too. How does a relationship survive this kind of constant subtle cruelty to each other? Is any of it justified? If I make an effort to change, will he? He doesn’t see anything wrong with his behavior. I think that’s the difference. I’m aware that I need to change. He’d doesn’t think he needs to at all.

I am just frustrated I can’t delegate things. Like getting the refrigerator ice machine fixed with the home warranty that was running out. Well the ice machine was fixed but the water has a leak coming out of it when you use it and I makes a mess on the floor. I want him to be able to think that he should check that the whole thing works properly when the guy is here so that way it can actually be fixed since we paid $75 for the warranty to send the repairman out and now we don’t have a warranty anymore. I want him to be able to think in a more detailed way but he doesn’t know how to do this. So I know I should just not delegate these tasks. Or I should stop caring about the flood of water on my kitchen floor every time I get water from the fridge.

When he gets into these moods they last a minute or so and it’s terrifying. I realize that he is not well mentally and he could seriously harm himself because of my nagging. So I shut up. And shut down. I know nagging is not the way to get what I want anyway. I can’t change him. And he can’t change me even though I’m trying to be better at being a housemate. I don’t know. I just feel sad and tired. And like no amount of money can fix me or my life.

To the next 23 years.

It’s nice to think I’ll live to 100, but it’s doubtful. I still plan financially for a long life “just in case” but the reality is my health is already headed downward. I can improve my health by exercising and eating healthy (which I am trying to do now slowly as I get back into thing after having a baby) but right now with my newly-diagnosed blood clotting disorder and potentially unrelated headache symptoms that have now gone on for days since getting the second covid shot, I just feel like my body at 37 is already starting to fail. So I’m giving myself 23 years. That’s how long I have until I’m 60. Anything after that, unfortunately, is gravy. I mean, my morbidly-obese cancer-stricken father made it to 67, but 60 seems like a good goal for now.

Twenty three years isn’t long at all. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what matters to me in this life. I try to avoid thinking about death as I’m terrified of it, even though it’s inevitable, but instead I try to focus on, ok, I’ve got 23 years, or six “four year vesting periods” before I am at high risk for a variety of illnesses, should I even make it that long.

One thing I know for sure — I love being a mom. I do want a third child, but I’m not sure my body can handle it. My plan was/is to do IVF and try to have a girl (*I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this as I think gender is a social construct but it’s also a “real” social construct and a mother and her daughter tend to have a different kind of relationship compared to a mother and her sons), but as of yesterday I’m wondering if I should just let nature do her thing and if I get pregnant again I get pregnant again and if it’s a boy I should be happy with that outcome as three brothers can be nice as well. Going the natural route, as long as I can lose weight quickly, would enable me to get pregnant sooner (if I can) versus waiting to wean and start IVF. With my clotting disorder it seems like IVF may be too risky overall. I need to talk to a doctor about it. If I can’t get pregnant naturally (at 38) then we could always do IVF then, but I don’t have to make that my first option. It’s always possibly baby 3 could end up being a girl by chance, although it just as likely could end up being another boy.

And who knows if my health will allow me to safely get pregnant again anyway.  I need to lose weight, but I’m struggling a lot this time. I don’t feel like I’ve been eating a ton lately yet the scale is stuck at 188-192 and it keeps bouncing back up. I’m avoiding most sugars and have really improved my diet yet here I am. I need under 180 fast to relieve what my weight is doing to my body and then continue to work to get it down much further. If I do get pregnant again, I want to start the pregnancy at or as close to a healthy BMI as possible (which means losing 50lbs!) which given I’m struggling to lose .5lb a week will take, uh, forever. I do remember last baby I didn’t lose a lot of weight until a year in when baby started eating food and breastfeeding less. Then the weight started to come off. And I dropped 10lbs in March last year but that’s because I either had COVID or pandemic-induced anxiety and didn’t eat much in a month and was walking miles a day. I need to start walking that much again and I’d like to be able to lose weight while still eating (healthfully.)

This headache situation is no fun right now though. It’s honestly scaring me. I’m hoping it’s just long-term side effects from the vaccine and will go away soon. It’s been this on and off stabbing pain throughout the left side of my head. I took Excedrin this morning and it transformed into a huge amount of pressure, then my left arm and face felt heavy. I’ve been lying down and feel a little better, but afraid to get up. I’m slightly nauseous. I just want to feel myself again.

The stress of going back to work isn’t helping. I’m trying to refrain from getting stressed as it seems to be a trigger for my recent uptick in medical issues but I just have more and more anxiety by the day. It’s not like my old-time anxiety that I hand somewhat a handle on. I just feel like the weight of the world and so many things is crippling. I’m behind on EVERYTHING. So, gosh, why do I want another kid? Well, the only thing in my life that feels right at the moment is being a mom. And I think I’m a pretty good mom thus far. I can be a pretty good mom to two children but to me family is really everything and there isn’t much of one out here on the west coast so I need to rebuild that. Hopefully I’ll live longer than those 23 years and I can enjoy many years with my children and maybe even their children too. It’s crazy to think how old I’ll be (if I’m still around) when they might have kids. Makes me wish I had my children younger, I just wasn’t thinking about “the other side of it” when putting off having my kids until my mid 30s. I’m glad I had my 20s but it wouldn’t have hurt much to start having kids in my earlier 30s. My dad would have even gotten to meet my firstborn and to this day it kills me that he wasn’t able to meet his grandchild, when I know that would have really made him so happy. And he’ll never know about his second grandson or whoever else might come next. I remain heartbroken.

I want a family. A big-ish one. I want to turn this house into a home somehow. It doesn’t feel like one yet. Or maybe sell this house and buy another place that feels more like a home one day. This place is just a bunch of boxes. Rooms that are all the wrong size and put in an odd layout. I can fix it up but probably never will. The bathroom remodel took a toll with all the decisions. Probably better to sell and move. To the city where I wanted to buy. Though houses go for $1000+ a square foot there, more in the areas we’d want to be. It’s insane. And I don’t see myself moving into a well-paid role… ever again. I can’t handle the pressure. I need something that is more stable and lower stress. For my health. It was fine when it just impacted my mental health but now that it’s putting me at risk for an early death or other issues that could disable me I just want to part in that game. I’m hanging on for dear life for the next eight months to get the last of my stock but after that I’m reevaluating everything. I just want time. The most precious resource of all.

I’m scared, too, that a manic episode will return. I’m so far removed now from the one I had in 2019. My therapist won’t believe me about it, she thinks I’m just depressed. It’s terrifying when you lose control over what you say and do. For the most part the whole time period was quite benign, but I definitely regret some things I said. I don’t know who I was then. I was someone else. It’s sad that I felt GOOD then, like I was entertaining and charismatic and all the things I want to be in my vat of awkwardness. Clearly I wasn’t any of that at the time, but I felt that way. Now I’m on the other end of it, I guess. I don’t even know if I’m depressed. I’m just tired. Tired of chasing after — proving that I can “do this” whatever this is. “Not failing.” Making money. Growing that money. Buying a house. Keeping the house. Being an adult. Supporting a family. I’m grateful for it all and know I don’t deserve any of it. Yet it’s still hard to hold on. I power through the days. I count down the weeks. I watch the clock pass by until it’s night again and I can close my eyes to sleep for 6 hours straight if lucky. And yet I know one day I’ll look back at these moments and miss them too. Isn’t that funny. These are the best days. I want to start feeling like they are.

Wanting a Life That Isn’t About Making It to the Next Vest.

My spreadsheet has some good news — if I can hold out four more vesting periods, I’ll be able to afford taking a job with lower pay for a few years while I sort out a better career path. “All I have to do is just survive until 2022, and then… things will be better. Somehow. Or, at least different.” I think this to myself over and over again as my fast-growing toddler and infant cling to me and I realize that a year from now my infant and toddler will be, well, a year older–a big year of changes and growth that I don’t want to miss. I don’t want to “just survive.”

Then–there’s the fact that I’m almost 40. Fuck. How’d that happen? 40. It is just another year and yet it is–fucking forty. That’s old. No offense to my readers who are 40 or much older. Because there’s nothing wrong with being old. And certainly when you’re 70, 40 seems young. It’s a matter of perspective. But it’s one of those ages that when you’re a kid and when you’re 21 you think is old. Not to be morbid, but random people start to die at 40. Not a lot of people. And it happens before 40. And others live to 110. But you hear things like… just today actor Dustin Diamond died at 44. Cancer. He found out about it 3 weeks ago and just like that, he’s gone.

I don’t think I’ll die in my 40s just because I’m turning 40–but I certainly feel my mortality in a way I didn’t in my 20s or 30s. Time is always finite, but it is–finiter. And being 37 thinking “man, I just want to survive until I’m 39” doesn’t sit right, even if it means I’ll have (maybe) $500k more in my bank account. It’s fine to want to get through the year and do a good job at work to earn my keep and then some, but I’m so so so tired of spending my life waking up every day thinking how do I get to the next X. Friday. Vest date. Year end.

I’ve lost all passion for living. Not that I had a ton, ever. But I used to look forward to things in the short term. I don’t know how to anymore. Occasionally I look up and see my toddler cuddling with my husband and I feel like I’m watching my life as if it were a movie. How cute they look. What a perfect father and son. A little boy who is no longer a little infant who is no longer a combination of DNA in my belly. A little boy who soon will be a big boy and then a man with little time in between to even notice the transformation unless I’m paying close attention. And here I am, waking up each day thinking how I’ll survive to 2022.

I’m not going to change this mentality any time soon. Surviving until 2022 is still a major goal of mine. As I’ve mentioned before many times, it is the winning lottery ticket that I just need to keep in my hands for a short time via quality and on-time work and then the proceeds can significantly impact the stability of my family’s future. I just want to figure out how to stop playing my life like it’s a game and just start living it. But how?

I don’t know if this is depression or if it’s just what happens when you’re an adult who has lost her way. I don’t know if I take some pills to boost my dopamine that I’ll suddenly feel “in” my life again. Like, is this actually chemical? Is this why in periods of mania and/or depression I find myself craving chaos, something that shocks the system and provides a different sense of time. I get that from some healthy things… like starting a new job, for the first few months. Those early wins. The first months where unconscious bias of your hiring manager gives you the benefit of the doubt and tells themself you can do no wrong — after all, they hired you and you must be great. Your work proves them right.  You’re a shining star, picking things up so quickly. Impressively so. Until you’re not. Until everything great is expected of you, and anything less than excellent causes grave concern and achieving success becomes a higher hill to climb each time. The novelty is gone. It’s just another job. And you’re just another employee.

There’s seeking that thrill in work, there’s not finding it there and accidentally chasing it in real life. There’s stepping back and slapping yourself in the face with a big reality check and a reminder that your life isn’t meant to be some crazy adventure. Stability is good. Enjoying the little moments is what it’s all about. There is no plot. No  winning. No game. Well, the only winning is–actual survival. The health of your family. Helping your kids solve challenges. Inspiring them to do so on their own. Changing their many diapers. Getting them ready to face adulthood a little (or a lot) better than you did. Watching them grow. Spending time with your parents and other family members as long as they have left. Talking about meaningless whatevers. Disagreeing and debating for the sake of social entertainment. That’s life. That’s what maters.

Survival is pathetic. It’s basically a form of long-term suicide. Just watching the months and years go by. Experiencing all of it from the outside. Afraid and uncomfortable. Unable to say the right things but somehow perfectly capable of saying all the wrong ones. So you just get through it all. You kick yourself, constantly, for all the things you’ve said wrong. You wish to start over. You run from your past, even if your past was just a few minutes ago. Your life is survival and escape. And you’re so tired of it. You want to be normal. Happy? Maybe. At least just living for the moment instead of trying to get through the moment. It may be a pill is needed to make that possible.  A pill to fill my mind with the chemicals needed to wake the fuck up and fall in love with life before it’s too late. Hopefully there’s plenty of time life. But there’s never enough. So why waste it wishing the days disappear as fast as they appear? No good reason. This has to change. It must.

 

Financial Planning in the Age of Coronavirus

Like many of you, I’ve been trying to stay afloat–mentally–under stressors that appeared practically overnight. With the economy humming along somewhere through a very long bull market, it was clear the upward tick to the markets wouldn’t last forever. However, I don’t think anyone thought it would end so jarringly.

I sit here from my “shelter in place” apartment in one of the worst hit counties in California. My company went a little early in moving to WFH and I’ve been adjusting, but the last weeks have been a bit of a blur. On the Saturday before my company decided to move to a WFH policy, I felt I was coming down with something. I don’t think I had a fever, I just had mild aches, and my chest immediately felt impacted. I went to work on Monday (if I had a fever I definitely wouldn’t have) and waited for my company to make the call. It wasn’t far into the day Monday when whispers of the company going fully remote made their way around the office, then an email formalizing that we would no longer be coming into the office for the next few weeks.

My lungs tight and heavy managed to breathe a sigh of relief. All I wanted was to get home and keep my family safe. At the time my 76-year-old father-in-law who provides childcare was still coming to our house via the train. It made no sense. I feared for his health and safety. In those 24 hours our worlds changed. Grandpa no longer would take the train to provide childcare. But my husband and I would still continue working, albeit with both of us WFH, with no childcare.

Over the next days my lungs felt like they had a cool liquid pouring into them, a slight burning sensation, and I felt winded after walking or picking up around the house. With no fever, I didn’t want to be a hypochondriac, but I emailed my doctor and she said normally she’d have me come in to check out my symptoms (as they were concerning) but with coronavirus going around she couldn’t, so she’d just treat me for pneumonia–just in case that’s what I have. Coronavirus testing was out of the question since I hadn’t been to another country recently and had no known contact with another person who tested positive. I was put on a course of powerful antibiotics and provided an inhaler to help me breathe.

The next day, our entire region went on full lockdown.

Two weeks later, my lungs still hurt. I’m not sure if the antibiotics did anything. I’m not convinced I have coronavirus, but I’m also not convinced that I don’t. My husband had what appeared to be a bad stomach bug with a low fever the same week I first felt ill, and now coronavirus reports say that sometimes it starts with gasterontestinal issues. He too felt some tightening in his chest. Neither of us were coughing, though–so what we have could be pretty much anything. If it’s coronavirus, we’ll never know outside of suspicion. I know whatever is happening to my lungs, this cold fluid sensation and the tightness in the center of my chest, is new to me. Could it be crippling anxiety? Sure. But the cold fluid sensation is strange and I continue to have mild respiratory symptoms.

I think I’m ok. Physically I’m just trying to take it easy. Mentally, I’m a mess. I know way more than I ever wanted to know about pandemics and how they exponentially spread. I’ve spent countless hours trying to convince my boomer mother, stuck in her snowbird condo in Florida, to take this seriously–especially given she’s in an area with a lot of older people mixed with young tourists where things will likely get bad.

Then, there’s my portfolio. Down something like $200k, give or take, prob give quite a bit more in the coming weeks. I’m a buy-and-holder, and got my start in investing right before the 2008 downturn, so I believe in the power of investing when everything is going haywire and how the recovery is when wealth is made. Downturns are good for the market and give us a time to buy on sale. But this whole situation is unprecedented and things can get a lot worse than they are. It’s unlikely–given its fatality rate–that the economy will fail to recover once a vaccine is tested and brought to market. But I don’t know how the economy can handle everything shutting down for a while, especially if this goes on (or on and off and on again) for 18+ months.

I’m using this opportunity to rebalance my accounts, but not to sell for no reason. I’ve been doing some unrelated research regarding asset allocation including real estate, as well as what one should really have in cash for a home purchase. I’ll write another post about that eventually, but I’ve basically determined that 30% of my net worth should be held in real estate. I’m looking at 30% of my net worth including a downpayment, closing costs, and a conservative 12 month emergency fund. In order to afford a $1.7M house, we need $500k cash in the bank.

My CFP who I hired for a year (who is no longer my CFP) recommended putting my downpayment into municipal bond funds for the tax advantages over the low interest-paying savings accounts. Well, that plan went to shit in the last two weeks. Apparently muni bonds funds are usually super stable. But after I put $200k into them, they decided to become volatile in a way they haven’t been since 1987. So far I pulled out the $200k (down to $192k) and put it into a short term bond fund, to take the loss in the intermediate state muni. That hurt a bit. Will probably just move everything to cash soon. It seems like this will be the year to buy–that is, if I can keep my job!

On top of all of this I’m not questioning the timing of trying for my next child. Due to infertility issues (at least with my first kid) plus now my “advanced maternal age” of 36, I really don’t want to wait. I also really don’t want to be pregnant–with the weakened immune system that comes with that–in the middle of a global pandemic. If I do get pregnant, we also have to move, which isn’t horrible since I do think this will be the year to buy. But if we’re on a year-long shelter-in-place, I don’t know how we’d move. We couldn’t even look at houses–or rentals for that matter. I think we could manage a year with two kids in a one bedroom (we’d save a ton that way) but legally you’re not allowed more than 2 adults and one kid per one bedroom, so we’d be in a bad situation… if it gets to the point where I’m pregnant and we aren’t allowed to leave our homes except to get groceries and medical supplies.

My overall thoughts right now is:

  1. Make sure we have our downpayment fund (ideally $500k) secure in cash or cash equivalents by fall (we have about $363k right now if I sold the bonds, and if I needed to I could make up for the rest selling stocks, but I’d prefer to not have to do that.) Be ready to buy when no one else is buying.
  2. Try my best to keep my job. I’ve actually been making progress on my coaching plan and things seemed to be turning around. Then Corona hit and–who knows. I’d be on the chopping block if there were layoffs, probably. I’m hoping we don’t have layoffs coming, but I have to assume they are with the state of the world. If I assume they are, then buying a house sooner than later makes sense (kind of, I mean not having a job won’t be great after buying a house, but that’s why I’m making sure we have a 12 month emergency fund.)
  3. Just try to get pregnant and see what happens. Worst case, I’ll be giving birth while incubated with a shared ventilator wrapped around my head, with my husband waiting from home to hear if I’ve survived childbirth and coronavirus and if the baby is ok. Ok, that’s a pretty horrible worst case, but it’s a possible one. More likely if I were to get pregnant I’d get a different standard of care as the doctors would try to keep me out of the office as much as possible. Given my infertility situation, it’s still unlikely I’ll get pregnant naturally. I do worry about being able to get infertility treatment in the next year, especially if we need something beyond the medication-based treatment protocol we did to conceive baby #1… The good news is that I conceived baby #1 right after a 3 month in-between job break where I focused on my health, travel, and relaxing. This isn’t exactly the same scenerio–I’m working and stressed–but I think over time with this WFH situation, if I can manage to keep my job and be as productive as I know I can be WFH, I can really focus on making the most out of every hour in the day to eat healthy, exercise, sleep, and do the things that set my body up for the healthiest possible pregnancy.

Things sure are crazy for everyone these days. I know I’m not alone. I’m trying to figure out how to balance being a mom and working from home with no childcare and getting to that level of health I want–I ordered some new running shoes and plan to use them, while staying six feet away from the other residents of my neighborhood, to disconnect from the panic sensation that fills me daily and reconnect with the sounds of nature and the taste of spring air. I hope things go somewhat according to plan, but not counting on it.

 

 

 

 

The Things that Matter: American Workaholism and Being a Mom

It’s 5am and I am exhausted but can’t get back to sleep after my son woke up screaming for milk a few hours ago. He didn’t actually drink that much. My breasts are still engorged and I’m too tired/lazy to pump. I’m supposed to “wake up” for work in an hour, to make myself presentable for an 8am meeting. I’m not doing the best job of being presentable given I’m so exhausted and no amount of coffee will help.

But my exhaustion isn’t just due to being woken up in the middle of the night. It’s the hopeless exhaustion of now being in the midst of the roller coaster of life, with time both going too fast and too slow, and memories of long gone childhood reminding me that life wasn’t always like this–always so formulaic in its requirements for supporting basic sustainability of existence.

My fear to pay more in rent a month isn’t helping. My fear of running out of money, or, more so, of getting to the point where I have a nervous breakdown and do not go into work one day because I can no longer stand the majority of my waking hours being dedicated to trying to get people to buy a product that–very successfully–helps companies reduce their workforce (though that’s not its primary purpose, but like most tech for business these days, it’s one of its benefits.) Oh, it’s a great product and it’s exciting to be part of a company that’s growing and a team that is not in it to change the world despite also building products that reduce headcount (the idealism of startups was nice for a while, but it also feels good to be part of a team that doesn’t entirely live and breathe work 24/7.) But, at the end of the day, always the very long yet never long enough day, I sit in traffic on the freeway for 45 minutes with all the other commuters headed home and talk to my 6 month old son on the phone who is crying and anxious for mom (well, for mom’s chest anyway) and who doesn’t care that I’m sitting in traffic or that I have to go to work to make enough money to try to save so maybe one day we can buy a house and go on vacations and such.

The reality is that my situation is so much better than 99% of the world, maybe even 99.9% of the world, and I’m still, well, not happy. I don’t know if I have the capacity for sustained happiness, given it’s me we’re talking about, but I’d like to not constantly live in fear. I acknowledge that buying a house with monthly mortgage payments will heighten my anxiety immensely. If we can make it work to buy a property with my MIL and FIL, and keep our monthly payments closer to what we’re paying now (or at least what we’d pay in rent for a decent 3br/2ba apartment), then maybe that’s ok. But then there’s all the other issues that come up with home ownership. It’s terrifying.

But then I’m also sitting here, 35 going on 40, realizing that there is no “when” at this point in life. I’m past the stage of saving and waiting. It’s now or never. I have a kid. I have a job that is as stable as my work will probably ever be. I have a husband who may return to school to make even less than he does now, but at least he’ll get benefits in case I should lose said job. Why not just take the leap? Have some stability for once? I’d like to give that to my kid. He won’t remember his first year of life, but I’d prefer not to jump around from rental to rental throughout his life. I know it’s not the end of the world, but I grew up in one home from 0-17 and although moving once or twice in that timeframe is ok, moving every year or every other year is best to be avoided. I want to meet my neighbors, I want to feel like we’ve “made it” by having our own backyard, however small it is. Our own kitchen and bathroom and walls and tiny storage area so my bike doesn’t have to live in our living room.

I’m tired. I’m tired and unhealthy and I know my body is upset for it. I feel myself aging too fast. I’m not finding time to work out and my diet has gone to complete shit. There’s so much I want to improve, but for now, I’m barely getting by.

I do not want to lose my job.

I’m already feeling incredibly guilty for taking a small amount of additional time on disability for PPD, and am ashamed to face my colleagues when I return to work, especially knowing that I will be taking additional (legally-protected) leave in the next year to spend time with my kid. I hate, hate, have being THAT woman and would not blame my employer for figuring out the fastest way to show me the door.

I’m hoping that won’t happen. I don’t pray, but I’m praying that won’t happen. I just can see how they’re understanding how they can operate perfectly well without me, and they would rather replace me with someone else–or any mistake I make will be a quick reason to show me the door. I feel bad for becoming a mother and worse for not adjusting well to motherhood.

When I return to work, I really need to bring my A-game, from day one, through day a billion. I always try to do this, of course, but now I have to fight hard and strong to keep this job. I don’t deserve it, I am not good at it, and I have to try hard to do whatever it takes to be a good employee. I don’t know how to do this, because I’m socially awkward, unintelligent, and a complete fraud. But I’ll try. I’ll try and I’ll stop telling my husband I’m going to get fired because it makes him upset and he says I need to stop telling myself this because I self sabotage.

How can I keep this job? Like, really keep it. For at least three more years. Twelve more quarters. Thirty-six more months… 1095 more days…of amazing, irreplaceable-quality work.  Non stop. Full energy. Listening to my coworkers and doing whatever it takes to help them achieve their goals. Helping my boss who already looks great look even better. Being a team player. Never asking for anything other than the opportunity to do what’s right for the team and company. Maybe, maybe I can keep this job those 1095 days.

It’s a whole new ballgame now, being a mom. I’m terrified. I feel very alone in this journey and need to figure out how to just make it work, on my own. I wish I was smarter… higher IQ… or at least better at faking it. I’m so scared right now. It’s like I’m hanging onto a cliff with one hand with hurricane force winds swirling around me and gravity times a thousand puling me down. I’m holding on for dear life. I want to somehow minimize my interaction with others… I’ve been far to personally invested in my work projects. I get too emotional. I care too much. That’s the problem. I need to care less and do more.

There has to be a way.

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?

 

 

Nothing Lasts Forever

My last boss (the one who fired me) — who joined the company after I was there for about a year and a few months — has apparently left after an even shorter tenure than the one I managed to maintain prior to getting the axe. I have no idea why she left — I can only guess, and I have plenty of guesses–but why she left doesn’t matter. The fact that she left less than a year after firing me means that clearly I wasn’t the problem. Or the only problem.

Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m trying very hard to view my job as just a job. I mean, it is. My job is to help my company make more money. And, if I do this, even indirectly, I likely can keep my job. We’re not curing cancer. So I try–incredibly, ridiculously hard–to care, but not care like that. Continue reading Nothing Lasts Forever

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.