Category Archives: Parenting & Motherhood

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.

26 Hours and a Baby Later

He’s oddly blonde, for now, with grey-green-blue-who-knows eyes that, despite being forced out at his 37th-something week of gestation, look deep into you like they’re thinking more than a newborn ever could think, disecting whatever blur and lines in front of his face into something meaningful and not terrifying. He could somehow still be cooking in the womb for another 1-3 weeks, but instead he’s out in the world with all of the energy I’ll never have again. I’m icing all my bits that helped him slide out into the world. I’m a mom again.

My maternity care and childbirth was free, thanks to an HMO and decent insurance from my empower. I splurged $750 on a virtual doula who turned out to be invaluable support in this particular experience, and may be splurging on a social-distanced family photoshoot which I count as part of my childbirth costs, since I didn’t have to pay anything else to safely deliver this nugget. Even then, I’ve paid far less than most people who have kids in this country.

My childbirth was not the healing one I sought after the one I had two years ago, though it had its positives. Two years ago, after 2 days of labor, one scary deceleration that almost led to an emergency C section (and a horrible moment of being forced to wear an oxygen mask which made it impossible to breathe due to my claustrophobia-induced hyperventilation), and then my son ending up in the NICU with low oxygen saturation for 36 hours, and then my dad dying a week later after a long battle with cancer and a number of other health issues (unrelated), and flying out to the east coast days later to attend his funeral that my mother said wasn’t going to be a funeral and then ended up being a funeral (so I’m glad I went) but dealing with my own blood pressure issues and concerns after the induction for gestational hypertension, well, that whole experience was just bad and I wanted this birth to be different. I knew it would hurt, because that’s what childbirth does, but I wanted it to be more of a “normal” birth. One free of major complications. One closer to what I expected the first time around.

For my first son, my blood pressure approached dangerous territory at 39 weeks, and my doctor said I should induce. When I go to the hospital and they asked if I had a birth plan I said “it was to not induce” so that was out the window. While I had vaguely studied pain relief for a natural birth, I had no idea what was involved in an induction. In my head, I wanted to go into labor naturally. I didn’t understand the risks with my borderline blood pressure, or that making it to 40 weeks was basically already a huge success and induction at that point wasn’t that big of a deal. I pushed back a bit on the induction timeline and spent a night in triage with my blood pressure being read every 15 minutes. While the doctor did not want to let me go home, by morning she was convinced it was safe to let me go as my blood pressure levels were down significantly. But then an amniotic fluid check and finding of low fliud confirmed that I should stay. And the induction began.

All while I was having my blood pressure checked overnight, I was reading about the horror stories of every induction drugs and tactic on the market. One of the worst offenders, it seemed, was a drug called misopropital (cytotec), which is an ulcer drug not approved for use in labor, yet used all the time in labor (I don’t really understand how off label use is allowed when the manufacture is very opposed to it and has warnings saying to not use in pregnancy.) I opted to turn down the cytotec and instead have a foley balloon placed to “ripen” my cervix, which is the first step in an induction. The goal of the cytotec and/or balloon is to get you to about 3cm so they can start you on Pitocin, which is the better-known induction drug. Pitocin makes you have ridiculously hard and frequent contractions which move the baby down the birth canal and help you push the baby out…

While I felt good about refusing cytotec for baby one–and first births are known for being long so it’s impossible to know had I taken it if It would have changed things at all, or for the better–I did end up with a very long induction. I did manage to get an epidural after hours of painful pitocin contractions which had me screaming and moaning. While the epidural needle was not an issue for me, I got the epidural shakes after (which are apparently very common) and they were horrible. After that, it was all a bit of a blur until my son came out after 2.5 hours of pushing and despite crying was blue and taken swiftly to the NICU. All I could think of was the video they showed in our breastfeeding class about how the baby is placed on the mom’s stomach and crawls to the breast to begin to breastfeed, and how I was robbed of that moment they made such a big deal out of (and later I learned that also meant I would have a long and challenging journey to make breastfeeding work, requiring round-the-clock pumping and attempting to feed from the breast for 8 weeks straight.) And then, being paralyzed by the epidural and told I couldn’t go to the NICU to see my baby for hours, left me alone in the delivery room thinking my son was going to die and I couldn’t even be with him.

My son didn’t die. While it was scary to see him hooked up on all sorts of tubes and having low oxygen levels, he was released two days later and we never found out what happened. Apparently he just needed time to adjust to the world. And I spent the next 2.5 years reading all about birth trauma, and found my story wasn’t nearly as bad as most trauma stories. I read about women who were put to sleep for an emergency C-section and woke up to no baby in their arms, or those who were cut into while the numbing drugs weren’t working correctly. I read about some who were not induced when they should have been and were left to birth babies too large or in the wrong positions. Women who had every last symptom of preeclampsia yet who were ignored until it was too late and they had seizures and died on the delivery table, only to be ressuctated and  brought back to life to live another day. I realized my story was barely traumatic–and yet, for me, it was something I didn’t want to relive.

So when I got pregnant with my second, I both feared a worse childbirth, but also felt optimistic about my odds of having a good birth, whatever that means. I even started looking forward to my delivery–what laboring at home would be like. What I would be doing the moment I felt my first contraction. When would baby decide to come on his own? Could I handle natural labor pain better than one induced with pitocoin? Could I get through labor without an epidural (no way!) or, how far could I progress before asking for the epidural (I made it to ~5cm last time, which is pretty good. I made a goal in my head to make it to 6 this time. Maybe that would prevent a NICU stay. Maybe getting the epidural too early slowed down the labor last time? Who knows.)

But a totally natural labor was not to be for this little one either. My blood pressure started creeping up and because I had gestational hypertension with my first, suddenly borderline readings that my doctor ignored with baby one were indicators to induce me super early. My OB looked at two BP readings, including one I took a home during a virtual visit, and said I should be induced at 37 weeks.

37 weeks???

In the back of my mind I figured I might end up induced again at 40, but hoped that I would go into labor naturally before that. With an induction at 37 weeks it was practically a guarantee I wouldn’t go into labor naturally. My hopes and plans for a natural labor were again out the window. With such an early induction, I worried, would this be even worse than my first one? After all, with baby one, at a day before my due date my body hadn’t even dilated 1cm. Would this be a worse experience? Would I end up with one of those horrific emergency C sections I read about? Would I need the oxygen mask on my face for an extended period of time? Would my baby make it out alive? Would I?

In researching 37 week inductions I found that they were quite common for medical indications. However, while 37 weeks used to be considered full term, it now is concerned early term. Elective inductions are now required to wait until 39 weeks–because baby is still forming in those 37-38 weeks. Kid’s IQ is a bit lower for each week they are unable to bake. While 37 weekers tend to survive well outside the womb, I felt delivering at 37 weeks was taking something away from my kiddo. I felt like a failure to have high blood pressure so early. And while some of it may be my fault due to gaining too much weight again this pregnancy, many thin women also end up with blood pressure issues. If the precursor to preeclampsia, which it could be, then it is related entirely to placenta failure. Every comment from well-meaning friends and family to just reduce my stress in order to bring my blood pressure down reminded me how little is understood about these fairly common diseases of pregnancy–the same ones that make America one of the top developed countries for maternal mortality, often from conditions related to blood pressure.

While I was grateful my OB took my symptoms seriously (I’ve seen many women on my Facebook groups note that with similar blood pressure readings and other issues like headaches, abdominal pain, etc, which signify something more serious happening, they are ignored) I still felt like the actual date I needed to induce was not clear. The 37 week recommendation was based on one study from 2009 of 600 women and it didn’t sort out people who had mild high blood pressure vs those who had very high blood pressure, and it also had diagnostic criteria that were changed since the study and brought down. Some reviews of the study noted the recommendation was for induction at the END of the 37th week, and others noted they were for the beginning. I started to hope that maybe I could make it to week 39, go into labor on my own, ignore my liable blood pressure that was slowly spiking higher and higher at random, and the issue would just go away.

I switched OBs. My new OB agreed with me that my levels at the time were not high enough to merit induction. But then I also started reading about what happens during childbirth if you let your blood pressure get out of control. Things could get bad fast. I joined a preeclampsia group on Facebook and read stories of women who had no blood pressure issues at all one day and were seeing 180/110 levels the next. I read about the infamous magnesium drip that makes you feel warm and like you have the flu during your childbirth and recovery, but minimizes your risk of seizures. I read stories of women who died because their blood pressure readings weren’t taken seriously. I started to chicken out from my plan to put myself on bedrest and stay the course. I made a silent agreement that if my numbers went over 140 or 90 and didn’t immediately come down, I’d go for the induction. My new OB supported my taking readings at appointments after I came in to the doctor’s room and sat for a while. We discussed my anxiety and white coat syndrome, and she agreed that the first reading when I get to the office without time to relax may not be accurate enough for a diagnosis.

I made it past 37 weeks. A huge win. But I also started seeing some high readings at home. Some that probably should have sent me to L&D.  But I’d go into bed, breathe deeply, wait a while, and retake the reading and it would come down. The final weekend before I ended up inducing I was having two friends over for a social-distanced dinner in my backyard when my felt my heart pounding a bit. I went to take my blood pressure just to check I was ok and it came back at 150 over something. I started to panic and throw things in my hospital bag and awkwardly asked my friends to leave. My husband had me get in the bed and calmed me down and my BP came back to normal levels. We decided not to rush to L&D, but to get some sleep and reevaluate in the morning.

Every day I didn’t go to L&D felt like a win in my mind. Another day for my son to grow and get closer to full term. Another chance of hitting 39 weeks and/or going into labor on my own.

Unfortunately, my new OB was scheduled to be on vacation the first week of January, so I had an appointment scheduled with a new doctor at 37+5 (37 weeks, five days.) I knew it was a make-or-break appointment. I expected my blood pressure to be high, but did not expect the readings I got. Or that it didn’t come down on a second read, or when I took it on my home machine that I brought in to the office (which was lower but still too high.) The OB, who was quite nice about things, said I should go to get induced today and put in a call to the hospital to schedule my arrival in two hours. She quickly did a cervical check and membrane sweep, which hurt a bitch, and told me I was 1cm dilated (of 10cm) , 50% effaced (of 100%) and -3 station (you want to be +”3″ to deliver a baby.) In other words, while I was ever-so slightly more ready to pop out a baby compared to my first induction, it wasn’t significant enough of an improvement that I had any faith this forced labor would go smoothly. I felt sad and spent the next two hours mourning the “natural labor” I wanted and wouldn’t get, at least not this time around.

When I checked into the hospital I also synced with my virtual doula–a woman who used to be an RN who also had a lot of experience with evidence backed birth. We discussed options and she encouraged me to take the misoprobital this time. I agreed because at least it was something different. I was a little worried about the reports of it overstimulating the uterus and causing too many contractions which could put the baby in distress and harm the mother (possibly causing her to lose her uterus.) But, it sounded like the worst side effects were still pretty rare, and my nurses at the hospital ensured me it was a common and cautious course — they start you on 50mg, a ‘half dose’, and watch your reaction for 4 hours. If that goes well, they give you 100mg and wait another 4 hours. They do the 100mg up to 5 times. The whole process could take an entire day. I liked that — at that point all I could think about was how to delay my son’s birth so he could cook a little longer in utero. This would buy me an entire day. I was game.

The first dose made me feel a bit flushed, but didn’t seem to do anything else. The following doses similarly did little. I felt a few contractions here and there, but nothing that a doctor would consider active labor. This is normal with the cytotec, apparently, as its job is to ripen the cervix, not to cause contractions. Its side effect is that it can cause contractions. But that’s not its main objective. It always is used as a precursor to pitocin, my archenemies chemical concoction of childbirth. There were stories of, rarely, a woman going into active labor after taking cytotec. I thought–wouldn’t that be great, if I could avoid the pitocin altogether! What if cytotec puts me into a normal active labor? Maybe this could be a good birth after all!

When I finished the 5 doses of cytotec, including 4 hours after the last dose, the midwife on duty at the time met with me and suggested we immediately start pitocin. My cervical check showed I was 3cm–which was actually really good for the cytotec. I wanted to get to 5cm before starting pitocin, and I also decided to get an epidural before starting pitocin this time, so I wouldn’t have to feel those horrible forced contractions. She agreed to give me 2 hours and then we would start the pitocin. The plan was always to just see if I could dilate a little more on my own, get an epidural, start pitocin, have baby when baby was ready to come out.

At that point I started to feel a few fairly strong but short contractions. My husband and I asked if we could walk the hall and we were given the ok as long as we wore our masks. Over about an hour and a half my contractions went from non-existent to very hard and very consistent. I realize now they weren’t being picked up on the monitors, but because they were so frequent I had my husband track them on my iPhone app. Looking back I see they were coming every 1-2 minutes and were intense for 30-45 seconds. I’m not sure what happened during that 1.5 hours, but my body went from not ready to have a baby at all to…

3:30pm. I get back to the room and I’m telling the nurse things are getting really painful. I suddenly am thinking 4pm, my check in with the midwife, is too far away. I am ready to throw in the towel and get the epidural now. Start the pitcoin. I’m a wimp. This hurts. I’m told that these contractions are my own, that the cytotec is mostly out of my system. The nurse doesn’t seem to believe me I’m having such frequent contractions. We discuss taking a shower to help me make it to 4pm. She knows my goal of dilating to 5cm before the epidural and pitocin. She is trying to help me get there. She sets me up for the shower, wrapping my hep lock in plastic, starting the water…

A minute or so later, I fold over in crippling pain. I almost find the pain funny, as I might have laughed in horror at that moment. I knew something suddenly changed. I felt a slight trickle of water down my legs and I thought (wouldn’t it be funny if that was my water brea…

Then, bam, out came a Hollywood-style pouring of water onto the floor in two giant bursts. I could tell my nurse knew that meant the show was really starting. Meanwhile, I felt my body immediately change. I can’t explain it. I just felt super scared. I didn’t know that I was about to have a baby so soon. I just thought I was going to have to ensure this level of crippling pain for a long time before I could get an epidural. I screamed out. I need fentynl (which I planned to get one dose of before the epidural like last time, to take the edge off), I NEED AN EPIDURAL, I NEED IT NOWWW….

Just as I was beginning to panic, I started to be hit with wave after wave of really fucking painful contractions. I screamed in agony. The nurse scrambled to get the anesthesiologist and drugs. I somehow made it to the bed. It was about 3:45pm at that point. Suddenly a bunch of people were in the room. My eyes were mostly closed. The OB was there, sitting next to me, saying she needs to check me. I didn’t know what was up or down. All I was thinking was how am I going to survive this until I get this epidural?!?! Just as the OB reported out loud that I was 5cm, I informed the room that I needed to both go to the bathroom immediately and vomit and I would be doing both in due time whether they liked it or not. The fentanyl dose was administered about then as well, as everyone said I cannot go to the bathroom on the drug. I was like, well fuck that, I’m going here and no one can stop me. No one seemed to be telling me not to poop the bed, everyone seemed focused on not letting me vomit on myself… they gave my husband a vomit bag and asked him to hold it to my mouth. I pushed it away as it made me feel claustrophobic and I was like fuck this I don’t want a vomit bag on my mouth why can’t I vomit all over myself I’m dying anyway just let me vomit on myself…

At the same time, I started to “poop.” Well, I wasn’t pooping. The midwife said “you’re pushing past your cervix.” I had no idea what that meant but it sounded maybe not good? The next thing I hear is “you’re crowning.” I think at that point I let out an audible “what??” The next phrase out of my midwives mouth was “that’s the head.” Both my husband and I said “huh?” at this point, as she continued “one more push and your baby is out” and at that point I couldn’t not push, so out came baby.

He was put on my stomach and looked ok and seemed to cry a bit but moments later they said he was having trouble breathing and he was taken away to the NICU. Even though I didn’t have an epidural this time, I had flashbacks to my first son’s birth of him being taken away, and I was again told I couldn’t go to be with him. Instead of that happy after-birth moment with my husband and new baby, I was left on the delivery table with the nurse pressing my stomach to get all the blood out and ensure I wouldn’t hemorrhage, and my husband was off to the NICU to be with our son. No breast crawl like the video. No skin to skin (after the initial minute.) No feeling that good feeling you get after you go through something horrible but end up with a healthy baby.

This time, at least, in an hour they brought my son back to me. He actually latched well and breastfed for a long time. We all went to the recovery room together. We had a little time to enjoy together before my son began having respiratory distress again and ended up back in the NICU the next day. He seemed to have a lot of amniotic fluid that wasn’t pushed out of his lungs due to the precipitous labor, but no one really knows what happened. The doctors all said it wasn’t because he was 37 weeks, but I’m not sure I believe any of that. No one seems to really know. I wonder, most of all, if the cytotec caused the precipitous labor, or if that was really all me after it was out of my system. Why weren’t my frequent contractions picked up on the monitor? Was I having overstimulation at that point? Should someone have been administering a drug to slow down my contractions? Was there any damage caused to my son in that labor that wasn’t just due to my own body having a baby really fucking fast?

Well, baby is here now and after a few days of adjusting and sounding like he was drowning due to being filled with fluids, he is doing quite well. Everyone who sees video or picture of him notes that he’s “so alert,” which I guess is a good thing for babies. My pediatrician also said this, and then noted that he’s strong and active, and that he will probably be an athlete. My husband and I frequently note that he doesn’t seem like an early-term baby, especially compared to our 40 weeker first child who came out acting much more like a premie than this guy. He seems healthy now.

After all of that, you might think I’m bat shit crazy (I am) but I want another child. We’re still looking into IVF for gender selection, which I’m partial towards due to also being able to do genetic screening of the embryo, which helps as I’ll be around 39 and my husband will be 40/41 when we try for our third and final child. Even though that’s a bit of a ways off, and maybe will never happen, I’ve got a wish for that delivery… no high blood pressure. No induction. No NICU stay.

It could always go far the other way. But in my heart, I still want that moment. Closure. That “golden hour.” I want to end the trauma that is labor–even in its best form–with the reward that its meant to bring–a sweet, healthy poop machine lying on your chest, ready for the world. Can I at least have that?

44 Days Left Until Baby 2; 14 Days Until Maternity Leave; -2 Days Since I Changed OBs and Fought My Diagnosis

Time this year is all sorts of wonk. I don’t know what’s up or down anymore, but I do know some medical events of the last week have been a bit of a wake up call for me that money isn’t everything and I need to take my health — physical AND mental – seriously.

When I got pregnant, I was aiming for a Feb baby. It’s silly but when you go on maternity leave (at least in my state) you get paid less than full salary (and lose out on some benefits) so it is extra frustrating to go out during a time period with a lot of paid holidays. The worst is going out over Christmas as my company gives a full week of paid time off then. The best time to be out, assuming 3-4 months out, is Feb-May. You still miss a few paid holidays, but it’s not that bad. And you also come back to work right before summer which is usually a bit slower and even if not people tend to be in better spirits and it’s not like returning at the start of the year when things are extra stressful.

But, alas, I got pregnant somehow on my first try, and I studied the calendar to determine that my 4 weeks of optional disability leave before my due date ran over the Christmas break week . But then I figured out the timing actually worked out where I could go out at Christmas and take the paid week off and then immediately go on disability.

For the record (and new readers) with my first kid I was stubborn and worked up until my due date. This may have contributed to having high blood pressure at the end, which led to an induction, which led to a bunch of other interventions which maybe is what led to my son having to spend 36 hours in the NICU. We aren’t certain what caused what, but it was a quite traumatic labor and when I set out to get pregnant again I told myself I won’t be stupid and I’ll go out on leave as early as I can even if it means losing some pay and other benefits.

Then came COVID. And work from home. And analyzing the losses of going out on leave early (a few thousand dollars.) And planning to work until my due date again. It felt odd to go out on disability early when I was literally working from my bed anyway. What would people think? I care too much about that, but mostly I care about losing my ESPP contributions when on disability leave, which are worth about $1000 pre tax a week after you remove the cost I put in to buy them. And the first week of disability is entirely unpaid, but that will happen no matter when I take it.

The thing is next year will either be so incredibly lucrative for me that losing a few thou won’t be noticed… or I will come back from having kid 2 and be such a mental case I can’t hold down my job for the year ahead and I’m fired by summer. Luckily I do still vest RSU when I am out, which is a godsend, so even with a summer axing I’ll be fine. It will be devastating given if I can just hold on one more year I will significantly shift my FIRE date sooner and I’m basically holding a lotto ticket for dear life as a train going a zillion miles is passing before my face… so… it’s hard to plan anything. I just need to plan the stay healthy.  That is the best I can do.

Speaking of do, I’m due in 44 days. Which is not a lot of days. Especially if you consider this week my (now former) doctor wanted to induce me in 20. Why? Well, let me tell you, maternal care is a mess because there just isn’t enough research and data to support serious recommendations. Some doctors are too conservative. Others, many, ignore women who have symptoms of serious complications until it’s too late. I have to say I’m glad my doctor errs towards conservative, but I was extremely frustrated by her too conservative recommendations based on data that in itself was faulty. Let me explain.

High blood pressure in pregnancy is no joke. Women die everyday from complications related to blood pressure rising out of no where. Babies die. Seeing high blood pressure readings should be taken seriously by doctors and patients alike.

But. One has to then consider how these readings are gathered and the accuracy of these readings before making a very serious diagnosis that impacts the course of your care — and your due date.

BP readings are notoriously inaccurate. That is why doctors often take 2-3, to determine if one read was influenced by how you were breathing or sitting or anything else. The diagnosis criteria for gestational hypertension is two reads of 140/90 at least 4 hours apart. In my case, at an in office appointment in Oct, my first read was 148/75. Scary. They took it again and it came down substantially. No one said anything to me like — oh, if you get one more high read like this we will induce you early. The only thing they said is that my second read was good, and not to worry about it. Ok.

Now, to get an accurate BP reading, I’ve since leaned (thanks internet) one is supposed to sit still in a chair for 5 minutes before the reading is taken. No where could I find how wearing a mask in an enclosed windowless space might impact the BP read of someone with a history of anxiety and claustrophobia, but I digress. I question the accuracy of that first read. If it was real, it’s quite scary. If it isn’t, well, it’s meaningless.

Fast forward 4 weeks. Due to covid my 32 week checkup is virtual. The nurse calls me and while on the phone with me has me take my BP at home. I’m not thinking while I do this… I walk quickly to the chair by the home machine after taking my weight, sit down with my back not supported, barely breathing, clenching my phone in my fist, muttering some comments as I begin to take the read. I wasn’t concerned as I had just taking it 3 times a few hours earlier and it was fine. So as I read the numbers… 142/90… out loud… I said to myself, that’s kind of high…

I asked if I could take it again. It came down. (Then later my husband, who purchased the machine, determined he could change his own BP read by 15 points based on the tightness of the cuff!)

But none of that mattered. The moment my OB got on the phone, she tells me she is diagnosing me with gestational hypertension and I will be induced at 37 weeks. What? I ask, shocked. I feel fine. I am pretty sure my home machine gave me an inaccurate read. As she explains he logic to me, the more frustrated I grow in her not requesting for me to come in to at least check the second read in office before scheduling an induction 3 weeks before my due date!!!

I requested an in office check and labs. She scheduled me for an NST and fluid scan that I agreed to and surprise surprise, every test I took came back clear. At the office, my BP was 127/70. While I may end up with high BP in this pregnancy and am higher risk for it due to being overweight and geriatric (pregnancy wise), there is no reason to induce at 37 weeks without two accurate high readings.

So I switched doctors. She agreed with me 100%. Said why take a second reading if you aren’t going to use it!

My first doc wanted to put me out on disability immediately. I politely declined. That would be 2 weeks of lower pay and a week I’d be out anyway with full pay lost entirely. And without time to properly transition, I would still be answering work emails and doing work-without getting paid for it. Instead, I decided to compromise. I’d go out on leave Jan 4 as initially planned. With work being super stressful and just sad lately, I have no desire to work a day longer at this point.

Regarding work, I understand why I was kicked out of my role, but the way it was and continues to be handled is one kick to the ego after another. My work friend, who will be promoted into the position I had (officially, once I go on mat leave) is good at what he does — but like most men is overconfident. That works for him at this company, because confidence and clarity are by far the most valuable leadership traits, whereas output matters little. It is good for him to have this opportunity — and as I told him if anyone else was stepping into this role I’d be pissed but I’m genuinely happy for him (I am) so it all works out. Sort of. I have a new role which is still stressful and ill defined, but it’s a bit less visible. I went from a position where I was seen as a strategic leader to one where i am more or less a project manager. Does it hurt? You bet. But I have an end date in mind and stock to collect and a baby to push out. I know my new boss won’t keep me forever. I’m hopeful I have a few months after I come back from maternity leave to find my footing before anyone considers asking me to pack my virtual boxes and get out. It seems this might be achievable.

And I may still have this baby early. In 2 weeks? In 2 days? Baby could decide to come early on its own. We officially move Dec 21 (as in hired movers are moving our stuff to our house then) so I’m hoping not before that. Or before Chanukah and Christmas. I would like to make it through the month with baby still cooking. That would be wonderful. Then come Jan any day can be a maybe baby day.

And then? Well, then I’ll be mom of 2 at 37. A homeowner. Not yet a minivan owner but that’s happening soon as well. I’ll be well on my way to 40 and maybe no more kids or maybe one more kid. I’ll be fully engaged in this next phase of my life – mid life, I guess – and trying to make sense of it. After my scary self-diagnosed bipolar manic episode in late 2019, I am hoping I’m now stable. I look at who I was those few months and feel so detached from that person. So embarrassed and ashamed of her. But maybe that was my last hurrah. Maybe that was my inner crazy child dying but not giving in to her mortality without putting up one last fight. I don’t know what it was. But I feel different now. Depressed, maybe. In a mellow way. I guess that’s what having nearly $2M in networth does to a person. I am spending too much these days but I feel a little bit more stable. If I am an just get through next year, just get to $2.5M by 1/1/2022 (or close to that), I can calm down a bit more. I want to be able to not worry about every dollar earned or not. To be able to take a job I’m good at — one where my work is valued as appreciated, vs considered acceptable largely due to pity. I need to find that job – that career. And it may not pay well. But I want to have enough saved where that doesn’t matter. Maybe I can make it happen. The next year will answer if I can. Or at least if I can try.

So I’m Having Another Baby in, Like, 6 to 9 Weeks.

Every once in a while I get a jolting alien kick from within, or a glance in the mirror at my humungous belly, that reminds me I’m quite pregnant at the moment. It’s easy to forget (well not that easy given how sore my butt is from the weight of carrying an adorable little parasite again.) In less than 10 weeks, my world is going to change. I’m going to have a baby, again. A baby! Only 2.5 years ago (not even) I had one of those. Now he’s curious, rambunctious, alphabet-addicted toddler who likes to draw on the walls when no one is looking.

How am I going to handle two of these? And why do I want another one? Haha.

I love being a mom. Truly. I didn’t know if I would. I know I’m not the perfect mom. But being a mom has changed me. Maybe I get sad a lot still, but when I see my son and his adorable little innocence and excitement around learning new things (“I wrote a W! Good job!” he exclaimed to himself the other day) how can I really be depressed? As long as my son (and future kid) have their health and safety, then I feel all the warmth in my heart to carry me through the dark times when my mind’s chemicals tell me I ought to exit stage left a bit early.

Nonetheless, I’m scared shitless of having another one. Every new baby is different. Last time I was a mess, with my long induction, son’s brief NICU stay, father dying a week after my son was born, inability to get my son to latch immediately and round-the-clock pumping, etc. And with all that, I actually got more sleep in that first two week period than I might get this time around. The NICU stay was terrifying, but it also meant that for the first 36 hours of my son’s life the nurses took care of him round the clock, and I got to dose off in the NICU chair as much as I needed. Then, when I went to my father’s funeral on the east coast a week later, for a few days I had a bed to myself and no baby crying (though I did pump on and off all night each day and managed to keep my supply up), and my husband had a series of wonderful friends and family come in to help him overnight so he could get some sleep too.

This time, we at least know what to expect (sort of ) but we’re on our own (sort of) and with another kid we have to keep alive. I know people do it (and do it with many more kids) but I’m still scared.

The worst of it is that because of COVID we’re in a bit of a pickle. My father-in-law will be living with us in his own space with his own entrance, but at 76 we cannot be near him for two weeks when coming home from the hospital as we’ll have to quarantine. My husband has told me that we can’t hire help either, because if we do that we’ll just have to continue to quarantine plus we’re risking more exposure to our newborn. So we’re on our own for two weeks for the. most part (it’s possible his father can occasionally watch our son from a distance in the backyard if we need a momentary break, but he can’t actually go near him.)

We’ll survive it, but it’s going to be really hard. And that’s IF everything goes well.

What if my new baby ends up in NICU again? For longer? What if something happens to me in delivery and I get stuck in the hospital and my family can’t visit? It’s quite scary right now. I knew going into this that COVID was not going away but this January and, knowing I’d be 37 when I deliver and wanting possibly a third kid, I made the choice to move forward to start trying to get pregnant anyway (it worked on the first try you guys… I did not expect that after basic fertility treatments for my first!) I thought maybe I’d be pregnant in a few months and I’d deliver in March, or April, or sometime in late spring/summer. I knew it was possible as with the beginning of the pandemic I began a daily walking route, started eating healthy, and dropped 8lbs in a month. My body was just ready, clearly. And on Mother’s Day I took at test and got my answer. Pregnant.

So here I am. Pregnant in a pandemic. Woohoo. Oh, I’m terrified. I’m also remodeling my bathroom. And going to showrooms during the weekdays wearing a mask and trying to social distance and hoping we don’t catch this thing. Cases are going up everywhere. My good friend who just had a baby got COVID a few weeks ago (in another state) and she ended up fine. I don’t know if I would. I’ve gained too much weight this pregnancy. I’m still about 25lbs down from my delivery weight from kid 1, but I wanted to gain max of 20lbs this time around and I’m double that now. I think it’s just a mix of my body craving carbs and the depression that kicks in around second trimester that makes me move towards a donut-only diet. Ok, I’m not that bad. But I have had a few too many donuts, despite telling myself that would not happen.

Anyway. Here’s to hoping that I–and no one in my family–will end up with COVID. That I’ll have a completely boring and uneventful labor, unlike last time, and have an opportunity to have my baby brought to me and put on my chest and left there to latch vs taken away in an instant because he’s not breathing. Here’s to hoping my mother, who lives in Florida, doesn’t catch a horrible case of COVID right when I’m due, as I seem to have this curse where family members die immediately after important events in my life (wedding — mom’s mother died three days later. Son’s birth — dad, a week later. Please, G_d, no death this time. Let’s make this one about life!)

We Got the Keys! And 10 Other Happy Things.

It’s time for a positivity roundup.

  1. A Home of Our Own: Yesterday, we got the keys to our house. We met our realtor after a month-long seller rent back, and she handed they keys over, and we finally were able to say goodbye to her and stay in the ouse on our own for a while without masks. It didn’t really feel likes ours yet, but it was / is ours. And even though it’s not perfect, it IS a perfect *cough*1.6M*cough* starter home. I really like the neighborhood and standing outside and watching families in houses a few blocks down and thinking about how one day my kids will have friends in the neighborhood made my heart all warm and fuzzy.
  2. Family Connections: My father-in-law, who is in his late 70s, loves spending time with my son and is helping us out a lot with him now through a very busy work period for my husband and myself. While not having to spend on childcare is very much an added bonus, it also is so great that my kid gets to bond with one set of grandparents. I hope my next kid also gets to bond with grandpa as well–and next kid should because grandpa will be living with us!
  3. Presidential Hope: While this election is a train wreck fueled by a president who thinks democracy = not counting all legally cast votes, it looks like Biden might win by winning GA and PA, even if AZ falls back to Trump. The loss of the senate is a shame, as it will give Biden little power to do much of anything, but at the very least we’ll have an adult in office again–which is really fucking important through a global pandemic. I don’t care what side of the donkey-elephant fence you’re on, having a commander-in-chief who throws temper tantrums daily on twitter and who hob nobs with dictators and makes enemies out of our top global allies will be pretty great. Knock on wood, he takes GA and PA and after realizing you can’t actually throw out legally-cast votes, he concedes and GTFO of the WH.
  4. So Far: A Healthy Baby. My pregnancy has gone relatively smoothly (knock on wood.) Sure, it’s 2am and I’m always awake these days at 2am with some sort of allergic reaction to my apartment, wide awake. But I’m healthy, I’ve made it to nearly 29 weeks now, and even if I have my baby right now its chances of survival are above 90 percent.
  5. Stocking it Up. I hit the RSU lotto at work. After years of working for startups and getting “stock options” which ultimately resulted in no value (or loss of value since one has to actually buy them when leaving the company in order to keep them), I finally was able to get hired at a fast-growth public company at just the right time for my initial stock grant to grow about 10x. While I vested a bunch before it hit this milestone (and sold along the way), I still have made a good chunk of change. If I can bite my tongue and hold out for 13 more months, I should make another 350k after tax at a minimum, not counting any saving from income/bonus/etc. This is pretty amazing in terms of a bump in my journey to FatFIRE. And it could be closer to 600k, depending on how the markets do.
  6. Career Path Fun: While my new role at work (that I had no say in) is a little scary from the long-term perspective (it will be hard to get a similar job that pays anywhere near as well at another company, which means I will need to pick up some new skills over the next year then quickly move on to maintain any sort of reasonable salary growth (and non shrinkage), I have to say my current position is kind of, well, fun. It’s not easy by any means, and I have a lot to learn, but I get to focus on one area and might actually be able to do a good job for a while. It also feels like a position I can do when I return from maternity leave without constantly feeling like I’m about to fail and be fired, so that’s good.
  7. Husband is Still Husband: I married the sweetest guy in the world and he hasn’t changed. Sure, our marriage isn’t perfect, but at the end of the day I get butterflies around hubby because he is just such a good, kind, and gentle person. He reminds me of the type of person I aspire to be. I know it’s easy to take one’s spouse for granted, and I need to put more work into my marriage esp when I have the energy to. do that again, but I’m so lucky to have found a really really good partner.
  8. Not Dead from Corona Yet: As far as I know, I haven’t had COVID yet, and no one in my family or friends circle has had it. I’m terrified and sad about the loss of certain freedoms and socialization, but the COVID world has also done some wonderful things for me. I’ve realized just how much my social anxiety negatively impacted my life by seeing what life is like when I don’t have to interact with people outside of my immediate family. I do miss friends, but I don’t miss the horrible anxiety that goes into every moment I spend time with other people, especially at work.
  9. Net Worth Growth Overall: my after tax, don’t have to touch it until I retire family net worth is about 1M. Although that isn’t enough to retire on today or for a while, it is more than most people have at my age–or any age. At my current savings rates, the next few years should be very interesting in terms of setting my middle-aged years for a lower-stress life (no more constantly worrying about what happens if I lose my job!)
  10. This Blog, and My Readers: I still get giddy when people leave me comments on here–while there’s the occasional troll, for the most part people leave incredibly helpful and thoughtful comments which help me advance and grow in many areas. I’ve been writing on this blog now for (gasp) over 15 years and it has really helped guide me towards my north start of being financially responsible and at a very good financial place going into my (gasp) late 30s. Because of that, I don’t feel that scared about bringing a second kid into the world, and a third child (something I’ve always wanted despite coming from a family of 2 and being married to an only child) is definitely still a potential reality if my body will cooperate at 39. It also may not happen, and I’m also very happy with a family of 2 kids, and I just can’t wait for my toddler can meet his little sibling and to watch them grow together, especially after this past year of my son not being able to socialize with other kids at all. It is the absolute cutest thing when he points to my belly and goes “baby growing!” I’m not sure exactly what he thinks about it, but I tell him baby is going to come live with us soon, and he seems to get it at least somewhat. So many precious memories ahead if I can just get through childbirth safely without any additional trauma (atheist g-d willing.) I am feeling really good about this upcoming birth, despite the state of everything.

So there you go, 10 things I’m super grateful for and happy about. I rarely talk about them here because I come here to complain or talk about my frustrations and concerns around all things money related, but there is a lot to celebrate here heading into 2021. By the end of 2021, my net worth should have a significant increase, I should have a healthy baby that is approaching 1 years old (and preparing my body in the healthiest way possible to conceive my third and final kiddo), and maybe even feeling at home in the house we bought. Maybe life is going better than I ever imagined it could be and I just don’t know how to handle being so damn #blessed. Yes, I said it. I hash tagged it. But it’s true. I am grateful. I have some guilt for my privilege that led me here, but it certainly wasn’t easy. I have to fight the good fight every day to not let my mental health challenges get the best of me. And, despite a few breakdowns here and there, and a few manic periods I’d really like to forget, I seem to be doing it–surviving… and thriving even. I should try to celebrate all this good while it lasts. I know nothing good lasts forever. But right now, all signs point to–hey life isn’t that bad. It’s ok. It’s good. As good as life can be after losing a parent and never being able to go back to before all that. It’s just good for what it is. For where I am. And I hope next year continues on this trend line. Maybe soon I’ll remember what it feels like to be happy again.

My Three Year Plan: $2.5M Net Worth, IVF, and Baby #3.

The only reason I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved thus far in life is, quite frankly, this blog. Well, the fact that this blog has, since I was 22, force me to plan my life in tiny increments and seemingly impossible goals that I’ve managed to reach time and again. Despite a ridiculous amount of setbacks caused by my mental health issues, here I am, just short of the goal of hitting $2M in networth (including husband’s savings) by 37, and before having baby #2.

But as my 30s come to a close, I have a few major goals to accomplish that are definitely not givens. While my husband and I lightly talked about having a third child should we have two sons first, this week my doctor completely ruined my “sex surprise” by blurting out the sex at my appointment. So it’s a boy. And I’m happy, I really am, and I just want my son to be healthy and yada yada. I know after my first childbirth with my first son ending up in the NICU, just having a smooth birth where baby comes out breathing is a big win. I’ll take that for sure.

Yet like many woman, I long for a daughter. I know it’s a silly thing–people aren’t defined by their genitals. I could have a daughter who decides she is more manly than my boys. Still… I know I’m not the only woman who wants to have a girl. I also know if I don’t at least try (as in use medical intervention to skew the odds in my favor) I’ll regret it. I also will feel that after two kids if it doesn’t work out, I will be sad but accept it. And if I can, in my ripe old birthing age of then 39, make magic happen–I’ll be quite happy.

So, without further ado, here are my goal for the next three years. Keep checking back here as I update with posts on if I’ve achieved any of these goals…

(All goals based on December EOM of the following years)

2020 (Age 37)

  • $2M in total family net worth
  • Own a home and live in it
  • Pregnant with baby #2
  • Keep job through maternity leave start (start in Jan 2021)
  • Don’t get COVID.

2021 (Age 38)

  • $2.5M in total family net worth (including home equity after potential commissions)
  • Live in home and enjoy it (meet the neighbors)
  • Pregnant with baby #2 (give birth in Jan)
  • Keep job through maternity leave (start maternity leave in January)
  • Remodel bathroom, fix electric, add HVAC/AC, epoxy garage floors, don’t let all plants and grass die around house)
  • Use 1 month of mat leave later in year to go back to my childhood home and visit family, help mother clean out house and prepare for sale 🙁
  • Go back to work in May/June, remain gainfully employed (and do a good job) through end of year. Complete vesting of first stock grant.

2022 (Age 39)

  • $2.75M in total family net worth (including home equity after potential commissions)
  • Begin IVF for baby #3 in March 2022 (or sooner, if weaning prior to 2 years of age); g-d willing, pregnant by September (expect to spend 100k on IVF with PGS but hoping to find a job that covers some of this cost)
  • New job by July 1, 2022 (ideally April 1, 2022) closer to my home

2023 (Age 40!!!!?!!!)

  • Survive and not freak out about being 40.
  • $3M!!!?! in total family net worth (including home equity after potential commissions)
  • Give birth to baby #3?!?!
  • Employed at a job I like, that I’m actually good at.

Hmm. I wonder if any of the above goals are possible. The 2M by end of this year is reasonable as the long as the stock market doesn’t totally tank. And I should defiantly be having a baby this January (and hopefully a healthy baby.) Everything else is very TBD.

But these are my goals. I think if I can reach 3M by 40 that would be pretty insane. That’s definitely a stretch goal, even with my husband’s savings added in. But go big or go home, right?

And… I am so scared about doing IVF to try to have my third child, a girl, at 39. I just can’t not try. And I’ve always wanted three kids. I just Never pictured myself pregnant at 40! Gosh, how did I get this old?

How the Hell am I Going to Pay for College?

The cost of college is, uh, fucking ridiculous.

My parents put my sister and I through college on $0 scholarships and while they prob should have made us take out loans, it was doable.

I make good money these days and I am still looking at future college costs thinking… how da fuck am I going to put 2-3 kids through college?

Now, I’m definitely in the camp that 2 years community college + 2 years public college is the way to go from a financial perspective. However, my parents never told me I couldn’t go to my dream school for an arts program, and I really want to be able to give that same gift to my children.

That’ll be $500k per child, thankyouverymuch.

Who in g-d’s earth can afford THAT?

Looking for advice? Here are 8 Tips How to Afford College

I even started investing in a 529 10 years BEFORE I had a child. This doesn’t seem to help much.

Current 529 Investments

Child 1 (16 years until college): $37,312
Child 2 (18 years until college): $30,000
Child 3 (20 years until college 🙂 ): $11,065

If I invest nothing more in these accounts, at 5% growth, they will be worth…

Child 1: $81,447.42
Child 2: $72,198.58
Child 3: $29,358.74

Let’s say I add $10,000 a year to each account. Does that help?

Child 1: $329,851.08
Child 2: $367,588.62
Child 3: $376,551.26

Well…

That’s… better. But that means putting in $30,000 a YEAR into the 529 for the next 16-20 years. That’s $2500 a MONTH.

And that still doesn’t pay for 4 years at a private school!!!

Cost of Average Private School for Each Kid

Child 1: $469k
Child 2: $520k
Child 3: $570k

Say what now?

Yes, the cost of sending 3 kids to an average private college will be $1.5M. I went to college, so I know that means $1,500,000.

Who is supposed to be able to afford this? I do not understand. This does not compute.

Public School Looks a LITTLE Better

Child 1: $206k
Child 2: $227k
Child 3: $251k

That’s only $684k. Suddenly spending over a half mil on sending 3 kids to college seems cheap. Is it cheap? Can I convince my children–including one-in-the-womb and one-yet-to-be-conceived–that state school is the way to go? Luckily California has great public school options. But that still requires getting into them. And what if my kid has their heart set on my alma mater, or any other private school with specialized programs? Then what?

I don’t want my kids to graduate with debt. But I also know my family won’t be eligible for financial aid because we will have too much saved.

Maybe by the time my kids go to college, it will be free. Isn’t that a fun thought? It’s unlikely, though. So I guess I must focus on saving $2500 a month for the next 20 years so my kids can maybe afford college?

I did want to buy a house, but maybe we should buy a college education(s) instead.

It’s the End of My Second First Trimester

Kid #2. There is less joy in this pregnancy. More practicality. I don’t think it’s the COVID situation but I’m sure that has something to do with it. My pregnancy is not one for celebration. It is one for survival to build the family I want. I haven’t post to social media to announce the news — nor to I plan to. No need for jokes about a making a “Covidia” or outpouring of concern. Yes, this baby was planned. You can’t really plan when you have a baby. But we planned to start trying in March and, well, bam, preggo.

I am excited. Excited when I watch my nearly 2 year old develop his own hilarious personality and wonder what this new kiddo will be like. Excited that one day, even if we live in a pandemic-ridden society forever, my son will have another kid to play with vs having to spend all his time with boring adults. It will take a while for that to really be a thing, given baby isn’t due until January and then it’s, well, a baby for at least 8 months or so, but eventually… he will have a live-in friend. Or enemy.  At least some age-appropriate entertainment outside of Sesame Place and turning his Little Tykes slide upside down and jumping on it.

I’m trying to embrace that things are going WELL for a change, but my anxiety is THROUGH THE ROOF. Well in that I’m actually doing a good job at work. I don’t think I’m doing a GREAT job, but I’m doing a REALLY GOOD job. It’s rare for me to say that. I can focus on what matters at home and because I get tired so often I can take breaks and no one cares. As long as I get my work done. It’s wonderful.

But I’m also extremely unhealthy. I’m not moving enough. I live in this 800 square foot 1br apartment and spend most of my day working from my bed. I know that’s horrible especially being pregnant. I need to force myself to move more. But then the days just disappear and I’m like well I guess I’ll get out tomorrow.

January will be rough. I don’t know how to imagine it. My husband and I with a toddler and an infant and probably no childcare and no sleep. If we’re lucky we buy a house where his dad can live and his dad watches our toddler while we go through the delirium that is the first few months child rearing.

I’m sad I won’t get to go to the prenatal fitness classes I loved so much in my first pregnancy, or go to the mom meetups after I give birth and heal enough to go outside. With my first born I took a child development class. I didn’t really stay friends with the moms because I suck at socialization but it was nice to be around other people going through the same thing. I took part in a PPD group at my therapy office and that was nice also, though I’m not sure I want to do that again anyway as I think I have heard the gamut of sad mom stories and at this point I need the strength to do this on my own.

I am nervous about telling my boss I’m pregnant. I’ll be in my second trimester in 2 weeks or so. I could tell her then. I kind of want to wait. She would be happier, I’m sure, if I give her plenty of warning. But things are going so well and I just want to show I can kick ass without her suddenly having to think on how to replace me next year when I’m gone for 5-6 months. It also is awkward to bring up on our zoom 1x1s that are usually so tactical and productive. We don’t small talk much. I will probably just email here before a 1×1 in a few weeks. Very matter of fact. I’m pregnant and I am due on X date and I plan to be out these dates and that’s that. Then if she wants to discuss beyond a quick “congrats” she can. Or we can just bookmark it and she can start shopping for my replacement even though I’m coming back but we all know when you go on maternity leave you lose your step in the career ladder.

Do I care? Not sure. Kind of? I’m not a lifer but I certainly plan to stay a while. And things are finally going well and it is just a shame that I have to pause everything and start over again. But maybe that’s ok. I can use a “break” even though having a kid is NOT a break but it at least is a mental break from my job with another job that is not sleeping and changing poop and having my nipples ripped off by an itty bitty cute baby mouth.

it feels like I’m about to take this massive step to adulthood–home ownership. Second child. Yadayada. I don’t feel like an adult. I just feel tired. I guess that is what being an adult is supposed to feel like, huh?

And the Depression Fog Rolls In… How to Cope?

I want to be an organized, has-her-shit-together mom for my son. But let’s face it, just because I managed to squeeze a 7lb human out with relatively minimal complications doesn’t mean I suddenly am I sane, stable individual. Spoiler alert: I’m not.

I’m sitting in my one bedroom apartment living room watching my son finally in a good mood, on his back, in the little empty carpeting in the room, cooing and laughing, looking at… something? It’s nearly 7pm and I don’t know where the day went. We did a lot of me not sleeping as he snacked on my breasts and slept on me. When I tried to put him down for a nap in his pack & play he, as always, freaked out. I put a pacifier in his mouth and he spit it out, then started fussing, then started screaming. And repeat.

Exhaustion has new meaning with a newborn. I’m so grateful that I bailed on my plan to go back to work after 6 weeks and with my depression was able to get a disability extension (something I didn’t want to have to do, but I give up) and I have an extra eight weeks, plus another six that will be semi paid that is usable next year, and six weeks unpaid if I want them. The amount of stress I’ve dealt with just managing the guilt and logistics of orchestrating my maternity leave has been immense. I still don’t know how I’m going to go back to work, and then take my 6-12 weeks off throughout the next couple of months. While those weeks are “job protected,” the time in between them is not… which means my company could decide to let me go before I get to use this time off. I hope they don’t, but every single day I will be extra paranoid that I have to prove my worth and then some to maintain my employment…

That’s not good because I already feel like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, as always. I mean, I am in a better spot in this job than others I’ve had before… but I’m by no means in the clear. I’m scared, and much more scared now that I have a kid. We have a cushion and all, but I need to work. I need to work full time for a long time to afford being a mom. And while I WANT to work, I also want to see my child grow up. I don’t have a choice either way. It’s challenging to hang out with other moms who are changing their minds about going back to work and deciding to quit their jobs and stay home. I don’t want to do that, but then again, part of me does. I can’t, and so that makes it an easy decision for me. But being that I can’t, I also can’t lose my job. And my husband get so annoyed at me when I constantly say I’m going to get fired–and I know that’s not the most productive thing to tell myself, but I just feel so lost and hopeless. I’m almost 35 and I haven’t the faintest idea how to do my job well. Fortunately my boss seems to like me, but that can change at the drop of a hat. If I make her look bad, even by accident, even if I try my best, why would she like me anymore?

Being this exhausted is not ideal for returning to a job that I don’t know how to do. I’ll just hang in as long as I can… which may be months and may be years… and try to save as much as possible. But I’m on a whole different wavelength of reality than my husband right now, which isn’t good. He earns $85k a year without benefits, and I’m making somewhere between $170k and $300k, and I carry the family benefits as well. If he lost his job, it wouldn’t be great, but we could survive. If I lose my job, that’s another story.

The stress was added to this week when I found out it’s unlikely I can qualify for term life insurance because of my history of depression. That’s plenty to be depressed about. I’m not sure how much life insurance I should get, but I was thinking a $3M policy… $150k for my son’s college, plus 30 years at $300k of salary. I could probably do less than that, but it doesn’t matter since I can’t qualify. I’m screwed because I tell my doctor that I occasionally think about killing myself. How am I supposed to get help if I can’t tell my doctor things like this when they ask me? Thank goodness we have a ban against refusing healthcare for pre-existing conditions these days (though who knows if that will last) but life insurance has no such rules. I feel like such a failure for my son and my family.

Meanwhile, I don’t know how to get into a routine of being a mom. I want to give my son a good childhood, I want to engage him and help him develop, and right now I’m not working and my husband is, so that’s really on me. But we barely sleep at night… I’m lucky if I get 4-6 hours of non-consistent sleep which isn’t even good sleep because of my son’s grunting and whimpering. It’s getting. little better but it’s still not good, and it won’t be for a long time. How on earth will I be able to be a great employee on this little sleep? I’m already daydreaming about the catnaps I’ll take in my office parking lot at lunch after pumping.

I’m not complaining here because this is a choice I made, and I’m so lucky to have more time off and protected than many other women in this country. And for now I only have ONE kid to take care of… I can’t imagine what it’s like with more than one (though I’d like to have at least one more when I’m ready–and by then maybe I can do the stay at home mom thing for a year or two? Wishful thinking.)

My kid does get to stay home with my husband’s parents while I’m at work and not go off to a daycare at this young age, which would be much harder. Still, I’m missing the opportunity to be my son’s mother, or that’s how it feels. But, then again, as I glance at him now fussing on the floor, clearly over this once nice position for solitary play time, coos, and giggles, I also think how grateful I am that I will be going back to work and that this isn’t going to be my full time life. So clearly, I’m torn. I just don’t know how to do both, or even this alone, but I’m going to have to figure it out.

Real Estate: Buying Property with Mother-in-Law?

The costs of home ownership in the Bay Area are, well, terrifying. My husband and I (and now my husband, his mother and I) have been visiting open houses each weekend –just to get an idea what, if anything, is in our price range. The short answer is–not much.

Although we’re definitely not wealthy, we now have the benefit (?) of his mother joining us in our home purchasing endeavor. And, by joining us I mean joining us to live with us in an in-law unit (or second unit of a duplex) that we purchase together. should be super-duper grateful that she’s offering a $1M cash downpayment to make this possible. I am. But I’m also super-duper nervous because the other $1M (since the properties we are looking at are about $2M) will come from my husband and I (mostly me myself and I) – and the way their family communicates is practically non-existent so I’d be wrapping my future everything up in a property that’s co-owned by his mother (or, she “gifts” him the money so it’s fully owned by us, but the ownership then is a lifetime of debt to her in other means.)

Do I like my mother in law? Good question. She is, for all intents and purposes, a quiet person who keeps to herself. She marches to the beat of her own drum, but we get along. Would I prefer not to live on the same property as her? Yes, of course. But she’s also willing to help out with childcare and as much as I am nervous about her providing childcare to my kid(s) once they’re of walking age (she’s doing a fine job now with the 10-week old), it’s certainly nice to not have to spend $20k+ a year on daycare, and it’s extra nice keeping it in the family.

The actual scenario we’re looking at is that his mother gifts us the $1M, we get a mortgage for $1M, then his father (who is not married to his mother–never has been–but who is friends with her) gives us $2k a month in “rent” to bring down the monthly costs. All-in-all, financially, doing this with a ~$2M duplex or a reasonable single family + in-law unit makes a hell of a lot more sense than spending $1.5M+ on a single family home with no future rental potential. Even if our mortgage is $7k a month, my husband’s father’s contribution of $2k brings that down to the $5k that is that max I feel comfortable paying monthly for our PITI. I’d like it to be less than that, but at this point realistically it’s not going to get under $5k for what we need to make this work.

I’m just struggling with the lack of fiscal communication here, and how it feels like I’m dealing with a bunch of elementary school students in handling a very serious, very costly purchase, should we make it. That said, what right do I have to ask for any sort of special communication when it’s my husband’s mother who is making this purchase possible at all… shouldn’t I just roll with it? He’s an only child, his mother has practically put her income after very low expenses under pillows her entire life, and she seems to want to offer that to my husband and my child(ren) more than spend it on herself… I mean, for a women who has never owned a home, car, or pretty much anything “new” in her life, I doubt she’s going to change suddenly and spend that money. If I thought she would, or even would enjoy spending it on something else, I’d refuse the cash. I don’t want to be responsible for destroying her retirement. But all she wants in her retirement is a small place to live with a backyard and, most importantly, to spend as much time with my child(ren) as possible.

The entire situation makes me so uncomfortable because even though I grew up with a lot of privilege and my parents providing for me, I have been extremely independent since I graduated college (outside of my wedding.) I feel guilty for the privilege I’ve had, but have always told myself that as long as I make my own money for the life I want to live once I graduate college, I’m doing right by the world.

There’s a very long post I will write one of these days regarding my own parent’s financial mess (my father passed away this summer and let’s just say the family networth went from $1M to $400k in about 4 years–again, that story will be saved for another post(s))–but I’ve been struggling too with coming to terms that I always thought there’d be something left to provide backup should I financially fall on my face one day–but the reality has sunk in that nothing will be left. I am in a much better financial situation than my sister who is 28 and still earning a little higher than minimum wage with no benefits, so I can’t complain. It’s still a scary feeling, nonetheless (to be written about in another post.)

But I’ve also saved up now $650k, give or take, in retirement and investment accounts, and I feel like I’m capable of buying my own property without the help of others. Well, I would be, anywhere else in the country. Here… anything under $1.5M is pretty terrifying, at least with a 30 minute commute from my job south of the city.

That leads me down the road of… why buy now? The prices are coming down a bit (I’ve seen a bunch of $100k price drops in the last few weeks which seems substantial), but do we really need to buy this year? Our 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment lifestyle isn’t that horrible, especially given the size of our apartment (800 square feet) provides rather large rooms compared to 3br, 2ba houses for sale (some of those “master bathrooms” are masterly tiny.)

His mother doesn’t have to move now either. She’s still living in her parent’s house (I believe, for free, which she’s done her entire life), so she is ok there until her mother, who is in her 90s, passes away (clearly not wishing this on her at all, but there’s the reality that few humans live past 100.) Once she passes away, we don’t know what will happen with the property other than that it will be sold and, we think, his mother will get 1/3 of its value (possible that won’t be the case but no one talks in the family about things like that.) Even without that inheritance, though, she will still have the $1M waiting its use for a home purchase with or without us.

Part of me wants to power through the next few years in our 1br/1ba and enjoy the rent control we have with our $2450 rent. I’m 45 minutes from my office in rush hour, but maybe I can work out an alternative travel the where I get that sweet 30 minute each way drive. I’ve considered moving us closer to my office… but we can’t get anything near nice enough at $2450 a month. We could pool resources and live with his dad for $4450 a month… but we know without a private unit / in law that would be a mess. We’re not even going to try that…

So, we may just wait it out as long as we can. When his grandmother passes away, that will make everything happen faster, since his mother will have to move. Until then, nothing is making us leave this place. Our son can easily manage to live in a 1 bedroom with us until he’s at least one, and maybe longer. It does suck not being able to invite people over, but heck, what people would I invite over? I don’t really know anyone. And I work all the time anyway, or at least I will when I get back from maternity leave.

That seems like the right option– even though we could qualify for a loan that, with his mother’s cash, would enable us to buy a property now. Yet I’m not sure buying is right at all anyway… home ownership is a hot mess from what I can tell… it’s costly, it takes all your time, there are issues you don’t know about when you buy that pop up later… and in the Bay Area you have to buy “as is” with no contingencies which just sounds like a recipe for financial ruin. Why bother?

Well, why bother because I have a kid and I want him to have a stable life… both my husband and I grew up in houses from the day we were born until adulthood, and we value not moving around every couple of years, especially for our family. So there’s that.

Leave the Bay Area? Maybe. If we don’t buy now… and if I can keep my current job for the next 3.5 years to collect my stock, and that stock remains valued at what it’s worth now or more, then who knows… we could pick up and move. His parents won’t want to, but we could buy a place on our own. He wouldn’t want to be far from his parents, so–I’m not sure it’s really an option, but if we can have another kid (or two more kids) it may be the best one.

In any case, I’m not sure what to do… as always… but after looking at probably 100 open houses over the last year… all I can say is I really don’t want to buy anything I’ve seen. That’s not a good sign.