Thing to Know or Do Before You Have a Baby

These bullet points have come about through my experience with my pregnancy and could differ greatly from your experience.  Most of these I’ve had to learn the hard way (but thankfully not all).  When you think that you’re ready for a baby, it’s easy to miss all of the hidden fees and fine print until you get hit in the face with them.  This is my attempt to help others, so that they won’t be in the same position as I was (and I thought I was ready to have a baby).  If you can think of anything to add, please share!  I think that we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.
 
  1. Have insurance – and good insurance if you can get it, the lower your deductible and percentage that you have to pay, the better.
  2. Know how much your insurance deductible is, and have that money on hand ready to go.  Your doctor might have you pay it upfront (mine did), or after the baby is born, each practice is different.
  3. Find out if your insurance deductible will cover all of your doctor costs, if it doesn’t, find out what the difference is (usually it’s not much more than your deductible or at least mine wasn’t).
  4. Estimate the type cost for the type of birth you’re having:  i.e. a hospital birth (around $7000 before insurance for a vaginal birth, a C-Section cost can go anywhere from $14,000 – $25,000 before insurance) or Birthing Center (around $4000 before insurance) or home birth (I have no idea what that cost is) and have that money on hand ready to go.  Your doctor’s or midwive’s billing center should be able to tell you a rough estimate (they don’t like to be specific), and all the birthing centers that I’ve seen list their costs online, and if they don’t you can easily call and ask.  These are rough estimates that don’t include things like epidurals or other medications, and it can often differ greatly depending on where you live.
  5. Find out your maternity benefits (if any) and plan for your maternity leave.  If you don’t receive any benefits make sure you will have enough money to cover at least 6 weeks of unpaid leave (or more if you can afford it), no matter what, by law (in the US) you’re allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and more if your employers are awesome.
  6. If you don’t have any maternity benefits, look into getting disability insurance on your own, so that you can be covered after the baby is born.  I’m fairly center that if you’re already pregnant, it’s too late to get this.  Also, it’s fairly expensive so be sure to weigh the cost to see if it’s worth it. Also also, be sure that your state recognizes maternity leave as a disability (some don’t).
  7. Estimate the cost of the birthing classes that you want to take (and yes, you NEED to take them).  The ones offered by your doctor’s office or hospital are way cheaper than ones like Hynobirthing, Lamaze or the Bradley Method.  However, those aren’t as in depth as the higher cost classes, and therefore may not prepare you adequately, or help you achieve the type of birth that you want.
  8. If you want a doula, find out how much they cost (usual range is $500 – $1000).  If you can’t afford a doula and want one, most will be glad to work something out with you.  Most (if not all) strongly believe that any woman who wants a doula should have one, regardless of their ability to pay.
  9. Watch “The Business of Being Born,” followed by “More Business of Being Born.”  I found these documentaries really informative and honest and I learned a lot from watching them.
  10. If you want a birthing pool that the hospital or birthing center or your home don’t have, you need to factor that cost in as well.  You can easily rent or buy them, but if you’re renting you’ll have to get a liner for it, so keep that cost in mind as well.
  11. If your current doctor does not do obstetrics or you don’t like your current doctor, you need to start looking for one you do like that does obstetrics or find a midwife.  Be sure to interview them too, to find out what their beliefs and practices about birth are (if you want a natural birth and they look down their nose at it – you know you’re in the wrong place, and visa verse too).  If they don’t do interviews, scratch them off the list.  If you’re not on the same page, scratch them off the list.  If there is anything about the appointment that makes your weary – even if you can’t name what it is, scratch them off the list – you will be working very closely with this person and you want THEM on YOUR team, not the other way around.
  12. This one is kinda morbid, but if you and you’re partner don’t have life insurance, get it, and enough to cover all debt and then some.  You’d want enough to pay off your mortgage, student loans, car loans, credit cards and any other debt you have.  You probably also want to have enough so you can set some aside so the baby can go to college.  Once you have that figured out, add on a little more, because you just never know.
  13. Also along the same lines as number 12, is to have a will made up.  Not only do you need a last will and testament, but also a living will (yes, you really do need both).
  14. I know that this one applies only after you’re pregnant, but if you become unhappy with your health care provider, you can always switch.  It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 weeks or 41 weeks pregnant, if you’re high or low risk.  It’s never too late to find a doctor or midwife that will be your cheerleader.
  15. This one may also only apply after you’re pregnant, but write out your birth preferences.  If you know you want a natural birth, that will give you a direction in which to research different birthing methods etc.  
  16. I can’t stress this one enough: RESEARCH, RESEARCH RESEARCH!
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Cycles of Energy

I’ve been noticing a trend in my life.  I’m usually awake-ish when I get up in the morning.  Obviously, some days I’m more awake than others, and this is where giant cups of coffee used to come in handy (although I still drink a small cup a few times a week, and by small I mean less than 8 ounces).  At this point I can move throughout my day only thinking sporadically that I would really like a nap.

At lunch time, I’m wide awake with an unusual amount of energy.  Yesterday, I was planning all of the cleaning in the house that I would get done when I got home from work, which would be after I went to the grocery store and after my workout session, and before I cooked dinner.  I was going to do laundry, and pick up my side of the bedroom which usually looks like a tornado went through it, and clear off my dressers so that you can see all the pretty nick nacks that are supposed to be see on it and not buried under mountains of clothes.  I felt awesome and pumped that my to-do list was going to have more items scratched off of it!  Hooray for feeling productive!!!

Then, at around 4 pm, I’ll crash.  This is where I have to try really hard not to do the head-bob that we all became extremely practiced at in college, and where my hopes of a clean and organized home get thrown out the window because I just don’t care anymore.

When I get home, I become overwhelmed that I have to go to the grocery store, cook dinner, workout, and help with the laundry that J started in the morning.  My solution to this?  Fall my ass asleep on the sofa while I’m trying to decide what to do.  I’ll wake up just enough to eat dinner, and then I’m promptly passed out in bed for the rest of the night, or until I have to pee (which is about an hour and a half later).

I seem to follow this cycle just about every day.  It may deviate some, but for the most part it stays pretty consistent.  It’s frustrating that I want to get a lot accomplished in my home and life, but I lack the energy to do any of it, although I seem to have all the energy in the world to plan it.  I may just have to not sit down when I get home.  That seems to be where the major problem starts.  If I don’t sit down, then I can’t fall asleep (at least I hope that I can’t), and I’ll be able to get a few things done around the house when I get home from work.  I’ll see if I can try that tonight, but I’m not that optimistic, I think our sofa has a built in tractor-beam.

Weekend Semi-Fail

So, this weekend was not nearly as productive as I hoped it would be, I’ve found out that my husband is a really bad influence on me.  I wanted to clean out the guest room closet on Saturday, but J told me that he would help me if we did it on Sunday.  So, I spent Saturday cleaning.

I managed to clean the kitchen, and I don’t just mean clean.  I mean, I scrubbed every surface imaginable until it glistened.  All the dishes were done, even the ones that wouldn’t fit in the dishwasher were washed by hand and then put away.  When the dishwasher was done running, I even put the clean dishes away!  The counters were all wiped down.  The cabinets were wiped down.  The floor was swept, and then mopped.  I stood at the sink and tried to get our soap dispenser to work for about an hour (it hasn’t worked for over 6 months).  I never did manage to get it to work, but at least the whole thing is now clean….I wiped down the spice rack, the tea kettle, the hoosier cabinet.  I scrubbed the back splash.  Everything that was not in it’s place was put away, until just the bare necessity was on the counter top.  The only thing I didn’t get to was cleaning out the fridge and freezer, but it’s on the list.

After the kitchen was cleaned, I moved to the living room and straighten it up.  I wouldn’t say I really cleaned it, I was too worn out from the kitchen to go into much detail.  But it was all dusted.  I cleaned off the coffee table (both shelves of it), the couches were vacuumed.  The blankets that reside on the sofa were washed.  The pillows were neatly arranged.  The floor was swept, although I ran outta steam and never did mop or vacuum in there…

As I mentioned, on Sunday, J said that he would help me clean out the closet in the guest room (as it’s mostly his stuff), but when Sunday came around, he talked me into just sitting and relaxing on the sofa all day watching all 3 paranormal activity movies, followed by a netflix marathon of “How I Met Your Mother.”  So, the closet, didn’t get done, which I have to say that now I’m a little upset about (at the time I would have used any excuse to sit on the sofa and relax a little longer).  I know that we have time to get it all done as this baby isn’t coming for at least 18 more weeks, but I would really rather not have to do everything all at once.  I’m just going to get super worn out and cranky that way (I don’t do well when I’m tired).

The good news in all of this is that my sister and brother-in-law are coming to visit next weekend and they’re going to help us get the baby’s room going, so maybe we can tackle the closet then, as well as moving some stuff to the garage and attic.  Yay for family coming to visit and making you be proactive!

Nesting

I don’t think I’m officially in “nesting” mode quite yet.  I believe that you have to be a little further along that I am for it to be nesting.  But, I put together a to-do list today of some things that need to happen around the house, and as I only have about 18 more weeks of pregnancy, I need to get going.  My plan is to spend tomorrow working on this list.  The weird thing is, is that I’m not a “list” person.  The only time I ever make a list is when I go to the grocery store, and that’s only because I can’t remember everything that I need otherwise.  Apparently, my pregnant body wants me to be more proactive than I have been in the past, so here is my semi-nesting list:

  1. Clean out the guestroom closet.  This closet is a mess.  It has become a catch all of all the  crap in our house that doesn’t have a “spot.”  So, tomorrow I’m going through it all, to organize what I can, and throw away the rest.  My hope is that this closet will be empty or close to it when I’m done.
  2. Clean out the dresser/night stand in the guest room – like the closet, things have just been stuffed in there over time.
  3. Organize my closet.  It’s a crazy mess.  I hate putting things away, so clothes just kinda get stacked.  I also need to go through it and donate a bunch of it that I never wear.
  4. Organize my drawers (they look like my closet).
  5. Clean the master bedroom.  Especially the ceiling fan, I keep noticing the dust collection on it in the morning when I’m lying in bed.
  6.  Start cleaning out the office.  Move some boxes to the attic (my CD collection) and throw away all the wedding magazines that I bought when planning my wedding 4 years ago.
  7. Clean the bathrooms.
  8. Sweep and mop the entire house.
  9. Stay on top of laundry.  Nothing sucks more than having to fold 6 loads of laundry at once….

I don’t think that I can get this all done tomorrow, I’m not that naive, but over the next several weeks I’m hoping that I can get it accomplished.  Anyway, the organizing all needs to be done by April so that we can put together the nursery.  The cleaning, sadly, is a never ending process.  Wouldn’t it just be nice if you only had to clean once and everything would magically stay that way?

Spaghetti Squash

Dear Poppy Seed –

These size comparisons are just getting confusing to me.  The Bump says that at 22 weeks you’re the size of a papaya, and that just doesn’t make any sense.  A papaya is smaller than a cantaloupe – which they said you were at 20 weeks.  What to Expect says that you’re the size of a doll, and I find that a little creepy, but then they also say that you’re the size of a 1 lb bag of sugar – which is a little better.  And finally, according to Baby Center you’re the size of a spaghetti squash, and I like that a lot better, so I’m going to go with that this week.  You’ve reached a pound in weight and are now about 8 inches long.  That’s just incredible to me, it’s no wonder I can feel you moving so much.  The cool thing that’s happened this week is that you’ve developed a sense of touch, and your dad and I can personally attest to that.  The other night we were lying in bed, and your dad or I would poke my belly, and you would poke back.  You actually poked so hard that it caused your dad’s hand to move!  This is so exciting, I really do love feeling you move, so while you still have room in there, keep moving!

Nothing much is new with me, just more of the same.  My feet did swell up to gargantuan size the other day with cankles and all, it was really quite shocking and disconcerting to look at.  But after I kept my feet elevated for a while it went down.  I still get heartburn a couple times a week.  The other day it was pretty bad, and it made me uncomfortable all afternoon and evening.  But I’m slowly learning what not to eat to help it out – spicy, vinegary, oily foods are out.  At my doctor appointment yesterday, my midwife measured my fundal height, and it was at 23 centimeters – so it looks like I’m measuring right on target (or there abouts).  In case you didn’t know, the fundal height is the measurement from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus, and generally speaking it should coincide with the number of weeks that you’re pregnant.  So, with me measuring 23 cm, it either means that you’re growing a tid bit large, or I have a short torso (I’m leaning towards the latter).  My blood pressure was a perfect 120/80, so that’s good news!  As far as my weight goes, it looks like I need to watch it a little more closely and exercise a lot more than what I’m doing now.

Your dad and I have kinda started to get your nursery ready.  Your dad cleaned out the garage (and I helped a bit) to make room for the bowflex that is currently in the office.  This might not sound like it has a lot to do with your nursery, but it does.  We have to clear out the office so that it can become the guest room (which is what your nursery currently is).  Once we get the guest room furniture out, we can then fill the nursery with your crib and rocking chair and all that other fun stuff.  I’m going to be working on clearing out the closet in the guest room this weekend so that we can make room for all of your cute clothes (Your dad bought you two onesies – one says “If you think I’m handsome, you should see my Dad,” and the other says “My Mommy is Exhausted.”  I think that they will both be very fitting).  I think that we’ll actually be able to paint your nursery too (for a while we were worried we wouldn’t be able to afford it) and I’m wanting an aqua room with yellow accents.  I think it will be very cute – just like you.

As always, keep growing!  And remember that I love you!

– Mom

Finding a Pediatrician

So, I finally have my maternity leave figured out, and I can’t even begin to explain how much of a relief that is.  My employers are allowing me to go into the red for my paid time off, which means that I’ll get my normal paycheck for every week that I’m gone.  So, yay for having it finally figured out!!!!  Now I just need to talk them into letting me work 4 days a week after the baby is born.

In other news, not a lot is going on.  Things have pretty much been smooth sailing.  I’m looking for a pediatrician for Poppy Seed.  J and I have to figure out if we want one in the city that we live in or if we want to drive 45 minutes where the doctors are more reputable.

I’m really hesitant/reluctant/don’t want to find one close to home.  We would have to go to a general practice that doesn’t specifically do pediatrics, and one of the doctors at that practice scares the shit out of me.  I went to see this guy not too long after we moved here.  I was trying to lose weight and having a really hard time (dieting and exercising and only losing .2 lbs a week if even that), so I went to get my thyroid checked out.  Before I even had any blood work drawn, this doctor told me that my thyroid felt fine to him, and that I should look into diet pills.  Umm….when do medical “professionals” ever recommend diet pills?  I really like my liver and the fact that it works well, and I have no interest in trashing it….ever.  This same doctor was reading pregnancy results for an acquaintance of mine and told her that he “”Thinks” she’s pregnant.  That her HCG levels were elevated, but perhaps hers are normally elevated.”  This is scary to me because the hormone HCG is made by the embryo and then the placenta.  It doesn’t appear in the body unless you’re pregnant.  I know this, and I didn’t go to medical school!   I know that I could still go to this practice and wouldn’t have to see this doctor, but it wouldn’t also be completely avoidable, because shit happens.

So, now I’m looking for a pediatrician in the next city over, since it’s much bigger and the doctors there actually went to medical school and also didn’t graduate at the bottom of their class.  The only downside here is the fact that J or I will have to make the 45 minute drive not only for the well visits after the baby is born, but also when he’s sick and screaming the whole way there because he doesn’t feel good.  But I think that having a doctor that I trust out weights the long drive.

I have an appointment with my midwife tomorrow and I’m going to ask her if she can recommend a pediatrician or two for us.

*btw Hooray for making it to my 100th post!!!

Maternity Leave Part 2

So, after the terror from finding out my maternity benefits (or lack thereof) and J not getting paid for a month over summer finally settled down, we came up with a plan of action to get us through the summer months.  I’ve outlined my plan below.  I know that a lot of people aren’t really going to be interested in reading this, but it helps me to write it all out, and makes me calmer when I can go back to it and reread it.  So, I apologize if this is a little mundane and doesn’t interest you at all.  I promise to come up with something better tomorrow.

  1. It looks like I calculated a bit wrong, and by the time the baby is due, I’ll have a little under 3 weeks of paid time off.  I think that I’ll also be able to work something out with my employer so that I can receive paid time off for the other 3 weeks.  I’m hoping that they’ll let me go in the red for paid time off for 3 weeks, and then I’ll make it up when I come back to work.  So, hopefully (fingers crossed) I’ll receive a paycheck the whole time I’m out.  If they won’t let me do that, well, then that bring us to steps 2 and 3.
  2. If the baby come at 38-39 weeks, then worrying is pretty much all moot, since I’ll have returned to work by August.  And, we won’t have to pay for daycare that month since my mom has agreed to come down and watch the baby for the entire month of August while J and I are at work, saving us that cost.
  3. If the baby arrives at 40-42 weeks, I’ll save my paid time off until August, or the last 3 weeks of my maternity leave.  As I’ll be working until I pop, I’ll still be receiving paycheck in July – and J gets paid in July, so July should be a little tight, but doable.  And, as we’re saving every penny in sight at the moment, we should be fine for August.
  4. They won’t let me stay pregnant longer than 42 weeks, so I think that I’ve worked this out at every angle.

Right now I’m just really hoping that I can take extra paid time off, because that would be the easiest and simplest option with the highest yield.  I still have to say that I’m kinda angry at the fact that the company I work for doesn’t offer any kind of maternity benefits.  As this is a small company it’s not something they deal with a lot, but at the same time, they expect their employees to work hard for them, but they’re not giving us anything in return.  This whole situation is making it extremely difficult, and I feel like I’m being punished for wanting a family…