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Parenthood: 3 months

January 20, 2019

Sleep:

The early part of the 3rd month was worse than the second month. She woke up 2-3 times a night to poop (and all throughout the day).  Once that stomach bug passed, night sleep started improving greatly.  On good nights, she wakes zero to one times between bedtime (8:30ish) and early morning (5:30).  This isn’t every night, but it happens. (Yes, I know about the four month sleep regression looming, and we’ll deal with that when it is here.) Getting her to bed at night can be a struggle. She has not yet mastered falling asleep independently, despite our efforts to encourage it.

Naps are terrible, with them suddenly shrinking to 40-45 minutes (or less!) when she was about 2 and half months old. She had a phase where EVERY nap was preceded by a meltdown. Now, just some (many) naps have a meltdown first, others just mild fussing. Since naps are so short, she needs many each day.  A day is easily consumed by trying to get her to nap.  It’s kind of a nightmare, honestly.  This is my biggest source of frustration at the moment. It is exhausting to be screamed at multiple times a day, only to get her to take a piddly 20-30 minute nap.  I worry about sending her to childcare without it being any better. (I also look forward to sending her to childcare since it can be someone else’s problem for a bit.) We can get longer naps if we wear her in a baby carrier, but even that is getting less foolproof. It requires active soothing around the 40 minute mark to get her to the next sleep cycle.  I keep reminding myself this can’t last forever. We will likely be doing sleep training when she’s older, because I can’t see this resolving on its own.

Growth and milestones:  

Her growth continues to be awesome!  She was probably about 11 pounds by the time she hit 3 months. She is so much bigger and stronger than the little peanut we brought home from the hospital! Her head and length are also on track.

Her smiles are more frequent, and we have cooing and other vocalizing – but still no laughs.  She discovered her hands and spent a lot of time staring at them and controlling them.  She’s started to interact with toys a little bit.  No signs of rolling over yet, but her neck control has gotten a lot better.

Personality:  

In her third month, we started to see a bit of her sweet personality – coos and smiles! This  makes playing with her a lot more fun.  She usually wakes, eats, and then has ~30-45 minutes of interaction before she starts to get tired for a nap.

She’s kind of a difficult baby – not incredibly difficult, but not easygoing or chill. She was frequently fussy, and total meltdowns are regular occurrences. This could be related to being overtired from her crappy nap pattern. As she hit her third month, the only really reliable soothing method remaining remaining was nursing.  Our swaddle and bounce and shush technique work sometimes – but are way less foolproof. Pacifiers still won’t work (despite both of her grandmas suggesting them, as if we hadn’t considered how much easier they’d make our life right now). She seems pretty sensitive – easily overstimulated by noise and visitors, and much more content and happy with calm interactions. Some of this is probably because she’s still young and new to the world. I’m trying to have patience, but the meltdowns really wear on me.

Money/Spending:

We didn’t buy a whole lot for her this month.  We had a stash of size 1 diapers that we got before she was born, and we are working through those.  I bought more footed pants, since I hate socks and occasionally want to dress her in something other than sleepers. She’s still breastfeeding well, so no need for formula at this point. She doesn’t need much!

Co-parenting:  

Things are still going well here, and  we are sharing the responsibilities as fairly as we can.

Feeding has become a smaller percentage of her care. She still eats many times a day, but she is more efficient, so it usually takes less time. Plus, she now needs more than just to be fed – there is more work to go around! I’m still doing bedtime and nights, with T taking over around 4a or 5a or whenever needed. We alternate nap duty (ugh) and playing with her during the day, and do baths together.

Looking ahead:

T is going out of town for a few days later this month, and I’m terrified. We are sending the dog to stay with friends, but it is going to be the first time I’m alone with the baby overnight – and it will be for multiple days. I’m sure we’ll survive, but I’m really NOT looking forward to it.  When he booked the trip, we naively thought she’d be easier by now… It is now too late to change plans, so I have no choice but to survive.

We have our first plane ride planned, tagging a visit to family with another work trip for T.  I’m a little less worried about this one, since I’ll have some help.  My mom is then coming back for another week to help out.  I’m so grateful!

I’m starting work in just a few weeks, part time. We have tentatively lined up a nanny share starting in late February, but need to finalize everything. The current plan is for me to be part time for just a few weeks, since this particular nanny share wanted to start ASAP.  If the share falls through for any reason, we’ll juggle childcare and both stay part-time until we arrange a different one.  I don’t think I can handle juggling this until she is (potentially) eligible for our preferred daycare in August – but we’ll see.  The plan is to keep her in the nanny share until she’s 2 if possible, but again, we’ll see.

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Life with a baby: 2 months

January 1, 2019

Sleep:

This comes first, because it shapes the whole experience of having a newborn! If she doesn’t sleep, we don’t sleep, and it is miserable.  The second month of being a parent was much easier than the first, and the only reason is that I’m getting more sleep.

Despite her becoming more alert and having more awake time overall, she’s not eating so frequently or taking so long to eat.  Feeding her every 2 hours around the clock was exhausting! Getting more than 30-90 minutes of consecutive sleep has been a game changer in my quality of life. I’m reliably getting 4 hours in a row most nights – and sometimes more. On the best nights, she’ll go to sleep around 8:30p or 9p and sleep until 3a or 4a.  These aren’t the norm, but they are wonderful.

Naps are unpredictable and ever changing.  We strive for an eat-activity-sleep routine, but are flexible since newborns are a bit flighty when you try to suggest a schedule to them. Sometimes she’ll nap for a short amount of time (15-40 minutes) and won’t be hungry when she wakes up. We’ve had almost exclusively short naps lately – unless we wear her or hold her. This is all developmentally normal for her age, but still isn’t great.

Growth and milestones:  

She’s is growing at an above average rate, going from the 0.1 percentile at birth to the 5th percentile at her 2 month check up. She’s catching up!  She has social smiles, but is pretty frugal with them and hasn’t started laughing.  She’s rolled from stomach to back a couple of times – mostly just by accident of throwing her head in the right direction. Her neck control is improving – she can hold it up during tummy time and holds it in the center when on her back – but we still need to support it most of the time.

Personality:  

She’s still mostly a lovable potato without a lot of personality showing.  She’s an average baby when it comes to fussiness, although I haven’t been around a lot of babies to be able to calibrate. She certainly isn’t an easygoing happy newborn (do those exist?) who rarely cries. On the other hand, she is generally consolable when she cries.

After her 2 month vaccinations, she came down a stomach bug and was miserable for 10 days and was extremely fussy.  There was 10 days where she had almost no time where she was awake and content. That has finally passed, and we’re back to having our average baby.  (The doctor was unconcerned and said maybe it was colic. I think is a silly “diagnosis” and it didn’t fit the pattern of what we saw.  But, there was still nothing we could do for her besides monitor and wait.)

She won’t take a pacifier – it seems like it would be super useful for consoling her, but we can’t make it happen. We haven’t brought her out much yet, because we don’t need to, and it is easier to keep her happy at home.  She did go to two holiday parties! One was just down the street so we could make an easy exit if needed.  The other we got lucky, and she slept a lot and didn’t scream.

Money/Spending:

I had a dream of carefully logging the baby purchases, but that didn’t happen.  Her main cost right now is diapers. We’re using disposable, but I don’t know how much we’ve spent. We haven’t settled firmly on a brand or location to purchase them to get the best value, since she just moved out of newborn sizes. I’m leaning towards Costco, but need to do more research.

Our grocery spending is probably up too. In theory, I should be eating an extra 500 calories a day to cover feeding her. I also am on a low-dairy diet as an experiment, but I don’t expect this will be necessary long term.

Co-parenting:  

With breastfeeding, things are tipped towards me being the primary parent at this stage. Now that her eating is less constant, things are more shared. We introduced a daily bottle so she’ll be ready for child care, and to give me a break – even though it means I have to pump anyway. Lately, I feed her between 4am and 7 am (depending on when she wakes), then T takes over and gives her a bottle for the next meal while I attempt to recover the sleep I lost being up with her. During the day, I always feed her, and I usually take the bedtime shift and call in reinforcements only if needed. We trade off the play time and the soothing. Often he does more of this (since I feed her), but sometimes I do. It depends on who is the most tired, and if we are both tired, we take turns.  T almost always lets me choose if I’d rather walk the dog or calm the crying baby – and I usually choose the dog.

At this stage, that is all parenting really is – feeding, interacting with her when she’s happy and awake, and soothing her when she cries.

Looking ahead:

This is a bit late, so we are gradually approaching the end of the “fourth trimester”.  She already is so much bigger than when we brought her home, and so much more interactive. I kind of already miss how tiny she was when we first brought her home, but I’m glad she is growing and healthy.  I definitely miss her tiny newborn cry – much easier to handle than the screams she is now capable of!

I can’t imagine going back to work, but at the same time, I know I’ll be happy to rejoin the adult world. I’m so happy to have this time with her, and to have T also home for so much of it. I’m planning on returning part-time in February, then full time in March.  T is on reduced duties (no teaching) all semester. We have a handful of leads on childcare, but now that the holidays are over, it is time to step up our search and nail something down.

November (and October) Wrap-up

December 21, 2018

October’s wrap-up was skipped since my baby decided to come a bit early and we were in the whirlwind of early parenthood in early November!  I drafted much of this in early December, but didn’t quite manage to finish it until nearly the end of the month.

Net Worth and Income:

I updated my net worth in October, and it was down 2.5% for the month, but still up 15.5% for the year.  The stock market continued to do it’s thing through November, and our net worth was almost flat.  We were up 15.8% for the year on the day I closed the books for November.

My November take home pay was super small.  I used sick leave for part of the month, then disability kicks in for 60% of my salary for about 1.5 or 2 weeks. This is paid separately from my paycheck, so I haven’t seen it yet. I also sent an extra $1000 to federal taxes out of my paycheck, based on my latest tax estimates.

Retirement and college savings:

Due to my maternity leave, my retirement accounts were maxed out early in the year, so I won’t have new investments until January.  This is a bit unfortunate with the market being how it is, but there wasn’t another good option. T’s retirement contributions are wrapping up with his last paycheck.

I did my lump sum backdoor Roth IRA just before the market correction – boo!  T is filling out his paperwork so he can do his backdoor Roth IRA this month before it is too late. As I explained here, I’m planning to use our Roth IRA as college savings accounts for the baby instead of a 529 for now.

Spending:

Is it terrible that I have almost no idea?  I was already behind on tracking spending for the year, and with a baby, it is a lost cause.  I check our accounts frequently to make sure no unexpected transactions appear.  There were a lot of amazon purchases of baby items, since my strategy to buy less was wait until I new I needed something to purchase.  T also purchased some plants, rocks, and labor for the landscaping we are doing this year.

Family:

I wrote a post about the first month with my newborn, so there isn’t a lot more to say! It’s a wild ride.  My quality of life is tied closely to how well my baby sleeps each night.

The most stressing part is that we still don’t have childcare lined up for when I return to work in February.  My plan was part time in February and then full-time in March. We have had no luck finding a nanny share to join so far.  The next step is to attempt to organize one ourselves, or hire a part-time dedicated nanny. There are no infant daycare, and I don’t expect a spot to open up.  Our backup plan is for me to stay part time longer so we can cover it ourselves.  (T has reduced duties for a whole semester, but summer would be very dicey to cover.)  That plan also would be exhausting, with no “breaks” for us.  Me working full-time is more monetarily valuable than not paying for childcare. I don’t love it, but it is an option until we can get her into our daycare of choice in August or figure something else out.

House:

Since I had a fair amount of family visitors in the first month, T  had some time to work on the ongoing landscaping project. However, more significant progress was made because we hired the neighborhood gardener, at my urging. “We need to buy your way out of this project.  I’d rather have you inside helping and there is too much work left to do.” I may do a post breaking down the costs (labor, rocks, plants) later, but the ballpark cost was about $5k. Most of the cost was rocks/mulch gravel.  That was more than I wanted to spend, but also a total bargain for what we ended up with. The plants are all native, so we didn’t need to add irrigation and pay an expensive water bill.  It looks super great!

No other house projects are ongoing, and I expect there won’t be anything major for a while.  We are looking at purchasing a home security/camera system in the near future.

Work:

In October, I left work about 2 weeks before I’d planned.  Maternity leave is going well.

I was just asked if I wanted to go on a trip for 2 weeks at the end of my maternity leave (i.e. ending my leave a little early).  They thought I might be able to make it if they could also pay for my husband to come too, since traveling for 2 weeks with a small nursing baby seems problematic.  It was a nice gesture to keep me included, but I declined.

There is not much else to say here until I go back in February!

One Month with a Newborn

December 1, 2018

I’m going to attempt monthly baby updates, since this is a place for me to capture my life.  She is just over six weeks at the time of writing this.  A November financial wrap-up post will be coming this week, unless it doesn’t!

Random Baby Updates:

She’s gaining weight well, which is so exciting! I could feel every bone in her spine when we brought her home at a hair over 4 pounds.  Now, she looks like an average newborn! She is barely on the growth charts for her age (just made it into the 1%), but she’s doing great.  It is really weird to think that every once of her was built from me.

Is this much sleep normal?  I googled variations of this question so many times in the first few weeks.  Yes, it is normal, especially before her due date.  She’s still sleeping a lot, but has started to have days where she fights daytime naps, at least ones in her bassinet/crib.  Luckily, there have only been a handful of nights where she fights sleep after I feed her. Those are hard.  I don’t mind waking up to feed her, but a wide awake baby at 3 am AFTER feeding for 45 minutes is not fun.

She’s outgrown her preemie clothes!  Zip up sleepers were the winners, but we also did use some of the cute outfits we had. We’re onto newborn sizes!

We had a lot of visitors staying with us in the first 5 weeks. (People who tell you not to have house guests are not realistic. My family literally could not have visited if they had to pay for hotel costs on top of flights and time off work. I wanted them to visit.) My mom was exceedingly helpful, cooking, tidying, and always thrilled to hold the baby while I got some rest. My dad was well-intentioned, as was my sister, but less helpful. If I ever do it again, I’ll attempt to limit visitors who aren’t my mom (or possibly my MIL) to shorter durations. (My dad being here so much was a fluke – he is working in the greater area for a few months and stayed with us temporarily as part of that transition.)

After some initial flailing with a finicky supplemental nursing system to help her get milk in her first days, breastfeeding came relatively easily. I’m so grateful for this, because I was acutely aware that many struggle. The lactation support at the hospital was great. They balanced her need to be fed with getting us breastfeeding successfully. They were ready to supplement with formula if it was needed, but also spent two long sessions with me giving tips on feeding and showed us how to supplement with tubing and syringes. Since she was small, they hooked me up with a prescription for a hospital grade breast pump.  I get to use it free for 6 months, and may rent it after that if the cost is reasonable.  At this point, I’m just using it once a day, and T gives her one bottle each day.  This is both to get her used to bottles and to have T participate in feeding and bonding.

Challenges:

Early on, waking her to feed her every two hours around the clock was extremely tiring. We also had to continually poke and bug her to keep her awake long enough to eat. She still sometimes eats that frequently (or more frequently), but I don’t wake her or force her to eat if she doesn’t show signs of hunger. At night, I’d allow 4-5 hours between eating, or whenever she requests it. We are coming out of the newborn sleepy days, and the longer stretches may not last…. But I’ll take them while they are here!

She has started fussing more. Most often, it seems to be related to difficulty figuring out how to poop effectively. She grunts, kicks, and cries – so distressing to witness!  Her doctor said it is normal, and she should grow out of it. Why is learning to poop so hard?  You can do it baby!  

Naps are getting more difficult for me to execute, now that she is starting to be interested in the world. These baby sleep/schedule books say things like “then put baby down for a nap!” as if it is just this simple thing. Maybe someday…

Having a newborn means setting aside my desire for predicability and schedules. It is sometimes hard for me to just go with the flow and stay in the moment (especially at 2 am!). I’m trying! T is very good at this, and helps remind me.

Baby things we’ve used a lot lately:

  • Halo sleep swaddle. This was the only swaddle I found in a preemie size.  I didn’t master how to use swaddle blankets. Now that she’s grown, other swaddles sacks that we were gifted (SwaddleMe) work fine too.
  • Halo bassinet. It is nice to have her at eye level and very close to me, and to be able to quickly get to her when she is fussing. We usually leave the bedroom to nurse, but if I feel awake enough to know I won’t fall asleep, I sometimes nurse her in bed.
  • Boppy newborn lounger for somewhere to hang on the couch. (This is a poor man’s Dock-a-Tot,  which is essentially a $200 pillow. I don’t get it.)
  • Nursery glider.  This is already worth owning, even if it doesn’t ever transition out of the nursery! I use this all of the time.
  • The changing table / dresser.  So many diapers!  (We are using disposables.)
  • The crib, although mostly as a safe spot to set her down, and a place to lay her when we change her clothes.  She’s taken some naps in it, but she won’t sleep in it at night for awhile.
  • Her baby gym and a mat for tummy time, and a few high contrast picture cards/books.  I also used some printable high contrast items to modify her baby gym and make a simple mobile.
  • Blankets, keeping her warm and cozy!
  • Burp cloths. My MIL made us some really cute ones with cute fabric, so we mostly use those. We also use cloth diapers as burp clothes.

Milestones and Fun:

Her personality is not showing much since she is so little.  I lovingly call her a barnacle (when eating) or an angry potato (when fussing).  Sometimes she is also just a happy angel baby. 🙂

She doesn’t hate tummy time, but she kind of just chills instead of practicing her neck/head control.

T insists she gave a social smile yesterday.  I’m not so sure.

We are parents!

November 2, 2018

This is a long post, and I didn’t bother much with personal finance considerations.  Here is the story of the end of my pregnancy, how we became parents, and how things are going so far.

Late Pregnancy Complications

After a remarkably easy time for the bulk of pregnancy, things got complicated in the last few weeks. I have a devastating feeling that my normally very healthy body failed me in the task of pregnancy.  However, I have a seemingly healthy baby, so I guess it didn’t fail completely,

  • At 33 weeks, a growth ultrasound showed baby was measuring quite small (<10% for gestational age).  Induction at 39 weeks was recommenced since they expected her to grow better on the outside at that point.  I was scheduled for 2-3x weekly monitoring appointments to check on the baby’s activity, my fluid levels, and the cord blood flow to ensure she was still getting nutrients.
  • At 35 weeks, my blood pressure was worryingly high during my appointment for the 2nd time, so the doctor moved my induction to the 37th week to limit the risk of pre-eclampsia.  I  started disability / maternity leave after this appointment, two weeks earlier than planned. The handoff of tasks was less smooth than I had intended. Some of my coworkers did not seem to understand why I was leaving so early, and kept expecting me to be available to continue things from home. (This may be because most women in California are eligible to start leave 4 weeks before their due date, so they thought I had a month of hanging out at home with no complications.) I must not have articulated the situation well, but also, I looked perfectly healthy and not like I would having a baby in 2 weeks. They did stop bothering me when I produced a baby!
  • At 36 weeks and 4 days, my home blood pressure reading was above the threshold where I’d been instructed to call. They asked me to come in to labor and delivery triage, where I expected they’d run some labs and send me back home.  Instead, despite blood work showing healthy kidney and liver function, they recommend induction ASAP. The blood pressure and protein in my urine was enough to convince them that things were only going to get worse, and the baby should come out now.

The Birth:

After I was admitted, I was given medication to lower my blood pressure, put on an IV of magnesium to reduce risk of seizures, and given a steroid shot for the baby’s lung development since we were before 37 weeks. Induction started late in the evening with a foley balloon, which produced contractions relatively quickly.  The contractions became painful within an hour, and I started vomiting from… the pain? The pain killer I had with the insertion?  General labor symptom?  Who knows why, but it was a regular occurrence until after the baby was out.  Knowing I wanted an epidural, I requested it at that point. I was already confined to bed due to the magnesium IV, so there really wasn’t a drawback. The epidural was placed without complication at 2:30 am, and I attempted to sleep while being poked and prodded all night. At about 5:30 am, the balloon came out and we started Pitocin to help contractions progress.

Things went normally throughout the morning.  Since patients control epidural strength and I kept it fairly minimal, I could feel sensations without feeling pain – just some mild discomfort. Just after noon, nurses and doctors rushed into the room after one of the contractions. The fetal heart rate had dropped significantly, but recovered after the contraction.  They determined I was entering transition phase, suggesting this could cause of the heart rate drop temporarily. Not too much later, I began pushing in earnest. I wasn’t pushing for long – perhaps 3 contractions – when a few pushes were followed by major hemorrhaging. The doctor suspected placental abruption and even more medical staff flooded into the room.  They began preparation for an emergency c-section, and whisked me down the hall to the OR.  The anesthesiologist amped up my epidural in an attempt to completely numb the area so we could avoid general anesthesia.  Pediatricians were standing by to check the baby when she came out. The doctors were checking my progress and checking the baby’s positioning. The nurses hooked me back up to fetal monitoring, and gave me lots of encouragement.

Fortunately, the fetal heart rate had stabilized en route to the OR, and the doctor recommended we continue with the delivery attempt in the OR. The baby needed to come out quickly, so forceps were suggested. If forceps failed due to the baby’s position or any other reason, we’d immediately fall back to the c-section. I was given a few chances to push with the forceps. By this point, my lower half was totally numb. I couldn’t feel contractions or whether I was pushing at all, much less productively.  But I was pushing!  And it was good pushing!  The forceps were working!  She was born, let out a cry, and was plopped onto my chest for skin-to-skin.

As predicted, she was small. At 1.99 kg, she was a hair under the threshold where NICU time is typically required.  Her APGAR was great and she showed no signs of needing extra care, so the doctors let her stay with us, unless something else were to come up.  Both of us were closely monitored for the next day. Her blood sugar was checked regularly, among the other newborn shots/tests. My magnesium IV stayed in for 24 hours, which made me feel terrible and kept me chained to the bed. Once that was out, my recovery went smoothly with a normal amount of pain. We had significant time with a lactation consultant, and despite a learning curve, nursing was off to a decent start by the time we left the hospital.

The aftermath

With clean bills of health, we were discharged from the hospital about 48 hours after birth.  T and I were still processing the fear we’d felt during the birth, and the joy of finally having her safe in our arms. She was small, but she was healthy!  And we were going home!

I walked into the house first. T had left in a hurry, but things were in disarray disproportionate to a frantic rush to the hospital.  The freezer was open, something he would never do… then I noted the screen on the kitchen window appeared to be falling off.  It took me several seconds of working through denial to realize what had happened: while we were in the hospital, our house had been burglarized. I immediately broke into tears, as T frantically checked all the rooms  to assess what was missing or damaged.

Irrationally, I feared the thieves had stolen the baby gear I’d spent months acquiring.  “Good, the bassinet is still here!” I exclaimed with relief.  In fact, while every other room had been ransacked, the nursery was left untouched. Baby and I camped out there while T dealt with the police and cleanup. I don’t know if I slept at all the first night, between the emotions from the burglary combined with worry about the baby.

The thieves were likely disappointed – we don’t have valuable jewelry, aside from my wedding rings, which were with me. We had our personal laptops and iPad at the hospital. My work laptop was at home, and was the most valuable thing they got, along with an 8 year old iPad. Leaving the freezer open caused the most damage. Not only was there a $300 repair, but it destroyed ~15 freezer meals I’d spent the last few weeks preparing, in hopes of easing the transition into newborn life.  I’d also stocked up on meat and other snacks at Costco and the store in preparation for coming home. All the food in both the fridge and freezer had to be tossed – hundreds of dollars worth of food, and more so, the emotion of losing all the work I’d done to prepare.

Friends, family, and neighbors were very helpful, sending or delivery meals and offering words of encouragement and help.

Newborn Daze:

As far as infants go, she has been remarkably easy (with one noted exception). She goes to sleep fairly easily after eating. She has several alert periods throughout the day when we can get to know her and introduce her to the world. We anticipate this may change as she matures. She is a bit of a sleepy eater, but breastfeeding has started out well – a big relief. We are trying to enjoy this stage as much we can.

The biggest challenge is her feeding schedule. Due to her size, we need to wake her up every 2 hours to eat if she hasn’t already requested to eat. It can take 45-60 minutes to complete a feeding session, with diaper changes, burping, and poking her so she stays awake, etc. It’s exhausting, although only a bit more than any newborn schedule would be.

Since she arrived over 3 weeks ahead of schedule, T is still juggling fall semester responsibilities before he gets his semester off of teaching. This isn’t ideal, but it is what it is. (He did have guest lecturers cover him the first week and during the birth.) My mom was here for a long weekend, and my sister is coming for a week, then my mom & dad will come back again for a longer stretch (the originally booked tickets). So, despite being so very far away, we do have some help in these early days.  T’s schedule also provides some flexibility, but he has more on his plate than would be ideal. I’m eager for December, when we’ll have more time together as a family.

Once home, my recovery went well.  My blood pressure has dropped to its normal healthy levels, and I no longer need to take anything for pain. The hormones and emotions are a bit wild, but we’re getting there.  The exhaustion is real, but nothing totally unexpected.

Onward

The blog will continue at its usual slow pace, and personal finance topics will return soon enough!  In the meantime, I’m hanging out with the baby and we are figuring out parent life!

September Wrap-Up

October 3, 2018

Net Worth and Money

September was our smallest net worth increase of the year at under 1%.  I think this was mostly due to lackluster market growth between my August data point and September data point.

All of my travel expenses have finally been reimbursed!  T’s as well, except a small trip he just took.  It is nice not to have multiple thousands of dollars owed to me by my job.  I must have earned so many extra credit card points!

This was my first paycheck after finishing my voluntary retirement contributions, which made up for the fact that T is back on academic-year pay (i.e. no summer salary bonus money).  Some social security taxes also were done for the year.  My paycheck won’t start to be impacted by disability/leave until the one I get at the end of November, so our income for the rest of the year is looking healthy.

I found out I’m getting a 5% raise, which is more than typical – salary growth at my workplace is known to be relatively stagnant and not well-correlated to performance. We’re rated on a 1 to 5 scale, and this year only, your raise is equivalent to your rating.  The raise is retroactive a few months, so my next paycheck will include a little “bonus” to cover the past few months.

Our cash buffers are even higher right now, but I’m prepping for our backdoor Roth contributions, which is part of our college savings strategy.  I hope to execute these next month.

Despite the 0% interest rate, which is the whole reason we decided to not pay cash in the first place, I’ve been making double car payments every month. The original idea of financing was that the extra cash would be better served in the market or even in the mortgage.  But… I just hate large-ish monthly bills. My “logic” is that while the mortgage payment is not going anywhere anytime soon, the car payment can easily be killed and will be gone in a few months. In the future, I need to take into account the reality of my personality when I try to be clever and financially savvy by taking advantage of 0% interest deals.

Spending

I’m still behind on tracking this, and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to catch up unless it happens in the next few weeks. I noted the big ticket items in a separate post.

Work

Work was fantastic for the most part.  Early in the month, the project I’ve been traveling all summer for culminated with a big success. And it was so much fun!  We had some wrap-up work to do, then flew back home by mid-month.

Since getting home, it was fun to dive back into my other project, which had been on the back burner for the summer. The proposal work hasn’t been too demanding, but only because we are totally behind the ball on them.  :/

A bureaucratic issue came up with my upcoming maternity leave. By policy, I’m entitled to use an amount of sick leave as parental leave.  Unbeknownst to me, my projects are still charged for my time during any sick leave – different from how vacation leave works. Since I’m responsible for budgets/schedules on my own projects (and report to another organization from a financial perspective for one), this seriously stressed me out. Not only do I have to cover my work while I’m out, I have to come up with extra money to do so?  This was eventually sorted out for my personal situation, but I’m still furious that this is the policy. A project paying for someone during multiple weeks of parental leave is fundamentally different than covering their time while they go to a doctors appointment or nurse a cold. On a large scale, a predictable percentage of employees will use sick leave as parental leave each year, and the burden of funding it should not be left for projects to deal with as though it is a one-off situation. It can create a bad dynamic between a project manager and a new parent…  and is particularly stressful when the new parent is the project manager!

I should insert a caveats about how I’m grateful for the leave I have, and a rant about how maternity/parental leave in the US sucks more broadly. But you know this already.

House

We didn’t finish any big projects this month, but did knock out some small/medium stuff.  The new washer / dryer came and were installed.  We moved around a lot of furniture and started to get the nursery set up.  We are working on trying to restore the office / guest room to a functional state, but it needs a lot of decluttering.  Landscaping progress continued a little bit.  I’m still in love with my Roomba, who has been keeping our floors nice and clean.

Our wish-to-do list is a mile long, and there is no way it is all going to be done in the next month or so.  T still thinks that he’ll have time to do some of the projects after the baby is born.  Isn’t that cute of him to think that? 🙂

Pregnancy / Baby

My previously nearly-perfect unicorn pregnancy took a slight turn with at my 32 week check-up. I was flagged for a growth scan, and it showed that baby is a bit on the small side. There is nothing in particular to worry about and prognosis is extremely good – but they have added a bunch of extra monitoring appointments to make sure it stays that way. Depending on how baby grows in these few weeks, they may want to talk about induction somewhere around 38 or 39 weeks (the idea being the baby may do better growing on the outside at that point). The frequent appointments are quite a distraction and time suck, but I’m glad to know they are watching baby carefully.

Physically, I’m still feeling mostly well! I have just now started to reach the point where some things are getting uncomfortable, and I get physically tired out way more quickly and easily than I expect to. As long as I take things relatively easy, I feel good. I have to pace myself on the weekends, because I want to do ALL THE THINGS and it just totally wipes me out the following day.

So, that was September!  My maternity leave starts late October, and I’m super excited!

September spending – home and baby stuff

September 27, 2018

We bought a lot of big things this month, so I’m separating this out into its own post to shorten my monthly wrap up where I usually note large purchases

Laundry upgrade:

The most questionable big purchase is a new washer and dryer.  It is questionable, because our old laundry center unit (similar idea as this) that came with the house was/is perfectly functional (and will be resold on Craigslist). We have a small laundry closet instead of a laundry room, so we got stackable front loading LG models. My complaints with our old set up was the small load size and the fact that the dryer had just two settings (and “low” was quite hot). I do most of the laundry in the house, and we have a fair amount even without baby. Aside from our clothes/bedding,  the dog’s stuff gets washed weekly in attempts to minimize the doggy smells (beds, blankets that cover places he is allowed to lay). The setup was ~$2200 including delivery, taxes, and install fee.  We got the washer from Costco, but they didn’t carry the gas dryer, so we bought that from Best Buy (they could deliver on the same timeline).  The old laundry center is probably worth about $200-$300 used.

Since my husband is who he is, the purchase of a new washer/dryer meant he “had to” fix the drywall in the laundry closet and paint the closet with some leftover paint. I couldn’t care less about the status of the drywall in our laundry closet, but bad dry wall seriously bothers him – even if it is in a closet. This was low cost, but took up a weekend.  It is done, it looks great if you peak around the edges of the machine to look at it…

Roomba! I’ve wanted a Roomba forever… but they are expensive and I wasn’t sure if I’d love it. I wanted to buy it from Costco due to their favorable return policy. I wanted a higher series model for various reasons, and had been stalking the Roomba 960C since last fall when I skipped a $500 sale. It hadn’t been less than $600 until this August, when it dropped to $530. That’s a good price, but I thought I could do better on Black Friday. Then in September, I saw they were carrying the 985 (Costco version of 980) for $500.  I compared the specs and, keeping in mind the generous return policy, I pulled the trigger.

Roomba

I love it!  I have dust allergies, and we have a dog, so having the floors cleaned daily makes a huge difference. I used to vacuum fairly often, but couldn’t keep up with the daily schedule a robot can. We still need to vacuum with the real vacuum to take care of things completely, but mostly just places the few roomba can’t get. The dog initially was wary and gave it a few barks, but adapted and now mostly just avoids it.

Baby / Nursery Stuff:

We got a lot of the bigger items used over the past several months, but time is running out and there were some specific items I haven’t found used.  I have limited time/energy to drive around buying second-hand smaller items to save $10 or $20 per item, so I’ve limited my geographical search area for small items and have been just ordering most of them with completion discounts at Target/Amazon.

Used baby items bought in September:

  • Used dresser (many years old version of this model in a light wood color) for $175, which doubles as our changing table.  I stalked the used item sites for MONTHS trying to find someone selling a solid wood dresser to my tastes for less than $200. It’s harder than you would think!  A new IKEA Hemnes was my backup plan, but I was so happy to find this used one and give a new home.
  • Perfect condition snug-a-puppy fisher price swing for $30.  I debated this because I’m avoiding buying things I’m not sure we will need – especially space-hog items like swings! On flip side, we have the time now to bargain shop, and a swing is not something I want to buy at retail.  Since this was in our neighborhood, I decided to just get it and assume my baby will indeed like a swing. (I skipped the Mamaroo I was lusting after, which seem to go for at least $100 used.)
  • A few specific clothing items. Baby might spend many of the early days in sleepers  – but who knows? And who knows what size baby will be at birth?  It’s kind of a mystery to figure out what we need. We received many used and new clothes as gifts. After doing an inventory, I still thought I needed a few specific items. There is a fantastic used market for baby clothes since everyone seems to have too many. I prefer online shopping and picking out specific items. Swap.com has  great prices and promotions, so I shopped there them. ThredUp seems to run a bit more expensive but is the same idea.
    • A couple couple of side snap long sleeve tops/onesies for the earliest dayso I don’t have to put stuff over baby’s head while I am still getting comfortable with handling a tiny baby.
    • A couple pairs of footed pants to go with the zillion onesies  I have (footed so I can avoid socks, which seem troublesome).

New baby items bought in September:

  • Car seat for $170.  I badly wanted to splurge on the $300 Nuna Pipa with the beautiful styling and “dream drape” canopy and not a single negative review on the entire internet!  But I talked myself out of that idea and went with a sale Maxi Cosio Mico Max 30, which is very lightweight, has many safety features, but has a less dreamy canopy.
  • Pack-n-play Jetsetter for about $100 after tax (w/coupon).  There are tons of used play yards  available, but I wanted this specific one. It will be a travel crib, but we’ll first use the bassinet portion as the safe place (that is taller than dog height) to set down the baby in the living room. We have a used Halo bassinet for our bedroom, but it is too heavy to be portable. I bought from a brick and mortar store in case I want to return this.
  • Nursery glider for $300, although my mom bought this for us. It pained me to spend money and environmental resources on something I’m confident has a short shelf life in our home, but I could not find a reasonable used deal on a rocker. The ones under ~$200 were in terrible condition and/or not in styles that I liked at all. The cost/benefit of buying used just wasn’t there.
  • Many smaller miscellaneous items: Curtains, changing pad & cover, baby medicines, a few toys/books/etc. for young babies, infant bath tub, organizer bins and such, bassinet mattress protector & sheet, LEKA baby gym and separate mat, side table for near glider, crib mattress protector & sheet, breastfeeding supplies, bottle drying rack, a few prints and frames for decoration.

We aren’t quite done buying everything for baby, but I think we are 90% of the way there on the essentials. Then baby will come, and we’ll figure out if we missed anything everything we missed!