Post # 1
DH and I are planning to begin TTC next July, leaving us a year before we begin trying and right around 2 (hopefully) before Baby KatiePi makes his/her entrance. Tonight I read an article about what to consider before having a baby and it freaked me out. We are working on getting as much in order (paying down debt-only my car loan and his small student loan, while adding to savings), getting healthy, settled in jobs, etc. I’m definitely a planner who likes to have my ducks in a row as much as possible before doing something. So, I thought I’d ask the experts for some advice:
What are your tips (financially, health-wise, relationship-wise, etc.) to couples preparing to have a child in the near future? What are some things you’ve realized were not as important as you thought and things you thought weren’t important, but really are? Thanks!
Post # 2
KatiePi: Be mature enough, and have enough income. That’s about it. People have been having babies, and managing, since forever. We just decided it was time, age and maturity wise. (Late 20s).
e.g. I don’t see any need to have debt paid off. What’s important isn’t the amount of debt, but whether you can service the debt; i.e. that you can make enough so you can pay the debt bills.
Same with a house: you don’t need a certain size house. We moved from an apartment to a house when our first child was about 1 1/2.
Post # 3
aussiemum1248: Thank you! We are definitely on the track to being as “ready” as I’m sure you can ever be. Those two debts will take the next several years to pay off. We do have income left over that we mostly push into savings right now. I think the only thing that scares me is the price of child care. I’m hoping to get pregnant between June and August (though I understand that may not happen) so I have longer with the baby before going back to teaching in the Fall and more time to save on child care. Any suggestions about that?
Post # 4
KatiePi: Even though I don’t have experience with this yet, since we’re on the same timeline for TTC, I’ll share what we’re doing… 🙂 We are also paying off debt; both of our cars (they’re at 0% anyway) will be paid off by next July, and we’ll begin saving for new ones. We’ll be renovating our house next summer to open up the kitchen/living room/dining room, which we’ve been dreaming of since we moved in 3 years ago. The most important thing for me is actively setting aside time with DH to connect. Right now we’re not very good at “date nights”, so for our anniversary this July I’m making a calendar with 2 preplanned dates per month from this July to next. My hope is that if we make a concsious effort this upcoming year, we’ll get in the habit and continue when we have children. A big fear of mine is that we’ll turn into one of those couples whose lives revolve around the kids.
I’ll be following this thread to find out what else to keep in mind!
Post # 5
KatiePi: I’ve heard of some parents pooling their resources and hiring a nanny (i.e. the nanny would take care of 2-3 children from 2 different families). Some employers will also help with the cost of childcare, so it never hurts to check. The other thing is to make sure you have good health insurance and put aside some savings (which it seems like you’re already doing). My husband and I are having an unplanned twin pregnancy (we were told we wouldn’t be able to conceive lol), but since we had a few things in order (i.e. savings, insurance, etc) we didn’t have to go into full on panic mode.
Post # 6
If I waited until all my debt was paid and we were in a house then we wouldnt have children until I was about 55. So! We are married (important to us), we are both in jobs we will probably be at for a while (no one realistically stays in a job their whole life these days), we have two vehicles, we make enough money to pay our bills each month and have a little left over for baby, and we are both ready to make the commitment. paying off debt and buying a house are things we are okay with waiting on.
Post # 7
This is a really personal choice – but I had the counsyl genetic testing to make sure I wasn’t a carrier for a genetic disease (in my case, that I wasn’t a fragile x carrier).
My mother actually IS a fragile x carrier (obviously asympotmatic, she took the genetic test on a whim) and so I had a 50% chance of also being a carrier. Thankfully I am not. Most people that are carriers don’t know. I’m a carrier for another (super rare!) disorder, so now we are having my FI tested for that. Most people are a carrier for something.
My doctor said that she wishes everyone would get tested before TTC so that they could make informed decisions.
We did a lot of talking before to discuss what we would do if I was a fragile x carrier, or on the very small chance that we were both carriers for another genetic disease. It was a really great conversation to have.
Other than that, we’re planning on starting TTC in Feb. We will have just moved to another state and will not have a house yet (we currently own our NYC apartment) but I mean, you can’t wait for everything to be perfect, and I don’t want to rush into buying a house in a new area! The baby won’t care if it spends the first year of its life in an apartment.
Post # 8
Things to do before TTC/getting pregnant:
Travel if you want to. Eat red steak if you like it. Go to a few wine festivals, if that’s your thing. Get your fill of sushi, froyo, deli meats & cheeses.
Prepare your body. Get healthy, eat well, put good things into your body and you will get good things from your body.
Things to do in preparation for labor & birth:
Research. Interview your provider to make sure they are supportive of your wishes. If your doctor or midwife doesn’t give you warm fuzzies, don’t be afraid to find a new one. This is YOUR body, this is YOUR baby, and you should have a say. Birth doesn’t have to be something that happens to you, it can be something you participate in and have a say in. Find labor support- whether it’s your husband, your mom, your sister, your friend, or a doula. Surround yourself with positive energy, support, and encouragement.
Things to do in preparation for the new arrival:
Have a support system. Designate people to come take care of the pets while you’re in the hospital. Have a few people lined up who are willing to order take-out or cook a casserole and bring it. Ask a friend or family member to come help you pick up the house, do laundry, wash dishes, hold the baby so you can shower.
Post # 9
housebee: That’s a great idea. I will start checking into that. So here is the thing about my health insurance. I have it through the district and it appears pretty good on paper, but we have two options-Basic and Plus Plan. The basic is just that with a lower ($500 deductible) while the Plus Plan has added benefits (HSA which is great as we don’t have vision insurance and I need it) but a higher ($1200 deductible). I found out that well-woman check-ups are only covered if you’ve already met your deductible and well baby check-ups may or may not (the woman danced around this). Am I allowed as a district employee to change to better insurance? I don’t have to pay premiums or co-pay, but do get a bill after. Is this still good?
Equine_Breeder: Oh, I’m definitely not worried about having all debt paid off before baby. That’s just unrealistic for us (but great for those who can do it). I just purchased my car as my other one was falling apart and my DH will start paying back his student loans next month. I think mostly I just want to get our savings to a better place and we are working on cutting unnecessary expenses and all of that money will be moved directly into savings.
Keep the tips coming! It’s nice to hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas.
Post # 10
KatiePi: As far as insurance goes, get a copy of your actual policy and look through it. It’s not fun (trust me – I just did this for about 8 policies, as my DH is starting his new job and we need to make a decision about health insurance options) but it should give you a good idea of how much will be covered (and how much you’ll need to plan and save for). The policy should specifically outline what is covered (and what your co-insurance responsibilities would be) for all maternity and preventative care. It should also outline that stuff for child preventative care. These were important things that I looked at in all policies, as we’re about to start TTC. I know the ACA requires all new plans to fully cover maternity and preventative care (like, all the policies I looked at have no co-pays and no co-insurance for those services as long as I’m seeing in-network providers), but I guess it’s possible that yours is one of the grandfathered ones that don’t have to comply right away?
Post # 11
Relationship wise – it’s good to have some experience dealing with extremely stressful situations under your belt. Do you take things out on each other? Fight fairly? Divide work equally? Treat each other with respect? Listen? If the answer to any of these isn’t “yes” then work on that first. A baby is trying on even the strongest marriages.
Financially – you don’t have to have all debt paid off or be making a lot of $, but at least have a plan. Your finances will be turned upside down, especially at first, so to soften the blow a little it’s good to at least do some reasearch about what daycare will cost or how much you’ll have to spend for maternity leave, etc. Whatever figure you come up with – double that and it might be close to what the baby ends up costing.
Health – it’s a good idea to get to a healthy weight before TTC so you will potentially have less complications with the pregnancy. At the very least start an excersize routine now so that you can continue it while pregnant. I did prenatal yoga througout my entire pregnancy and it was AWESOME. Kept me in good shape and really helped with the delivery.
Post # 12
KatiePi: Hmm I’m not sure if you’re allowed to change to other insurance, I imagine you’d have to check with your employer. However, private plans can be fairly pricey. The fact that you don’t have to pay any premiums is amazing though. I would definitely call and ask what your max out of pocket would be and if you switch to HSA if that money can be applied to your deductible (that way you can get an idea of just how much you’ll need saved up). Also, after your deductible is met, what percentage of your cost is covered. Of course, insurance is super complicated and every company is different, so the more answers you have the easier it will be for you to plan. Best of luck!
Post # 13
CaroBee: I got the Counsyl carrier screen as well! I don’t have a family history, but I’m a genetic counselor, so I know way to much about what can go wrong. I was mostly interested in screening for Fragile X, spinal muscular atrophy and cystic fibrosis, all of which are included in the Cousyl screen. I was lucky and wasn’t a carrier for anything, so we didn’t have to test my husband.
Given that I’m a genetic counselor, it was important to me to get my carrier screening done. I also started taking a multivitamin with folic acid and iron. I’m trying to eat better and lose some weight, but that isn’t going very well.
My husband and I have been married a little under a year and we’re trying to be good about having date nights. My work is so stressful lately that I’m not very good at quality time when I get home, so I have to really make an effort to make sure it happens. But just generally working on building our relationship. And discussing parenting type things when they come up. And trying to teach my husband the parent voice.
Financially we’re doing pretty well debt/income/savings wise. The bigger issue for us is job stability. I’ve got a very stable job, but my husband does not, so we’re trying to get him into a stable job (and know where we’ll be living for the next several years) prior to TTC.
We’ve always been big travel junkies, but I don’t plan on stopping that once we have kids, it’ll just have th change some.
That’s really all I can think of. It was a big process for me to decide that I wanted to have a kid, which I did prior to getting engaged. So now we’re just waiting around for life to settle down a bit.
Post # 14
From the girl who got pregnant unplanned and had 9 months to scramble…. 🙂
I would make sure that you have had enough of your alone time as a couple. Make sure you are both on the same page about the the amount of time parenting will take away from your relationship on an intimacy level. It definitly can be balanced, I would just make sure you are on the same page.
Make sure a car seat fits in your car. I actually purchased a new SUV and the infant seats with the bases did not fit on the bench based on the recommendations. On that note, make sure to read the saftey information for car seats, etc. The laws have changed even recently (with relation to latch) to insure your baby is safe. 🙂
Tell people to buy older clothes for the baby. I would recommend going to a once upon a child type childrens store for the younger months and onesies and let people by you 12m, 18m, and 2T clothes for your shower. (I wish I knew now what I thought I knew then; So much money invested and half of the little clothes not worn)
Plan for maternity leave. This one I struggled with because I found out I was pregnant at 10 weeks and had little time to plan. Read up on your company policy about maternity leave. Paid vs. temporary disability vs. sick leave. You can research if your company will allow donated leave, or advanced leave. Also on this note, plan your leave for doctors appointments.
I would research research research! Car seats, cloth diapering vs. disposibles, daycares in your area, etc etc. If you are a planner like me, I was into looking up all of that stuff. Ratings for different baby products before registering etc. Another thing I did was sign up for the recall notices so that way you can be aware of what products are no longer safe.
I would communicate frequently with your spouse about future goals and aspiraitons for you child. How does he feel about if your child chooses not to go to school? Will you pay for their first car? Talk about those types of things to make sure you are on the same page to avoid the potential for arguments down the road.
The last thing I will say is to just enjoy your preganacy. I regret so much I didn’t enjoy mine like I wish I would have. No matter what happens you can always just enjoy having your little baby inside you. Take tons of pictures!
Post # 15
SadieBee: I’m absolutely going to be combing through my policy again. I did that before deciding (but that was a year ago) and need to refresh myself. I think that’s why I was so confused about my well woman check-up not being covered before the deductible was met (because of the ACA).
housebee: Thanks for the tips. I will be looking of my plan to determine if it is still the right one. Overall, I have pretty good insurance. I come from healthcare parents though and they had the best insurance plans, so I think it is mostly just an adjustment for me.
carrolltobee: Thank you!! I love research (I’m a complete geek) and will be researching and finding deals the best I can when the time comes. Luckily as a teacher I get quite a bit of leave built in to the school year and on top. My district provides 3 personal days and 9 sick days each school year that I am saving up for appointments when pregnant. This is on top of all the school holidays where doctor’s offices are still open (this is usually how I schedule my gyno, dentist, etc. appointments). My district will also pay for 6 weeks of your maternity leave while you can take up to 3 months and of course be covered by FMLA. We are hoping to get pregnant in July/August of next year (of course you can’t plan for everything) so that I would be due in the final 6-8 weeks of school and not lose as much money.
Thank you everyone! This is making me feel much more in control and helping me see what I can do to prepare better for whent he time comes.