Posts filed under ‘baby’
Baby #2 arrived a bit earlier than expected; three weeks early to be exact. I thought I had one more week to prepare for the arrival, but it simply wasn’t meant to be. As I labored in the hospital my husband and I walked the halls and tried to agree on names.
In fact, up until an hour or two before delivery we were still hashing out ideas and going back and forth about our favorites. We settled on a name for a boy relatively quickly, but since we didn’t know the gender we continued to discuss girls names until my labor became too intense to think about anything other than giving birth.
It seems all that talk of girl names was irrelevant. Our baby boy arrived in the wee hours of the morning. Despite his early arrival he appears to be robust and strong.
Big brother was convinced this little guy was going to be a sister, but didn’t seem terribly disappointed when we told him a little brother had arrived instead. So far everything is going quite smoothly. Well as smoothly as life with a newborn can go.
There may be a bit of radio silence while we adjust to life as a family of four.
This post is part of Women’s Money Week.
In my opinion as soon you decide to have children, (no matter how far into the future that day may seem), you should start setting money aside for the big day. Think of having a child like any other big financial goal in life. You know you need to save to buy a house, a new car or to travel on an exotic vacation, so why not save to expand your family?
The sooner you decide to save the larger that sum will swell. If you don’t earn a lot of money set aside a little bit each paycheck. You’d be surprised how quickly those numbers can add up over time. Set a big goal for yourself. Imagine you don’t know where you’ll work a few years from this point in time and whether or not maternity pay will be offered. You are married and want a family but you aren’t certain when. Start a savings account dedicated to financing your maternity leave.
In general cut back on your spending, clip coupons and stay out of stores. Calculate all of your monthly expenses and see what items you might be able to eliminate. Start making calls to cell phone companies and satellite TV providers to find out how to reduce monthly bills. Think about possible ways to earn extra income by taking on extra hours at work or selling unwanted items on eBay.
Once you conceive keep your ear out for anyone willing to offer hand-me-downs and investigate all the places that sell second-hand baby items. You would be amazed by the number of people who have boxes full of baby related items hiding in their basements. If you live in or near a major city you will probably find second-hand stores and consignment sales that sell items for a fraction of the retail price. Consignment sales are typically held just three or four times a year, so make certain to mark the dates on your calendar. If you are looking for something specific try eBay and Craigslist before buying from an online retailer.
Think carefully about how you register for baby items and avoid letting yourself get into the baby craze. You’ll feel driven to wash everything the minute you receive it, but don’t. Keep tags on just about everything. It’s amazing how quickly children outgrow toys and clothing. Rather than washing everything and folding it neatly into drawers keep the tags on clothes until just before your child will need to wear them. This makes it easier to return or exchange the items for larger sizes. It also makes it easier to sell items if the need arises.
Kids don’t need much in that first year of life other than love and attention, so stick to a very small set of toys. You’ll be amazed at how enamored your child will become with a simple cardboard box or a plastic bucket.
Think strategically about decorating your nursery. Baby stores have notoriously high prices, so make certain to compare prices at traditional furniture stores before buying. Also, try to envision your child’s bedroom five or ten years into the future. You don’t want to purchase all new furniture when your son or daughter gets older.
I mentioned this in the post linked to above, but I think it bears repeating here; keep in mind that some baby sized gear is cute, but certainly not necessary. Full sized towels work better than the hooded versions and extra soft wash cloths will work perfectly fine for a baby. They may not have super cute motifs on them, but they will last long beyond the first year or two.
Before getting pregnant or at the very least as soon as you find out you are pregnant talk to your human resources department and ask for detailed benefit information. You want to know how long you will be paid and what percentage of pay you will receive. Some women get paid 100% for weeks on end, some receive partial pay and others get nothing at all.
I’ve known at least two women who returned to work much earlier than expected because they didn’t understand their benefits. A friend of the family planned to stay home for three months, but found out her pay ran out after just eight weeks. She was informed on a Friday and unexpectedly back at work the following Monday. Had she realized this sooner she could have saved more money to stay home for that period of time or at least better prepared herself for a shorter leave. Instead she felt forced to return to work and unhappy about doing so.
Make certain to ask your employer if you can use sick leave and/or vacation time to pay for your maternity leave and if you can transition back to work with reduced hours or a more flexible work schedule.
Most importantly plan as much as you can before the arrival of your new little bundle of joy. The sooner you plan and the harder you save the easier the transition to parenthood will be.
This post is part of Women’s Money Week.
Planning for maternity leave sucks. When I found out I was expecting my first child I sat down with a calendar and mapped out the days and weeks until I would need to return to work.
My son was due in late October and I ran all sorts of calculations to determine the maximum amount of time I could spend at home. Since my vacation hours reset in the new year I wondered if I could take STD, a week or two of vacation, then maternity leave and take another two or three weeks of vacation after that.
No matter how many times I stared at that calendar I could not figure out a way to extend the time beyond ten weeks. I knew I was lucky to get that much paid time off, but the idea of returning to work after less than three months made me feel incredibly sick.
I had every intention of returning to my job after my son was born. My tasks weren’t particularly difficult. I earned a six figure salary and worked from home a few days a week. Who wouldn’t go back to that?
But as fate would have it I never returned. I suffered the consequences of a large company-wide restructuring effort. One day I walked into work and was told my position was no longer needed. After twelve years with the company that was the end of that.
My lay off was a blessing in disguise. I no longer needed to feel torn about staying home versus returning to work. My company didn’t provide maternity leave, but they did pay me in the form of a six month severance check.
I lined up a job that was set to begin when my son turned six months, but as the months came and went I still didn’t feel ready to return to my old cubicle life.
As the due date for my second child approaches I think a lot about the circumstances that brought me to where I am today. I completely understand why employers can’t retain a new mom’s position indefinitely. I also understand the turmoil and inner struggle of women who just want a little more time with their babies.
Over the past three and a half years I’ve gotten rid of a lot of baby items. I kept quite a few of my son’s favorite toys, super cute clothing and big ticket items like bouncy seats and highchairs, but a lot of other things were passed on to others. I thought we might have another child, but I didn’t want to keep everything around forever.
I did keep my son’s activity mat. You know those little rainbow shaped contraptions that hold toys your infant can attempt to kick and grasp. I can’t remember exactly who bought it for us, but I received it as a gift at my baby shower. It was priced around $75 when I received it, so it seemed like something I store for the future. As soon as my son outgrew the need to use it I wrapped it in plastic wrap and stored it in an upstairs closet. It remained in that closet, (safely stored), for years.
When my nesting craze began I dug through the closets and gathered as much of the baby related stuff as I could find. When the remodeling project began I decided to corral everything into one place and settled on a small corner of our sun room. There you can now find my son’s old shoes, baby clothes, infant to toddler toys and one or two pieces of baby equipment still wrapped in plastic wrap.
A few weeks ago after work finished on our basement we moved our cat’s sleeping quarters into that sun room. He’s the type of cat that roams around from room to room so every evening I place him ever so gently into his little bed, shut the door and wish him goodnight.
One morning I noticed some torn plastic resting on the floor in the sun room. I figured the cat may have gotten restless and torn a few pieces off. It was clear he hadn’t eaten the plastic so I wasn’t worried that he would get sick and it was such a tiny amount that I simply picked it up, threw it away and forgot about it.
This morning I noticed a HUGE pile of plastic resting on the floor. Not only had the cat ripped nearly all of the plastic off of the activity mat he had actually torn the mat itself. White tufts of cotton batting were scattered across the floor. The fabric itself is also filled with large teeth and claw marks.
This is not the end of the world. As far as I can tell the fabric slits will still hold the arcs in place and odds are I can place a blanket on top of the mat so a baby can still lay safely on there. Despite knowing much worse problems could exist in this world it is one of those kick-yourself-in-the-pants type moments. After two to three years of holding on to something my cat attempted to destroy it in a matter of minutes.
I’ve written many times about the decision to lend or sell versus keep. It took my husband and I awhile to conceive and I think deep down I worried that getting rid of my son’s outgrown belongings was a sign that I didn’t want any more children. I realize that sounds insane, but in some crazy superstitious way it made perfect sense to me at the time.
Now as I look at the torn and tattered baby equipment scattered across my sun room I wonder if I should have sold these items as soon as my son outgrew them. ugh.
This morning my husband called and said, “is it okay if my mom doesn’t throw you a sprinkle?” A sprinkle is apparently a baby shower for a second/third/subsequent child. My mother-in-law offered to host a party for us and asked my husband for a list of details including possible dates and a list of people we’d like to invite.
My husband, (feeling overwhelmed by a million other things going on with his business, job and home renovations), thanked his mother for the offer, but told her it really wasn’t a great time for us to plan a party.
I appreciated the gesture and was surprisingly torn about my husband’s idea to forgo it. First, let me say I didn’t expect anyone to throw a shower for me.
Other than a few miscellaneous items we have everything we need for this child, so I certainly don’t need a big bash and a room full of gifts. My guest list would change a lot from the last shower too. It would only include extremely close friends and family members. Last time a few extended family members and coworkers were invited.
To be honest I was initially against the idea of a second shower. A few moms told me second showers are held when the second child is a different gender than the first. In my case we didn’t know the gender of my first child before he was born and we don’t know the gender of this one either. That means I have a whole lot of yellow and green gear and baby outfits that can be handed down to baby number two. It also means we can’t have a party with “it’s a boy” or “it’s a girl” banners streaming from the windows.
So if I don’t need gifts, don’t like to be the center of attention, don’t know the gender and didn’t plan on anyone offering to host a shower why did I feel so torn about not having one? The answer is surprisingly simple: I remembered how warm and fuzzy I felt during the shower that was held for my son.
In my pregnancy journal I wrote:
This Saturday my friends and family threw a baby shower for me, well actually for you, little one. And while you are still weeks away from your expected arrival the outpouring of love for you was absolutely amazing.
The women in my life come from various backgrounds and they all have different goals in life. Each one is amazing in her own way. I can only hope that when you grow up you are blessed and surrounded by such loving relationships in your own life. Of course, you’ll be loved and adored by your dad and I and all of our families, (that goes without saying), but I hope you come to find love and companionship from the friends that will become your extended family.
On Saturday the room was filled with a group of women who came out to celebrate you. Some women who couldn’t attend sent cards and gifts so they wouldn’t miss out on the festivities and when all was said and done I hand wrote twenty-seven thank you cards that corresponded to so many gifts we had to transport them in two separate cars.
It amazes me to think that you aren’t even here yet and there is already a pocket of love blooming around you!
I suppose I wanted to feel that kind of love for this baby even though he or she isn’t here yet.
For the past three years I wondered if we’d ever have a second child and if we did how much baby stuff I should keep around between now and that time. We received a lot of gifts at my baby shower and in the beginning we used each and every piece of it. The baby swing, bouncer, bathtub, rock-n-play sleeper, jumperoo, highchair, stroller and infant car seat took up residence at various places in our house and stayed there for six to nine months.
There were boxes of swaddling blankets, socks and baby clothes and I wrestled with whether or not I should keep some of it, all of it or none of it. Storage space was not an issue. We don’t have a huge house, but we certainly had enough room to stow anything I wanted to use a few years down the road.
When I first packed everything away I didn’t think much about overall costs. I didn’t add up the price of this or that, but I knew that I didn’t want to shell out cash to buy everything all over again. All of the big ticket items were gifts from loving friends and family so technically I didn’t pay for any of it in the first place.
Over the past three years I’ve loaned out a number of items and given away piles of baby clothes, but with our second child due to arrive in just a couple of months I’m happy to say that we have everything we need back in our possession.
A friend, who lives in a much smaller house with less free space, recently told us of their plans to rent a storage space. They know they eventually want a second child, but simply don’t have the room to retain all of the items their child has already outgrown. The storage unit costs $125 a month.
They are not pregnant at this time, which sets the timeline for retaining this storage unit to a minimum of nine months to one year. If they keep the storage unit for one year they’ll pay $1500 in rental fees. This didn’t sound like a financially savvy plan to me.
As you can see by the list below I own a lot of baby equipment:
⁃ baby swing
⁃ rock-n-play sleeper
⁃ infant car seat
Despite the long list I know that all of these items added together would not cost $1500 for me to buy new. With nine months to wait for a baby you could set Amazon watches on all of the items you wish to buy and wait until the price drops to actually purchase any of them. You can also scour websites during Christmas and other times of year when baby items are deeply discounted.
If you really want to save money you could also look into buying used. There is a ton of used baby equipment available. I personally know a lot of moms these days who are finished having children. If you have access to a network of mothers you can always put out feelers for anyone willing to get rid of their used baby equipment. If you don’t have a wide network or the parents aren’t finished having children you still find a lot of good prices at swap meets and thrift stores.
In the best case scenario you are looking at retaining a storage unit for $1500, but what if you have trouble conceiving or decide to delay your next child a little bit longer. Every month socks on another $125, which is more than the cost of a new baby swing, bouncer or highchair.
This family didn’t ask for my advice, but I would suggest selling the items they are no longer using. They can set that money aside to buy items for the next child whenever he or she arrives. For that matter they can also set aside $125 each month rather than shelling it out to the storage unit company.
The next time around they may realize they need less equipment and if they decide they do need it they can try to buy it much cheaper second hand.
What do you think?
As I clean out the house in preparation for our new little bundle of joy I am perpetually amazed by the sheer amount of stuff that exists within the confines of our walls. Every time I revisit the closets, dressers and drawers in my house I find something else that can be dragged off to the donation center.
Although I love reorganizing I absolutely hate seeing how much money I’ve wasted over the years. After moving things from room to room one too many times I finally decided to get rid of a box full of dishes, platters, plates, vases and candle holders. I hate to admit it, but most of these items were gifts from our wedding ten years ago. If I could go back in time I would definitely register differently.
In my mid-twenties I pictured entertaining quite frequently on all the fine serving pieces I selected. Now in my mid-thirties I cannot remember a single get-together that involved formal dinnerware. Most of our parties occur outside with disposable plates and party supplies. For the time being I kept the fine china, but everything else that hasn’t been used more than once in the last ten years was sent out the door. I cannot say for certain, but I believe I just piled hundreds of dollars worth of gifts into my car. For the record I cringed each time I pictured the sticker price of those items.
Some rooms have certainly been easier to organize than others. While the kitchen and dining room were relatively quick and painless; the craft bins have been a whole different story. What’s a girl to do with all that paint, gift wrapping supplies, thank you notes, colored pencils and a whole host of other miscellaneous stuff that seems to sit around in drawers just waiting to be used? I didn’t have the heart to get rid of any of it. It definitely feels like I will use these items some day and I like having some of these things on hand for last minute gifts bought and received. I got rid of a number of things, but kept quite a bit. I moved them to a new location, sorted and labeled everything.
Although I’m able to recycle my son’s artwork, (thank goodness he doesn’t get attached to those), I also gathered two plastic containers worth of play-doh, art projects, construction paper, markers and crayons. At least I know these will be used at some point in time. Then there are the bins of brand new toys I purchased for future birthday parties and baby showers. While I like saving the money for each event I hate storing everything for months on end. As our space becomes more limiting I believe the gift closet is officially coming to end. I’ve made similar statements in the past but this time I’m sticking through with it. Thanks to stores like Marshall’s and Ross nearby it’s always easy to find toys at bargain prices.
In digging through my son’s old baby clothes I was amazed by just how many little outfits I’d gotten rid of over the past three years. I gave two bags full of onesies and sleepers to a friend who delivered fourteen weeks earlier than expected and purged a few more things here and there along the way. The final count in the 0 to 6 month range is rather pathetic; just a handful of sleeping bags, onesies and sleepers. I certainly don’t regret giving those things away and since this child will be born in the opposite season, (spring versus fall), I have a feeling most items in the three to nine month range wouldn’t work anyway. My first child could wear the same outfit all day, which meant we didn’t much in the way of clothes. Let’s hope the second baby doesn’t get reflux either.
It wasn’t all bad news. I decided to return a few maternity items and unrelated office supplies. I found a number of maternity shirts on sale at Old Navy last week and decided to return the more expensive items I purchased at Kohl’s. I file the receipts to everything I buy so I just dug through my handy-dandy organizer and returned them to customer service this morning. I also found a bunch of unused pens and shipping labels that have been sitting in the drawer for a month or so. I located the receipt and returned them too; between the two transactions I recouped $75.
I still have a long list of nesting tasks I want to accomplish. There are quite a few closets, cubbies and plastic storage bins to process!
I love second trimester nesting! I’m currently twenty-one weeks pregnant and suddenly feel a compulsive need to clean the house, remove all the clutter and organize everything. I started in the kitchen, moved to the dining room, tried my best to wrangle the chaos that is our living room and then moved upstairs.
I don’t feel as anxious about getting everything ready this time around. Before my son was born I wanted every little detail to be complete. I asked my husband to paint the nursery, I assembled the crib and dresser and applied jungle themed decals to the walls. Long before he arrived everything was washed, dried, folded and hanged. This time around I’m taking a much more relaxed attitude to preparing, especially as it pertains to the nursery.
The truth is my son didn’t sleep in his room for a full six months. Since he was exclusively breastfed I kept him in the same room with me. I didn’t see the value in keeping him in separate quarters when I could just walk three steps to lift and feed him. For the first month or so he slept in a co-sleeper, but after that his little body grew too long to fit comfortably in there. We disassembled the crib and reassembled in our room. It was a tight fit, but we managed to make it work. I couldn’t access my dresser for four months, so I moved everything I needed to a small nightstand.
My post-pregnancy wardrobe included a bunch of pull-down nursing tops. They are the kind that pull down in the front so you don’t have to lift your shirt to nurse. I added a couple pairs of pants, bras and underwear and had plenty of room to spare in those drawers. This time around I’m considering adding some of the baby clothes and blankets to that same dresser. That way everything we need will be in one general area. I might even toss the changing pad on to the top of my dresser so I don’t have to leave the room to change the baby.
I moved all of my pre-pregnancy clothes to the basement for the time being. I did this for two reasons. First, I don’t want to move them out of the way every time I reach for something to wear. Second, I figure it will give me the opportunity to further purge my wardrobe after the baby is born. Things that fit will come back upstairs; everything else will be gathered for donation. Pregnancy has forced me to revisit my wardrobe on more than one occasion. Whether I like it or not various parts of my body changed while I was pregnant and even after I delivered. I got rid of anything that didn’t fit well and decided not to hold on to things that might fit again one day.
My son is still sleeping in his crib, (converted to a toddler bed), and I’m not certain when he’ll give up the comfort of that cozy spot for a larger bed. I don’t need to rush him out of there for quite some time. We still have 19 weeks, (technically I think it’ll be closer to 17 or 18), until the baby arrives and then another two months of the new one using the co-sleeper.
We still own most of the baby equipment my son used, so we just need to find, assemble and figure out where on earth we are going to put it. With only one child in the house we seemed to have plenty of room for that giant baby swing, rock-and-play and bouncer. This time around my son’s toys can fill the entire living room floor, so I’m not quite sure how we’ll squeeze everything in.
Since I haven’t touched the nursery yet, the majority of my nesting seems to revolve around all the other stuff contained within the walls of our home. I’m taking a closer look at the items we actually use on a daily basis. When I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets I removed anything we don’t use regularly. In the past I would have moved it to some other location, but this time I dropped it off for donation. I was more hesitant than I would have preferred. I kept thinking “we might need that one day” and then decided we would just buy again if and when that time came. I got rid of a few storage containers that cannot be stacked even though they were in perfectly good condition and a couple of vases and pitchers that have barely been used.
Unfortunately, I find myself moving things around much more than actually disposing of them. My days of bargain shopping for office supplies are long over, but I couldn’t bear to get rid of all the printer paper in our home. A two foot stack has been moved to the hall closet where it waits to be turned into drawing paper and printable coupons. The same goes for a mound of thank-you notes, ribbons and wrapping supplies.
My hope is to corral all of these miscellaneous items into one place for the time being, then make a second pass through a few days or weeks from now. Everything other than clothing is getting stored away in labeled bins and drawers in one small room. I’d like to reduce the pile by half. I’ve also decided that anything that cannot fit into this space will be purged.
I feel like I have a long way to go to get everything sorted and organized, but I love that I have the energy and desire to make things better. The first step is to clean out the house, the last step will be to work on the nursery.
I’ve been to quite a few baby showers in the past ten years. For the majority of those parties the mother-to-be already knew the baby’s gender. In the case of baby boys light blue invitations with sailboats and puppy dogs were mailed, for baby girls sparkly images of pink ribbons and sprinkled cupcakes.
As a guest at these events I’ve noticed an interesting trend. When the gender is known and revealed prior to the shower the number of baby outfits and clothes provided as gifts increases exponentially.
From my experience knowing the gender seems to increase the odds that guests will avoid more functional presents in favor of cute little clothes that make women oh and ah.
As I mentioned in my last post my husband and I chose not to find out the gender of our first born child in advance and will do the same this time around. At our baby shower we received a plethora of practical items from our registry and very few clothing related items.
In comparison I attended a baby shower last February where the mother-to-be was inundated with gift bags full of clothes. Other than a box or two of diapers and practical items from one or two family members she received very little from her registry.
It was a HUGE shower with a room full of guests and almost each and every one of them opted for something cute over something practical. As someone who is ridiculously prudent it pained my heart to see so much money wasted on teeny tiny baby clothes that would be outgrown within a matter of weeks.
I’ve witnessed similar scenarios time and time again particularly from moms expecting baby girls. When the mom is finished opening the gifts the room is overflowing with pink dresses, dainty shoes for a baby who won’t be old enough to walk in them and barrettes for a child who may not have hair.
From my personal experience it seems that the temptation to buy cute outfits is avoided when the gender is unknown. I’m not sure why that happens, perhaps it’s just harder to find clothes in gender neutral colors.
Of course, gender isn’t the only predictor of what types of gifts moms-to-be might receive. Some moms don’t take price into consideration when registering. If you choose too many high end items or too many inexpensive ones you won’t get what you want either. I wrote a post back in February explaining this in more detail. If you really want friends and family to buy what you want it’s important to consider price points and store locations carefully.
In our case we received play mats, strollers, nursery items and bath toys in neutral colors. Even the guests who chose to avoid the registry picked gender neutral items like sheets with jungle themed prints and sorting toys. Not a single gift was wasted and each one can be used the second time around regardless of whether baby two turns out to be a boy or a girl.
My son currently sleeps in a yellow room with green sheets. The next baby can easily move into that same room without changing a single thing in it. In fact, even at age three, with the exception of his Thomas trains, most of his toys are gender neutral.
I think having a boy first gives us an overall advantage in the clothing department. A little girl can wear blue much more easily than a little boy can wear pink. In general I find that the girls clothing is quite girly, while the boy’s clothing is much more gender neutral.
Most moms I know that had a daughter before a son agree with me. They said the majority of their little girls clothing was donated or sold and that whole new wardrobes had to be purchased or borrowed for their second child.
While we didn’t receive many clothes at our shower I did purchase quite a few in the span of that first year. I took a peek in the box today and found that the majority of clothing in 0 to 9 months can be worn by either gender. If my children were born at the same time of year I don’t think we would need to buy anything new for the first six to nine months. Of course that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t want to buy a few feminine outfits, but more importantly that the need wouldn’t exist.
I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic. If you knew the gender in advance of your baby shower did you receive a lot of clothing? If you waited did you find the majority of guests purchased practical items directly from your registry? Also, since girls can wear boys clothes do you think there is an economic advantage to having a boy before a girl?
I can’t believe I’m typing up this post, but here it is, after nearly a year of trying to conceive I am happy to announce that our little family of three is expecting a new addition to the family. The new bundle of joy should arrive next March!
I’ve been hesitant to write about my pregnancy or tell people about it. I was the same way with my first. When I got pregnant with my son I waited until I was fourteen weeks to tell anyone other than my husband and massage therapist. This time around I told one or two people early on, but still waited to tell my family until the last possible minute. To be honest I only spilled the beans, because I was afraid my growing belly would reveal the truth on my behalf.
I had a few minor complications in the first trimester, but we have just reached the mid-way point in this pregnancy and everything is now looking great!
I do not plan to find out the gender of this baby until the day of his or her birth. We did the same thing three years ago when my son was born and it was so exciting to wait!
A lot of friends and family members think I want a girl this time around, but the truth is that I will be thrilled with either gender. I love my son with every single ounce of my being and I would be blessed beyond belief to receive another little boy into my life!