I'm 11 weeks pregnant today and cannot stop worrying about money. At 6 weeks pregnant I left my old job for several good reasons; the crappy hours, my constant nausea, and a boss who told me I would be fired as soon as I looked "fat." I didn't have a new job lined up and am now kicking myself for not just sticking it out until I found something concrete. My husband works part time while finishing his last year of undergrad and is applying to doctoral programs for fall 2012 admission. The only reason we've been able to pay our mortgage and all our bills and eat healthy food without ravaging our savings account is that as a student he is eligible for subsidized loans, the Pell grant and a state funded scholarship. This fall his state scholarship will run out but I think he will still get Pell grant money for fall and spring semesters.
In addition to our normal living expenses, we have the birth and baby expenses, and the costs for him to apply to 10 graduate programs (overkill in my opinion, but he thinks it's necessary.) After that, he'll have a decision to make about where to attend graduate school. This decision will be largely (if not solely) based on the financial assistance offered to him. Then we'll have to move. It is very likely that we will be moving very far from where we now live, anywhere from a couple states away to the other side of the country.
I have almost enough money in a stock account to cover the cost of my homebirth midwife, but I'm starting to wonder if I ought to go with the medicaid funded option of a midwife attended hospital birth and save the money. Since I decided that I wanted a child, I knew I wanted a homebirth, but faced with the $3000 out of pocket cost I'm beginning to question myself. I'm already getting backup care from the midwives at the hospital, so that isn't an issue, but I'm worried that I'd end up with interventions that I am opposed to if I don't have my baby at home. My other option that would save that money is the controversial UC. I'm not opposed to it, but I understand that it does carry risks for mother and child.
Much of my stress is because I'm not working, but I haven't been able to find anything. I've sent out dozens of cover letters and resumes and only had one (group) interview. I'm worried that once I start to show I'll have even less of a chance of getting hired. I know it's illegal, but I also know that employers don't want to train someone who is obviously going to have to take time off.
The rest of my stress is because I feel like I can't really plan or budget for these future costs, especially the costs of relocating to a new city, because I don't know what they will be.
I don't want to spend my pregnancy stressed about things I can't control. I'm not sure how not to, though. I'd love any advice or insight anyone can give.
Maybe instead of the $ on a home birth, hire a Doula for a small fraction of that cost. Or find one who might help for free or for a discount. Using midwives & having your own Doula at a hospital birth can be the best of both worlds. All the support you need to avoid interventions, but the medical expertise in the small event you would ever need it, which can be of some comfort when life is handing you other things to stress about.
I don't have much advice about the job thing...it's just tough out there right now for everyone. What about posting signs or ads offering child care services?
Try to breathe & remember that you have each other & you are healthy & you will have this amazing little one to love soon!!!
When I look at my 2 LOs I remind myself everyday that even though we are going through some icky times right now, making financial decisions we don't want to make or may regret, we have each other, we are a family & we will always have that...
Deep Breath. It's going to be OK. Really.
It many ways it is a blessing that you are not working right now. You have a lot of time to focus on growing a healthy baby, preparing for the birth, and becoming a mother. Each day you can write in a journal, take a walk, do a little yoga in your living room, cook and eat healthy food, read books from the library on pregnancy/natural childbirth/parenting, connect with your husband, pray, meditate, take a nap in the afternoon. If another job comes along (even a part time temporary thing), great, if not, it wasn't meant to be and it will be OK.
If it interests you, I would highly recommend the Hypnobabies Home Study Course. (You can purchase a USED copy of the course directly from Hypnobabies - it was $85 when I bought it - and then you can sell it back to them for $60.) Hypnobabies was AWESOME, and it will help you in whatever birth you choose to have.
DH and I were BLOWN AWAY by how many gifts and hand-me-downs we received. We honestly didn't have to purchase anything for our baby. Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and random people we barely knew came out of the woodwork to give us things. If you are fortunate to be thrown a baby shower, you can organize a baby registry for necessities. (I'd recommend an online site like findgift.com or wishpot.com) I'd also recommend registering at Babies R Us, because they have a great return policy (returning items without a receipt), if you have a registry with them (don't have to even use it if you don't want to.) That way you can return things, and then get store credit, to purchase things you need.
You really don't need all that much for a baby. Everyone is different, but on my list would be: a car seat, an Ergo carrier, nice cloth diapers (Bummis Easy Fit diapers - will last from 8-35lbs), cloth wipes, a few sleep nursing bras, cheap cloth diapers (to use as burp cloths, and to fold in my sleep nursing bra instead of nursing pads while at home.), a few sleepers. Remember though, that there is a TON of baby stuff in the world, and chances are, A LOT will be heading your way soon. (No way I could have predicted that my neighbor, whom I barely know, would come over with bags and bags of clothes and a swing for us to borrow.)
As for the birth, I would start making some calls and find out what your options are. Call some local homebirth midwives and the local birthing center and ask about assistance. Call your insurance and ask about what they cover. Perhaps you qualify for some assistance.
Interview potential midwives before making a decision. In her book, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May has a list of questions to ask your potential midwife. (Your local library probably has this book.)
In many ways, having a baby and planning a birth is like planning a wedding on a budget. You can't have it all, but you can have what is most important to you. If having a home birth is a priority for you, then go with that, and do what you need to do to make it work. Having had a hospital birth, and a natural birth in a birth center, with a fabulous team of midwives, I would do everything possible to have an out-of-hospital birth with a midwife that DH and I trusted and connected with.
I would also HIGHLY recommend Placenta Encapsulation. It made a HUGE difference in my recovery.
Give yourself permission to not have to figure this all out right now.
I was laid off from my really good job that I loved and paid great when I was six weeks pregnant so I know it's sooooo hard but try to relax.
The pp's have already given you awesome advice. Babies need A LOT less than we think they do. Think about the things you absolutely have to have (diapers of some kind, a car seat, etc.) and direct your close friends and family to those items through a registry or just let them know. Be honest when someone asks you what you need/want and don't be shy about returning/exchanging things. I also agree that people can be very generous ... my dd is 4 y/o now and I still haven't had to buy her much more than underwear and socks due to all the hand me downs I've gotten. When there's something I don't need but really want for dd and a friend doesn't have one to lend, I turn to consignment and craigslist. There is literally nothing, I've wanted or needed that I couldn't get for free/cheap somewhere if I took the time to look for it. Go to LLL and holistic moms meetings even before the baby is born. In addition to meeting moms who might be generous enough to pass some things down to you, you will gain some great support and advice.
For non-baby stuff, check out this forum and all the great websites and blogs for ways to pinch a penny. There's some great advice, ideas and tips out there.
Again, I know it's easier said than done but since there is no way to really know right now where you are going to end up and you have no control over it, you'll be so much better off just not worrying about it until you find out for sure.
I couldn't afford a home birth either and I wasn't at all comfortable with UC so here's what I did ... I had my best friend, who had less than zero experience with childbirth (she wasn't even a mom herself yet) at the hospital with me along with my husband. They advocated for me - they knew exactly what I wanted and I had zero worries. Between the two of them, I didn't even have to talk to the nurses. I was very fortunate and can't imagine having had a better birth. I got to hold and breastfeed my baby right away. They kept everyone away from me and I didn't have to let go of my baby until I wanted to ... which was about two hours after her birth when I finally let her father hold her ;) No one ever tried to take my baby away, we refused the vaccine and vit k and all the other hospital crap and had no problems. I got to leave a day later when I wanted to and had a wonderful lactation consultant come to my room in the morning who really helped me with breastfeeding a lot. I'm not advocating for hospital births or saying that they are great and wonderful but it's not impossible to have a nice experience there if you prepare and understand how it all works. That is A LOT of money to save.
mama to three little ladies
Thank you for your thoughtful replies. All of you gave me insights and advice that I found very helpful.
I feel a lot better about it this morning. My husband is confident that we'll be fine and has been very loving and understanding about my stress. My generous sister-in-law has decided to lend/give us her entire stash of cloth diapers. That is a huge expense that we no longer have to worry about. My mother wants to buy us a carseat, so there's another thing to cross off my list. We'll co-sleep and breastfeed so I don't need to worry about a crib or bottles. I have enough of a fabric stash to make a pouch sling, some burp cloths and cloth wipes. I have enough of a yarn stash to knit some warm baby things for my January baby. I've decided to focus on my blessings and my faith that the universe will provide us with the things and situations we need to be fine.
I haven't fully decided about the home birth/ hospital birth situation yet. My husband is supportive of spending the money for a home birth. His argument is that I only get to have this baby once, and I might as well have it the way I really want to. I'll give myself a few weeks to think about it and come to a decision later.
I really appreciate having a forum to talk about things like this. Hugs to all of you.
You've had some great replies here and I would def agree about nixxing the homebirth and going for a midwife hospital birth.
The main point I wanted to make was that by your DH applying to so many grad schools he is greatly increasing the chances he will have a good deal (in our field full ride - tuition plus generous stipend is typical at the better schools). If the schools have to bid for you then you'll get an even better deal. So it is worth it.
I know someone who made a lot of her own diapers and wipes out of T shirts. I made out wipes from towelling and flannel and we only use PFs which are much, much cheaper. We also hang dry during the warmer months.
Good luck making decisions.
Leila, mama to Eleanor (10/08) and Emmett (4/10)
Visit my blog! www.rookblog.com
So glad you are feeling better about things this morning. :) Here are a few more ideas for you:
The year after your baby is born, you will qualify for the $3,000/child tax credit if you file US income taxes. Most likely, your tax return will be significantly more than the year before.
Check out "No Mother Left Behind," which is a mama-run non-profit that donates quality baby carriers to those in need:
Iron supplement: Thorne Research Iron Citrate, recommended by my midwife. Great price at $6 for a 60 day supply:
Yup, my first thought as well was find yourself a doula and go with the hospital birth if you're comfortable with that.
Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders, so you'll be fine. :)
(If you're curious, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, and yes, it's a busy house)
I have some friends that live in the town you do. There is a very wonderful natural birth community there. Check out Full Bloom for classes and support and getting plugged into all that. There are several doulas that work with mamas, and I think you could be happy with a hospital based midwife attended birth.
I actually had my baby at that hospital (though I used a physician and had c-sections), and the hospital/postpartum care was great. (plus you can eat Taco Stand right after! LOL) But, seriously, they are very, very respectful of any alternative choices, and the whole experience was great. I drive 1.5 hours to that hospital, so it obviously was great for me to make the drive.
Can you find a midwife who is willing to let you pay off the birth in regular payments after it? Once your DH is working in his new job maybe. I have heard of midwives doing that often. Or you could start putting away a small amount each week, whatever you can afford. Even $5 a week, it's not much but you could have a couple of hundred extra dollars by the time the baby comes. Every little bit helps!
I have to strongly disagree with going for a hospital birth if what you want is a homebirth. You could be one of the lucky ones who has a straight-forward vaginal birth with no interventions, but what if you are one of the horror story ones. It doesn't take much for interventions to start happening and you won't have the option of a homebirth at that point. Would you want to consent to a c-section if your labour was taking longer than they wanted, for example. I really think that whatever money you have in saving should be dedicated to getting the birth you want. Money will always be replenishing, but you can only have the birth once and if its traumatic it's going to affect your life forever. And for the record, I would say the same thing to someone if they said what they really wanted was a hospital birth but couldn't afford it and were going to stay at home against their best instincts. Birth is one of those things I think you should absolutely make the choice that is right for you and not let finances force your hand if at all possible- and since you have the savings for that already you are very lucky to have the choice.
If you're moving for the grad program soon, find out the cost of midwives where you're going. Many places where the COL is low (midwest...) they're only $2,000. Some will take barter or let you extend the payments. Whatever you do, home, hospital, midwife, UC, whatever, own the choice and don't compromise. Decide what you want in light of everything and go for it. UC can be a great choice if you have no pregnancy complications, feel really confident, are prepared and educated, and could transfer very quickly if needed. Maybe you should look for temporary jobs, something easy to get into but without a future to it so no worries about maternity leave and moving, or becoming a SAHM if you decide to.
Motherhood is always full of worries and transitions, this is another step toward where ever you're going toward. The good news is babies don't have to cost much and they get you tons of tax credits and tuition assistance.
I'm all about the little stuff saving up to be big money, so I'm sorry if my advice seems trivial to you. Also, sorry for the novel, I'm a pretty wordy person.
If you sew a bit (and it sounds like you can) here's a great site that shows you how to sew a stash for about $30: Fern and Faerie And I guess you want to get crazy-cheap about diapers you can check out the article Mothering has about using flats and handwashing them. I've actually been tempted to try this out after reading it. If you have a hard time finding clothes to fit those cloth diapers (I know I did!) you can sew your own baby pants with enough room for a cute cloth diaper bum. This is a good tutorial showing you how.
If possible read the book "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacycyzn. I've found many of the tips useful in my life. Even if I can't use all the information it helps me get into a money-saving mode and thinking of my own ideas is easier.
Sometimes you can find cheaper alternatives to the foods you buy. For example, I love to buy humanely-raised nitrate-free bacon, but not for $6-$7/lb. I ask the butcher for ends and pieces of the same brand, it's $2.99/lb. Or, if you're not super squeamish you can try to find free food. The grocery stores in my area donate their day old bread and slightly damaged produce to a senior center, but the center can't use it all. Every Monday the senior center gives away the food they can't use. I get a lot of artisan breads, bagels, herbs, squishy bananas (great for freezing and smoothies), and sometimes cut flowers.
Stretch meat with beans. Stretch meat with stir-frys, casseroles, and other meat-sparing dishes. This is, of course, assuming you eat meat. I eat grass-fed meats, but the "normal" cuts are too expensive for our budget. I go for the cuts that nobody else wants, such as heart and tongue. I think they taste great, I get them for $3/lb, and I can use less because they're more nutritious.
Overall I've found the easiest places in my budget to save money is food, utilities, transportation (I live near good public transportation and we have bikes with trailers), and clothing. Back in my super frugal days I was able to feed myself, The Hubby, and our two babies on $130/month. We were vegan at the time and bought conventional, so that helped a lot, but I would say that even adding humane/organic meat back in (keeping conventional produce since I think that's a lesser evil), I could keep food costs under $200/month.
Whew! Sorry about all that, I just really love finding ways to save money.
SAHM to DS BuggaBoo 12/07, and DD Doozer 03/10. Sharing life with The Hubby since 01/05.
We did a homebirth with our first and I told DP that all the rest of my pregnancies would also be homebirths--it is an expense that I am willing to pay. My midwife will work with medicaid, but I don't know what medicaid actually pays and she also bills on a sliding scale, so the cost to you may be lower if you are very low income. It would be something to discuss with prospective midwives.
I also want to add that if the cost is an issue, and I know it can be for many people, that there are viable options with hospital and birth centers. One of my good friends used a birth center for both of her births and loved it!
Partner (10 years) Mother to Lily (4 years), Jonas (1.5 years), 1 dog , and 1 cat
I just stumbled on this thread and I find myself wondering how you are doing these days. Have you decided about the birth yet? I was never into homebirthing so that wasn't an issue for me, but I can definitely understand sticking with what you want. I hope all is well.
I second the poster who mentioned flat diapers. We've started using the flour sack towels available at Walmart in the kitchen dept (we paid less than $1/each!). They work amazingly well. You could easily get 3 or so dozen of those, and maybe some preemie prefolds to use in the beginning and as doublers later on.
I just want to post some emotional support. As a graduate student family we too know the anxiety of planning for a first on a very tiny budget. But please try not to let this infringe on your joy and excitement. There are ways to get creative about finding the cash and the universe seems to make things work out. I was very worried about needing a maternity coat in January - who wants to spend so much on a one time use winter coat - and voila my sister pulls one out of her closet that she had for her last baby.
I also found some nifty WAHM jobs that are very flexible that I turn to when we need a little cash. Would you be interested int hat sort of thing? Most just require you to have a computer and some minimal skills. I write articles i my "spare time" to save up for the baby.
Just your friendly neighborhood graduate student.
My BudgetBlog budgetandbargain.blogspot.com
I see that you live in Athens. The local LLL group is very active there and meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 10AM. Here's a link to their website: http://www.lllofga.org/group_pages10/AthensGA.html
Hopefully you can find out some supportive mamas as well as get some great information on all sorts of things birth and pregnancy related!
Thanks for the support everyone! Here's my update:
I got a great full-time job last week & will be working probably until Christmas. My boss is very supportive of me taking an extended maternity leave and coming back very part-time afterward so I'll only have to work at times when my husband will be home to care for our baby.
We decided to go with the home birth option because it feels the most right for us. I think it is an expenditure that I won't regret.
My lovely sister in law will be lending us her entire cloth diaper stash. My mom bought us a great car seat. I am feeling lots better about the whole situation and pleased that we'll be able to save up quite a bit of money before our child arrives.
I'm still having occasional anxiety about the grad school/moving situation, but I mostly have it under control. As far as our plan goes now, we'll stay here and my husband will work. If he gets a great offer at a grad school, we'll consider it.