We like planning
One thing Mr. FAF and I have in common is that we like planning for the future.
For example, we just started shared Google doc titled “Weekend Projects” where we type up everything we plan to do for a certain weekend.
If some tasks don’t get finished, they will be pushed to the next week.
Sometimes we like to be spontaneous and change our fun plans, but the chores just need to get done.
That’s the simplicity and beauty of our current lives (sans grandparents).
Mr. FAF is stressed out.
When it comes to our second baby (Baby F2), however, our planning never seems to end.
Mr. FAF has been constantly stressed out about when I will deliver our baby.
Part of the reason has to do with his company’s parental leave.
Mr. FAF can only get 6 weeks off after his first anniversary at the company which is exactly 4 days BEFORE the due date of our daughter.
If our baby decides to come even only 1 day before the work anniversary, Mr. FAF will not get that parental leave.
He did speak with his boss, who kindly offered to talk to the big boss to give him there weeks off if our daughter is born 2-3 weeks early.
Mr. FAF has two weeks of vacation and will use it for our baby if need be. But we want to save it for when our kids get sick or if I can’t take care of our sick kids for whatever reason. It will be our last resort.
For the past few months, Mr. FAF has been praying every day that Baby F2 will stay in my belly until the due date. He even asked me if there’s anything we can do to make the baby come later than the due date, to which I responded that I had no idea.
I know that 3 weeks of parental leave would be a great benefit for a lot of dads out there who don’t have this perk at work.
But now that my mom can’t come to DC to help us, the burden of taking care of a recovering wife after birth, a 3.5-year-old toddler, and an infant falls completely on Mr. FAF’s shoulders, at least for the first few weeks, stresses Mr. FAF out.
He could just be carefree and not think about it. But deep down, he’s worried if he’ll be able to do a good job of being a good husband and a good dad.
He said it’s because he’s now feeling the big responsibility of taking care of his family. On top of that, his work is also challenging, which adds to the stress.
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I’m not too worried.
I, on the other hand, am not too worried. Compared to how things were 4 years ago, we are in a much better place.
Four years ago, Mr. FAF and I were two poor graduate students with no job and had two meager stipends.
We didn’t own a house and had to find a big enough place to rent for me to give birth and for my in-laws to come help us with the baby.
I was finishing up the last semester of my Master’s degree and was constantly stressed out about whether I could finish the program and even get a job.
Living with the in-laws, though a blessing, presented its own challenges due to our language, cultural, and generational differences.
Fast forward to the present, we now both have a stable job, a house that’s almost paid off, a paid-off car, and a wonderful boy.
Things will get tough since it will be just the two of us, but it’d be 100 times more difficult if we didn’t have any savings or full-time jobs to count on like we currently do.
7 more plans for the baby’s arrival
I have written about our 5 future financial plans for when we have Baby F2. But over the past few months, we have also added these additional plans to smooth out the arrival of our baby:
One of the most important items on the list is finances.
I’m very fortunate that my employer has purchased a great insurance plan that covers 100% of my birth-related costs.
When I was a graduate student, I still had to co-pay 20% of the costs for Baby F1 (roughly $3,000 besides all the co-pay for doctor appointments).
I was thrilled to find out that our cost of delivering Baby F2 will be $0.
As we were touring the hospital where I’ll be giving birth to Baby F2, I kept telling Mr. FAF I felt so lucky and grateful to my employer for that privilege.
We have a 4-month emergency fund to prepare for our new baby. Both Mr. FAF and I will receive full pay during our time off through a combination of parental leave, short-term disability benefits, and my sick leave.
In fact, after our baby is born, Mr. FAF will receive his second sign-on bonus paid in monthly installments, which will add about $1,000 (after tax) to our monthly income. (His first sign-on bonus was a lump sum amount and was put towards our mortgage principal.)
We will try to save that amount for our mortgage payment and/or cover our increased expenses of having another child.
The hospital reception desk. Can you guess who’s in the picture on the right? 😉
2. Get a helping hand for Baby F1 if I go into labor at night
Upon learning that my mom’s tourist visa was denied and that she couldn’t come to DC, we started worrying about who could help us take care of Baby F1 if I go into labor at night.
The hospital doesn’t allow children into the delivery room. I told Mr. FAF to just stay at home with our son while I go into labor.
But he objected to that idea, saying that he wanted to meet our daughter when she’s born into this world.
Mr. FAF said that in the worst case, he and Baby F1 would just stay in the lounge area to wait for the baby to be delivered.
We started brainstorming ideas about the people that we knew who we trusted and would be willing to help us.
Over the past few months, fortunately, two neighbors, one friend, and my son’s daycare teacher have offered to take our son overnight without us even asking.
They told me that they themselves and other people they knew had gone through a similar situation and wanted to help us. We were deeply touched and felt so relieved that we do have a plan to fall back on.
3. Get hand-me-downs from my neighbor and take out Baby F1’s stuff from storage
One of my neighbors just had a baby girl a couple of months ago and offered us 4 huge boxes of 0-2T.
On one weekend, I also took out Baby F1’s clothes from the storage: diapers, clothes, crib, bath tub, towels, etc.
I got a hand-me-down breast pumps, two old breast pumps I got through insurance (1st one broke), and one new breast pump I got on eBay.
I recently got a brand-new breast pump for free through my insurance plan for our baby.
I know I sound like a crazy breast pump woman (5 in total!).
But when you have a breastfeeding baby and need to go back to work, those breast pumps can give you peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to resort to formula for your little one.
Plus, I only paid for one of them, which was mainly due to my paranoia and cost me $230. That breast pump is still unused (big mistake on my part).
I still have a lot of bottles and other breast pump accessories from Baby F1, so I just cleaned them with soap and vinegar, leave them to dry in our breakfast nook, and put them away in the closet, waiting for the big day.
Frugal trick: You can use vinegar and warm water (1:1) to wash off the grease and smell from milk bottles.
Just leave them soak overnight, and you will see the difference. I initially washed those bottles with soap twice, but the grease still stuck around.
4. Maintain/repaire our car
We have a 3-year-old Toyota Corolla, which we bought brand-new and paid off six months after the purchase, incurring no interest on the loan. Mr. FAF drives the car to work (I take public transit) and is in charge of maintaining the car.
He takes the Toyota to the store’s garage for maintenance on a regular basis. However, there were other issues that needed to get fixed but weren’t so serious, so he just delayed it until the end of July.
Mr. FAF spent $500 fixing the brakes, changing the air filters and possibly doing other things I’m not sure about. He wanted to change all the 3-year-old tires until he found out the total cost for that would be $500.
I’m all about safety and told him to just do it. However, Mr. FAF told me the mechanic said the tires could last for a couple more months. But we will need to change them before the winter.
Now we know we will need to drop another $500 car soon and will pay cash for it.
Maybe it’s a good thing we heeded the reader’s advice and didn’t get a second car. The cost of insurance, maintenance, repairs, and gas would be astronomical!
5. Decide who is going to sleep where
We have a 4 bed/3.5bth townhouse. The master bedroom is next to a study room on one side of the second floor. The other two bedrooms are on the other side.
Mr. FAF suggested that he will take care of our newborn at night for the first few weeks when he has parental leave so that I can recover from the childbirth.
I will be in charge of our baby during the day while our son goes to daycare. Mr. FAF and our baby will stay in the master bed. Baby F1 and I will sleep on the other side to avoid the noise (i.e. baby crying at night).
When Mr. FAF goes back to work, I will stay in the master bed with our newborn while Mr. FAF is in charge of our son at night.
That’s one big benefit of using a breast pump instead of breastfeeding the baby directly. Anyone, not just the mother, can help out with the baby at night as long as the breast milk is ready in the fridge.
6. Cook/clean/household chores
Mr. FAF will mostly help with all the cooking and household chores at least for the first few days after Baby F1 and I get home from the hospital.
Depending on my recovery, I will start helping him besides all the pumping and taking care of our little girl during the day.
7. Prepare a mailing list for friends and colleagues
Many of my friends and colleagues have asked me to let them know after I give birth and want to see photos of our daughter.
I have gladly agreed and have prepared a mailing list for my friends and another one for my colleagues.
I don’t want to accidentally leave out anyone and have them ask me later. It can get awkward, and they might feel left out.
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Phew! That’s where we are with our planning. Despite all of the plans above, I still don’t feel 100% ready to welcome our daughter.
I am both excited and nervous. Anything can happen, and things might not go according to plan.
However, surprises are part of life. I always tell Mr. FAF that we can’t control what happens in life, and that the only thing we can control is ourselves and how we prepare for such surprises.
Now it’s a time to test that theory. Stay tuned for more updates!