Time To Freak Out: My Mom Can’t Help Us With Our 2nd Baby

You read the title right. My mom is not coming to DC to help us with our second baby.

Her US visa application was rejected. And the interviewer at the US consulate in Vietnam didn’t tell her why.

Earlier this year, I announced our second pregnancy and shared our 5 future financial plans:

1. My mom will come to the US to help us take care of Baby F2.

2. We plan to send our second baby to daycare after she turns seven months (yes, it’s a girl!). It means that there will be a one-year period when we will pay $31,000/year to keep two kids in daycare.

3. I will keep working full-time and will probably take only 2-3 months off in case our kids get sick after my mom goes back to Vietnam. Mr. FAF also has four weeks of paternal leave.

4. Mr. FAF will try to earn more income.

5. We will need to save more.

Change of plan

And here are the latest changes to our plans above:

1. My mom won’t be able to help us with our 2nd baby (Baby F2).

Mr. FAF and I, for the first time ever, will be taking care of Baby F1 and a newborn all by ourselves. For some unknown reason, my mom was denied a tourist visa to the US.

She can reapply. But the chances of her getting the visa are low unless there is a major change to her application, which is unlikely to happen.

The day my mom interviewed for the visa, I woke up at 4 AM and called my family in Vietnam (it was 3 PM there) to get the sad news.

I told them it was ok, and that I was going to go back to sleep. But the truth is that I just freaked out. Mr. FAF and I have no family in the US. We just have friends and neighbors who also have their own lives.

We will be basically on our own to handle a 3.5 year-old and a newborn, something neither of us had experienced. I tried to fall back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I started thinking about how Mr. FAF and I should prepare for our newborn.

One thing we’re most worried about is food. If my mom could come, she would be in charge of cooking for the family while Mr. FAF and I take care of the baby. Without her, Mr. FAF and I would need to cook for ourselves and our kids.

Related: The Pros & Cons Of Living With In-laws

How we plan to cope

1. Below are our plans for the food:

1) I will start making freezer meals one month before the due date. I want to chop up potatoes, meat, and other veggies so that we won’t time to spend time prepping our food after our baby is born.

We can just toss everything in the crock pot the night before or in the morning and eat it during the day. Mr. FAF is not into freezer meals. He said once the food is frozen, the taste is gone.

However, I think we will just eat whatever when we’re hungry, exhausted, and sleep-deprived. We will also make dumplings and just freeze them for when we’re too busy and/or exhausted to cook.

2) We will ask around about Chinese restaurants or catering services that can provide us with huge trays of Chinese food at a reasonable price that can last us a couple of days.

We likely won’t use it all the time. But the service can come in handy when we run out of food at home or are too tired to cook but still want to save money.

3) We will also consider take-out. I want to limit this option since it’s expensive and not very healthy.

Related: Why We Eat Out While Still In Debt

2. We will need to send Baby F2 to daycare when she’s about two months old.

Originally, we planned for our mom to take care of Baby F2 at home when she’s at least seven months old. However, without grandma’s help, we have no option but to send Baby F2 to daycare when she’s two months old so that I can go back to work.

Depending on my recovery and my boss’s preference, I might stay at home for three months after birth. But two months will be the minimum.

It will also means that we will spend an unexpected $5,113 for the four months of daycare for our daughter (months 3-6).

Related: Why We Sent Our Son To China

3. Mr. FAF will be on paternity leave for 6 weeks. 

Mr. FAF just learned that he will get six weeks of paternity leave instead of four after staying with his company for more than a year.

He can take the leave for six weeks straight or break them into smaller periods of time (i.e. 2-3 weeks at a time) during the year. We will see what works best for us after our daughter is born.

4. Mr. FAF will try to earn more income.

Mr. FAF hasn’t driven Uber yet. But every day, he leaves home at 5:45 AM, drive 45 minutes to the office, work out for an hour and study for another hour and a half.

Mr. FAF is taking online courses to further develop his skills to perform better at his current company and prepare for his next job.

Having instant side income from driving Uber would be great. But as some of you pointed out, his time is currently best invested in improving his coding skills. We will think about other side hustles when the time comes.

5. We will need to save more.

We recently put $15,000 towards our mortgage principal. We will continue to save aggressively for two purposes: (1) putting about $3,000 or more each month towards the principal and (3) up our emergency fund. Our goal is that after our baby is born, we will have (1) a much lower mortgage balance to lower our stress level and (2) more savings for our daughter’s daycare tuition and possibly an unusually higher food budget at least for the first month after the birth.

I did the math and estimated that our monthly expenses will need to stay under $1,500/month (excluding mortgage and daycare) in order achieve the goals above. Such monthly expenses include the following:

Fixed
Internet
Transit
Health insurance
HOA
Dental
Vision
Car insurance
Home service plan
Phone

Variable
Water
Electricity
Gas
Restaurants
Groceries
Amazon, diapers, misc.

Our monthly expenses, excluding mortgage and daycare, stay at round $2,000/month. That means we need to cut about $500 in the variable expenses:

Water: Not sure how to tackle this since we’re already very conscious of our water usage.

Electricity: We have decided to not turn on the AC in the summer. If it gets really hot(90 degrees), we will keep the AC on at 82 degrees F or so.

Gas: Mr. FAF drives to work and goes grocery shopping. We already keep our driving to the minimum.

Restaurants: After my MIL goes back to China, we might end up eating out more often. But we will only do it at most once on the weekend. It might also be offset by the lower grocery budget.

Groceries: We have decided to simplify our meals after my MIL goes back to China and plan to spend less on groceries each week. It will also cost less to feed 2 adults instead of 3.

Amazon, diapers, misc.: I’m potty training Baby FAF, so he only puts on a diaper at night and training diapers at daycare. Our Amazon purchases will also slow down after a shopping spree for our family in Vietnam and China.

Related: We Just Put $15,000 Towards Our Mortgage Principal. And This Is What Happened. 

Conclusion

As I’m writing this post, I still feel really sad.

It’s not only because my mom can’t help us with our second baby, but also because I have been picturing in my head everything I want to do with her: going for a walk, shopping, learning how to cook Vietnamese dishes from her, taking her to different restaurants so that she can try exotic cuisine, etc.

Since my mom was denied visa this time, I don’t think she has a high chance of getting approved next time. It just means I don’t know when or whether my parents can come to the US.

But all that aside, Mr. FAF and I just need to prepare ourselves emotionally, physically, financially, and logistically to take care of a toddler and a newborn without any help from family.

If you have any tips on how to handle a newborn and a toddler (i.e. cooking, eating, sleeping, doing chores), I’d love to know. Thank you!

Related: 

The Financial Implications Of Having A Baby In Grad School 

Boys Or Girls & How Kids Should We Have?

Our 7 Expectations For Our Son 

The Pros & Cons Of Our Long-distance Marriage

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30 thoughts on “Time To Freak Out: My Mom Can’t Help Us With Our 2nd Baby”

  • “He leaves home at 5:45 AM”
    Dayummmmm what the heck!!!

    I’m sorry to hear your mom’s not coming! I hope the appeal works. It’s funny you want your mom here when the baby comes because Hippo and I are trying to get away from my parents and go seek his parents instead for an extra hand.

    Your planning skills rival mine haha. Under $2k is about the same with us not including our mortgage so it sounds like cutting that lower would make things harder without much gain. Earning more income would be more important here.

    • Mr. FAF’s commute is pretty long (~45 minutes). He wants to leave early to avoid traffic and have more time for his workout and studying. Sometimes he wakes me up early with all the noise, which makes me kinda cranky the whole day lol.

      Your monthly expenses sometimes reach $300 and $700. I just can’t compete with that. I can just think of it as more motivation for me to lower our expenses. :p

      We are thinking about ways to make extra income and/or increase our current income. It will just be a matter of time before we can make it happen (hopefully) 😀

  • Hi,
    I think you are overreacting. I have 3 children, live in a foreign country like you, no family near (or willing to help…) and a husband who is gone 12 hours/day for his job. We never ever had any help with our newborns, and it was fine. Tiring but fine. You will manage just fine, no doubt. Best of luck to you and your family.

    • I agree with Eva. My parents were in the same position, it’ll be hard, but you will be fine. They coped just fine.

      Contrast that to my Aunt and Uncle (again…) even Zhuge Liang can’t save Adou…

      It is sad that you won’t be able to spend some time with your mum in the US though.

    • Thanks for your honest and encouraging comment, Eva! I do think we were overreacting a bit. We just got so scared about taking care of two tiny human beings who sometimes (or most of the time) just cry for no reason >_< We are getting used to that idea now, so it doesn't sound so nerve-racking anymore 😀

  • I wouldn’t say you’re over reacting –it’s perfectly normal to panic and stress when you have a prior plan set up and all of a sudden it doesn’t come together when you really would like it to. But yes, I DO agree that you will be fine. You are smart, a good mom, and you have a supportive spouse who shares your values. It sounds like you’ve been able to quickly put together a Plan B, which is way more thought out than the majority of people out there would do.
    Not that I’m in exactly the same situation here, but I’m expecting baby #2 in about 5 weeks and I’m still mourning not being able to rely on my mother the way I did three years ago when I had my first baby, and she was able to stay with me for over a month and then come whenever I needed her after that. She and my dad are retired, but then last year she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Things are different now. I can never again ask her to watch my children by herself (even with my dad, it’s hard, as she was more of the nurturer), cook or clean, etc. I am thankful she is still here and will probably be able to see her second grandchild be born soon…but this time around, it’s just me and my husband (and our temperamental 3 year old!) doing it all ourselves.
    Hang in there…humans are amazing–mothers even more so–in that we always figure it out. We may be sleep deprived, moody and at our wit’s end sometimes…but it will pass eventually.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s cancer. It is indeed a stressful situation to be in as well, not to mention the new baby and a toddler. We will try to get through this phase. Best of luck with your pregnancy and delivery! 🙂

  • Do what makes life easy in the early stage and don’t focus on the money. Order out, continue to send your son to daycare even if you and your husband are both off work, find childcare assistance through Care.com if you need it, have the house professionally cleaned if you fall behind on chores, etc. Aside from the emotional support aspect, all of your needs can be met if you’re willing to pay for it. This won’t be the time to scrimp and worry about saving those pennies. Take care of yourself and your family and your emotional health needs.

    • That’s a great reminder, Mary! We will probably need to outsource some tasks when the baby is born or learn to be ok with lower standards and expectations. We’re saving up money just for emergencies like this 🙂

  • Try to relax. Many people have been in your situation and have survived. I’ve participated in many meal trains for friends with new babies (and other difficult life circumstances) and I’m sure your friends and neighbors will be happy to help with this during the first few weeks so you can get settled in with the new baby or even arrange playdates for your son so he has fun time and you get a bit of a break.

    • We do have meal trains in our neighborhood too! I’ve never participated in any though since I’m also paranoid about people getting food poisoning from what I make or not liking what I cook. I do get stomach cramps after eating my own food and don’t like it most of the time. But it’s a great idea!

  • It sounds like, even with day care expenses, you are not going to be in the red with your second child, right? If so, take a step back and consider the finances and home life pieces separately for a moment and make sure you’re in a sustainable situation for both. Especially in stressful times like this, it may be worth it to spend a little more or make a little less to take some of the burden off your shoulders for a slightly better lifestyle. I think the Chinese catering idea is a really good example of this principle, where you can spend a little bit more but give yourself that break for those extra few hours in return.

    One thing to consider, for instance, is Mr. FAF’s plan to Uber and side hustle. Given the stress with the new baby, is the $10-15/hour of side hustle money more important than the labor he could be doing to help run the household: prepping meals, taking care of children, cleaning, etc? Otherwise, it sounds like all the domestic labor is going to be on your shoulders alone, which is a lot for one person! Maybe this division of labor is okay for your family and the extra money is worth it. If so, go for it. But just think about it before committing your household to all cylinders going.

    Similarly, for the mortgage, is now the time to be dumping a lot of cash into your house? Particularly if you’re worried about cashflow issues that comes with child care costs, keeping your money in savings may be better than throwing at your mortgage since it’s liquid and easier to use for emergencies or major lifestyle changes. Also, if you’re planning to sell and move soon, what is the goal of paying down the mortgage right now?

    On the child care front, have you considered participating in a nanny share or hiring an au pair instead of doing day care? While they are probably as expensive as day care would be, these might be more convenient options in terms of drop-off and pick-up and more easily integrate the child care element of things into your existing home life.

  • Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, you should at least ten of them. You’ve got this. It can be done. Everything will work out. When you start to feel the stress stop, take deep breaths and remind yourself that you can do this. Look into daycares, home daycares and nanny shares to find what works best for you. Would it be possible for Mr. FAF to do his paternity leave after you’ve done yours? Then you could delay the baby’s daycare needs for another 6 weeks.

    We lived almost 5 hours from our nearest family members when #2 was born a little over 9 years ago. Due to budget cuts, my instructor position at the local university was cut when I was 6.5 months pregnant. I had some part-time work grading standardized tests that I’d been doing online for several years that I was able to continue to do which was great because the jobs available to me in our economically depressed area wouldn’t have covered daycare expenses for the children.

    My husband’s employer did not offer paternity leave. They started bothering him while I was in labor to come back into work. Our #2 was born on a Friday and he was back at work Monday. One thing that helped me the most was using a wrap carrier. I took a 6-yard piece of knit jersey and split it in half along the width so I had two 30 inches wide 6-yard pieces of fabric. You can also buy a wrap but the fabric with a coupon for the fabric store was the better deal. I googled how to wrap a Moby Wrap for instructions. I wore baby #2 a lot when I wasn’t nursing him. I could even nurse him in the carrier if I absolutely had to. It made cooking, cleaning and working much easier.

    I would cook up large portions of meals we ate on Sundays when my husband was home and we’d put it in the fridge for the week. Your #1 is younger than mine was but he can help by bringing you diapers, running the vacuum, sweeping, wiping things up…It won’t be perfect but he can help and it will make him feel like a big boy.

    When #3 was born 2 years and 9 days after #2 my husband’s employer still did not offer paternity leave. She was born Tuesday, we came home from the hospital on Wednesday and Thursday my husband was back at work. The carrier was my saving grace again. Without the carrier, nothing would have been done. After she was born I quit my part-time job because I didn’t have the time or energy to take care of the three children, the home and continue to work.

    With me home and able to take on most of the domestic duties after #2 was born my husband was able to focus more on his work and his income increased dramatically. The first year it increased enough to replace the income I’d been making working outside the home. Every year after that it was a 5 to 10% raise until he started his own business. Since starting his own business we’ve seen 20% increases in profit a year. I’ve been doing the administrative work for his business and accounting so we don’t have to pay someone else to do it.

  • I’m sorry to hear about the denied visa application. Hopefully your mom will be able to visit down the road.

    I recently published a calculator to help parents budget for the cost of raising their children (https://themeasureofaplan.com/2018/06/12/cost-of-raising-a-child-calculator/). It includes average cost benchmarks from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other sources, which you can then tweak to your fit your family’s scenario. The overall costs are broken down into individual cost categories (housing, transportation, food, childcare, clothing, etc.).

    Wanted to share with you in case it helps you with budgeting out the upcoming changes to your finances.

  • I almost spit out my drink when I read this headline. I know people can raise kids without family to help but…you were planning on having your mom do it! I would be freaking out. What a huge disappointment.

    While I’m SO SO SO fortunate to have my parents and in-laws take care of my kids (almost 2 and almost 4), my best friend has had an au pair work with her kids. She’s had 3 different au pairs now and they all are from Poland since her husband’s family are Polish. It keeps the kids at home and can be cheaper than day-care, but the big trade off is that the au pair lives with you (and my friend has to provide a car).

    Best of luck. I’m sure your mom is devastated too! You’ll get through it, but it takes time to process setbacks like this.

  • Sorry to read that your mom can’t help you 🙁 what about yor mother in law? Can she come by for a few months to help too or is it another application for a visa?

    My in law and mom live in the same city as me but they didn’t help much haha! Well my mother in law cooked a lot and dropped off food. Freezer meals are very helpful and instead of baby gifts or a baby shower I asked my friends to provide food. It was so great!! The newborn stage is very hard but you can do it! I don’t have any tips on how to survive a toddler + newborn though!

  • I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now , and while it will be hard, you can do this! You guys are smart and capable and have seen your way though some big challenges in the past.

    To echo Yet Another, I would plan now as to where you can cut yourself some slack even if it ends up costing you more money. This might be a point in your life where time is more valuable than money. You are in the treading water stage of life and you are a success if you only manage to stay in place and not go under! And don’t worry, it will get better. We have an 11 and 7 year old and life now is so much easier than 10 years ago and it has been worth all the challenges we have had so far.

    Also, an au pair might be a good idea. We live in the DC area and friends of ours who had twins discovered it was cheaper to have an au pair than put the twins in daycare.

  • hi, I’m sorry to hear. Maybe ask around. there seem to be circles of informal “daycare” – where middle-aged aunties help out with the babies for 8-10 hrs when the couple goes to work…
    My colleagues have used them before but you need good local references obviously.
    Hope everything works out fine

  • If you originally intended to stay home for 7 months then the actual cost of an extra $500 per month works out at a shortfall of $3500 which is much cheaper than the $5113 of child care.If you are saving an extra $3000 a month until the baby is born you could decide that the first one month of that is to go towards maintaining your $2000 per month when you are not working.

    I think you can afford to stay home and use this money even though you are focussed on paying down the mortgage because you have both shown such skill,determination and resilience in getting to where you are but it doesn’t have to happen immediately you can just add a little more time to your plan,it’s not really very much.I understand you are absolutely shocked and anxious at not having your mom there but you two have done brilliantly so far and there is every reason to think that you will continue to do so.Everything will work out fine because of your ability to plan and save.

    best wishes,Barbara

  • I’m so sorry to hear this Mrs. FAF! My brother-in-law also got denied a visa for our wedding. We ended up contacting our state senator and getting him to contact the Chilean visa on our behalf. But it was a big rigamarole!! Are you guys citizens? If so maybe you could try that? I’m sorry. With both of you working, it will definitely be a tough transition. I agree with other commenters that you may want to find an occasional babysitter or other helper so you don’t go completely crazy. I hate that your mom’s visa got denied. Makes me so mad!! 🙁

  • I am so sorry to hear this. My family (and friends to an extent) were our lifeline with HP. To have your heart and mind set on one thing and then to face a different reality is so difficult. It sounds like you have a great plan to deal with the change of plans. Thinking of you!

  • That really stinks about your mom not coming over. Being able to spend time with her and the baby would be so wonderful. This type of time spent is something that I have dreamed about with my parents who live in Hawaii. They can come anytime, yet, they only choose to come a couple times a year for a week at a time. I wish they were more involved. But they want to leave their own mind that really stinks about your mom not coming over. Being able to spend time with her and the baby would be so wonderful. This type of time spent something that I have dreamed about with my parents who live in Hawaii. They can come anytime, yet, they only choose to come a couple times a year for a week at a time. I wish they were more involved. But they want to leave their own lives.

    It’ll be tough, but if you are OK with daycare or a nanny, things will be OK.

    Wonderful news about having a daughter!

    Sam

  • You’ll manage! We did 2 kids w/o any family nearby (closest is over 1000 miles away). In each case, I took family leave for ~3 mo and then when I went back to work, my husband took leave for ~3 mo. So, income was down, but it extended the time baby was home and we weren’t paying for daycare. Although, for the second, we had the older child going to daycare twice(?) a week to hold his spot. And yes, also compare daycare cost w/ that of a nanny. May be comparable.

    Quick and easy meals are a lifesaver. Mortgage rates are low, so I honestly wouldn’t be dumping extra money in there, at least until you are in about 6-8 months of having 2 kids at home and have a good handle on expenses at that point.

    Best of luck!

  • I think it is worth re-applying for the visa. See if you can make some changes to the application (like perhaps adding more money to her account to show her in a better financial light or something?) and reapply. One of my colleague’s wife got her US visa on her 3rd attempt although her application remained more or less same all 3 times. We can’t think of any reason why except that maybe the first two visa officers were not convinced with her replies to their questions. Or maybe she was just unlucky to get some really strict visa officers. Either ways I think your mom can try once more. As for the rest, looks like you have a good backup plan in place and I hope that it all works out well for you. Good luck with everything.

  • After the baby is born and you feel up to it, you should go to Vietnam. It sounds like your husband is very busy and could focus on his studies/work and then your family , including your Mom, could help you. Not sure what their housing situation is like, etc., but something to think about.

  • Sorry to hear that your mom can’t help you guys out. Maybe look into why she was denied a visa and hopefully it can be fixed so the appeal can be approved.
    Yes freezer meals are the way to go so you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of time cooking.
    Hope everything works out for you guys!

  • Just curious (and no need to reply) – has your mom tried to get visa on her own or with your help? I’ve been through visa process (for myself and others) several times and what visa officers are looking at when approving visa is adequate finances (enough money in bank accounts to support herself for planned duration stay) and ties to original country – basically incentives to return and not illegally stay in US. Good examples would be ownership of a property or family ties or a job to return too. Your application needs to have paperwork proving all of that.
    Now if your mom doesn’t have a good case (i.e. lots of liquid money etc.), you can always write her a NOTARIZED letter of support stating that you will be responsible for covering all of her expenses (travel, food, lodging, medical expenses) while she is in USA. Include your family income in that letter in order to prove that you are capable of doing it.
    Lots of visa application from my country get denied, but from my experience none that comes with adequate paperwork.
    Good luck!

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