When I made the announcement about my second pregnancy in February this year, I was overwhelmed with the great feedback and encouragement I received from you all.
Over the past five months I have experienced a lot of change in terms of our financial plans, my productivity, and future goals.
Today, I will share with you what has surprised me about my second pregnancy.
1. Short-term disability benefits & the Family and Medical Leave Act
I have saved up more than one month of sick leave and one month of vacation to supplement my 20-day maternity leave.
To me, that’s how I will be able to stay at home with my baby for 2-3 months while making a full-time income.
However, after reaching out to our HR rep, I found out that I can actually apply for short-term disability benefits (STBs) from our insurance company and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to maintain my employment and health insurance during the time I will be off.
Basically, my time out of the office will consist of the following:
Maternity leave: 20 days
STBs: 12 weeks with 60% pay (supplemented with 40% of maternal leave, sick leave and/or vacation
FMLA: 12 weeks of unpaid leave (to be used concurrently with STBs to secure my employment)
I plan to use STBs for 2-3 months and supplement the 60% pay with my maternity leave and some sick leave to get 100% pay during my time off. That way, I can save the sick leave for when our kids get sick and use the vacation for my long trip to Asia or for the kids if needed.
I am so glad I reached out to our HR department instead of waiting until a few weeks before I actually deliver. Their responses changed our plan drastically, not to mention all the paperwork that I had to fill out for the insurance company and for the FMLA.
I thought I knew everything there was to know about the maternity leave policy at our organization after working there for three years. But I apparently didn’t.
Lesson: Check with your HR department about the company’s maternity leave the moment you are ready to share the good news (i.e. after the first trimester). And fill out the necessary paperwork as soon as possible.
2. Decreased productivity (and waking hours)
I am so glad I started the blog and got crazy with it before getting pregnant. Once week 7 of the pregnancy started, I felt like I was blown away in a whirlwind of hunger, nausea, headache, and exhaustion.
I was sitting at the dining table and felt like I was on a ship at sea and getting terribly seasick. I felt like throwing up all the time and had to lie down on the sofa for 10 minutes before I could eat again.
At night, I would go to bed at 9:30 or 10 PM and woke up at 6:20 the next day feeling exhausted like I didn’t sleep at all. The nausea went away after week 15, but the exhaustion remained and lasted throughout the pregnancy.
We have a couple of quiet rooms in the office, but I never used them to rest or take a 15-minute nap until after I got pregnant. I still completed all of the tasks at work, but I had to put extra effort into it.
In other words, my productivity and energy level plummeted. I could no longer stay up util midnight or 1 AM to work on my blog like before, and I simply didn’t want to. I wouldn’t be able to wake up the next day and go to my day job.
Lesson: Try to get enough rest and not worry about side hustles or hobbies too much if you don’t have enough energy.
3. Deteriorating mood
Together with the nausea and exhaustion, I found myself more irritable and moody. I wasn’t feeling well when I was hungry and could snap at every little thing around me.
Fortunately, the mood swing only lasted during the first trimester, but let’s just say that I had a challenging relationship with my mother-in-law during that period and even after.
Normally, I can just keep quiet even if I’m not happy with something she does. But being pregnant while living with the parents is not easy, at least for me.
Lesson: If I do get pregnant the third time, I probably will choose to not live with the parents during my pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
4. Special treatment from my colleagues
Ever since I started showing the baby bump and sharing the news at work, I have gotten asked the following questions almost every day and multiple times a day:
— When are you due?
— How are you feeling?
— Boy or girl?
— How’s the baby doing?
— How’s it kicking?
— How’s the baby growing?
— Are you guys excited?
— Are you guys ready?
— Will you have a third one?
— Which trimester is the hardest? Which one is the easiest?
At first, I was happy because it showed that my colleagues cared. But as days went by, I began to get a bit uneasy by those repeated questions.
Sometimes I just wish people would stop asking me those questions altogether. I don’t know any polite way to tell them to stop, so I just answer those questions day in and day out.
Sometimes I intentionally avoid talking with people to avoid being asked the same questions by the same people just a couple of days before.
I don’t want to be treated differently just because I am pregnant. I am tired and sleepy throughout the day no matter if I’m in the first or second trimester, and I don’t want to be reminded of that.
My co-workers (both males and females) hold the door for me and insist I go before them more often, which I think is not necessary. I am grateful that they care, but I honestly just want to be treated like a normal person.
In terms of the actual work, I don’t get any special treatment at all and still need to finish everything I have to do, which is totally fine with me. I don’t want my colleagues to pick up my slack or feel that they have more responsibilities just because a member on the team is pregnant.
Lesson: Not sure if I have any lessons for this. Maybe I should just enjoy the special treatment people give me since it won’t last forever.
5. No money spent on pregnancy clothes or accessories
Besides generic-brand prenatal vitamins ($8/bottle – 100 tablets), the only pregnancy-related thing I’ve spent money on so far is the $30 intro fee to a month of prenatal yoga classes which I no longer take.
I haven’t purchased any maternity clothes or any new clothes in 2018, so my clothing ban has been working out great so far.
I still have the winter maternity clothes from my first pregnancy and got the summer maternity clothes from my neighbor. Some of my regular clothes turned out to be fitting as well, such as my baby doll tops which I bought 12 years ago.
Lesson: If you want to spend money on your pregnancy, the options seem endless: prenatal massage, yoga, subscription boxes, books, magazines, clothes, food, etc.
But if you were like me, you could easily find cheap or free alternatives such as free information on the internet, hand-me-down clothes, and free Yoga instruction videos on YouTube.
In other words, except for cases of complications, your pregnancy can be frugal if you want it to be.
Related: Why I Don’t Pay For Yoga Classes
Sometimes I still can’t believe that I will soon be a mother of two. There have been moments when I wonder if I’m even ready to be a mother.
The first pregnancy went by so far, and our son is now almost 3.5 years old. My parents sometimes joke that he will soon have a girlfriend. And I tell them I will be even more worried then since I will need to monitor both him and his girlfriend (just kidding!).
At the end of the day, I feel thankful for Mr. FAF for making all of this happen: the dating, the long drives, the wedding, the kids, the pregnancies, and the married life I once doubted if I would ever want to experience.
I am going through something millions other women are experiencing, but I am pleased with small surprises life gives me every day. And the best thing is I have Mr. FAF and my family with me to share such surprises.