M and I are pleased to announce that we are expecting a baby boy this fall. We have nicknamed him “Eggy” – it means baby in Korean. As you know, you cannot exactly plan when you become pregnant. Honestly, we were not sure if things would happen au naturel due to my age so IVF was a possibility. Luckily my current job includes 3 cycles of IVF as a benefit but it is still not 100% covered. I know many ladies who have spent a small fortune on getting pregnant. So here are a few things I have learned, financially, about trying to get pregnant and trying to plan for leave and childcare:
- Insurance coverage: Make sure you know what your insurance plan will cover and not cover and what deductible you'll need to meet, if any. Even if your insurance says “maternity is covered,” it may not cover all the tests. My costs: $40 (co-pay for the first visit only) is what my total out of pocket costs will be, including the delivery. This assumes I use an ob-gyn within my health system (I am) and that I deliver at one of their hospitals (I plan to).
- Maternity Leave: Think about how long you'll want to take for leave and what leave, if any, will be paid. This is a highly personal decision, but I have yet to meet someone who said they took too much time off. Unfortunately, paid maternity leave is not the norm in the U.S. If you have unpaid leave at least you'll have approximately 9 months to save up for this. My leave: I get 6 weeks paid leave (at my base salary) or 8 weeks (c-section). I can also use unused vacation. I will have at least 2-3 weeks of unused vacation to get to at least 8 weeks paid. I am taking at least 3 months off. So that means at least 1 month unpaid, possibly more. Since I only really need ~60% of my take home base salary, this won't be a huge burden on us and we will have more than enough saved to cover this unpaid time.
- Maternity clothes: Unless you only wear stretchy pants and dresses, you'll need at least a few staples. I do wear scrubs a few times a week to work so I did not have to buy a whole new work wardrobe. Gap Maternity is pretty inexpensive and I was able to use a 20-40% off coupon when ordering online. It also helps that it'll be mostly warm weather during my pregnancy so I can keep wearing dresses.
- Baby stuff: I am totally cool with second-hand everything. And due to space limitations of an NYC apartment, we definitely do not want too much “stuff.” Between a baby shower, a very excited grandmother-to-be, M's sister's hand me downs – we should have most of the basics for almost free. I have even scored a free Mamaroo and Ergo carrier already. I won't be shopping at baby boutiques for clothes.
- Post-partum help: If you don't have family around you may want to look into outsourcing certain things (clean and cook, etc) so you can focus on mothering. Baby nurses and night nannies are common in NYC – definitely a luxury – but a savior when you're sleep-deprived. Post-partum doulas are also a great idea, especially for first time moms, to show you the ropes, help you ease into breastfeeding (most are breastfeeding certified counselors), and help you take care of you while you recover from delivery. The U.S. is a bit strange in that moms are expected to recover and go back to work ASAP. Too bad there aren't any post-partum spas here like Korea. My plans: M will take 2 weeks off to help. I'm planning on hiring a post-partum doula for a few sessions for the above reasons. After 2 weeks, I'll be with my mom for a few weeks – letting her carry out a Korean tradition of taking care of a new mom. Slightly modified as I'll be able to shower :).
- Childcare: This blog is geared towards female professionals, so most of us probably won't be stay at home moms. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about the cost of childcare! The going rate in my neighborhood is ~ $17/hr for a nanny. At this time, I prefer having a nanny for the first 6-12 months after I return to work. The convenience of someone coming to us vs. one of us packing up the baby and walking to a daycare (at least a 10-15 min walk – won't be fun during winter). Also, babies and kids often get sick in daycare and although M's work is more flexible, we don't want to deal with that. Right now, we are planning to have a nanny for 40 hours a week over 4 days and my mom for 1 day a week and for backup. We are *gulp* preparing to spend at least $3,000 a month in childcare. Unfortunately, daycare isn't much cheaper and with the convenience and flexibility of a nanny, this was a no brainer for us. After 6 months or so, we will reassess.
- Saving for college: It's never too early to start saving for a little one's college. You may recall that I started a 529 last year in anticipation of starting a family. I get a small state tax break for funding one so it was a no brainer to get started.