Marco and I did NOT budget for the baby. We ended up spending all extra funds on fertility treatments. When Diego was born, I went on maternity leave, and the state disability plan gave me 55% of my salary. I had paid into a supplemental disability insurance plan, which gave me another 35% of my salary, but it was not enough. The limited funds put us behind, and we are only now beginning to feel that we are caught up.
We also found that as soon as Diego was born, all of our regular responsibilities were put on the back burner. Not the immediate back burner, but one far enough in the back to be almost unreachable. Yes, I was home all day. No, I did not keep up with my Excel spreadsheet of bills.
I found that I was in a joyful fog, with little thought of the future, other than, “I’m sure it will all work out somehow.” My attitude was terrible, by all rational logic. I decided that I didn’t care if we went into more debt, or if I lost my job. All I wanted to do was gaze at my adorable sleeping baby, or care for him while he was awake, or play with him. This greatly alarmed Marco. Especially when I said, “I’m sure it will all work out.” He would have preferred that I go back to taking care of my responsibilities more quickly, and with the same gusto as before. Of course, he was right, but wasn’t I a little bit right? I mean, things DO always work out…somehow…don’t they? I guess I was a little like an addict, and my new baby was my drug.
The fog lifted slightly when I returned to work in November. I am a high school teacher, and that requires a great amount of attention. However, I was still in a fog at home. Perhaps the worst thing this fog caused was my complete inability to remember to pay the water bill. I pay it online, and totally ignore the paper bills. Twice I forgot completely, and the water was turned off at home. Poor Marco…he trusts me to take care of those things, because I say I will, but he was trusting a woman who had (temporarily) lost her mind.
I feel that now, in May, the fog is almost gone. I still feel the joy, but I realize I must attend to other things, as well. Things like cooking dinner and cleaning the house and paying bills. I also have a clearer vision of how we did things (or didn’t do them) and what I will change in the future, if we are lucky enough to have another baby.
Here are my tips for working women soon to become mothers:
1. Pay into some type of supplemental disability insurance plan for maternity leave. You may have to start this before you get pregnant, though. Talk to the HR rep at your company.
2. Save money! Even if it’s only $100 a month, it will really help during the time off. Leave it in your checking account; you don’t want to have to remember to transfer it later.
3. Review your insurance benefits. We switched to Marco’s plan because it was cheaper, with the same doctors and hospitals.
4. Set up as many automatic payments as you can before you have the baby. This way, you will have fewer things to worry about when the “joyful fog” surrounds you.
5. Hand over some (or all) bills to your husband or a family member to pay. You will be unreliable in that regard.
6. Prepare everything you can for your co-workers or substitutes. Preparation is key. You don’t want people from work contacting you when you are home with your baby.
7. Clean the house. This will not happen after the baby is born.
8. Freeze some meals. You probably won’t be cooking or shopping much after the baby is born.
9. Have a talk with your husband about responsibilities, chores, and expectations.
10. Remember that above all, the baby is the most important thing. Let the fog wrap you in joy as you forget the rest of the world and focus on this beautiful, wonder-filled new life.
Here’s a cleaning schedule from Pinterest that I like. Maybe it will come in handy someday:
And always remember: