From the category archives:

Pregnancy by week

First post

by Milton on Thu, Sep 10th, 2009

in Week 06

My wife is gonna have a baby in about 8 months.  Holy shit.

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Uncertainty as a new way of life

by Milton on Thu, Sep 10th, 2009

in Week 06

We’re in that limbo between knowing she’s pregnant and not really being able to get our hopes up about it.  It’s a little insane.  And of course here I am starting a blog and buying these books and sort of setting myself up to be really sad if the pregnancy doesn’t get past that magical 12th week again.

But, you know, this is just the way it is. Sure, things might not work out, but I really think that they eventually will.  So consider this stuff preparation for this time, or the next time, or the time after that.

And really, this limbo state is simply the first of many limbo states that we will continue to be in for the rest of our lives.  Uncertainty about outcomes is part of the magic of life, especially when it involves bringing another life into our lives, and this will be good practice for acting while uncertain.

Truth is, I am excited. And I am aware that I’m wholly not prepared for what we’re getting ourselves into. This new blog is my attempt to get ramped up to speed on everything I need to know during Esther’s pregnancy, and beyond.

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Books purchased so far…

by Milton on Thu, Sep 10th, 2009

in Books,Week 06

Now, all I gotta do is read them, right?

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The challenges ahead of us

by Milton on Fri, Sep 11th, 2009

in Challenges,Week 06

I recently left my well-paying job to start up a little company.  Of course, along with a fat paycheck I also lost my health insurance.  Perfect time to procreate, right?

We’re now paying $300/month for Regence BlueShield health insurance that has a $3,000 family deductible.  It covers maternity after deductible at 80%.  So, if the pregnancy costs $10,000 (which is cheap), we’ll be paying $300/month ($2,700) + $3,000 deductible + 20% of $7,000 ($1,400) which comes to $7,100 total over the next 9 months.  That doesn’t count coverage of the baby once it’s born, of course.

Our house is a loft.  Which means there are no separate rooms.  This worries us a little.  So we’re also thinking about moving somewhere that has separate bedroom.

We don’t have a car.  Does modern parenting involve taking the taxi to the hospital and strapping in a baby seat on the way back?  If we move, one of our desires would be to have a parking spot (they cost $150/month or $30,000 in my current building and it’s a little ridiculous).

Should we move?  Should we consider delivery options (birthing centers, home delivery)?  Should we get a car?  Should I get a high-paying job with health insurance?

Except for the last one (no way), these are the questions we don’t yet have answers for.  And, despite it all, while the situation seems a little financially scary, it also seems like the amount of change and adventure in store for us will keep us on our toes.  I like a good challenge, in other words.

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Pushed, page 100

by Milton on Fri, Sep 11th, 2009

in Books,Week 06

I’m about 100 pages into a fascinating book called Pushed. The best way to describe it is as a Fast Food Nation or Omnivore’s Dilemma of the field of obstetrics.  The enemy in the book is not necessarily the doctors and physicians, but rather the strange dance between hospitals, insurance companies, and the “malpractice crisis”.

It has turned me from a casual “yeah, it would be nice to avoid an epidural, induction, and Cesarian if possible” to a more emphatic “we should probably try to have the baby outside of the hospital system”.

It doesn’t seem like anyone is really at fault.  Everyone is trying to make the business of having babies as safe and efficient as possible, but there are just some pretty glaring conflicts of interest when a doctor needs to pay $900,000/year in malpractice and therefore has to race through births as fast as possible, sacrificing care and patience for fast, risk-adverse, insurance-friendly planned Cesarians.

And then there’s the self-reinforcing loop of wanting to control everything.  Inducing a pregnancy that isn’t even to term yet, rather than sending someone back home, for example.  The fact that inducing a pregnancy seems to lead to a more painful birth, therefore increasing the need for an epidural.  The fact that a failed induction often encourages a Cesarian.  All of it could be avoided by simply not going to the hospital until you really need to be there.  Or, not going to a hospital at all and having the baby in a birthing center or at home under the care of a licensed midwife.

I’m really coming at this as a complete newbie, so please correct me if I’m incorrect in any of my statements.  Esther and I talked about it a bit this morning and think that using the hospital for ultrasounds and all those checkups seems good, and then having the actual baby at a birthing center or under the guidance of a good midwife.

We just need to figure out how much each of these options cost, which things are covered by our minimal maternity insurance, and also talk to our yet-to-be-chosen doctor about some of these things to see where our local hospital is on the spectrum of overly aggressive birthing.

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Inspired by hisboyscanswim.com

by Milton on Fri, Sep 11th, 2009

in Health insurance,Week 06

Looking at the list of baby costs that hisboyscanswim.com have put together has been really enlightening.  We are going to have a bit of insurance to cover us, but in the end that means we’ll probably pay about half to 66% of the total costs of having a baby.

We haven’t even had our first doctor’s appointment yet.  That’s coming up in a week or so, I believe.  The doctor that we had chosen (and who had come highly recommended from several friends) for the last pregnancy (which only got to 7.5 weeks, sadly) has since left the practice, so we’ve got to choose another doctor.

I’m curious to see how the $3,300 cost for a vaginal delivery compares to the cost of a birthing center.  Also, we’re highly interested in having a midwife and possibly also a doula for before and after the birth.  But I have no idea how much they cost, whether midwives are covered by insurance if they’re connected to a physician, etc.

I am expecting total out-of-pocket expenses to probably be in the $10,000 range, hopefully not more.  Again, I could be way off.  I know nothing.

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Back and forth between excited and scared

by Milton on Sat, Sep 12th, 2009

in Week 07

We’re on day 42, or the beginning of the 7th week, or at 6 weeks, depending on how you want to be confused.

Esther’s last pregnancy ended on day 41, so we’re a little relieved to have that behind us.  Still, Esther is still a bit skeptical that everything will continue as smoothly as we’re hoping.  Yesterday, we did the math compared to her last pregnancy and realized that we were actually 5 days past the point that she had started spotting and cramping last time.

She also took an additional pregnancy test this morning (not one of the First Response ones like before–we wanted to EARN that plus sign).  The first one was broken (the control didn’t turn blue), but the second one was super duper blue as can be.  So that’s good, right?

Of course, no amount of evidence of being pregnant will actually make the fears go away that perhaps the pregnancy will end tomorrow.

How often do miscarriages actually happen?  The statistics are all over the place.  I’ve heard that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage within the first 14 weeks.  That’s 1 in 5.  I’ve also heard 1/12 and 1/20 thrown around on the low side, and 6/10 on the high side if you count pregnancies that people don’t even realize they had because they ended so early.  Do I just average them out and flip a coin?  No, we just wait while the coin flips in the air, taking literally months to turn up heads or tails.  We all hope for heads, not tails, right?

I’ve always considered myself a lucky person.  Does this mean that we’re more likely to beat the odds?  Should I wear the same shirt every day that things continue normally in the hopes that the shirt has magical powers?  Okay, maybe I won’t go that far.

Writing it out, albeit semi-anonymously, helps me, at least.  We have many good friends and even family that haven’t been told about this yet, because I don’t want them to force them to empathize with our emotional roller-coaster as much as they had to last time.

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First thoughts about fatherhood

by Milton on Sun, Sep 13th, 2009

in Parenthood,Week 07

My father was awesome.  He passed away from lung cancer when I was just 16, but we had a great relationship all throughout my life.  He and my mom had me when they were both 25, 8 years younger than I am now, almost 9 by the time our baby is born, and I find myself thinking about him a lot now that I am possibly going to be a father myself.

He had a difficult life, a difficult family, and I remember him saying many times that he wanted our lives to be better than his, for us to be happier, more successful, etc than he was.  He also was an entrepreneur, working in software for many years and eventually starting his own company with his best friend a couple years before he passed away.  At the time, I wanted to be a painter or a genetic biologist (yeah, I know, very similar… both got to draw animals is how I saw them being related), and was applying for colleges.  And now here I am as an entrepreneur in the software development / Internet industry.

My parents were pretty poor when I was born, but eventually as his jobs got better we moved to the suburbs and eventually to a fairly wealthy planned community in Southern California.  I remember him saying to me in my early teens that he feared my life had been too easy, that great people are never born out of easy lives, and he wanted me to have an easy life.

As things would go, his departure sort of started in motion a long series of events that would be anything but easy.  While our lives aren’t yet chronicled in the history books, it’s safe to say that life is great, and that the challenges and lower lows have helped me find a place of earned happiness that I might not have otherwise achieved.

And now, I have the chance to think about raising a son or daughter of my own.  I want to be the best father just as my father was the best to me.

My mother also shaped a lot of how I see the world, and I want to make her proud to have a son that can pass on some of the things I’ve learned from her.

It’s weird making the transition from random married dude to an actual father.  It makes me rethink my posture, my habits, etc.  And yet, there are plenty of fatherhood stereotypes that I want to avoid.

I don’t want to be absent.  I don’t want to be aloof.  I don’t want to be too serious.  I don’t want to be the the one that’s only around for big events or for times of punishment.

I do want to be active and engaged in every step of the process.  I want to be a teacher, a leader, a role model, etc.  I want to carry a full half of the responsibilities of parenthood.  I want to encourage growth rather than simply be a protector. I want to give this new person every chance to be great, and to have the will power to let them also be their own person when the time comes, making their own mistakes and taking credit for their own successes.

Existing parents may scoff at my idealism, but we have to start with idealism and not compromise anything but the most necessary ideals when absolutely necessary.  That’s how my brain works at least.

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Is it worth the risk?

by Milton on Wed, Sep 16th, 2009

in Managing risk,Week 07

Okay, I admit, I’ve been hanging out on community baby boards.  There are some 2,000 people in my month alone (May 2010)!

It’s pretty addictive to be in a community of 2,000 people who are all going through the same anxiety, excitement, learning, uncertainty, etc as I am at the same time that I’m going through it.  Other than that one major thing we have in common, I would say that I’m in the huge minority as far as being a dude, and then things like age, number of previous children, ethnicity, political views, economic status, etc are all over the place.

I think it’s actually really interesting to participate in the group… unlike anything I’ve experienced before.  Such a high level of interest, opinion, emotion, and yet also so much we don’t know!

The fact that most of us are newbies as far as pregnancy is concerned, and that we’re all equally emotional about it, leads to some seriously interesting conversations.  Some of them are enlightening, and others are scary.

One trend I notice is that there’s a lot of both opinion and sensitivity around the issue of what’s safe for the pregnancy.  Topics like whether or not you should get a flu shot, for instance.  Surprising to me, 50% of the people in the group are going to avoid the flu shot even though almost all medical literature recommends it.  The US Center for Disease Control and prevention, for example, recommends that pregnant women get the vaccine as soon as it’s available.

That particular issue is evenly split.  Others, like whether or not to drink a glass of wine, are more weighted on the side of being “okay in moderation”.  And then there are things like smoking pot that got one unfortunate lady practically excommunicated from the message board for her naive question about whether or not it was okay to smoke pot.

Through them all, there’s the constantly re-iterated judgment on whether or not a particular behavior is “worth the risk”.  Because, it turns out, almost nothing is conclusive.  Everything is a risk.  And some risks are more worth it than others.

Getting in a car and going to the hospital, for example, is a risk.  But it’s deemed worth it because it’s a very difficult risk to avoid.  Our culture deems it okay.  Not getting a flu shot is sometimes deemed worth it because, perhaps, you’re a SAHM (stay at home mom) and you figure you won’t be in much risk of catching a flu from someone.  Or, you believe that the vaccine actually causes you to get sick (a popular anecdote).  Or, you think that there might be long-term unknown consequences (and assume that those long-term unknown consequences are greater than the unknown long-term consequences of getting a flu during pregnancy).  It’s a bit more even, even though the actual risk being deemed worth it or not is probably the main factor in the decision.

Some people love Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, and for them that risk turns into something of a guilty pleasure.  Same with a glass of wine, or a piece of sushi.  And then there’s the risk of more minor bacterias from cold cuts or hot dogs that are pretty much swept under the carpet because they’re cheap eats.

I’m fascinated by the idea of risk and the way that we justify it.  Pregnancy is one of the scariest gambles we take due to beginning with such a fragile little being with such a high chance of something going wrong, on top of all of our hopes to start or continue growing a family.

I’m very interested in documenting the kinds of risks that face pregnancy, and also judge them on whether they’re acceptable or unacceptable risks, how our culture judges the risk, how emotional the decision is for different groups of people who might be more attached to the risk, etc.  For now, I simply want to bring it up as an area of discussion so that I can become more aware of my own biases, my own desire to ignore certain big risks that I’m personally attached to, and also to my own judgment of others who take risks that I’m not personally attached to.

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First thoughts about motherhood.

by Esther on Wed, Sep 16th, 2009

in Parenthood,Week 07

My mother was young and vibrant.  She had me at 22, during the long sunset of her first marriage- which started at 18.  I remember us being best friends during my early years.  Looking back, I see now that we grew up together during those early years.  We were very poor during her time as a single parent.  My mother worked 3 jobs to send me to a good school- where she was snubbed for being a divorcee.  I spent much of my time at my grandparents’ house, where I became their 8th child and had raucous good times with aunts and uncles who were only a few years older than me.

When my mother was 28, she married my step-father.  This upset me bitterly for some time.  In my child’s mind, I felt as if the camaraderie I had with my mother was intruded upon by her new relationship.  I am sure that I was affected in large part by the breakup of my mother’s first marriage, as well.  My biological father was, to a great extent, absent from my everyday life.  This anger and resentment was unconsciously projected on to my step-father until I became much more self-aware in my adult years.  Now, my mother, stepfather, and I have a sound and loving relationship.

Children are so sensitive, and begin with such a small world view.  I wonder what sort of issues I will unwittingly imprint on my child’s ego.  I hope I will be able to make sure that my child is strong enough to ultimately see past himself in order to become a terrific success.  I feel as if my husband and I have a step over the situation I was born into. We are older, well established in a marriage trust that I can’t see either of us ever questioning, much less betraying, and obviously in a much more sound financial condition than our young parents were.

When I have my first child, I will be 34.5 years old.  I will have lived through my party years with a youthful mixture of bubbles and melancholy, I will have already established my career.   I feel totally ready at this age to face my parenting years.  I feel as if I’m still vibrant enough enough to be idealistic, which is, in my opinion, an important positive emotion to convey to my child, even as that child is in utero.  I hope to be the kind of parent who is engaged, active, responsible, and actually fun.  I hope to be able to protect my child from making some of the mistakes I made, or forgive my child if they walk headfirst into the mire without first taking into account my own personal story.

I know for certain that my husband echos my sentiment.  I also know for certain that we are excellent partners.  I am looking forward to this whole lifelong family-building business.

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