Don’t Feed the Alligators

A Personal Finance Blog from a Small-Scale Landlord’s Perspective
Little Feet

photo figure credit: MITBeta

As I exclaimed here, Daughter #2 was born at home last weekend.  This was a joyous experience for everyone involved, from ScrapperMom herself, to the doting midwives, to ScrapperMom’s parents, to me.  We’ve learned a number of lessons that we will take to heart the next time we have a baby.  Some of these involve the homebirth itself, some relate to parenting in general, some are financial and others aren’t. With that, this post will have its off topic points, but should contain enough finance related bits to keep everyone else interested.

ScrapperMom and I decided early in the pregnancy of Daughter #2 that she would try to give birth at home.  (Please let me know in the comments if you would like to know why we made this decision, and if there’s enough interest I will try to put together a concise, coherent post on the topic.)  Daughter #2 arrived about 9 days earlier than she was expected. Which leads me to lesson 1:

  •  Babies can come at any time. So be prepared.

A number of the problems that we have encountered in the first week of our daughter’s life can be directly attributed to lack of preparedness.

Example 1: ScrapperMom has been cooking extra food at nearly every meal she has prepared in the last month and freezing the extra.  This has left us with a freezer full of food that will help us eat well, frugally, and without much preparation time in the coming weeks.  The problem is that it takes several hours or days to thaw something out to eat.  So during her labor and following the birth, we kept running to the take-out menus to figure out where our next meal was going to come from.  Over $70 was spent, to feed all of the people here, on take-out food on the day our daughter was born.   (Thanks to my parents and in-laws for covering much of this cost.)  My mother-in-law hit upon a great idea the next day when she went out and bought a couple of pounds of cold cuts, rolls, chips, etc. — enough to last a few days and satisfy a number of mouths that came through the house during that time

Example 2: The car seat was not in the car yet.  In my scramble to put the seat in the car before we had to take the baby to the pediatrician’s office, I could not find a metal bracket that was required for the installation.  We have two bases for the car seat, and each has a place to store the missing bracket.  We need the bracket for only one of our cars, yet both of them were missing.  I considered running to Toys R Us to buy a new base for $25.  I figured that I could take the bracket out of the new base until I found one of ours and then return the base for a refund.  This is, perhaps, not the most ethical way to do things, but it was pragmatic.  Eventually I found one of the brackets on the floor of the car that didn’t need it and I was able to install the seat.

Example 3: When giving our daughter her first bath, we could not find the scrubby brush that we used on Daughter #1 at that age.  Nor could we find an infant sized towel.  All of these things were in a closest that ScrapperMom had planned to go through and clean this week, before the baby was due.  Since baby came early, I found myself standing there holding a reasonably clean, wet, crying newborn who I eventually wrapped in a couple of receiving blankets to dry her.

This lesson can be extrapolated to many areas of our lives, especially personal finance. Are you prepared? Do you have an emergency fund? Life insurance? Disability insurance?

Lesson #2:

  • You have to look out for yourself first.

Over the days immediately following the birth, I found myself playing host to everyone from the midwives to family and friends. Because the birth was in our house, I went into host mode. I realized only after the fact that they were all there for us, not the other way around. When people were in our house, I neglected many of the things that I should have been doing: laundry, dishes, toddler naps, doggie care, etc. I should have been more careful about not letting guests interrupt what needed to get done, because this just bunched all of these chores into a shorter period of time later (and left us with a surly 2 year old). Better yet, I should have asked these people to help me get these things done so that I could make sure that we all got enough rest after a busy few days.

We must also look out for ourselves when it comes to personal finance. No one cares more about your money than you do. We must manage our own retirement accounts, we must fund retirement accounts before college funds, we must be responsible for our own finances because no one else is going to do it for us.

I have several more lessons that we have learned that I will share in another post soon. Do you have any experience with home births or comments or questions about ours? We’d like to hear about it in the Comments section below.

4 Responses to “Lessons Learned in Week 1 with Daughter #2, Part I”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Oh boy… (or girl!)

    I actually really surprised to hear this. Both of you are very well prepared, well educated people, and you seem to have so many things under control, I wouldn’t have guessed you would feel unprepared.

    As for the guests, that is the most DIFFICULT thing I dealt with when I had my first baby. We had 17 visitors on her first full day of life and it killed me. (I had a hospital birth.) I was unable to eat my dinner, I was exhausted, I had a c-section. It was honestly awful.

    With my second I had a stricter visitor policy. I told all of my friends that I did not want any of them to visit me in the hospital except for the baby’s Godmother. However, I rethought it and I did let a small group come, but I told them that they all had to come together at one time.

    You’ll do fine. I know you will.

    And, so, you are ready for a next baby?

  2. Rachel Says:

    Babies can come at any time. So be prepared.

    They WHAT? Yikes, I always thought I’d have at least a few months, plus in my case I’d probably notice the surgery it would take to make me fertile again. Stop scaring people like that. :)

    Are you prepared? Do you have an emergency fund? Life insurance? Disability insurance?

    Yes. But today I was reminded that I really don’t have a fully detailed will, anymore. In fact, the will I do have would probably not stand up legally since my marital status has changed. So that’s something I need to take care of; most everything financial will go to my husband or other named recipient, but I would like to be more specific about a few material possessions, not to mention my desires for a “funeral” (actually, I want a wake, in which all my friends tells stories about me and decide which of my books they’d like). I wonder if this is a topic you’d be willing to cover sometime…

  3. MITBeta Says:

    Michelle: Yes, we’re ready. Bring on the boy!

    Rachel: I think you’re safe. We have been dragging our feet on the whole will thing for some time, but we clearly need one, so I’m sure we’ll be writing something about this soon…


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