Preconceived Notions

Pun fully intended.

I have very little first-hand experience with babies. I’m 30. My friend group has chosen to reproduce relatively late in life; the earliest just had her first last year (hi, Jessica, hi, Miles!). The second baby in my group — second — is due in July. I don’t have much close family, and I’m not very close to the few I do have. Suffice to say, what I get about babies, I get from TV, movies, and the internet.

I consider myself a well-read person. I am naturally skeptical so I try to do a lot of digging into what research I do find, too. The internet is a trove of information, though it may sometimes be light on “facts.” For every source saying A, you get another saying absolutely NEVER A. In the end, you just have to decide some things for yourself.

Before I’ve even had my first doctor’s appointment, I already have thoughts on how I want things to go for this pregnancy and the first few months with baby. I’m writing it down so I can laugh at it in 9 months.

Will we find out the sex?

Yes. Maybe even really early if I can convince my doctor to let me do a non-invasive prenatal test. (At ~10 weeks, a blood test can show major chromosomal disorders and also, incidentally, can identify baby’s sex pretty accurately!)

Will I tell anyone else? That remains to be seen! My current thought is to save it for the baby shower. The primary concern I have is getting a bunch of overly gendered items and way, way too many clothes. I just get a sour taste in my mouth whenever I see the gendered dynamic in the store: princesses for girls, astronauts for boys. Cheerleaders and fashion versus cowboys and nature.

I vehemently despised pink as soon as I found out it was a “girly color” and avoided it at all costs. It took until my adult life before I recognized that I could own that color, a lot of shades of pink and purple actually look good on me, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with liking it.

But the priming is intense. I want to avoid it as long as possible.

 When does maternity leave begin?

I am hoping to work right up until labor! This one is going to heavily depend on Sprog’s timetable, obviously. And also the maternity leave options I have – see “When will maternity end?” for more on that.

I’m due January 15 which is right after the holidays. “Full-term” at 37 weeks is Christmas Day. My work gives us a 4-day weekend for Christmas and a 3-day weekend for New Year’s.  I’m not going anywhere for the holidays since I’ll be pretty damn pregnant at that point and I may as well come into work and save my PTO.

When will maternity leave end?

In an ideal world, I’d take off the first 6 months. In a more likely scenario, I’ll be going back after 4 months or less. I am hoping for at least 3 months.

My company is small, smaller than the FMLA cut-off, so I don’t have federally protected leave. That said, California has a few protections I will be eligible for:

  1. PDL – Pregnancy Disability Leave (job-protected, unpaid)
    1. Up to 4 months of leave for complications, severe morning sickness, or other disabilities related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition
    2. Generally, health care providers will certify a pregnancy disability leave of 10-12 weeks for a normal pregnancy — 4 weeks before childbirth and 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery, or 8 weeks after delivery by cesarean section. However, if medically necessary, you may take up to 4 months off or longer as a reasonable accommodation of your disability.
  2. PFL – Paid Family Leave (not job-protected, 55% of weekly wage)
    1. Six weeks, though it can be taken in hourly or daily increments if needed
  3. SDI – State Disability Insurance (not job-protected, 55% of weekly wage)
    1. 4 weeks pre-birth and 6 weeks recovery

If all fits together correctly, I should get 16 weeks of partially paid, partially job-protected leave. If Sprog was actually born on January 15, I could leave as early as December 18 and return as late as April 1 with 55% coverage of wages. We have the savings to cover the other 45%.

As I said: I haven’t talked to my employer yet. Because we’re small, we don’t have any official policy. That said, there are a few people in the office who have had children in the past 2 years, so I expect the office can work around it. I am better I can at least negotiate working from home or a part-time return for a little while.

do know that my boss laughed about one of our Japanese partners taking 8 months off for her upcoming child, so, uh, it won’t be that lenient.

Helpful resources:

Medicated birth?

I am hoping to go all natural: no epidural, no artificial labor stimulation, no episiotomy, nothing but me and my body doing what needs to be done.

However, I am also going in knowing what it feels like to be in so much pain you feel death is necessary. I am not a fool. If modern medicine can keep me from feeling like I want to die, I’ll take it. If instead of “death is the only option” the pain is more “I have to lay on the floor and NOT MOVE and hopefully the pain will leave me alone, why is someone stabbing me” I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

Memory of pain does not last. Medical interventions can.

Other medical birth stuff?

There are a lot of questions I haven’t yet thought much about. I have Kaiser Permanente and they’re a pretty crunchy hospital: they advocate kangaroo care and allow delayed clamping, for example. I’m willing to talk these things through with my doctor and do what makes sense because I think we’re already starting on the same page.

Cloth or disposable or…?

Planning on a practical approach to cloth. That is, mainly cloth diapering, but disposables will be a godsend for travel, when someone is sick, etc.

I live in the Bay Area where everyone has a trash can, a recycling bin, and compost. I am actively horrified when I visit family in Southern California and am given plastic bags with my groceries. Disposable diapers do not jive.

Breastfeed or formula or…?

Exclusively breastfed, if I can, which is part of why I want to stay home 6 months. After 6 months, solids starts showing up, dependence on milk lowers, etc.

This is HIGHLY ACADEMIC. I fully realize that not everyone is able. I also realize that it’s a pain in the ass to pump at work and my willingness to do things that annoy me can be very limited.