Tag Archives: baby

Are babies expensive?

Throughout my pregnancy, everyone who gave me advice agreed on a lot of things. I’d love the baby instantly. He’d grow too fast. He’d be worth all of the discomfort of pregnancy. (They were all right.)

There was one thing they couldn’t agree on, though. Half of them said to prepare myself because babies are SO expensive. The other half told me babies don’t cost much at all.

I was really curious to see who was right. Two months into parenthood, and I can see where the disagreement comes from. The answer: it depends.

Baby expenses begin long before the baby is born. We needed a car seat, somewhere for baby to sleep (we chose a bassinet for the first few weeks and a crib for later), clothes for the baby to wear, and diapers for the baby to, well, you know. The rest of the baby stuff is optional, but nice to have.

While it’s possible to buy secondhand, shop around for deals, or accept hand-me-downs (we did all three of those things), the truth is that the initial startup costs for baby can be steep. Thankfully, we have a huge support group of family and friends who gifted us with everything we needed.

Once the baby’s born, formula can be one of the biggest monthly expenses. If your baby doesn’t have special dietary concerns, off-brand formulas can provide the same nutrition for a fraction of the price. The cheapest option is breastfeeding (it’s basically free if you do it exclusively), and I’m incredibly grateful that it’s working out well for us so we can avoid the expense of formula.

Diapers are another huge monthly expense. Newborns use 8-12 diapers a day, so the costs really do add up. Buying diapers on deep discount and using coupons can cut the cost tremendously. So can cloth diapering. By hunting for deals, buying seconds (slightly imperfect but new diapers), and sticking with the economical prefolds and covers system of cloth diapering, I built a stash that will last throughout my baby’s diapering years for under $300. That works out to about $10 a month if the baby spends 2 and a half years in diapers. That number drops even lower if you use your diapers for a second or third child.

Our generous friends and family provided us with enough new clothing and hand-me-downs from Judah’s cousins to keep him clothed for the next year. He has enough outfits in each size that I can get away with doing just one load of his laundry every week. He wears the same things all the time, but that’s okay with me. When he grows out of the clothes we have for him, we can shop garage sales, thrift stores, and clearance racks to keep clothing costs down. Until he’s old enough to complain about it, he’ll be wearing the same handful of outfits every week.

These are just the expenses that you can control, though. The biggest expense for us (and one that we unfortunately can’t do anything about) is health insurance. When my husband and I were both covered by individual policies, the cost to add our son was going to be astronomical — $400 a month added to the $500 we were already paying to insure the two of us. My husband’s new job offers family insurance for about half that, which is a relief. But our health care costs are much higher as a family of three than they were as a family of two.

Later we’ll see changes in our food costs as Judah starts eating solid foods. There will also be education expenses and recreational costs as he gets older.

These expenses that you can’t control are the reason why it’s so important to save money on the expenses that you can control. Cutting costs where ever you can will make it easier to afford the expenses you can’t change.

My point is this: if you’re pregnant or want to get pregnant, how expensive (or inexpensive) your baby will be is entirely up to you. Like so many other expenses, the choices you make will affect your budget. If you buy everything brand new, pay full price for diapers and formula, and fill your baby’s closet with more clothing than he needs, the costs can be astronomical. But with a little careful planning and frugal know-how, your baby’s first year doesn’t have to affect your monthly budget that much at all.

How much do disposable diapers and formula cost?

Oh, hey. It’s a post about money!

This weekend, Judah turned three weeks old. For the first two weeks of life with a newborn, I tried to keep things as simple as possible. I was still recovering from the birth and getting used to taking care of a baby, so I was okay with using disposable diapers. We received a case of size 1s from a generous family member at the baby shower, so we have plenty to use up anyway.

Last week, though, I decided to switch to cloth diapers during the day. I’m thrilled with how well they’re working out, and they’re so much easier than I expected. I was committed to making it work from the start, but part of me was nervous that we might not be able to keep up with it. After a week, I can definitely say that we won’t be using disposables at least 95% of the time.

After three weeks of successful breastfeeding, I think it’s safe to say that we’re not going to be buying formula, either.

I’m curious about how much money we’re actually saving by using cloth diapers and breastfeeding. There are so many variables that it’s hard to come up with solid numbers. If I’d spent any time buying diapers or formula, I might be able to come up with some rough averages.

I know if you work really hard like Kacie at Sense to Save did before she had her first baby, you can stockpile a ton of diapers for as low as 5 cents each. I also know that if you buy the most expensive, fanciest brands at regular price, you’ll pay 25 to 30 cents a diaper.

As far as formula goes, I’ve read that generics will run you about $10 a can, which will last about a week for a baby Judah’s age. Or you can easily spend $30 a can on more expensive name brands.

Before I can really figure out how much I’m saving, I’ll need to see what all this laundry does to my water and electric bills after a full month of cloth diapering. I’m not looking forward to that increase, but I’m confident it will still be less than I’d pay for diapers.

I also need some rough averages on costs. I’m looking to all of you for your insight. If you’ve used disposable diapers or formula, how much did you spend per month in an average month?

Photo by chrisirmo

Slowly reentering the land of the living

I just realized it’s been two weeks today since we brought Judah home from the hospital. Really? It’s only been two weeks? It feels like a lifetime.

It’s amazing how difficult it’s been for me to do anything but care for Judah in those two weeks. Considering the fact that the boy can’t even roll over at this point, I’m shocked at how time consuming he’s been.

For the past two weeks, I’ve spent the majority of my time just holding him. I couldn’t get away with putting him down for longer than 15 minutes without a complete meltdown. Sometimes he’ll accept Tony as a substitute long enough for me to take a shower. Tony has become pretty good at juggling a sleeping baby with grading papers or getting his own reading done.

We’ve settled into sort of a routine now, and Judah is letting me get away with putting him down for a little longer each day. I’m finally starting to get to other tasks around the house. Yesterday I was able to finish several loads of laundry and vacuum the apartment. Today I finished the huge stack of dishes that overflowed from the sink and consumed an entire counter in my kitchen. They were small tasks, but they felt like major victories.

We’re both adjusting. I’m getting used to life with a newborn; he’s getting used to life.

I can’t complain, though. He continues to be a remarkably easy baby. He wakes me up every couple hours to eat, but he goes back to sleep immediately. I feel criminally well rested considering the fact that I have a newborn. And of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s so stinking lovable.

Last Friday we got out of the house to run a long list of errands, and you wouldn’t even have known there was a baby in the car seat I carted around from store to store. He was quiet as a mouse.

Physically I feel better than I have since March. I’m finally free from the constant nausea, heartburn, and pain that became a daily reality for me throughout pregnancy. Emotionally I’m struggling a little. Caring for a newborn can feel so isolating and demanding, and the post partum hormonal roller coaster certainly doesn’t help matters. We’re getting through it, though.

Tony has been wonderful. He’s up with us for most feedings, and he’s continued to pick up my slack with household chores despite the fact that his work schedule has been unreal as he gets closer to the end of the semester. At the end of this week, he’ll finally get some time off for winter break (three whole weeks!) It can’t come soon enough.

This morning we finally started transitioning to cloth diapers. For the next couple weeks we’ll continue using disposables at night partly because I’d like to get used to cloth during the day before trying to deal with them at night and partly because we’re still going through the case of disposables we received at the shower. I’ll be updating with a full report once we’ve had a chance to get used to them, but so far so good.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for your patience as I take my own version of maternity leave. Regular posting will resume soon, I promise.

From stomach flu to baby in 24 hours

I promise this blog will someday be a personal finance blog again. At the moment, though, eight pounds of adorable have sort of eclipsed everything else in my life, so he might as well monopolize the blog.

And now a birth story! I promise to leave out the gory parts. Mostly.

I should start by saying that even though I’d been hoping to go into labor the entire week of Thanksgiving, I completely changed my mind on Friday. Labor was the LAST thing I wanted, because Friday morning I woke up with the worst case of stomach flu I’ve experienced in a decade.

I was determined to get our apartment decorated for Christmas on the off chance that I’d go into labor that weekend. So I woke up and I started hauling boxes of Christmas decorations out into the living room. I barely got the boxes open when I started feeling the kind of profound nausea that I haven’t experienced since the first trimester.

For the next 20 hours, I was sick every other hour. And every time I was sick I thought to myself, “Oh please, don’t let me go into labor until I’m over this. I cannot do it right now.”

I was up most of the night feeling closer to death than I ever have in my life. I was wide awake at 5:30 in the morning when I felt a bizarre pop in my belly. I knew my water had broken. My first thought? “Oh, crap.”

Throughout my pregnancy, I was reassured many times that Hollywood’s portrayal of labor is completely unrealistic. The dramatic moment when the water breaks and everyone rushes to the hospital because the baby is coming NOW? It does not happen. In fact, only 10% of labors begin with broken water. And even then it’s usually more like a trickle than a waterfall.

Well, my water did not trickle. It broke. In the middle of my living room. Just like in the movies. WHOOSH. And then it broke several more times ALL OVER THE HOUSE. I have no idea how I was carrying around so much amniotic fluid, but I lost at least two gallons. It was every bit as inconvenient as you would imagine.

I had fallen asleep on the couch in an attempt to keep my stomach flu germs away from Tony. So I went into our bedroom and woke him up with a very sincere, “My water just broke. Oh my God, I cannot have a baby today.”

I was exhausted. I hadn’t eaten in a full 24 hours. I knew I was likely incredibly dehydrated. But once your water breaks, you’ve got about 24 hours to get the baby out. So I tried to put on my game face.

I called to let my midwife know that my water broke, and she told me I’d likely have some time since my contractions hadn’t really started yet. She told me to hang out at home, try to get some rest, and drink lots of fluids. I figured I’d have a couple hours before I needed to go to the hospital.

I scurried around doing some last minute things and getting my bags together. Tony took a shower. About 45 minutes later, my contractions suddenly went from zero to every three minutes and INTENSE. I knew then that I would not have several hours. Just like in the movies, we needed to leave NOW.

Tony is generally a pretty cautious driver, but we had a 30-minute drive to the hospital, and we made it there in about 15 minutes. Tony said later, “I was so hoping we’d get pulled over so I could dramatically tell the officer that my wife was in labor.”

We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 a.m. Just as I suspected, I was severely dehydrated, so I was given IV fluids. I was also having a remarkably fast labor. I dilated from 4 cm to 7 cm in under an hour. Because of the speed of my labor and the extreme fatigue and dehydration from the stomach flu, I was not managing my pain well. I was shaking pretty violently — I’m not sure if it was because of the pain or because of the fatigue and dehydration.

Despite my hopes for an unmedicated birth, I asked for an epidural. Tony and my midwife remained confident that I could do this without it. I knew that I couldn’t. I was just too weak from the illness, the dehydration, and the fact that I hadn’t eaten in over a day.

There are many things that contributed to my decision to go ahead with the epidural, but the biggest reason was the speed of my labor. I’d already reached 7 cm before I requested the medication, and my labor was moving along like a freight train. One of my biggest fears about the epidural was that it would stall labor, which would require labor augmentation drugs, which could lead to fetal distress, which could lead to a C-section. Since I was already at 7 cm and moving so fast, I knew I was pretty unlikely to need further intervention beyond the epidural. So I went for it.

I received a very low dose epidural. I was still able to feel my contractions, but the pain subsided enough that I could focus. I finally stopped shaking. The IV fluids began to reverse my dehydration, and that gave me a little strength.

Honestly, though? The biggest source of my strength during labor despite my weakened, ill state was an incredible desire to get this baby OUT. I was so done being pregnant and so ready to meet my baby. I knew the ordeal of pregnancy was almost over, and I was willing to do anything it took to get to the finish line as quickly as possible.

We had called my mom when we first headed to the hospital. She lives an hour and a half away, but she figured she had some time to get up and moving. Three hours later, I was 10 cm, and she hadn’t arrived.

When my midwife told me it was time to start pushing, I asked how long we had. She told me, “First time moms can push up to 2 hours. Your mom has some time.”

Fifteen minutes later, my midwife leaned over to Tony and said, “Just how important is it that her mom get here? Because this baby is coming fast.”

Thankfully, my mom arrived a few minutes after that. Just thirty minutes later, I was holding my little boy. Two hours of pushing? Pfft. No thanks. I got him out in 45 minutes.

From the start of my contractions to Judah’s birth, my labor lasted under four hours. Yikes! Thankfully, I required absolutely no intervention beyond the epidural. However, I do not recommend fast labor. It is incredibly intense. If I had a choice, I would have added another four hours or so to space the contractions out a little and give me some time to prepare myself.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end here. But typing with a baby in my lap isn’t so easy, so I suppose now is a good time to take a break. More on Judah’s exciting first days later!


So I bet when I didn’t post yesterday, some of you wondered if my next post would be an adorable picture of my baby. Especially since Sunday night was the full moon.

HA. Nope. Still pregnant! Despite my wishing, hoping, and guessing that he’d come yesterday sometime.

We had a lovely weekend that included an early Thanksgiving celebration with Tony’s family. They came to us since I’ll be too close to my due date this weekend to travel several hours from home. Tony made the most delicious Thanksgiving dinner, and I once again reminded myself what a good move it was to marry a man who can cook (take note, single girls).

I’ve been having irregular contractions on and off since Sunday evening. In fact, I honestly thought I’d be heading to the hospital early Sunday morning when they suddenly fizzled out. Boo.

The contractions returned throughout the day yesterday, but stopped again in the late afternoon. So Tony and I took a long walk, and then we went to 25 cent wings night in the hopes that the old wives’ tale about spicy foods and labor holds some truth (it does not in my case).

Hopefully these contractions are a good sign that things are progressing, and the baby will be here sometime before his due date. I know this week is probably asking too much, but I’ve already eaten Thanksgiving dinner so I’d be totally okay with spending the holiday in the hospital if it means leaving with my baby. But really, I’ll be okay with it as long as he comes before December 9th.

I hope he’s reading this.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, head over to this post and make a guess about when he’ll arrive.

So close yet so far away

Today I’m 37 weeks pregnant. That means I’m medically considered “full term.” At this point, baby is pretty much done with all of his major development. For the next few weeks, he’ll just be gaining weight.

Since big babies run in both of our families and rough estimates from my midwives have already determined he’s likely on the large side, I’d really rather he didn’t stick around too long to gain too much weight.

I figured now would be a good time for all of my lovely readers to make some guesses! Here’s some information to help you:

  • I’ve only had two ultrasounds — a very early one around 9 or 10 weeks, and an anatomy scan at 18 weeks which pretty clearly showed a boy. But I guess we won’t be 100% sure until he’s born. (Sure hoping it’s a boy, though, or a girl who really likes blue and green.)
  • Tony was close to 10 pounds at birth, and I’m pretty sure he was born after 40 weeks. I was born on my due date, and I weighed roughly 8 and a half pounds.
  • My belly has measured exactly 2 weeks ahead consistently since they started measuring at around 20 weeks.
  • My original due date was December 5 based on measurements taken during the initial ultrasound. I’ve been told this is a pretty accurate way to estimate due dates, but I felt like the dates were off, so I talked them into pushing my due date up to December 9 to avoid an early induction.
  • *TMI alert* At my appointment last week (11 days ago), I was 2 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and the baby was at -1 station (almost completely dropped). In the past week, changes in his movement patterns and increased pain and pressure lead me to believe he’s dropped even lower. My midwife at this week’s appointment felt my belly from the outside, and said it feels like he’s pretty locked in, so I’m guessing he’s at 0 or lower at this point (completely dropped and in position for birth).
  • Most babies are not born on their due dates. He could come at any time between 37 and 42 weeks. My midwives won’t let my pregnancy go past 42 weeks, so December 23 is the latest he can be born.
  • I plan to let baby come on his own without any induction methods unless it becomes medically necessary, which is unlikely unless I go all the way to 42 weeks.
  • The full moon this month is this Sunday, November 21.

Here are my guesses:

Gender: Boy
Birthday: November 22
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Weight: 8 pounds, 2 oz.
Length: 19 inches

I think that’s more wishful thinking than actual guesses, though. :) Now make your guesses!

Photo by photosavvy

I think I might be nesting

One of the most noticeable pregnancy symptoms I’ve faced (one of them) is extreme fatigue. I was told myths about a burst of energy at some point in the second trimester. I never experienced it. As my due date rapidly approaches (21 days!), I’ve been wondering if I’d experience the pre-labor burst of energy accompanied by the “nesting” urge.

While the extra energy has yet to arrive, the nesting instinct is in full force. I just take lots of breaks (and naps) in between getting things ready.

Last week, Tony came home from work to find me knee deep in piles and piles of baby laundry. Clothing, bedding, towels, blankets, all of it. He asked, “Is this a bored thing or is it a nesting thing?” At this point, I don’t really know the difference. I’m constantly adding new things to my to-do list, but most days I’m lucky if I have the energy to check off one or two things.

I guess the last couple weeks I’ve come closer to a “burst” of energy than I have in the entire 9 months I’ve been pregnant. The baby laundry is washed and organized in his closet and dresser, the diapers are pre-washed (despite the fact that we probably won’t need those until a few weeks after the baby is born), and as of last night my hospital bags are finally packed.

Yesterday I woke up, looked at my floors, and decided they needed to be mopped. We have a Swiffer WetJet that we normally use to keep the floors clean. But no. Yesterday the Swiffer would not do. The floors were dirty, and they required the kind of mopping that can only be accomplished with a bucket, scrubber, and a lot of elbow grease.

So I filled up a bucket, painfully lowered my 9-months pregnant self to the floor, and scrubbed both bathrooms and the kitchen. On my hands and knees.

An hour later when my lower back was screaming at me in angry pain, I regretted the decision. But my floors are clean! You know, in case I decide to let my newborn infant roll around on the bathroom floor and/or lick it. People do that, right?

I better make sure the toilet bowl is thoroughly disinfected in case he wants to drink some toilet water. You can never be too prepared!

Photo by robertvega

Oh, health insurance. Why must you be so difficult?

With baby due in the next month, I finally decided to stop living in denial and start dealing with the issue of health insurance for him. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple situation. Because I’m currently covered through my former employer’s insurance on COBRA and my husband is covered by a private insurance policy, we’re trying to figure out the most affordable way to provide coverage for the new baby.

I’m waiting on a quote from my COBRA insurance, but I’m pessimistic about cost. When I first started working at the company, the cost to add only my husband to my insurance plan was over $300. That’s why he ended up with a private insurance policy. Not to mention, my COBRA coverage will run out October 2011. I’d prefer that the baby have something more stable.

My husband’s policy was due for renewal this month, so we were also able to examine his coverage and make some changes. We were paying about $175 a month for pretty comprehensive coverage with a $2,500 deductible. He’s had the policy for three years, and he hasn’t had a single claim — fortunately. However, because we have money in savings and most hospitals are willing to work out a payment plan for high medical bills, we decided that we could safely reduce his yearly deductible.

We chose a plan with a $5,000 deductible. Unfortunately, we’ll have to pay 100% of his health costs up to the deductible, but beyond that, he will be covered 100%. So our maximum out-of-pocket costs for a year will be $5,000. Preventative care such as routine physicals will be covered 100% with no deductible. This reduced his premium by $100 a month.

If we decide to add the baby to his policy, their combined premium will be $250 — an increase of only $75 a month for our total health insurance costs. Well-baby care will be covered 100% as preventative care. That means all of the baby’s check-ups and immunizations will be covered with no out-of-pocket cost, but anything beyond that we’ll have to pay up to $5,000. Between our emergency fund and the option of a payment plan for more expensive medical costs, I’m comfortable with carrying a higher deductible. I’m also much more comfortable with a $75 premium increase instead of $300 a month.

This will hopefully be a temporary fix. I’ve been unable to apply for private coverage since I left my job due to the pregnancy — most private plans don’t even offer maternity coverage, let alone coverage for an existing pregnancy. Once the baby is born, I hope to find an affordable private policy for our entire family. I’ve received some quotes for $300-$400 for comparable coverage for all three of us, but until I can actually apply I won’t know any solid numbers.

The application process for private health insurance is long and arduous, so the baby will need to be added to my husband’s policy immediately to avoid a lapse in coverage. My fingers are crossed that I’ll be approved for a private policy so I can reduce the monthly payment I’m making.


If you have a job that provides you with health insurance benefits, don’t take it for granted. My husband’s employer doesn’t provide health insurance, and I’m self-employed, so dealing with health insurance is a complete nightmare. I’m just relieved that we found a solution that will keep all of us covered without costing us a fortune.

If you’re currently uninsured, do yourself a favor and look into private coverage. Depending on your medical history, you may qualify for surprisingly affordable coverage. Unfortunately, if you have pre-existing conditions, you may have to wait until health insurance reform takes effect in 2014 to qualify for private coverage. If you’ve been uninsured for at least 6 months, though, you may qualify for health insurance through your state’s high risk pool. You can find more information on your options here.

Photo by mkmabus