Because I am an insane planner (and my husband is too) we approached getting ready for a baby in a very systematic way. Take what you see on Sixteen and Pregnant and do the opposite and that would be us. So what kind of planning went into leading up to this moment? Let's get in the time machine and travel back to 2006.
Right after we got married in August 2006 we started looking at houses. We quickly discovered we did not want to purchase a condo that we could have maybe one kid in, so we focused our search on three-bedroom townhouses that we could live in for at least a decade and that could easily accommodate two kids. By November 2006 we found our home and by December 2006 we were moving in. Back in 2006 we said we would live here at least seven years. Now that we're approaching the five-year mark we are saying we'll stay here for at least another 10 years. Of course, who really knows. Right now we love our house's size, the location, the design, the outdoor space. And we hate moving.
After spending a huge chunk of our life savings on the down payment and buying the requisite new-house furniture, we realized we needed to get back into the saving game. So we started keeping a budget (which is difficult to do until you've lived in your new home for at least six months, we discovered, at which point we had a better idea regarding how much we'd spend every month not just on big-ticket items like the mortgage, but smaller, flexible items like the gas bill, the electric bill, the water bill that change seasonally). We started saving a little. Then I freaked out and made a spreadsheet titled "Can We Ever Afford Kids" where I tracked our monthly spending down to every last penny. The answer, of course, is that yes, we can afford kids, but we'd probably be happier if we saved more money. So by mid-2009 I signed up for Mint.com (you can read about my experiences here) and started playing around with the budget again. With discipline and a little healthy financial obsession, eventually we tripled the amount we save every month.
We also met with our financial planner. We showed him the "Can We Ever Afford Kids" spreadsheet that tracks our proposed financial lives through 2020 (which is easier to do when you're both teachers and you know that even when you do get a raise, it won't be that significant of an improvement from year to year). One of the best moments of my financial life came when our financial planner asked me if I teach economics courses because the numbers he came up with regarding our financial futures were nearly identical to what I calculated. No sir, I don't teach economics, but I do invest a lot of time in my money.
My greatest fear in life used to be childbirth. So I decided I better find out What to Expect before I agreed to take this plunge. I spent winter break of 2008 reading the pregnancy perennial classics, What to Expect When You're Expecting and The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy. I knew it wasn't glamorous, I learned a decent amount and I was happy to be informed (though, frankly by paying careful attention any time a pregnant lady/lady with children bemoaned pregnancy, labor and raising children, I listened intently and asked lots of questions and probably learned more from that than from these books). I also read everything I could find on sites like The Bump and Baby Center, though I exhausted those resources rather quickly (in the last couple of years both sites have added way more specific content).
In August 2009 I made doctor's appointments to make sure everything was OK with my health and that my immunizations were up to speed. I also talked to my doctor about trying to conceive, and she went ahead and had me do the blood work to confirm that I am not a carrier for cystic fibrosis.
Right around the same time as my appointments I told two of my best friends about our plans. I knew that this would all be too much information for me to keep to myself, and I wanted to share my experiences with a couple trusted, close ladies who were of course fascinated to vicariously experience this.
If you've been following the timeline, you may have figured out that not everything went according to plan. And that's where the story takes its inevitable twist. More on that tomorrow...