Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
- all baby laundry is washed, folded, and put away - newborn and 0-3 month clothes, boppies, blankets, burp cloths, bibs, sheets, toys, play mat, sling, towels, wash cloths, cloth baby wipes, Halloween costumes, etc.
- we took our computer to best buy for repair
- we went to the thrift store
- car service appointment
- reorganized our filing cabinet, filed papers, shredded papers
- spring cleaned living and dining room
- hung frame in living room
- went to hardware store to get wall mounting for a plate
- hung plate in dining room
- set up play pen
- moved co-sleeper into baby room
- our personal laundry is washed but not yet folded
- maybe more that I can't remember
I even cooked lunch and dinner for us.
Then on Sunday I woke up at 9am exhausted. I could barely wake up, I made it through church, out to lunch, bathing suit shopping for K. She kept asking me how I was doing and I'd say "okay" and she'd say "really?" and I'd say "tired". Then as we were leaving Sears, she asked how I was doing - we were headed to Target - and I said "tired" and she said "are you crying?" I was so tired I started to cry. I had told her that we could do whatever she wanted since she put up with me on Saturday and I really didn't want us to go home but I was exhausted. Saturday wore me out. So K said we were going home, and I protested, but I really was tired. I came home and crashed.
That nesting impulse is really crazy, a total surge of energy. If I hadn't sat down, who knows how late into the night I would have gone. I was a crazy woman! But at least we got a lot done.
Friday, March 27, 2009
But the thing that's been getting me down lately is that I want to travel. We've been really lucky to be able to travel a lot since college. I wouldn't even call it lucky - we worked hard and saved our money very strictly so that we could afford to travel a lot. We've been to 4 countries, we've been all over the US, we have a yearly college friends reunion somewhere in the country. We're always planning to go somewhere. But now we're not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. It's not that we don't think you can travel with children - you totally can. My parents took a family vacation every year and that's how I saw much of the US growing up. I'm excited to travel with our children. It's the money.
We were thinking we might go on an Alaskan cruise before the baby turns 2, since the baby would be essentially free. But now we're thinking an Alaskan cruise costs about as much as it might cost us to get pregnant again - or maybe getting pregnant will cost even more since I'll be older this time. We had also talked about going back to our honeymoon location, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for our fifth wedding anniversary in March next year. Without knowing how much it will cost to get pregnant, we can't really justify spending money on a big vacation. Even if we vacation in our typical cheap fashion, it's still thousands of dollars that we really shouldn't spend.
There just won't be as much money to save as there was - with child care and added insurance costs and whatever expenses that we don't even know about yet along with reduced paychecks during the 5-6 months of maternity leave between us.
We'd really like to go down to FL to introduce the baby to our grandparents that don't travel, but that's not exactly a vacation so I don't count it. Visiting family is a duty, an obligation, and sometimes work, it's not a vacation. We'll hopefully get together with our college friends for Labor Day, but it would be nice for one of them to plan it since we'll be busy with the baby, but that's unlikely. And strangely, getting our friends to commit in advance is next to impossible even though they all say they want to go, so planning it really is a lot of work.
I've latched onto our anniversary next year, almost a year away. We didn't do anything for our anniversary this year, trying to save money, and we always go away for our annivesary. I've said many times that we must get away next year, even if only for one night. So the thing getting me through is that I know in a year we will get to go somewhere for just one night. That's not a lot to hold onto.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
But we did get something from that dinner. We asked how long they were planning to stay home with the baby. They said they each planned to take 3 months off, consecutively so that the baby had someone home with her for 6 months total before having to be placed in day care. We thought that idea was awesome and said 'we are totally doing that!' The child stays out of day care for longer and both moms get to bond with the newborn. So we've always been planning to do this.
Then the economy went to shit. K's job started doing layoffs. She's survived the layoffs and they say no more layoffs, so it looks like she's okay for now. Then they put a freeze on hiring contractors, which means if she leaves her work for 3 months, they cannot hire a contractor to fill in for her. Then the director of her department left and they have a hiring freeze, so he will not be replaced. This means her small department went from 3 people to 2 people, and each of them are now working much harder without a director. So if she takes three months off, her department shrinks to 1 person, and that person cannot hire a contractor to help. We started thinking we were fucked.
We've been planning for me to take my full three months off allowed by law. I'm birthing a baby here so there's no question of what's allowed for me. Also my work is just different - there are 70 people with the same job as me that can fill in for me while I'm gone. Basically, I told my bosses 6 months in advance that I will be unavailable for three months over the summer and they started shifting my work to other people. No problem at all. It makes me feel kind of unimportant but at least it's easy.
Then K started doing her research. She went to HR and asked 'what's available for me?' very innocently, but ready to fight if needed. And she started at the top - a meeting with the HR director and not one of the underlings. Thankfully, the HR director was very supportive, and K didn't have to fight at all. She said that K offered her a challenge as she had never worked with leave for a same-sex partner adopting her partner's biological child. She said that K was eligible for FMLA - the full three months of unpaid leave. And also K was eligible for the paid adoption leave offered by the company - one month of her FMLA paid. Awesome.
Now that she new her rights and decided she was going to go for the full time allotted to her, she needed to break it to her boss. K wrote an 'adoption leave plan' that spelled out how much time she was taking off and approximately when and submitted it to her boss on Tuesday. Today she had a talk with her boss about the plan and all went well! The boss is supportive. We were doubtful because the boss is a superhard worker - works weekends and evenings and while she is on vacation. But she surprised us and was super-supportive. She even said that she felt that it was important for K to have that time at home to bond with the baby.
So we're excited. We get what we wanted. Life is good.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
K is reading The Birth Partner by Peggy Simkin, recommended by our Birth Works instructor and friends of ours. She's also reading about the basics of child care - Caring for Your Baby and Young Child Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics (a hand-me-down from my sister) and The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears (a gift from her co-worker).
Up next on my list are Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins (recommended by The Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington and by friends), Vegetarian Baby by Sharon Yntema and The Vegetarian Mother and Baby Book by Rose Elliot (both hand-me-downs from a friend).
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
We got a nice surprise today. My insurance covers our birthing class. So we'll get that $250 back. Definitely a nice surprise.
Now, here are the pictures of our nursery.
On the wall to the left - some of K's collection of unopened Star Wars figurines.
To the left - the mobile from my crib 30 years ago. On the wall to the left - a frame signed by everyone who attended our family baby showers. To the right - a picture from our recent trip to Australia of us cuddling a koala.
The two shelves are filled with things from our childhood. To the right is a framed Star Wars poster. To the right of that is a painting K did for me in college of They Might Be Giants playing instruments under a tree. To the left on the window sill - a painting K did inspired by the song Here Comes the Sun. On the futon - a blanket knitted by my aunt.
On the closet door - a cross-stitched quilt made by my mom. Framed on the wall - the first edition of the Star Wars comic book made in 1977. On the stand - a ceramic lamp painted by my mom when I was a kid.
Monday, March 23, 2009
We were able to get our nursery completely set up. It still needs to be cleaned and everything needs to be washed, but the decorations are now on the walls. It looks really great. We love it. And with everything finally put away, the room feels really large. It was starting to look really small and cramped with all of that stuff, but now it looks large again, which is very nice. I'll post pictures soon. Our camera died when we were trying to take pictures of the finished product, so we had to recharge.
The coordinator for the classes at the hospital called to apologize for the horrible treatment we received from the security guard. Our class was refunded and she gave me her personal cell phone number in case we had any questions about caring for our baby, before or after birth. She was very kind and very apologetic.
Besides this we dined at our favorite Burmese restaurant, had lunch with friends at a new Vietnamese restaurant, had dinner with friends at a Mexican joint, watched the TMBG Here Come the 123s DVD we received as a shower gift with our friends and their kids, watched Girls Rock! on DVD, and in general had a fun, relaxing, and productive weekend.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The class didn't start out so well though, and it puts us in a grumpy mood for the beginning of the course, even though the teacher was great and very nice. The class was offered at the Shady Grove Hospital Support Center, which is rented space in a larger office building. Since the class was at night, the door was locked and a security guard was signing people in. The guard was an older man. Class was at 7pm and we arrived about 5 minutes early. There was a couple that entered before us and a couple that was arriving just behind us. The guard let the couple in front of us in with no problems. When we got to the door and knocked, the security guard gave us a strange look, walked over the door cautiously, cracked the door, and asked why were were there. I said "We're here for the class for Shady Grove Hospital." He looked confused, said things like "What? Huh? A class?" The door remained only cracked and we were being treated like dangerous people that shouldn't be let in. Then his face changes and he says "Oh, you're here for the baby thing?" We agreed and he let us in. Another couple was there behind us at that point and he let them in without question. While we were signing in, I asked "So all of these couples are here for the baby class. Why were you so confused and acting like you'd never heard of the class before and not letting us in?" He said, "Oh, I was confused because I was expecting couples." I said, "But we are a couple - wife and wife." He looked really upset, turned away with shock/disgust, and talked to the couple that arrived behind us. I said "So where is the class located?" He mumbled his answer while looking in a completely different direction and refused to look at us again. Then we got to class and saw two single women and a handful of male/female couples. Did the single women get the same rough treatment we got? We really felt like he was afraid of us, like we were trying to break into the building, when he wouldn't even crack the door for us. And we definitely felt like once we told him we were a couple he was disgusted and shocked. We saw the treatment he gave the couple behind us and in front of us and he definitely treated them with respect. You can believe whatever you want about people but you have to treat everyone with respect. And I just don't get the confusion. There is no mistaking the fact that I am pregnant, and if you know that there is a baby class and you see a pregnant woman at the door, no matter who she is with, you should assume she's part of the class.
This really put us in a sour mood and we walked into class ready to be annoyed, but the teacher was wonderful. She almost always said 'Moms and coaches' or 'Moms and partners' instead of 'Moms and Dads'. She treated us just like the other couples in the room. It took us a while to warm up to her, but there was no reason for that because she was wonderful. It's sad that one person can ruin your whole experience like that, when all we want to do is learn about our baby just like everyone else.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Tonight is our Baby Care Basics class, then it's a thankfully quiet week from there.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
1. Having a baby. It's not a given that K will be the legal parent of this child. We have to petition the court for this right, and they could deny it, and do for many couples, and in many states they don't allow it at all. Then K would not be able to take this baby to the doctor, to take the child to the hospital if there is an emergency, to pick up the child from school without my permission, to decide which school the child goes to. Also, if I were to die, our children would be legally given to my parents and taken away from K as she would not be considered their legal parent. We are currently in the process of creating our petition to the court and we have to gather letters from our friends and family saying K is a good person and will be a good parent, letters from our doctors saying we are healthy, financial statements saying that we can afford to raise this baby, and lots of other documents. Hopefully the petition will be approved before the baby is three months old and K will be the legal parent of this child.
2. Going to the hospital. If one of us gets hit by a car and has to go to the hospital in an emergency, it is not guaranteed that the other will be able to visit. In a time when you want your family the most, your life partner may be denied access to visit you. Hospitals only allow immediate family in emergency situations, and immediate family is defined as parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Since we are not married, we are not spouses and so we are not defined as immediate family. We have legal paperwork that says that in MD/DC/VA we can be considered immediate family, but outside of MD/DC/VA, these papers do not hold. So if we go on vacation just a few hours away to WV or PA, and get into a car accident, we won't be able to see each other in the hospital.
3. Death. For married couples, if one person dies, the other person automatically assumes ownership of the others property. Since we are not married, this is not automatic. We can create wills that say that the partner inherits all property after death. However, because we are not married, we will have to pay taxes on the property we inherit. So, say we own a house together that costs $400,000. We own the house together and have both paid equally for the house. If one of us dies, that person's half of the house ($200,000) will be inherited by the other. The person still living will have to pay 10% inheritance taxes on the worth of that house, which is $20,000. So, because one partner died, the other partner will have to pay $20,000 for a house they already own. This will be very hard financially because that is a lot of money.
4. Social Security. When a person dies, the government pays social security benefits monthly to the spouse for the rest of their life to help cover the cost of the lost income from the person dying. This is a monthly paycheck to replace the paycheck of the person who died. The idea is that a family's expenses don't go down just because some one died - you still have to pay for your house, groceries for yourself and your children, college for your children, and all of the other expenses of life, but not only on one income. So the government helps with social security. However, since we are not married, this doesn't cover us. So if one of us dies, we will not receive this government help, and will have to cover all of our bills with just one income, which may be very hard.
5. Health Insurance. Many people receive health insurance through their work. Some people don't get insurance through work (like real estate agents), or they don't work (like if a mom or dad stays home to take care of children). Those people typically get insurance through their spouse's work. If you are unmarried, you cannot get insurance through your partner's work. Without health insurance, you have to pay full price for any medical procedure. Say you break your arm or get into a car accident - this will cost thousands of dollars, but with insurance it may cost nothing at all or less than $100. Think about something worse, like cancer, which may be a very long and expensive treatment. Without insurance, this would be impossible to pay for.
6. Family medical leave. By federal law, a person is allowed to take three months off of work to care for a family member who is ill. Family members are defined as spouses, parents, and children. Since we are not spouses, this federal law doesn't apply to us. Therefore, say one of us gets hit by a car. The other would not have the right to take time off of work to take care of the other. If we chose to do so, we may get fired from our jobs. Without our jobs, we may be not able to pay for our home, our car, our groceries. Luckily for us, MD has created a state law that extends this federal law, but people in other states are not as lucky.
7. Maternity/Paternity leave. Many companies offer their employees time off to care for their child when it is born. Typically maternity leave is offered for women who give birth and paternity leave is offered for the fathers. For unmarried couples like us, paternity leave does not apply. Therefore, K would not be able to take time off to care for her new born child because we are not married, and I would be stuck at home by myself going crazy. Luckily for us, her company is allowing this but many do not.
Monday, March 9, 2009
I am in the process of reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin and K is going to read The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, both recommended by our instructor. And then we will give birth, hopefully sometime after we finish these books.
March is a pretty packed month for baby stuff. Next weekend we have our Infant CPR course, our baby shower, and our pregnancy support group. Also this month - a breastfeeding course, a baby care course, and two midwife appointments. Lots to squeeze in before we run out of time.
Friday, March 6, 2009
To whom it may concern:
This letter is in regards to the adoption of the child J K will soon be giving birth to by her life partner and wife K K. I met K in 1998 while attending Stetson University where she and my sister J became close friends. K and my sister developed a loving relationship and later decided to become engaged. They formalized their commitment to each other through a religious ceremony in February of 2005.
K has since become a part of our family. K has been a wonderful aunt to my own two children and will certainly be a caring and loving mother to her own. My sister and K have always sought out ways to make my children feel special and loved even though they live in a different state. They also make a point to put family first in their lives.
Even in the early stages of their relationship J and K dreamed of becoming a family and having children. This child has been planned for and prepared for over the course of several years. Many of their decisions, such as where to live and which home to buy, have been based on the dream of someday having children.
I fully support the adoption of baby K by K K. Please make this dream a reality and grant K’s petition for second parent adoption so that she will have the legal status to support her as she becomes a parent.
J A K
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Dear Sir or Madam:
We are writing to express our strong support for K S K in her application for second parent adoption of the baby that her partner, J K, will give birth to this May.
We have attended church with K and J since 2004, first becoming aware of them during the service in which they gave a touching and joyful announcement to the congregation of their plan to hold a religious marriage ceremony. We became friends during the course of many church functions, and since the moment we moved into their neighborhood in early 2007, K and J have assumed a truly prominent and valued role in the life of our family. We see each other frequently and communicate at least several times per week, and we count ourselves lucky to have such good, close friends to rely on and to share our lives.
As we have gotten to know them, K and J have shared the story of their relationship with us. Best friends since age 18, they became a couple late in college and, in the same year, announced their intention of spending their lives together. In 2001 they went through the legal processes to assume the status and protections of marriage to the extent available to a same-sex couple, and in 2005, then both in their mid-twenties, they elected to hold a religious ceremony to celebrate their marriage. They adopted the same last name, and soon after bought a home together. Since then, we’ve watched them plan financially and organize their lives with great intention and anticipation around the goal of raising a baby together. The day that J called and shared the news of her pregnancy was one of the highlights of our year 2008.
During the course of our friendship, and particularly as they prepare for the new addition to their family, we have come to understand with certainty that J and K will be outstanding parents. We have two children, B, who is eight years old, and E, who is six. Although it is not a given that a childless couple will seek out a great deal of interaction with their friends’ children, K and J have taken an active, loving interest in B and E and have been integral parts of their lives over the past few years. J and K have been as good to our children as they have been to us, celebrating holidays and birthdays, inviting them to movies, sleepovers, and other activities. Our children love and respond to both of them as extended family. When asked who they’d like to have watch them when we are away, the answer we get from our children is inevitably, “K and J!”
While the care they have taken to nurture their relationship with our children is a strong indicator of the engaged and caring parents they will both be, we also have indications of the quality and style of parenting J and K will provide their child. Through numerous conversations on the topic, we have come to understand the deliberate thoughtfulness with which they approach parenthood, and they have on several occasions given us excellent suggestions in how to deal with issues we have faced with our children. They observe the parenting styles of everyone around them, and they have articulated well-formed opinions about the manner in which parents’ expectations of their children, their values, and their behavior should be defined and encouraged. Because their observations and conclusions align very closely with our own, we naturally believe that their parenting will be outstanding! More important to note, however, is the characteristic intentionality and thoughtfulness of their approach. The careful deliberation and thought that they have invested in every major decision of their relationship, from legal and financial decisions to the decision to have a child, will carry over to support their success as parents.
We could not be more enthusiastic about recommending both K and J as parents. They are a committed, loving couple who have a tremendous amount to offer their child. Please grant K’s petition for second parent adoption so that she will have the legal status to support her as she becomes a parent to this very lucky child.
M J K and S A W
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Each of us had to complete a questionnaire. Here's my version.
If currently pregnant, due date: May 16, 2009
Was this a planned pregnancy? Yes
If you are employed, what do you do? Statistician
Do you intend to be employed after the baby is born? Yes
What is your marital/relationship status?
What are your hopes for this birth?
Uncomplicated, surrounded by people I can trust to help me make the right decisions, stay positive, don’t get lost in fear
What are your concerns or fears about this birth?
My midwife said I have a small pelvis – I hope this doesn’t cause any trouble. I hope that I can stay positive and not give into fear.
Any physical problems during this pregnancy?
Are you generally healthy or have you often had illnesses or injuries?
Generally healthy, though overweight
Do you plan to breastfeed? Yes
Did your mother or anyone in your family breastfeed? Mother no, but my sister did for both of her children.
At this point, who is your midwife and/or doctor, and where do you plan to give birth?
Midwifery Care Associates giving birth at Shady Grove
Do you exercise? If yes, please describe.
Some. A pregnancy fitness DVD and a pregnancy yoga DVD, though neither often enough.
How do you feel about your eating habits and nutritional status?
Fairly healthy. Recently switched to a very low fat diet to account for gallstones.
What reading have you done about pregnancy and birth?
What to Expect, Vegetarian Pregnancy, Great Expectations, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (in progress)
Have you taken or heard about any other childbirth preparation courses? What was your reaction?
Not taken any others, but heard about them. I’ve heard Lamaze and Hypnotherapy are too specific – work great for some people, but if they don’t work for you, you have nothing to fall back on. Bradley seems unwelcoming of same-sex couples or maybe just unaware (husband-coached) and I’ve heard they produce very large babies.
Why did you choose Birth Works?
Lots of people recommended.
What do you want from this course?
Tips for getting us through childbirth – ways to cope with pain, positions to use during labor and good birthing positions.
How has this pregnancy or previous children affected your relationship with your partner?
She takes care of me now. Before we took care of each other, but now she takes care of me. She’s very supportive but I am aware of the shift in dynamics and try not to take advantage.
Since then we have been rearranging things to the new shelves, moving things out of the nursery closet and into other parts of our home. Yesterday K reworked the linen closet, which now closes! Last night we pulled everything out of the nursery, repacked things into containers, put things in drawers and on shelves, and it's amazing. A room that couldn't be walked in because of all of this random baby crap we've accumulated now has empty closet shelves and drawers.
We still have a list of small home improvement projects to do. We are still decorating the nursery. And we want to do spring cleaning before the baby is born since who knows the next time any cleaning will be done. But we've made major progress thanks to our friends.