You’re having a baby this year. Congrats. You have a LOT to do! If you plan to be a working parent, your list extra special. In the fleeting 9 month run up to giving birth and experiencing love in its most raw form when that baby is placed on your chest for the first time, take some time to do these 3 things that can truly help your post birth life to be slightly less stressful.
- Have close out conversations and documented actions: You’d be surprised how opinionated those closest to you are on decisions about having a baby. Even if you have dated someone for 10 years before getting pregnant, some of their views on diaper changes, epidurals, breast feeding and the birth experience can be shocking. Don’t be that person who finds out on delivery day that mother in law has been promised the opportunity to witness the birth of her ‘granchile’ IN the delivery room. Have close out conversations on aspects of birth and baby’s first year before you go into labour. A close out conversation is a conversation that ends with a decision and action plan. I strongly recommend documenting the decisions and actions. Sounds too rigid? No problem, read this blog after you and your family argue over your “crazy” decision to have baby sleep in his/her room at 8 months old. Pre-birth topics to cover in your close out conversations: Who will be in the delivery room? What support will family members be asked to give before and immediately after birth? Which family members (e.g.: mommy to be may LOVE her mom and expect her to be at the home when baby is born but maybe daddy to be wants his mom to be there – how will this be decided and communicated)? How will sleepless nights be handled? What decisions will be kept private from extended family? Circumcision ok? When will be baptize baby and where/ how? Who will be Godparents? Who will help with laundry? What will be childcare plan? (more on this later) Why document? Trust me, it is important to write down what you discussed and decided – you’d be amazed how quickly family members will do their own thing claiming they “doh remember” conversations or, dismiss your clear decision as “pre baby nonsense”.
- Make a $20,000 Decision: Having a baby is expensive – and I don’t mean the education, feeding part. I mean, actually having the baby. You have some choices that you should explore. Decide on a public vs. private institution for giving birth. That’s a $20,000TTD type decision. That figure can change depending on your doctor, pediatrician (yes – a pediatrician is there for birth in a private facility), choice of an epidural (about $8,000TTD in 2016), room type etc. If you have insurance and are going private, contact your agent and find out up front exactly what is covered. Newsflash, pre-natal visits (around $300-500TT a pop – before ultrasounds) count toward the maximum birth costs covered for many insurance companies in Trinidad. Going to prenatal clinics at public hospitals or health centres in T&T take a lot of time but it sure is less expensive. Make a decision that you can afford. Be practical. Remember there are many (MANY) more expenses that come post baby.
- Explore Child Care Options: In Trinidad and Tobago, the law entitles new mommies to 14 weeks maternity leave. In America you get 6 weeks. Regardless of your location, don’t wait until the last week of leave to ask aunty to take care of baby when mommy goes out to work. Don’t procrastinate on this one and trust me, have a fall back plan for whatever you first decide. For working parents, this is among the most stressful early decisions you will make as new parents.
- First decision: Day Care vs. Home Care. In addition to being a VERY emotional choice, this is a financial one as well. Day Cares are generally less expensive than a paid person caring for your child at home. Family members may also be willing but not necessarily able to care for baby every day or for the hours you need. Further, be sure the family members location is amenable to your daily commute etc and, if its not, decide if you are willing to, as some parents have to, leave baby will family member during the work week. Sigh. Those are the breaks. Some one to care for baby at home can be frightfully pricey. Anywhere from $2000 to $7000 a month depending on your set up. Decision #1 on child care is not easy – hence my advice to start early. We started when I was 3 months pregnant and did not have a final decision until baby was 2 weeks old.
- Option A: Home care by family member: If you are lucky enough to have a willing family member in mind to take care of baby, more than feel that out – explore it in depth and have real conversations with the person to ensure they understand that this will be, in essence, a job that will last, if you are lucky up to 2 years. What hours can they watch the baby? Where will they watch the baby and is that location baby friendly? Who else will be at that location when baby is being taken care of by family member and HOW DO YOU FEEL about the other people (for many this question is a deal breaker)?
- Option B: Home Care with Hired Help: Hello! This can be VERY expensive and finding the right person akin to finding a real life unicorn. To find a person you trust enough to watch the human you co-created is not an easy task. Literally ask EVERYONE you know if they know someone. Referrals are the very best way to find the right person for your family. Get referrals can take months (it took us 3 months to get real referrals) and the interviews can get, well, a little disheartening as the people you will meet will be (no shit talk) dirty nailed, hacking coughing, “only able to wok for tree hours”, TH and G unknowing, non-punctual and uncaring at first. Breathe, interview EVERYONE referred and then make a decision. Oh and um….get ready because baby care is going to send you into your savings account – especially if you live in Western T&T where suddenly people who used to watch the baby with no training are “baby nurses” who have experience. The price differences can be mind boggling too. More on that in subsequent posts.
- Option 3: Day Care: Going with Day Care can be more costly than a family member and requires more advanced work. Visit the Day Cares you have in mind, understand the registration process and services available. Some year’s back I was involved in a project to help a company find a Day Care in POS. Let me tell you, the variance in services, facilities and staff to child ration was mild boggling! Keep in mind that some of the better (read as EXPENSIVE) Day Care establishments have waiting lists. It’s been almost 10 months and two of the places I considered are yet to have an opening! Ensure YOU are comfortable with the location, fee structure, staff etc. before the first day you have to drop baby off. Let’s be honest, you won’t know the Day Care workers from Adam, and these people will, in essence be your co-parents for at least 2 years!
Now, there are tons of other things to do prebaby. Even when you do the three things I mention above you are STILL going to be stressed when that little one is born but at least you will have a semblance of a plan and a the basics of a support system identified to help you navigate the early stages of parenthood.
Anything else to add to this list? Comment below!