I’m having a lot of trouble getting into my pregnancy. So for those of you who can’t imagine anything other than joy at finally achieving a pregnancy—with twins no less—feel free to skip this post. Because I’m pregnant after four years of trying, and all I feel is scared, desperate, and as always, sick to my stomach.
This conversation is about money. So if you’re uncomfortable about that, oh well, this is my blog. Because right now all I can think about is money.
I grew up really fucking poor. Poor enough that ordering out for pizza was a luxury in my family, and I was forced to try to dress myself all through junior high and high school on practically nothing. (Thank god for goth and grunge!) I was flat broke in college, and even more so in law school. By the time I got out of law school I was $110,000 under on student loans, and another $20,000 under on my credit cards, with no full-time job in sight. And then J graduated from design school with another $65,000 in student loans and even worse earning potential.
Ten years later and we’re starting to see the light. We still owe more than $140,000 in student loans, but we own a house and have rehabilitated our credit. We go out to the movies when we feel like it and have HD TV without feeling guilty. We’ve even saved a little, enough that we’ve been able to afford three years of fertility treatment with only a $21,000 loan for the IVF flat rate.
And now that we’re here, now that we’ve reached our ultimate goal, all that is about to come crashing down upon our heads. Because in the next five years we’re probably going to pay more than $100,000 in child care. $100,000! Enough to put me through law school all over me again. Or, more accurately, to smother me with another life-sucking, panic-inducing, soul-crushing debt like my student loans. If I could even get that much of a loan. (Do they give out day care loans? How far will they extend my home equity line of credit—already under $21K for IVF—when home values have dropped so far?) How am I ever going to come up with this kind of money?
A day care center is pretty much out of the question. The going rate around here is $300 per kid per week. Which amounts to about $30,000 a year. Maybe a nanny would be cheaper—if somehow J can manage to be home most Mondays we could try to find a 4-day-a-week nanny for $400 a week or so. Sure, I could find a nanny for a bit less, but I’d be risking my career by hiring an illegal. There is a chance that we can find a “family day care provider,” a woman who takes up to 8 kids into her home at once. But the one person I called sounded so stupid on the phone she completely freaked me out. Even if we can find placement for two at a place like this, can I really trust one person taking care of 8 kids to handle my two small babies? And will we have to split them up into different homes to get them placed?
And for any of you who think I shouldn’t be thinking about this yet, guess what? The waiting list for day care for infants at most places is 12-18 months. At least. So I can’t afford to wait until I’m less freaked out about my pregnancy.
On top of all that, I keep hearing such terrifying things about a twin pregnancy. Leaving aside the specter of super-preemies, two people, one of them my nurse, have told me that there is no way I’ll be able to work the entire pregnancy. A woman in my chiropractor’s office told me that everyone she knew who was pregnant with twins had to stop working after 5 or 6 months. But I can’t stop working—I make somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of our entire household income! I don’t even have enough leave to pay for the maternity leave I plan on taking AFTER the babies are born. So how am I going to survive if I burn all me leave before they even get here? I can’t even think about how fast we’ll go into the hole if I have to take unpaid maternity leave. I’m sure I could work a few weeks from home at the very end, but if this turns into something more than that I’m fucked. So again, all I keep hearing about is ways in which I can’t afford this.
I want to be happy about this pregnancy. I want to just shrug my shoulders and say “oh well, these things will work themselves out.” But I’m not sure they will. Will I look back at these last few years as the only years of my life that I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if I can afford to go to the movies or buy myself a new pair of jeans? Did I dig myself out of a lifetime of poverty only to get sucked right back down into it?
I’m so jealous of people with money. Sometimes I’m just sick with envy. When I told my sister about my childcare concerns she wrote back that, yes, it’s really hard. That when she was paying for a nanny one day she reached into her account and there was no money left. And all I could think of was: what did you do then? You reached into that giant family trust fund your husband has. What am I going to do when the bank account runs dry? I have no trust fund. I have no parents who can bail me out. I have no backup.
I think some of this funk must be hormones, which are sloshing around in my body like crazy. And a lot of it is probably due to the fact that I’m exhausted and nauseous. I haven’t slept through the night in two weeks—I have to get up every 2-3 hours to eat something.
I want to be happy. I feel like there must be something wrong with me. Because I’m not happy right now. Oh, I’m not sorry we did this. I know it was what I wanted. But all I feel right now is scared.