Lessons learned from having a baby (so far)

Thinking about having a baby?

Our first-born is now just about 4 weeks old, and as parents of a newborn, here are some things we learned/wish we had known in the past few months:

Babies Are Expensive

When we first seriously considered pregnancy, it seems like the concensus was that a baby costs about $5,000. I can’t think of any specific time when someone told us that, but I feel like we heard it a lot. For some reason, I had it in my head that a baby costs about five grand, so you want good insurance to cover most of that.

…not so.

So far (I hope the bill we got yesterday was the last one), Big J’s price tag (just to be born) is up to about $17,000.

That breaks down roughly as follows:

  • $5,000 for the doctor including all appointments along the way.
  • Around $1,000 for various blood tests all throughout the pregnancy.
  • Almost $10,000 for the hospital’s portion, including 3 days at the hospital, some blood tests, circumcission ($1,800 all by itself) and various one-line expenses like “lactation training”.
  • Another $1,400 for an epidural (they don’t mention that when they give it to you :0)

And this was a very healthy pregnancy with no complications. Throw in an emergency c-section, a couple extra days at the hospital, or even a couple days in the neo-natal ICU, and you can get over $50,000 pretty quick (according to a good friends’ experience).

You should also be prepared to pay your hospital bill before you check out. This came as kind of a shock to me. I was sitting in our room with Steph and her dad and this nurse came in and asked if I was the husband. Then she looked at Steph’s dad and asked, “Do you feel comfortable discussing your finances in front of him?” Once I gave her the green light, she presented me with our hospital bill and asked to be paid on-the-spot. This seemed very, very tacky to me. I wish I had known so I could have a check ready or something…

Now, by God’s grace, my new job has some really good insurance, but even still, our part came out around $1,100, which was a bit more than I expected. And if I was still working at my old job, I think our part would be more like $2,000. (thank You Jesus!)

So, don’t let that scare you off. He is totally worth it! I would go into debt up to my eyeballs to get my hands on this kid, and I remember that every time I look at him. But it helps to leap with your eyes wide open.

Everyone Wants To Give You Advice

At each stop of maternity, and especially after the baby is born, everyone you know will want to give you advice about how to take care of a child. Everyone. People who have never even had kids will be telling you how to raise your kid. A telemarketer could call and hear the baby cry in the background and she’ll start giving you advice about why the baby is crying and how to fix it…

What’s really entertaining about this, is that half of the advice directly conflicts with the other half. And it usually goes like this, “I know that some people think (x), but when (so and so) was a baby, we did (y) and I think it was a really good idea.” Then the next day, another person, “I know some people will encourage you to do (y), but we read a book that (x) is better for (this or that).”

This can get somewhat frustrating though, because every conversation becomes sort of the same. They ask how the baby is doing, and then, if you’re not patronizing, you tell the truth and say he’s kind of fussy sometimes and he has a diaper rash (or whatever). And then the rest of the conversation is their best effort at educating you about how to fix the fussiness and the diaper rash.

This advice is all very helpful in the end, but you can start to develop a bit of a complex that everyone you know thinks you’re an idiot.

Just be prepared…

The ‘Due Date’ Is Just A Guess

I was really surprised by this one… you find out that you’re pregnant and immediately you want to know the due date, so you get online and find a dozen websites that will calculate it for you. So you punch in the info and you have a due date! Then, you go to the doctor and they do a urine sample AND a blood test and come back and give you an exact date that your baby is due…. and it’s different than the website said. Then, you get a maternity calendar at Walmart and spend hours filling in all the pages until you realize that it’s got you on track for yet another due date…

Is this a joke?

No, it just turns out that there are a couple of x-factors. One is that the website and the calendar might be using the rule of thumb that pregnancy lasts 9 months, which is close, but not exactly true. Furthermore, one might be using 30-day months while the other might actually be using a calendar to calculate the number of days in each month between now and the ‘due date’. In actuality, a baby is due 40 weeks after the beginning of the last menstrual cycle, which is where the ambiguity comes from.

On top of all of this, a baby is considered ‘full term’ beginning at 37 weeks, and doctors don’t really worry about a baby being ‘overdue’ until 42 weeks.

That means that for potentially 5 weeks you can wake up every day and think, “Today I’m going to get ready and go to work and then go to Bible study and then come home… unless we have a baby today… in which case my whole life is going to change.” For a month your answer to every invitation is, “Sure, we can come, unless we’re in labor.”

You’ll Need a Doctor, A Pediatrician, and a Hospital

It never occurred to me that these are completely independent, but I guess it makes sense. You need to find a doctor for the momma, who may or may not make arrangements for the hospital where you will deliver the baby. Either way, if you are unfamiliar with the hospital, you should arrange to take a tour so you’re not freaking out on the day you come in labor.

You also need to choose a pediatrician and make arrangements in advance for them to come and see the baby at the hospital.

According To The Government, A Baby Doesn’t Exist For 6-12 Weeks

That’s how long it takes to get back a birth certificate with a social security number on it….

That might seem silly, but keep in mind that if your kid is born in December and you plan on claiming him on your taxes, you’ll need that SSN by mid-march ;0)

Or, let’s say you’re a missionary and you come home to give birth. It might take a while to get his passport…

They also wanted his SSN when I tried to add him to our insurance policy, but once I explained everything, they were happy to add him and wait for the SSN.

Little Boys Pee On Everything

Everything. They’re like territorial dogs. You can watch them and know that they just emptied the sum of their internal organs into their diaper, but when you go to change that diaper, you better watch out ’cause they’re looking to get you.

They say that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble. That may be true, but their bladder must be the size of a grapefruit….

And they’re ruthless! They don’t care if they pee on themselves as long as they pee on you. In fact, I think they often pee on themselves on purpose. It’s a trick, because then, while you’re scrambling to get a handle on things and clean them up, they have a chance to do some real damage: projectile poo.

This is why I say to you single guys who think you’re too macho or whatever to get married and settle down and be a daddy: hah!

Babies Are Expensive

Besides all the fun doctor bills, babies also come with a long list of stuff you gotta get. Now, this is where, by God’s grace, our friends and family have been such an amazing blessing! We only paid for 2 things on J’s list. Everything else came from the generosity of our friends and family.

It was ridiculous.

For weeks we would come to church to worship and see friends and we would leave with the car loaded down with baby stuff.

They threw TWO baby showers for us.

Such a blessing!

But, just as a head’s up, here are some of the things you might want to think about:

  • Changing table
  • Dresser
  • Crib
  • Bassinet
  • Clothes
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Linens
  • Bath stuff
  • Car seat
  • Stroller
  • Rocker/Glider
  • Toys
  • Feeding stuff (bottles, breast pump, etc)
  • High chair
  • Baby clothes
  • Supplies to decorate the nursery
  • Maternity stuff

Let’s see…. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m outta time for now. I guess there will have to be a part 2.

What advice do you have for parents-to-be? Or, what questions do you have as parents-to-be?

4 comments

  1. Whoa, friend. That was a whopper–but quite informative. I made Matt turn off the Christmas tunes so I could read this to him–mostly the first part. Holy Cow… had no idea. But, truthfully, thanks for sharing all of that.

  2. Best advice ever – stay on your face before the Lord, seriously live Proverbs 3:5-6 (and all other related scripture about letting God have total control), be able to laugh at yourselves (heartily – I do it all the time), LET GOD HAVE TOTAL CONTROL, and when you forget to let God have total control because you are sleep deprived, frustrated, and you flesh out, remember Romans 8:1.

  3. Sounds like you are getting the hang of the daddy thing!! I like how you mentioned that Babies are expensive twice–it is so true!! That’s why I told Stephanie (before she had the baby) to clean out the hospital room!! Take everything in there, b/c they will charge you for it, with those one-line charges like “baby supplies” (diapers, wipes), or pain medication (which is really just Ibuprofin, that you can easily purchase at walmart for about 3 dollars).

    The peeing on everything stage gets better…or maybe you just learn to go really fast when the diaper is off. Ethan is 4 months and he still projectile poos!! We call it diaper explosions.

    About the fussy thing…sometimes they just fuss and no amount of “good advice” will help. It is just what babies do.

    Hope all is going well. Andrew and I would love to get together with you guys sometime soon. Maybe after the holiday season…?

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