Archive for May, 2008

Week 16

May 12, 2008

Baby: Your baby now measures about 4.3 to 4.6 inches from crown to rump and weighs about 2.8 ounces. Fingernails are well-formed and the fine hair, lanugo, may be growing on the head. Arms and legs are moving. The nervous system is functioning and muscles are responding to stimulation from your baby’s brain. You may be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat in the doctor’s office.

Mom-to-be: Your uterus has grown significantly by now and weighs about 8.75 ounces. Within the next few weeks you may start to feel your baby move, called “quickening.” It’s often like a gas bubble or subtle fluttering movement. As it happens more regularly, you’ll know it’s your baby. There are other physiological changes happening in your body. Increased blood volume to support your growing fetus may produce nosebleeds, and leg veins may become more apparent. Your uterus is shifting so you may not have to urinate so much.

No word from the small one – no fluttery feeling in my stomach, and so far I’m refusing to buy one of those home doppler things that let you listen to the baby’s heart beat, because it just seems too close to becoming one of those moms that has the video baby monitors.  Ick.

As for me, well, no changes here.  I now own my first two pairs of maternity pants (more on that in another post), and I’m not gonna lie – the jeans are incredibly comfortable and don’t look too awful.

Overall rating: 8 (no change from last week)

Off to see my mother

May 9, 2008

As I now find myself with a fabulous amount of time on my hands, I’m hopping a train up to NJ this afternoon to visit my parents for a long weekend.  I haven’t seen them since Christmas, which means I haven’t seen them since I’ve been pregnant, so I anticipate there will be much fusing to be had (some of which is great, as it will surely result in my not washing a single dish for four days, some of which will be a bit more trying, as I can only imagine the number of articles my mother has collected over the past few weeks about various things I should and should not do for the remaining 5+ months).

Right now the plan is to hang out with my parents and brother on Saturday, see the extended family for Mother’s Day on Sunday, and attempt to register for baby what-not with mom on Monday.  I’ll be sure to report back on my inevitable successes and failures, as I expect this to be an amusing and bizarre trip.

Other than seeing my family, I am also completely thrilled that this surprise trip north will let me sample some of the awesome treats that are my mom’s gift this year.  As of today, a box of chocolate truffles, chocolate clusters and delicious brownies should be arriving from my favorite sweet spot in NYC, Chocolate Bar.  I plan to dive into a brownie and tall glass of milk the minute I walk in the door tonight (okay, so more like the minute after I run to the bathroom upon entering the house).

Happy Mother’s Day.

Anyone wanna take bets on how many times I’ll here some version of “it will be you this time next year” on Sunday?

I did not sign up for this

May 7, 2008

I imagine there will be several posts like this in the coming months, and I caveat that I am only being this brutally honest because 90% of the crap written about pregnancy is so lovey-dovey, life-is-wonderful, earth mother happiness that I feel like there needs to be a counter balance.  What I am about to write is something that I am completely mortified about, and yet I am for some unknown reason sharing it with the internet at large.  I am a moron.

So what happened, you asked.  I peed myself.

Yup, I was walking home after a very filling lunch (egg salad sandwich, large lemonade, vanilla milkshake) and a pleasant wander downtown.  I was within a mere 500 feet from my house when I coughed and then it happened.  A small but distinctly uncontrollable trickle of urine escaped from my previously camel-like bladder.  Small spots could be seen on the outside of my pants (but only for about a minute because it is pretty warm out – evaporation rules).  I am now home, have emptied my bladder fully and changed my pants, and all I can think is I AM ONLY 15 WEEKS ALONG – THIS WILL NOT DO!

I guess it’s times to look up kegel exercies on the internet and hopefully never need to speak of this again.  Thank god no one was near me!

I feel full…

May 6, 2008

… all the time.  As in, I’m hungry, but I always feel like I’m already halfway through the entree before I start my appetizer.  As in, I quite literally just got up from the toilet two minutes ago and I already feel like I could go again (I don’t bother, because it isn’t worth the effort to rehitch my pants for a mere dribble that doesn’t bring any relief anyway).  The upside is that I don’t feel completely full, as in stuffed or ready to explode.  I’m just always conscience of the fact that my guts feel rather crowded, which quite frankly they are.

Unfortunately, I suspect (and have been told) that this feeling will only get worse as the pregnancy continues.  Ugh.  Not ugh as in complete and total defeat ugh but more like wait, really?  That kinda ugh.

As I put it to my husband this afternoon, it’s not so much that I’m tired, but that I know I’m not going to get a good night’s rest for 18 plus years that’s the hard part.  This pregnancy business is hard work.

Week 15

May 5, 2008

Baby: Your 13-week-old fetus now measures about 4.1 to 4.5 inches from crown to rump and weighs about 1.75 ounces. Its body is covered by an ultrafine hair, called lanugo, which is usually shed by birth. Eyebrows and hair on the top of the head are beginning to grow. He may even be sucking his thumb by now. Bones are getting harder.

Mom-to-be: Your uterus can probably be felt about 3 to 4 inches below your navel. Sometime in the next five weeks you’ll be offered a quadruple marker screening test, which measures four chemicals in your blood — alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), inhibin A, and estrogen produced by the placenta. The test is a more accurate predictor of Down syndrome than AFP testing alone. Amniocentesis, which tests a small sample of amniotic fluid withdrawn by an ultrasound-guided needle, is usually performed between now and 18 weeks. It may be recommended if you’re 35 or older or if your AFP or quadruple marker screen test results were suspicious.

and now for my take on things…

Baby: We had a doctor’s appointment today, so I actually do have something to report here. The small one’s heartbeat is a healthy 150 bpm (beats per minute), and the doc had no problem finding the heartbeat with the doppler this time (the last appointment involved a bit more prodding to hear the small one over my thunderous heart beat). And that’s it. (I never said I had a lot, just some actual, tangible news.)

Me: I am now up to 124 lbs., which puts me at 4 lbs gained so far this pregnancy. My doctor was happy with the weight gain, so upon arriving home I rewarded myself with an ice cream sandwich.

My uterus is where it’s supposed to be, and is the cause of my current “baby bump,” as it’s displacing everything that used to sit in my lower abdomen (guts and fat mostly). I’m now at the point where even when I get up in the morning I have a distinct little bulge, but after I’ve had breakfast I look decidedly pregnant (that’s just how “displaced” my midsection is right now – all it takes is a glass of orange juice anymore). I only own one pair of pants that I can still button. Everything else is held up by Bella Bands. Also, I’m reaching the point where, between my bigger boobs and my noticeable bump, most of my shirts no longer cover my stomach completely. I am currently thanking the fashion gods for the long shirt trend of two years ago that I’d previously cursed them for (at 5’2″, anything that is supposed to hit at my hips stretches halfway down my thighs – not exactly helping me look any taller). If not for those few cotton sweaters and a pair of hoodies begrudgingly purchased between 2004 and 2005, I would be flashing Bella Band all day long, and I am desperately trying to hold off on buying maternity clothes as long as possible (read: until I visit my parents over Mother’s Day weekend and my mom and I head to the mall like the good New Jersey suburbanites we both are at heart).

As for the prenatal testing, we’re skipping it. As I’m only 26, I’m not at increased risk for Down syndrome and therefore my insurance won’t cover the tests. My doctor offered them, but said that the tests can yield false or inconclusive results, and that we’d be able to check everything out during the 22 week ultrasound (when we also get to find out the gender, assuming the small one isn’t shy and decides to cooperate with the photo session).

As a side note about testing, I did have a friend of mine recently warn me about calling your insurance provided before agreeing to any non-standard testing (including additional ultrasounds). A colleague of hers ended up spending $13K out of pocket as the testing facility and lab where her doctor sent her were considered out of network by her insurance company and were therefore not covered. Granted, this was in Manhattan where it’s a lot easier to end up out of network than in a smaller city or town, but I am very much taking this warning to heart. Not that I’ll let it stop me getting care I think I need, but it takes the “I’m already here so why not” temptation away from agreeing to everything the doc is required, sometimes by law, to offer, even if he doesn’t consider it necessary in your particular case. As my friend said, you will never be on the phone with your insurance company as much as you will while pregnant. Thanks for the warning!

Overall Rating of Week 15: 8 (so far so good – I’m definitely starting to look and feel pregnant, but I’m saving the 9’s for the first kick or something more exciting than a-okay)

I’m outa here!

May 2, 2008

So I told my boss yesterday afternoon that I was leaving for the new job but that I could give her three weeks.  Today she decided that, as I have nothing to do (and honestly haven’t since I’ve started working here), I may as well make today my last day.  Sweet!  I still get paid for two weeks (so I’m only out one week’s pay vs. three), my health insurance is intact through May (and the new job’s insurance kicks in on June 1), and now I have fours weeks off, as I don’t report for duty until May 30th.  I haven’t had four weeks off since college!

Quitting has never felt so good. 

How to Get 12 Weeks Maternity Leave without FMLA

May 1, 2008

I am a pretty confident lady, but I am by no means a master of negotiation, especially when it comes to my own salary. On top of that, I found myself trying to secure 12 weeks maternity leave (as I don’t qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as I won’t be at the new job for more than 12 months before going into labor) with absolutely no guidance. Multiple Google searches yielded nothing in the form of magazine articles or blog postings despite the over-abundance of advice for pregnant women cluttering the net. Based on my general disdain for asking for more money, my rather shallow experience with salary negotiations in general and absolutely no baseline for what I should ask for as a pregnant new hire, I decided to call in the experts.

And by experts I mean the most intimidating and brilliant business woman I know. She’s a senior VP from a past life of mine, and she came on board when she was well into her second trimester. If this woman was unable to get 12 weeks off, I didn’t stand a chance.

NOTE: If you are not on LinkedIn yet or you find it embarrassing to send senior people from the office that you’ve worked with an invitation, get over yourself. I would never have access to this information if not for this professional networking tool, and the higher up someone is, the more they understand the value of a network. (getting off my soap box now)

The good news is that my contacted was not only willing but excited to give me advice. Yippee for the bond between working mothers everywhere! The great news is that she assured me that I should definitely be able to get 12 weeks leave. Her recommendation was that I not reveal my pregnancy during the interview process (opps – but I’m lucky as it didn’t hurt me in this instance). Upon receiving and evaluating the offer, she then suggested I be open about expecting. Here are two strategies she outlined for me based on both her experience and that of a peer:

1. Cobbling Together Time: After receiving the offer and letting the company know you’re pregnant, ask what their maternity leave policy is and if they have a specific policy for those who do not qualify for FMLA. At minimum, this will give you 6 weeks leave. Then determine if you can use your PTO or vacation time to tack onto the 6+ weeks they provide to get a maximum leave of absence. If your leave will bridge calendar years, be sure to ask if you can carry over your unused vacation from the previous year to get the longest leave possible. The plus side here is that your PTO is paid (while the 6 weeks may or may not be paid). The downside is that you need to horde vacation days and you still might not end up with a full 12 weeks.

2. I Need 12 Weeks: After receiving the offer and letting the company know you’re pregnant, be clear that you would like to take 12 weeks maternity leave despite not qualifying for FMLA and ask if this can be accomplished by granting a leave of absence (or unpaid leave). Do not offer your vacation time, but be aware that the company may insist that you use it. Be firm, and insist that you require 12 weeks leave to accept the offer. Remember that you have the most leverage before you accept the offer, and that they already told you they want you specifically. That being said, be realistic – you might not be able to pull this off for an entry level job, but anything manager level or above should not be a problem as you are worth the investment.

I went with option two, and my HR recruiter simply had to ask my hiring manager if this was acceptable – it was (it helps that he has two young children of his own and I believe he expected the request as I told him I was pregnant during our first interview). This turned out to be pretty easy, but my leave will be unpaid. Normally, if I qualified for FMLA or had I started with the company and signed up for Short Term Disability Insurance before becoming pregnant, I would have received 60% of my salary for the duration of my 12 weeks, but for STD purposes, my pregnancy is a pre-existing condition so no money for me. I expected this, but of course it would have been nice.

The next item to tackle was health insurance, as I am the family provider. Fortunately for health insurance purposes, pregnancy was not considered a pre-existing condition, although I do need to confirm that my current OB accepts my new insurer. As my leave will be classified as unpaid, I will qualify for COBRA, which means I’ll pay both my share and the company’s share of my insurance, plus a 2% administrative fee. This will be expensive, but a heck of a lot less than paying for labor and hospital expenses out of pocket, let alone well baby coverage for those first rounds of shots and illnesses I can expect the first three months. Once I start with the new company I’ll calculate out how much I need to save to cover COBRA and see if I can pay for it using Health Savings Account pre-tax dollars (and how that should work as my leave will cross a calendar year).

And last, but certainly not least was compensation. I did my research online and determined I could easily ask for an additional $5K, which I did after securing the details of my 12 week leave and health insurance (as not to confuse the issues – I didn’t want them to say $5K or 12 weeks, so I negotiated them separately). I’m happy to report I got this, too!

So overall, I’d say I did pretty well. I got my leave, my medical coverage and my desired salary, but my leave is unpaid and my health insurance will be rather pricey for 3 months. I give myself a B, but I’ve always been a hard grader.