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The Third Trimester Freak Out

Jan28

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Hi Amalah,

I’m not sure if you will read this but even if you don’t, I’m hoping the act of getting my thoughts out will be therapeutic. I’m not even sure if it’s advice I’m looking for, encouragement, or maybe just someone to banter to. But after discovering your blog and spending many late nights sifting through pages and pages, I’ve come to respect you as a mother and a woman. Here goes.

I am 22 years old and almost 36 weeks pregnant with my first. This pregnancy was not planned by any means. I am engaged to a great man. When we found out I was pregnant, any plans for a wedding in the remotely near future were gone. I have one semester of college left. I took classes up until I was 30 weeks and then took a leave of absence from school. I plan on returning the following semester, graduate, and then get my teacher certification. Some days, I feel so excited/overjoyed/blessed to be given a little girl. So what if we weren’t “ready”? No one really is any way, right? And then my over analytical, cynical side shouts ARE YOU CRAZY!!!

I’m just 22 years old with so much I haven’t accomplished yet. And now I might not ever get to what I worked so hard for. I was the first in my family to go to college. I was proud that I would soon have a career, not have to rely on state assistance or work dead end jobs forever.

My fiance is great, he loves me so much and constantly shows me that he would do whatever it takes to take care of me, and now our baby girl. But he doesn’t make a whole lot. And I can’t help but feel worthless for having to depend on someone. We struggle financially now, with me working. And very, very soon we will be solely relying on his income. I will be a stay at home mom. As much as I can’t wait to be with my baby, sometimes the thought makes me cringe. Staying home (although it won’t be forever..It can’t be because we can’t afford it) is never what I wanted. I always said, it’s not for me. I will not be defined by my role as a mom and wife…that is how I thought. I guess on some level, I held myself to a higher standard (which is really embarrassing for me to admit…WHO DO I THINK I AM!?!) And now, in 2 weeks I will be home. Broke. And 100% financially dependent on someone.

I’m terrified. And I admit it, ashamed. I tell myself that it will work out, simply because it has to. This is a BABY we’re talking about! She WILL be taken care of one way or another. Yet I can’t stop consuming myself with these thoughts. I can’t help but be disappointed in myself. How could I get myself into this situation? We don’t have much support from my family and his family unfortunately lives in another country. We’re on our own. With just a few weeks until my due date, I do not want to welcome my girl into this world with such anxiety. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Overwhelmed-Mom-to-Be

Oh, honey. I wish this advice column came with magical I SHALL NOW MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER powers, like the ability to plant money trees or see five years into the future. But alas, I am limited to the power of a laptop keyboard and my pre-existing ability to type a lot of words.

But while I cannot offer any concrete solutions to your very real, very practical and very understandable worries, I can tell you that you are not alone in having those worries, and in letting those worries rise up and consume your final weeks of pregnancy. Blessed special time, my ass. In face, I probably would have written a shockingly similar letter at the end of ALL THREE of my pregnancies. None of which happened 1) unexpectedly, 2) when I was 22 and/or unmarried, 3) when I was in school and/or facing unemployment. No, I was an old married lady [Isabel: Amy, I love you and let me remind you that you were not old] with a job and a husband with a job who went and got pregnant on purpose, and then proceeded to FREAK OUT during my third trimester about the havoc I was about to unleash on our lives. What have we done, what about money, what about time off, what about going back to work and what about, you know, THE BABY. Childbirth and sleep and breastfeeding and diapers and the grind.

So then you add a heaping dollop of guilt on top of that layer of simmering anxiety, because for some reason you think you’re being unreasonable. Or worse: Ungrateful. Because what kind of mother thinks like this, during the final weeks and months of pregnancy?

The true answer is, basically: ALL OF THEM. We all have these thoughts! And worries! And fears! The specifics of our situations may vary, but the truth is that anxiety is a very, very common symptom/thing/occurrence during the third trimester of pregnancy. Some of us fixate on finances, or the state of our relationships. Others might obsess over fears related to childbirth or bonding, while others toss and turn at night over career concerns. I want to stay home but we can’t afford it. I want to stay home but worry it will be a mistake. I don’t want to stay home but feel guilty about that. 

Round and round it goes. And the thing is, these are all absolutely VALID things to be worried about! Having a baby is a big, huge bomb o’ change you’re about to drop into your life, and yet for some reason we feel guilty for not being…I don’t know, a fictional version of a glowing, perpetually happy pregnant lady who is not us.

None of this is to say that hey! Sure! Let those anxieties free to completely rule your life! Wallow in them! It’s pregnancy hormones and there’s no fighting hormones! I’m mostly hoping it will help to hear that you are not alone, and that most of us have been where you are, at least emotionally. Even those of us whom you may look at and think: What in the world are YOU freaked about? 

It’s going to be okay. Yes, the future of your life has been diverted off the path you planned to take, but isn’t that just what always happens? Baby or no baby? Career goals change, wedding dates move, finances and fortunes rise and fall. People graduate with degrees in accounting and then suddenly decide to go to culinary school, to break off engagements and travel to India…or find themselves accidentally pregnant and oh, okay. Let’s figure out how to make this work.

You will not always be 22 and underemployed, and neither will your fiance. You have a plan and a path to graduation, and I have absolutely no doubt that you will make that happen, because you DO hold yourself to a high standard and that’s not embarrassing to admit at all. Your career aspirations are in a field  (teaching) that is notably working-parent friendly. You will depend on your fiance for a short time and that’s okay because you guys are partners in a supportive relationship, not locked in some unhealthy ongoing competition for the upper hand. (Also because that’s just a common thing when you’re in a serious relationship in your early 20s and you’re both just starting out. Someone usually ends up getting a “real” job first, or someone else has more student loan debt, or one of you works in a field that requires more “dues paying” or internships while the other lands the five-figures-plus-benefits job the week after graduation.) You will take the time you and your daughter need to find your footing, and then you’ll get back to school, graduate and get your certification and your teaching job when you are meant to, when you can.

The biggest difference is that now you’ll be forging ahead with your plans and ambitions with an audience — a daughter who is going to respect the crap out her mother, once she’s old enough to look back and see the path you blazed.

And while it is true that none of the logistical and financial concerns will magically fade away the instant your baby is born…I promise that the anxiety about those things WILL face away once she is here. Because you will love her so very much, in a very REAL and non-hypothetical way, that the trade-offs of school/money/work will seem like such small potatoes, and completely worth it.

Photo source: Comstock/Thinkstock Photos

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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36 Responses to “The Third Trimester Freak Out”

  1. LKurin Jan 28 at 1:07 pm Reply Reply

    I’m the “old married lady who decided to get pregnant,” and only 15 weeks along and facing most of these same anxieties, so thanks for this letter and response, because I really needed to know I am not crazy!

    I’m 25, a college grad, happily married, my husband has a good job and I quit mine right before we decided to try and have  baby, so I fall into the “I want to stay home but worry it will be a mistake” category.   There are days where he comes home frustrated and depressed about his job, and the hunt for something better, and I get this huge guilt complex because I’m not being helpful enough or able to take over full-time so he can job hunt -even though he was the one who originally expressed a desire for a family, and I know this baby means the world to him, and he’s never expressed a want for me to take over. Or I feel bad because we’ve had a fight over something stupid and I know adding a baby onto our current stresses will just add more stress… I try to be practical, because we really have things pretty good, but sometimes I’m just TOO hormonal to think straight (bring on the “everything is out of my control, why the heck am I crying?!” guilt).

    Anyway… thanks for letting me get that out to someone who’s been here and gets it.  My hubby just wonders what happened to his wife and when will she ever stop crying?  Haha

    And I really appreciated the part at the end about having blazed the path for her daughter and that someday she will respect and appreciate her mom for that.  I tend not to think that far ahead, but it is a good reminder, because that’s how I feel about my mom now, who sacrificed everything *gladly,* I never once heard her complain, in order to stay home with us, even when things were tough and it would’ve been easier for her to go out and work. 

    Thank you, and thanks Mom!!!

  2. Anon Jan 28 at 1:09 pm Reply Reply

    I just want to say, as someone who works with public assistance programs, that if you aren’t on assistance, please look into it! These safety net programs (all of which have various income thresholds in order to be eligible) are designed precisely for young families like yours, who need a little bit of peace of mind that the bottom isn’t going to fall out for them. At the very least, you should look into Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP or Food Stamps), as well as either Medicaid if you aren’t already on it, or your state’s children’s health insurance plan for your little girl, if you are over income for Medicaid yourself. Depending on your situation, you may also be able to participate in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or later, once you’re ready to go back to work or school, a childcare subsidy. Please look into what options are available to help support your family. And Amy is right, this is not your long term plan, but part of the path your sweet little family is taking to a bright, more stable future. Hang in there! There is help if you need it (and oh-so-many of us do), and you will find your little daughter to be the miracle of your life, despite the challenges of parenting. Good luck!

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Jan 28 at 2:27 pm Reply Reply

      Thank you for telling us about these resources. Really appreciate it.

    • Olivia Jan 28 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

      Yes, my children qualify for medicaid and WIC. Very helpful in relieving some of the financial stress.

    • Lex Feb 04 at 3:47 pm Reply Reply

      Agreed! Medicaid for your child is also a HUGE help if you qualify, and it sounds like there is a good chance you will. I understand that due to your background, you may hesitate to accept state assistance, but there is no shame at all if you need it, especially since for you it will be temporary and you have a good plan to get off it. Being able to get good preventative care for your child without having to worry about copays, etc. is a huge help.

  3. Sarah Jan 28 at 1:14 pm Reply Reply

    Just like Amy said, NORMAL, NORMAL, NORMAL! I am 23 weeks pregnant with my second. With my first I had a very good job I HATED and my husband had a not so great paying job he loved. I thought I was not cut out to be a SAHM, because I had spent years getting Undergrad and Grad degrees. I worried about money, I worried about my baby loving me after being in daycare all the time, I worried about…well EVERYTHING. And It all worked out. Not at all in the way I thought, but even better then I could have imagined.
    This time we spent tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. We have no nest egg or cushion left and my husband is the only one working. I still have student loans and yet am a SAHM. I keep telling myself that is will work out, but I am scared too. But you know what? You are going to have a darling baby girl, and I am going to have a perfect baby boy and while life is not going to be easy, it WILL be GOOD. Very good. I seriously doubt in 30 years we will regret the decisions we make now to add to our families.

  4. Stephanie Jan 28 at 1:37 pm Reply Reply

    Freaking out just comes with the territory. Putting on my practical hat for a second when it comes to help. I don’t know your exact situation, but if you’re unemployed and not married (and your fiancé isn’t making much money), you will likely qualify for some help – Medicaid or CHIP for health insurance (for both you and your baby) and WIC – Women, Infant, Children. It gives you assistance to buy food for you and your child (milk, eggs, beans, formula, all qualify – and the local WIC can give you help with breastfeeding too). In fact, you’re already pregnant, so you should be able to qualify right now. Don’t wait. Use these last few weeks to explore everything you’re eligible for. Maybe it will give you some peace of mind to know that some basic necessities are taken care of. http://wic.fns.usda.gov/wps/pages/start.jsf

  5. leslie Jan 28 at 1:49 pm Reply Reply

    Oh my goodness, sweetie. It IS normal. The stress will not go away, but it will change. I am at the opposite end: I wish I’d had my first a bit earlier (@35), I was finishing a dissertation and getting ready to move across the country (with a six-week old baby!) to a new job, my husband remains unemployed because we live in a small town, though that means he gets to stay at home with our daughter all day (yes, I’m jealous most days). Managing the stress after the baby is born is hard. So hard. You learn so much about yourself and you give up a lot of freedom (of sleep, of going to the movies on a whim). Work with your partner. Communicate. It sounds like he’s fabulous. Just keep communicating. Honestly, even though I’ve got all these degrees and opportunities (though we still live paycheck to paycheck), many days I’d give it all up to move back across the country to my family and be a stay at home mom. But we’re slowing getting through it and used to our new lives. But most of all: do not be ashamed. The emotional roller coaster is only beginning. Don’t add self-shaming to it. Talk to your partner, as he’ll be going thorough it, too. Enjoy the ride sister. You are going to have a baby!!! 

  6. M. Jan 28 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

    I would get legally married. You’re not worthless and once the baby is out in the world and you’re caring for her full time, that will be abundantly clear to you. You may be dependent on your fiancee to provide cash for the family, but you will be providing services of plenty of value (ask anyone who pays for daycare or a nanny). If things go south and you’re married, you may be entitled to alimony and it may be smoother to get child support. (I believe divorces in most states require a court case, whereas if you were single, you’d have to initiate a child support proceeding.) Given where you are, marriage is a good way to protect your very legitimate financial interests, even while you’re currently not drawing a salary.

  7. Heather Jan 28 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    It’s hard to understand now before she’s born, but every time you look at your precious daughter, you will never regret the sacrifices you made to bring her into the world.  Becoming a SAHM for a time does not result in you losing your identify as a woman and a professional.  I struggled with that too as a professional with an advanced degree–but after being a mom for a while, I realized that the time your daughter is small is such a short season of life and will go by so quickly that it is a very small portion of your overall career.  You will not derail your entire life by staying home for a few years while your daughter is small.  You will have many years left to work and to achieve everything you want professionally, and chances are, your ambitions and perspective may  even change once your daughter arrives and things you think are super important now may not be later.  Being a SAHM is also not the same thing as being “dependent” on someone else.  Your husband will be “dependent” on you for caring for and raising your child.  When you are a family, you depend on each other for things–one partner is not inferior to the other.  Just because you don’t get a paycheck for being a SAHM doesn’t mean you are not doing important work for your family.  You are brave and strong and your daughter will look up to you someday for doing what you are doing!

  8. IrishCream Jan 28 at 3:10 pm Reply Reply

    Echoing what Amy and others have said…you’re depending on your fiance, but he is most definitely depending on you as well. If you weren’t going to stay at home and care for your daughter, you and your fiance would have to pay for childcare, so you’re holding up your half of the bargain, for sure!

    And yes, you will be defined by your role as a mom and a wife, IN PART. You will also, soon, be defined by the work you do outside the home, and all of the other things you do that make you unique. A baby will temporarily crowd some of those things out, but they’ll come back. 

    You go ahead and hold yourself to that high standard, not just for your sake but for your fiance’s and your daughter’s sake as well. You’ll fall short sometimes, because we all do, but it will mean so much to your daughter to see you working (at home or at a paid job) to be your best and do your best for your family. Best of luck, and congratulations!

  9. Julie Jan 28 at 3:18 pm Reply Reply

    Absolutely!  I’m almost 36 weeks with our third – a very planned/tried for baby and I’m completely freaking out as well. What will we do with older 2 (aged 5 and 3) while I’m in the hospital, how will they react, things were just getting “easier” – what were we thinking, etc. etc.!! These feelings are completely normal and like Amy said, I had them at the end of each pregnancy.  Add in the normal end of pregnancy discomforts, sleeplessness, and uncertainty (our first was born at 35 weeks – so from this point on every little twinge makes me think – “is this it?”) and of course you’re kind of a mess.  You sound like you have a good plan in place to get were you want to go career-wise.  Be gentle with yourself these last few weeks, try to relax about the ‘future” (since honestly who knows what will happen, things change) and get as much rest as you can.  Congratulations on your baby girl!

  10. Debbie Jan 28 at 3:21 pm Reply Reply

    Hi Overwhelmed!  I just want to say that your situation reminds me of an old friend of mine. After she finished her first year of university, she decided it wasn’t for her just yet and went traveling around the world. She met a guy, started living they had been together for only 8 months!  They got married before she gave birth, and although things were challenging for her and for them as new parents, they sorted it out. He found a good job, she was a SAHM for a while, and they had their second baby pretty quickly. That’s when she decided to go back to school (she never imagined herself as a SAHM, either). She got excellent grades and graduated a mother of two with a seriously great GPA. She then decided to be a SAHM again, and now has a third baby, and they’ve been married nearly 8/9 years.  They’re super happy, and I know that the experience of attending university and completing her degree made her a more confident woman, and I’m sure that helped her to be a better mom. 

    I share the story only to highlight one of many, many people who get pregnant unexpectedly when they’re young and unmarried and they find a way to make it work, and hey, not just make it work but to make it a source of huge joy in their lives. You can do it, too!

    I was the first in my family to attend university, too (and now I coordinate a program for students who are first in their families) and I can completely relate to the need to make it “worth it” that you went to school when others around you didn’t go, or maybe don’t see the value. I promise you that you will be a better parent for having attended school, and your academic experience is never wasted no matter how you move forward with your life. Higher education is worth SO MUCH MORE than the paycheque that many people try to milk out of it.  Think about all of the ways that attending university improved who you are and how you live life, and be reassured that all of those benefits will influence you as a mom and wife.

    You are going to be ok!  Congratulations on your new baby!

  11. Karen Jan 28 at 3:59 pm Reply Reply

    I freaked out too at the end of my first pregnancy, was actually trying to figure out a way to keep the baby inside rather than giving birth. Totally irrational.

    I think Amy’s response is ok but insufficient. I’m sure it’s helpful on some level to hear that many moms have “pre-partum” anxiety, but if I were the OP, hearing that from moms who don’t have her life situation and don’t share her insecurities wouldn’t really put me at ease.

    I hear a lot of helplessness in her letter. Of disappointment and shame. That is different than the standard hormonal anxiety most of us have felt. She wants real tools she can use in the next couple weeks to help her shed this emotional load and prepare for birth. I think WIC is a great place to start, or other agencies that refer for all sorts of services. Can she start a practice of spending 5 minutes every day reflecting on things that are good? Can she come up with an inexpensive or free special treat for herself to engage in a few times before the baby comes? What will take her mind off of these seemingly intractable problems and lighten her load enough that she can begin feeling in control?

    Good luck OP, you sound like an amazing woman! What a lucky little girl you have.

  12. Paige Jan 28 at 4:15 pm Reply Reply

    I’m at 30 weeks. My doctor knows I have a high stress level, and she keeps checking in with me about my anxiety level. I asked why – apparently anxiety during pregnancy CAN lead to post-partum depression. It doesn’t always, but it’s something to keep in mind. My university had a mental health program for new student moms – for something like $10 per visit, you could see a therapist about post-partum depression or other new-parent issues. It might be worth checking out what programs your university offers now, so you know what’s available to you should you need it later.

    • Praxidike Feb 05 at 11:46 pm Reply Reply

      I agree. Amy’s response is nice, but rather insubstantial. This woman needs concrete answers to her serious, understandable fears. It is going to be hard for her to go back to school with a new baby, especially given the financial difficulties. It doesn’t sound like she or the baby’s father have a big safety net. The financial issues are a HUGE hurdle and I was immediately concerned about this couple’s ability to maintain a home.

      I think that you should apply for WIC and Medicaid if you haven’t already. Will you be able to afford your rent? If not, do you have someplace you can move for free, which would help the financial situation? If not, then apply to see whether you qualify for any of the government-subsidized housing in your area. HOPEFULLY you will be able to breastfeed, which will mean you only have to worry about adequately feeding yourself. 

      As far as your education: finish it. Just do it. However you can. Don’t let that degree languish. I don’t know if you’re going to stay with the baby’s daddy and I don’t know if he’s ever going to have a better job. You may need to be the person who makes the money for you and your family if he can’t do it. 

      And speaking of finishing your education, are your parents or his parents available or willing to babysit while you go back to school? Or, perhaps more importantly, while you go to work even part time? Your family is your first level of safety net, and if you can rely on them to take some of this burden, I think it will go easier for you.

      Good luck.

  13. Olivia Jan 28 at 4:54 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to add – as someone who gave birth to my son at 26 with no friends who had babies – that the first few weeks/months are going to be incredibly difficult, especially if you don’t have familial support. My husband and I are married, our pregnancy was planned and we didn’t have any financial worries and yet there were times when I felt our marriage wouldn’t last. Since I didn’t have any friends with babies I was completely unprepared for the dramatic changes that having one brings to your relationship. Newborns are SO demanding. I remember my husband asking me on multiple occasions whether I still loved him anymore. I did and I do but a new baby just takes everything out of you!

    So instead of horrifying you more I would like to say – try and mend fences with your family and see if you can arrange for the member who supports you most to come help you once or twice a week, or babysit one evening a month so you and your partner can have alone time. (something we never did bc we live abroad.) it’s important to maintain a supportive relationship with your man – and it sounds easy to do but your relationship hasn’t seen a storm like the one that’s headed in cute, pint-sized form your way.

    Alternatively you can ask a close girl friend(s)But she might be nervous! An older female relative would be best.

    Also, follow above commentators advice and look into all your financial support options RIGHT NOW. Your baby could come early and trust me you will not have the time or energy to look into this once she’s here.

    My other piece of advice would be to read and research about breast feeding. For some lucky women and babies it comes naturally. For others it’s very very difficult! When my milk came in on day three I could not get my son to latch. I hadn’t read about hand-expressing or proper positioning. I called a lactation consultant and she saved our breast feeding relationship! At 13 months still going strong. And for you this is esp important bc you will save money not having to buy formula, bottles, sterilisers. Check and see if there are lactation consultants at the hospital and maybe contact your local la leche league leader to see if there are some free classes you could attend before giving birth.

    As a young mom to a young mom – best of luck, turn your worries into action….. And go out with your man on a special last hurrah dinner. Your lives will never be the same again! (a good thing but yes it’s a dramatic change!)

  14. Amy Jan 28 at 7:44 pm Reply Reply

    To piggyback on what Stephanie and others have said, do take advantage of the services available to you, which you and your fiancé paid into. In addition to food, WIC will provide breast pumps and other breastfeeding resources. http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/breastfeeding/mainpage.HTM If you live in California look into the parental leave program. You may qualify for it, and it’s generous! Most of all, as everyone has said, anxiety at this point is normal. This from a 30 something mom who walked into her bedroom in tears at 33 weeks with her second child because, omg, what did we do???

  15. Eden Jan 28 at 8:44 pm Reply Reply

    I think it’s totally normal. And ya know what? The fact that your going through this is a sign that your going to be a great mother. Your already putting your child first and thinking about her needs before anybody else’s. good job mom :)

    My advice to you is to get involved in some groups such as la leche league, a local stroller strides, a library play date club, ANYTHING that involves other moms and babies. That way, when baby comes, you won’t feel alone, you’ll have people to go to if you encounter problems or people to ask questions who are going through the same things. When breastfeeding and sleep issues come up you’ll have a net to fall into and people to answer your concerns.

    Whatever you surround yourself with is going to become your normal. So surround yourself with what you want for yourself and your family :)

  16. Brittany Jan 28 at 10:50 pm Reply Reply

    Oh hello, Me From Three Years Ago.  Let me just tell you, everything is going to work out just fine.  You will get to go back to school, eventually.  You will have a career.  You will LOVE being a stay at home mom in the meantime.  Money will be tight, but you will get back on your feet.  I know because I was in literally the exact same situation when I was pregnant, and everything is awesome now.  Congratulations and good luck!

  17. GradBaby Jan 28 at 10:55 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to pipe in to say that I have been there – for me, I was 30, married, and in grad school. My hubs is self-employed with income going up and down and largely seasonal (and I help in the business) and I carry the regular ‘salary’ with my Teaching Assistant stipend, some school loans, and some tutoring. I also carry the health insurance.

    So, when I unexpectedly got pregnant two winters ago, I panicked. I was almost 30 so it was ‘time’ – and like the OP i figured knew that ‘no time is a good time’. But .. money.. school. . .money..money. I immediately signed up for medicaid, food stamps and WIC. They were saviors! My health insurance thru school covered most of my pregnancy/childbirth costs and medicaid covered the rest. food stamps and WIC helped at the end of the month when money couldn’t quite stretch. I fight with the ‘shame’ that comes with going on public assistance, but I figure that I paid into it earlier in my life and I’ll happily pay into it for the rest of my life, so why not tap into it when I need it?

    You will get through this, and it will be for the better. My boy brings us so much joy – and we joke that he has made us so much better. Better with money, eat better, laugh more. 

    Today, my babe is 16 months, I’m in my 5th year of my PhD with about a year to go. My husband is self-employed still. We juggle childcare between the two of us. We’re managing (still some tight months) and we’re able to still pursue our goals. 

  18. J Jan 29 at 1:22 am Reply Reply

    Don’t forget Craigslist — you never need to pay full price for anything (except car seats).There are wonderful deals on there and it will help stretch your budget.

  19. Leah Jan 29 at 9:56 am Reply Reply

    YES to Craigslist!
    The details of my situation are different, but I am 34 wks with our first and also totally financially dependent on my partner. Oh, the HORMONES, they are unkind. While they – like so many other things in life (and your situation in particular) – can’t be controlled, I find that the following things, while small, can help a lot.

    1. Do what you can for your body. As a fellow beached whale, I know well the impulse to smack anyone who suggests voluntary physical activity. But do it, with your OB’s ok. Cut as much crappy food out of your diet as you possibly can and take walks. It is amazing what that can do for your anxiety levels.

    2. Read as much as you can about L&D and the first few months. Feeling mentally prepared for birth will take one of those huge hurdles out of your path. You will also find in reading about bonding and such that it is SO not about the stuff you buy or who pays the bills. You will be MOM, and your love will be way more important.

    3. Make a Finances Date with your guy. If you haven’t already, sit down and go over your budget. Neither of you will want to, and neither will probably enjoy it, but having a plan to track your spending and income will help both of you feel more in control. Afterward, treat yourselves to back massages, a favorite edible treat, and some R&R.

    4. Some childcare centers and after school programs will allow employees to enroll their children for free, and many also hire people without degrees. This may be a way for you to work part-time, still check up on your daughter, and even get some credits (or at least experience) in your chosen field.

    5. Finally, if/when the guilt gets to you regarding finances – and even though you believe everything the previous commentators have said, it will – remember especially the advice about your contributions to your family being real and important even though they’re not monetary. Do something small for him as often as you can. For example, my husband earns the $$ but HATES dealing with household finances. He is putty in my hands for weeks after I do our taxes. He was super excited when we got married and I took over all monthly bill-pay setup. If there are household things your guy hates, take as much off his plate as you can, and remember that when your brain insists that he does more than you.

    Good luck! 

  20. Caroscape Jan 29 at 2:17 pm Reply Reply

    According to Penelope Trunk, my second fave blogger after Amalah, you’re doing everything right!

    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/08/16/blueprint-for-a-womans-life/

  21. MtotheC Jan 29 at 3:25 pm Reply Reply

    Craigslist is a very helpful website for baby things, but consignment stores also often carry baby stuffs. My baby ran through sizes so quickly, so I sold a LOT of unused clothing to our local consignment store. Also, as other posters have mentioned, breastfeeding is mighty cheap. There are a bunch of books about it at local libraries. Plus baby and parenting books.
    As for baby food, I made all my own because it truly was easy and cheap. I would encourage you to look into it!
    As for diapers, there are a bunch of parenting websites that will email you weekly coupons.
    Other than that, my only advice is to be proud of who you are and what you are doing. You are actively looking for ways to make it happen and that’s the best indicator that it will work out for the best. Your will and determination to succeed don’t change just because you have a baby. If anything, they are only magnified. I wish you all the luck in the world!!!

    • Kat Jan 29 at 4:45 pm Reply Reply

      Great suggestions from Leah. And, OP, I hear you. My now husband and I got pregnant 3 months after we started dating. No, that is not a typo – 3 months. I did not have a stable job at the time (he did), and had just moved to a new area. My parents/family were furious with me, and I spent a majority of my pregnancy lamenting the lack of support from them and stressing about money/my brand new relationship/to stay at home or not to stay at home and so on and so on. It was very tough, and, I imagine much like you, I kept a lot of my concerns to myself, put on a brave face and tried to work on my “okay, we’re doing this and we will make it through” attitude. We got hitched during month four, month five I started a new job in a completely different industry, month 7 we moved into a new house. I thought I was going to lose my mind.
      BUT! I didn’t. We have a wonderful marriage, our son is 9 months old and happy and healthy, and the crazy career move I made during my pregnancy resulted in a wonderful job that is really fulfilling. The first few months with a newborn were tough, and things were tight. But everyone survived, my parents ended up coming to their senses and…things are so different than I ever imagined they would be. But everything in my life is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

  22. Autumn Jan 29 at 5:23 pm Reply Reply

    I was married and very financially secure through my DH’s salary, but I understand the psychological insecurity of not having your “own” money/income.  I was lucky to take 7 months off, but by month 5 I was starting to go a little crazy.  Look into a part time job just to get out and make a bit of cash.  Let daddy have some baby time, I tried to be too heroic as a SAHM those months.

    Please look into WIC, Medical assistance (or whatever they call it in your state) etc now.  The little bit of help you need now you will more than repay when you have your teaching career and are on your financial feet.  That’s why those programs are there, to help people in a tight spot.  Your school might have some programs/resources for you too.  Keep in touch with your friends. . . babysitters for an evening out!

    And after your beautiful girl is here, get some really good birth control. . . don’t count on breast feeding to do it for you:)

  23. Martine Jan 29 at 7:49 pm Reply Reply

    As the mom of a 15-month-old, I wish I was 23.  The energy difference between me at 23 and me at 29 is significant.  So even though you’ll have different challenges, at least you can take comfort in knowing that you’ll be able to handle the physical challenges of less sleep and more dashing around better than an “older” mom. :)

  24. Kimm Jan 30 at 12:41 am Reply Reply

    I am kind of feeling this way, even though I have more support, it’s at the end of my 2nd pregnancy, and I just don’t know how I’m going to handle 2 babies, my son will just turn 2 when this one comes.
    Being a SAHMom is a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I don’t regret it, I love the bond I have with my sweet boy. Being a Mom is so scary at first, but you get used to all it involves, and it sounds like your fiance is sweet and willing to help with things. My advice is, look up if there is a MOPS group near you, Mothers of Preschoolers. They are not affiliated with a specific church, but it is a little religious, they have a devotional at their bi-monthly meetings. I loved talking with the other SAHMs, and there is a lot of support there, free babysitting,etc. There are several unmarried Moms in our group, and the atmosphere is very welcoming for all.

  25. Carrie Jan 30 at 3:21 am Reply Reply

    Oh, sweetie. It will be okay. At least, it will be *different* soon. We got married and had a planned pregnancy, then I quit my very stressful job early to avoid a stressful pregnancy (and since I planned to be a SAHM). At 7 months pregnant we bought a house to accommodate our future family, and two weeks later my husband lost his job. We were on unemployment, WIC, and medicaid – that’s what public assistance is for! There are times we all need a little assistance, and as a PP said, I paid into it in the past and I’ll pay into it again. Now I have a delightful 6 month old son, my husband has a new job, we are living in a new state on the opposite coast, and I am going to start a new career!

    FIND OTHER MOMS NEAR YOU. Look into meetup.com for a mom’s group, see if your hospital/birth center has postpartum support meetings, go to La Leche League – DO IT, even if you don’t need the mommy friends now you’ll need them soon, trust me.

  26. Susan Jan 30 at 5:32 am Reply Reply

    I just wanted to add, I felt almost exactly like the OP but my anxieties didn’t magically disappear when giving birth. In fact it all went downhill from there FOR ABOUT 3 MONTHS. It took me some time to fall in love with my son but now he is the single biggest source of joy in my life, I love him more than words can say and he is he best thing that ever happened to me (this was an unplanned pregnancy as well).
    Anyway, i just wanted to say, don’t freak out if your worries do not fade away all at once, they will eventually, for some of us it takes more time.
    You will be just fine, I’m sure, you don’t even know how much fun you will be having!

  27. Annie Jan 30 at 11:02 pm Reply Reply

    When my second child was born, two years ago, I stopped working. It felt so awful at first, having no income and quitting a job after working so hard in school to prepare for a career. I didn’t think I was cut out to be a SAHM. But you know? These have turned out to be treasured years. Your kids grow so fast, and are in school before you know it. Having some time at home when they’re little is such a gift. So I say if you have the chance, take the time to enjoy The Little Years– I hope they become special memories for you, OP, like they have become for me.

  28. Julia Jan 31 at 3:01 pm Reply Reply

    your situation sounds pretty similar to mine, 3 years ago, with some minor changes (I moved to a different country to be with my now-husband, I was in the beginning of my studies rather than at the end etc.). And I can tell you, it is not only normal, but very helpful to feel like you do at this point. It will help you to keep up your goals, and work towards your degree, and then towards the job you want.
    I really don’t know what kind of programs are available to help you, as I am from Germany and moved to Belgium, but here are a few things that helped me:
    - look around on your campus for other student moms, maybe there is even a group. It really helps to know others are doing the same, and you can benefit from their knowledge.
    - If any of your friends (or even acquaintances) offer to babysit, at least consider taking them up on their offer and note their number for emergencies. Even if the emergency is that you need company while taking your little girl to a well baby check up.
    - Remember that the only thing that changes if you do not finish college is… the future, which will be more difficult. The present will be pretty similar, you will probably still have to work and thus won’t be at home with your daughter either. And it is absolutely okay to want to work/study, or to stay at home. it is a personal choice or necessity, and you are even allowed to change your mind.
    - ask your classmates to let you borrow their notes from the classes you are going to take, and don’t feel bad doing so! it took me 2 years to get used to being the one asking for notes and help instead of being the one helping, but surprisingly, everybody will still think you rock for managing motherhood (you will!) and college (you already know you do!).
    - try not to physically hurt the 200th person who gives you (unasked) advice based on the fact that she is older, regardless of whether she has children of her own :-)
    - my husband and I have an agreement that, provided that I earn enough money to support us, whenever he decides to live on my salary to take care of the kids (because there are two by now), he can do so. It helps me to feel less guilty relying on him right now. It also helps to justify (as if that was necessary!) why i want to finish my studies first.

    I’m close to finishing my masters degree, and we are all four doing great despite me being a student. If I can do it, you can do it!

  29. Katie Jan 31 at 10:35 pm Reply Reply

    It sounds like you have a plan, and I think with your focus you and your family will do wonderfully!

    On a side note, the pop up ads are really starting to bug me. I love Amalahs advice column and check it regularly, and I appreciate the fact that ads bring in money and are necessary. On the other hand, I literally could not close out an ad on my iPad and had to refresh the page to get to the column. 

  30. Felicity Marie Feb 01 at 2:30 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, I have been there. 26 years old, getting ready to finally complete a year-long internship to grad school, when bam! boyfriend of five months and I discover we are expecting. Both of us were living on school loans and living across the country from our families. It was stressful. So, so stressful. Still is. I took a year off to stay at home with baby while boyfriend finished law school. Hated staying home for those 8 months, but…

    Now, our daughter is 14 months old. I’m a few months away from graduating, and working full-time at an internship I love. My fiancé (yep, we’re engaged!) finished law school and takes the bar this month. Soon we’ll both be making money. Looking back on the last two years, I can’t believe it but, we did it! We made it work, and are still making it work.

    Things that have helped us: friends who were willing to baby-sit for free, craigslist and baby consignment stores, generous family members who love buying baby clothes, and emergency Medicaid. (side note: I was disappointed by WIC, but I know it differs by region). Breastfeeding is free, cloth diapers are cheap (if you have easy access to laundry facilities). And for me, the hands-down best thing to keep me sane while I was staying at home was to go outside and try to take a walk every day that the weather and baby allow.  

    You can do it!

  31. Amanda Feb 02 at 12:30 am Reply Reply

    Friend, I hear you! I was there, except that I was 27 and (just) married. Our pregnancy was a surprise, not unwanted but definitely sooner than we had imagined. All the way through, I dealt with feeling guilty for getting pregnant (as though it was all my fault), for pushing this new responsibility onto my husband, for creating extra financial worries, for not being able to get a job (we had just moved to a new state)… on and on. Of course this was illogical, but… hormones! surprise attack pregnancy! 

    It is so scary. And it stays scary with additional scary things added (babies are hard work, man). But. You have a great plan laid out. You have a partner who is in it with you (and you have to remember that you are both in it TOGETHER, though sometimes that is hard). And you are going to have a brand new, tiny, squalling, infuriating, exhausting, beautiful, and amazing reason to do even bigger and better things with your life than you had ever imagined. You might not realize it for the first few months, but having just come through them I can tell you that you will survive :)

    Just, listen to the smart comments here and join a mom’s group and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am still trying to make friends where we live now and that is tough. 

    Best wishes!

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