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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

the next chapter


Over the summer, Sean and I realized something: there is never going to be "the right" time to have a kid. 

I am 30. Sean is 31. 
We have been together for 12 years. 
We have done and accomplished so much

When we were younger, we never really thought we'd have children. I have to admit that now, even while pregnant, I totally understand the allure of living a childless life. However, we both had this nagging feeling that if we didn't at least try, we'd always regret it. 

And the present seemed close enough to whatever sign we were waiting for that the "right time" had arrived:

We have stable employment that we don't hate. 
We have pretty amazing job security. 
Our finances are in complete order. 
We have no debt whatsoever and the potential to save a lot.
In fact, we have saved a lot.
We're educated and well traveled.
We are good together.
We have no plans of parting ways or enduring mid-life crises at 30. 

Over summer, we wondered: what are we waiting for?
We wondered: would we ever actually do it, or instead spend the next decade just talking about it?
And then we decided: let's try. 

We read a lot and expected that it would take anywhere from six months to one year for me to get pregnant. Well, suddenly, not one month after deciding to just see what happens, I found myself totally knocked up. 

To say that we were surprised is a vast understatement. 
To say that all of the feelings we have been feeling are just joyous ones would be a lie.
Our lives are about to change in a dramatic way, and I actually quite enjoy my life. 
I've worked hard to make that so.
Yet here I am, about to dismantle it piece by piece.
But I also understand that parenthood is a wondrous thing sometimes.
Remember: we are both teachers. 
He teaches young kids.
I teacher middle schoolers and high schoolers.
In fact, I have spent the last decade of my life surrounded by other people's children. 
I think we understand better than most what we are getting ourselves into.

And to say that we are excited is also a vast understatement.

We are horrified. 
We are ecstatic.
We are looking to the future instead of behind us.
We are nervous wrecks.
We are trying to get on the same page about some really important things.

Basically, we are processing the hell out of this latest development. 
And, luckily, we have until May 20, 2017 to do so.
Because that is when Baby B. is due to arrive.

And now, because I know some of you are just dying to know, here are some answers:

Does this mean we are moving back to America?
No. We like Taiwan, and we actually think Taiwan's society is healthier than America's. We don't at all mind the thought of raising an expat child who can speak more than one language and call more than one place home. 

That said, we do have some concerns. Like support. We understand we are forgoing help that would be readily provided if we moved back home. Help from family and from friends. 

However, we have invested far too much in this lifestyle to give it up over concerns. It is also important for us not to make decisions based on fear or worry. I can't say with certainty that we will not move back home, but that is certainly not our Plan A, and certainly not something that will happen this year or next year. 

Does this mean you are going to quit your job?
Nope! I plan on rocking the whole working mom thing. This is for various reasons, but the first is because neither Sean nor I think it is healthy for our relationship to be supported financially long term by just one person. 

We've been there and done that, and it is just not for us.

Also, I plan on continuing to do the things I love to do like travel travel travel! How on earth I could expect my husband to foot my bill for things as extraneous as an Icelandic road trip or a Greek island cruise is beyond my capacity for understanding. 

Plus, financially, we are in a pretty sweet spot. We have financial goals, and those goals require both of us rolling up our sleeves, working hard, and pitching in.  

There is also the fact that one of my main sources of socialization and friendship here comes from my job, and those are not things I am willing to give up.

Our plan is to hire a nanny to be with our baby from 8am-6pm. Of course, we get home before then, which is awesome because then she can clean or make us dinner. The awesome thing? That will cost us only 10% of our combined income until our child can begin preschool at our school (where he or she will learn Chinese). 

In the end, it comes down to losing more than half of our income if I choose to stay home, or instead only losing 10% of our income, which also comes with dog walking help, cleaning help, and cooking help. Plus, let me just say it: we get a built in date night every Monday through Friday from 4-6.

It's a no brainer for us, and most importantly, it's a no brainer for me.

That said, Taiwan does have awesome maternity leave, which I will fully take advantage of. I most likely will return to work in February 2018 for the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year.

How have things been going?
I think I've had a pretty smooth ride so far. My biggest complaint is the fatigue. It hit me hard, and it has been a challenge to keep up with everything like work, chores, friends, etc. Getting Bubu in the middle of everything was also pretty challenging. It was a huge adjustment. In fact, it still is. I wouldn't trade him for anything though, and I am finding ways to cope. I've slowed down. I don't push myself as much at work. I've backed off some household duties. I've stopped booking up my calendar. I've been spending a lot of time on the couch with Bubu.

Other than fatigue, I've had every other symptom associated with pregnancy. Some are worse than others, but I think this is just kinda how it goes. Suffice it to say, I told Sean he'd better be happy with one because I am too smart to do this whole pregnancy thing again.

And I am being totally serious.

Luckily, Taiwan is a pretty humane place to work. On top of my sick days at school, I also get 8 full work days off paid before I have the baby. They could be used for fatigue if I am tired, for morning sickness if I am not feeling well, or for doctor's appointments.

Am I seeing a Taiwanese doctor?
Of course I am! One who speaks English because let's face it, I have yet to meet one doctor here who doesn't. The gas station clerks also speak English. And the waitresses at most restaurants. And the little old man who runs my favorite fruit stand.

Basically, language will not be a big deal.

Does this mean you are getting rid of your scooters?
No, never!

My scooter is a part of who I am. As long as I can own a scooter, I will. This does mean we will need to be creative. We will rely on cabs and buses once I get too big to ride my scooter, and then we will continue to do so until our kid is old enough to ride the scooter.

You may find yourself horrified reading that, but I can assure you that many of our students arrive to school and leave school everyday on scooters and they are just fine.

I also assume that maybe you live in the west and perhaps have not spent much time outside of it. 

Ce la vie. 

Does this mean you are done travelling?
We are going to Japan this February when I will be 6 months pregnant. We were going to go to Vietnam or Thailand, but as Zika has occurred in those places, we opted for Japan instead. We had such a great time the last time we went there, and we cannot wait to go back!

As far as after the baby is born: we plan on flying half way across the world with our newborn to visit home over summer break. 

As far as vacation-style travel, we will just have to wait and see. I know we are definitely not done with travel, but when we will continue our adventures, I cannot say. There is a pretty serious chance that it will take a while for us to adjust to parenthood, and that will probably be all encompassing.

However, it is absolutely vital for the health of my soul that we don't become those people who say: do that before you have kids

I am seriously planning an Icelandic road trip, which will definitely include baby, so that's pretty cool.
I guess that is all for now.
It's a lot to take in.
Trust me, I get it. 

Add your comment

  1. Congratulations! What a wonderful and exciting news! I've really enjoyed reading your stories and travels and so happy for you both!

  2. Love it! Congrats to the both of you!

  3. Congratulations! That is absolutely wonderful. What an adventure to have a baby in Taiwan. I had my son abroad as well and we are raising him abroad for now and it is totally doable. As you mentioned one of the biggest concerns is childcare, but China has awesome childcare options. Another concern is the grandparents. Oh how they guilt us -- but we try to deal with it via Skype and visits.

    1. Thanks! We are soooooooo excited! Luckily, my mom is coming for 2 months, but I know she will be so sad when she has to go home and we will stay here.