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I’m Going to be a First-Time Parent… During a Pandemic

Prepping for a new baby is equal parts exciting and stressful. Doing so in a pandemic? Mostly the latter. Here’s how Ryan and his wife have been using their HSA to help.

The Beginning

It was an early fall morning when we first learned the news. My wife and I had been trying for months to start our family, and each month that passed by felt like an eternity. That feeling was finally over when she whispered to me through happy tears, “It’s positive. I’m pregnant!”

If there are any parents reading this, that moment probably rings a bell. When I heard those words, so many thoughts and emotions ran through me. It was as if excitement, happiness, and anxiety I cannot quite put into words had all joined together exploded inside of me. It was, without a doubt, a moment I’ll never forget.

The initial excitement did begin to wear, though, and left some extra room for anxiety. We had to start planning. 

Who will our doctor be? 

When do we schedule our first appointment? 

How do we tell our friends and loved ones? When?

How much is having a baby really going to cost? 

And what does one put on a baby shower registry?

If you’re anything like me, planning is everything. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I always try to think about any and every possible outcome of a situation before making a decision. Needless to say, I was about to be faced with some of the most important decisions of my life. But… one of the great things about planning is that you are typically prepared for the unexpected.

It took a few months of doctor’s visits for me to realize that my question of cost, at least, was pretty simple: it was going to cost a lot to have a baby. An ultrasound here, a check-up there, pretty soon you are forking up hundreds of dollars a month in healthcare costs to ensure your little one and course, Mom, are both healthy.

Over these last few months, my health savings account (HSA) has kind of become the unsung hero in our house. All of that pre-tax money I’ve been setting aside from my paychecks is now being put to good–no, the best–use.

More of the Unexpected

A few months into our new journey, I, along with every other human being in the world, learned about something new that infiltrated our reality: the coronavirus pandemic. It was new and concerning for everyone. Whether you were directly impacted or not, everyone’s life began to see a change in one way or another.

My wife and I are really, really lucky to have our health right now. As if becoming a new parent doesn’t present enough challenges in a normal world… you can imagine the added weight of a global pandemic.

My normal, everyday life was starting to look like a post-apocalyptic movie set. Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer everywhere. Simple, daily activities have become anything but. Going to the grocery store, buying prescriptions, and visiting the doctor are now strategically planned missions that (attempt to) ensure the health and safety of not only me and my family, but also those around us.

Fielding Another Curveball

Two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I was thrown another curveball: my full-time job was transitioning to a contract position. Like millions of other folks, overnight, I, too, became directly impacted by the pandemic.

Along with the job transition, I lost my company-provided health insurance. This had a huge impact on our family’s new addition. Many times, I thought to myself… “What will we do now?”

The new normal didn’t, and still doesn’t feel very normal. But one thing has remained steady in all of this: my HSA. Funny as that may sound, I find myself holding onto the consistent things in life right now… and this account is definitely one of them.

Knowing essential expenses like doctor’s visits were HSA-eligible expenses provided some much-needed peace of mind in a world of chaos. Even though I lost my benefits, I still had a source of income through my contract role. And even though we are paying out of pocket to continue our health insurance through COBRA, I’ve still had my HSA to help with any out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. We were thrown for a loop, but we considered ourselves lucky to be as prepared as we were.

The Future

As I sit here and write this, we have less than seven weeks until our little girl (yes! It’s a girl!) arrives. Bringing another person into the world presents challenges. We knew that. But we never imagined the hurdles a pandemic would present us with.

I feel lucky to have my health. My wife and almost baby’s health, too. This experience has strengthened my trust in the process, as well as my trust in my HSA. Even though I’m without a significant income right now, I’m going to keep making those investments into our future. 

Whether you need a hand paying for your next routine doctor’s visit, or happen to become a new parent in a global pandemic, if you’re eligible, consider opening an HSA.