I’ll be honest, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride with Baby T2.0 so far. Mrs. T and I thought we’d never get to this situation with her, given our experience with Baby T1.0 previously. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
You see, things were not easy with Baby T1.0. He lost quite a bit of weight (14%) the first few days of his life. While it’s typically for babies to lose up to 10% of body weight a few days after birth, more than 10% weight loss would raise concerns from your health care providers. Because Baby T1.0 was jaundiced at the same time, he became very weak and was sleepy whenever we tried to feed him. This certainly did not help with his weight gain. I still remembered getting the phone call from our midwife about having to go to the hospital for jaundice treatment. We ended up having to stay at the hospital for 2 days so Baby T1.0 could get photo therapy to help breaking down bilirubin in his body. Due to him not gaining much weight, we were put on a 3 hour feeding schedule at the hospital.
Mrs. T and I thought the 3 hour feeding schedule would be manageable but it was a lot harder than we both imagined. Much, much harder. The entire feed consisted of feeding from the breasts, supplementing with donor milk & expressed breast milk, then eventually we had to introduce formula as well. After every feed, Mrs. T would then pump to get some expressed milk for the next feed. The entire “feeding routine” would last about 1.5 hour, meaning we really would only have 1.5 hour of sleep time at most for each feeding cycle.
I don’t know how we did it, but we managed to live like this for 2 straight months, getting very little sleep and working our daily lives around the crazy 3 hour feeding schedule. I honestly don’t know how I didn’t fall sleep at work. Somehow Mrs. T and I survived and came out (somewhat) sane. I somehow managed to successfully finish a multi-million work project on schedule during this time.
I guess sleep deprivation does wonders to work efficiency somehow. :p
So with Baby T2.0, we thought our previous experience would have helped. We kept a close eye on her feeding schedule. She was feeding 10 or more times the first few days after birth. She was having wet and soil diapers consistently as well, so we thought everything would be fine.
Then on the 4th day of her young life, the midwife thought Baby T2.0 looked a bit more yellowish than she would like, during the routine postpartum visit, so we went to the hospital to get some blood work done.
A few hours later we received a phone call.
“Baby T2.0 needs to go to the hospital for photo therapy” said the midwife.
My heart sank when I heard that. I looked across the room and saw Mrs. T crying.
No, not this again. We can’t do this!
We packed up everything and left Baby T1.0 at home with Mrs. T’s mom, who was visiting from Denmark for 10 days to provide help.
While driving to the hospital, we comforted each other and assured each other that everything would be OK. We knew we'd be OK because Baby T1.0 had the same treatment and now he’s a very healthy and active toddler.
We ended up staying in the hospital with Baby T2.0 overnight while she went through photo therapy. The hospital staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Because she was born at home (planned home birth), she didn’t have a Personal Health Number. So there was a bit of confusions at the hospital getting her admitted. Thanks to the universal health care in Canada, the nurses just said that they’d figure it out and told us to focus on Baby T2.0.
Universal health care is totally awesome. Score one for socialism.
There was no bed for me at the hospital so I ended up sleeping on a chair. Due to sleep deprivation I passed out regardless.
As it turned out, Baby T2.0’s bilirubin level dropped very fast even before we got admitted and lots more during our stay. We were put on a 3 hour feeding schedule again to help reducing the bilirubin level. Luckily we were discharged from the hospital after 16 hours and only had to endure the crazy 3 hour feeding schedule for a very short period of time. We are now back at home and back to feeding on demand. Unlike Baby T1.0, Baby T2.0 has been gaining weight very nicely.
When I look back at this roller coaster experience, things were outside of our control. While we tried to make sure that Baby T2.0 was feeding well, her bilirubin level was still higher than normal. There was nothing much we could do other than getting the photo therapy and stay positive. It's funny to reflect this experience onto the world of investing. Since Mr. Market is emotional, there's not much we can do as investors to control which way the stock market will go. It can go up one day and down the next. Since we have no control of the market, all we can do is get in line and stay in line. Stay focused with your investing strategy.
FI Fighter recently wrote a piece on Don't Sell Yourself Short where he talked about how he jumped around different high tech companies within the Bay area to get higher salary. At end of his short engineering career, he was north of $200,000 a year. It's interesting that he pointed out that companies will always "abuse" you if you take it. Don't work the extra hour for nothing and be happy with the small raises each year. If you provide great values to the company, fight for your worth. You have the sole responsibility to stand up for yourself.
I have been working at the same company for close to 10 years and had made 4 different job changes along the way. I recall a few years ago I was not happy with my salary. What did I do? I told my managers that I needed a raise or I was out of there. I showed my managers my performance and compared my salary with the average salary I found online. Thanks to standing up for myself, I received a raise of ~25% plus performance bonus. During this time, one of the managers I'm friends with applauded me for standing up for myself. He told me that companies will always try to pay you the least amount they can. And obviously, you want to get paid as much as you can. It's up to you and you alone to negotiate and find the right salary amount that you and the company can agree upon. There's always room for salary negotiation.
I often wonder why salary is such a hush hush topic here in North America. I don't know how much my co-workers or my managers make. The only way to get an estimate is to look at sites like Glassdoor. Why is that? A good friend of mine mentioned to me once, that in Australia, where he worked briefly, salary is an open topic between employees. One of the junior employees under my friend's supervision asked him how much he made the first day he started working. The salaries of professional athletes are open information. Because of the salary transparency, athletes have been able to make more and more money. Shouldn't the salary information for average workers like you and me be more readily available?
Kudos to FI Fighter for reaching financial independence at early 30's. It looks like Jason Fieber, previous owner of Dividend Mantra, has reached financial independence recently too. It's great to see other bloggers around my age reaching FI. This has only encouraged me to work harder toward FI. 🙂
There are many ways to have money. For example, you can win the lottery, or inherit a large amount of money. Almost all of the PF bloggers are saving money and building their passive income stream over time. I truly believe the key to achieve FI is to live below your means and invest money that you saved. Whether you invest in dividend growth stocks, index funds, rental properties, real estates, businesses, or other passive income streams, the key is to build your passive income sources. This is perhaps why so many lottery winners or people that inherited a large amount of money never end up becoming financially independent. Yes the means are there, but the knowledge isn't. They don't know that it's possible to have your money working hard for you forever, so you don't have to. They think that the lottery winning/inheritance money will last forever.
But we all know that isn't true at all.
Joe recently asked How Come Parents Don't Play With Their Kids. I think the answer is "use of cell phones".
Thanks to the advances in cell phone technology, more and more people are glued to their phones. I have to admit, I am guilty of doing that from time to time. It's simply easier to look at your phone than socializing with other people. Because it's less effort. What we fail to realize is that we start losing touch with the face-to-face social interaction. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and all the other "social networks" are not the same as face-to-face social interaction. We need to be better at living in the present and interact with others around us.
Whenever we go out to eat, it always shocks me to see couples sitting across the table while checking their phones throughout the entire meal. They never seem to talk to each other. I always wonder if they're texting/tweeting/snapchatting/liking each other across the table. It just seems ridiculous to me. I recently hopped on a bus and all I could see are people looking down on their phones. Not many people were people watching and being present. It's a shame as a society that we've come to this point. Are we really evolving? Or are we going backwards?
It's weird that I am so much more emotional shortly before and after Baby T1.0 and T2.0's births.
Shortly after Baby T1.0's birth I read about Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. I still remember reading a story of a mom holding her new born who unfortunately drowned from all the flooding. As a new parent, it was hard to describe how heart wrenching it was reading the story. I think I shed a few tears and immediately donated some money through Canadian Red Cross to provide a helping hand.
Oddly enough, same thing happened just recently.
Few days before Baby T2.0's birth, I read about the story of, Baby Sal. He was lucky to be alive as he was born 26 weeks into the pregnancy, weighed just under two pounds at his birth, and was the size of a water bottle. His mother, Breanne, 22, was terminally ill with osteosarcoma during the pregnancy. That's the same cancer that killed Terry Fox if you know who Terry Fox is. Breanne knew she wouldn't survive, but she wanted to be able to hold her baby before she died. That wish was granted on Christmas day, when she was able to hold Sal for the first and last time. She died a few days later. To make this tragedy even worse, Sal's father Adam had died suddenly in November (note: these sentences were taken directly from The Province article). Reading the story made me very emotional and I again immediately made a donation to help out.
Stories like these reminds me how precious life is and that we need to be grateful for what we have now. I still remember my parents taking my brother and I to the hospital to visit a terminally ill young boy. I was just in my early teens and my brother was around the same age as the young boy. The boy was so young yet so mature. He really appreciated every minute he had here on Earth.
Becoming financially independent is great and all but we must not forget to enjoy life now. Never fall into the Have-Do-Be trap because you'll never be happy that way.
If you're reading this blog, I assume that you're doing OK financially. Please continue working hard toward financial independence but please also take the time to provide a set of helping hands to people in need in your community. Whether that's donating your time or donating some money. Giving freely and not expecting anything in return is extremely important.
Enough random thoughts. I promise to resume more investing related blog posts in the upcoming days.