Why Tulsa is the Best Place to Have a Baby
Editor’s Note: Jill’s sister had her baby 6 weeks early on Jan. 10 – We will see how this story unfolds! For now, congratulations to the new family! B.C.
We are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled “hip” programming so I can talk about something terribly close to my heart right now: In a few short weeks, my little sister, at the ripe “advanced maternal age” of 40, is going to have her first baby. And I’m in a bit of an emotional tizzy about it. Why? Well, let me tell you a little about my sister. She’s a smart girl. A lawyer, in fact. She does something fancy in intellectual property for the government in Washington, D.C. She’s the primary breadwinner in her family, married to an assistant district attorney in the Bronx.
Oh, what? They live in the Bronx? And she works in DC? Yes, that’s right. My sister and her husband live in a fifth floor walkup with no washing machine, no elevator and no doorman to get her packages (she has to WAIT IN LINE at the post office!). So how does this work, you ask? Every Monday, at 3 dark-thirty in the morning, she walks down five flights of stairs and catches a cab to Penn Station. Then she boards the train from New York City to Washington, D.C., a four-to-five-hour ride. Once the train arrives in DC, she takes a short walk to a subway, takes a 15-minute subway ride, and then walks to her job. After her workday in DC, she stays in the basement of some chick I don’t know. Then, on Friday, she repeats that gut-wrenching commute back to see her husband in the Bronx for le weekend.
So, what’s she going to do when the baby comes? Well, eight weeks after the baby’s born (that’s all the paid time off she has; she can’t afford to take more unpaid leave), she’s going to bring the baby with her! She’s going to pop that baby at 3 a.m. in a carseat, walk down those five flights of stairs, take an Uber with her husband to the train station (then he’s going to keep the car seat?!), ride the train (does the baby need a ticket, too? She doesn’t know!), hoof to the subway carrying the baby, and then walk to one of two daycares she’s hoping to get into, even though neither has an opening yet). Then she’ll work, pick up the baby, and (I guess) head to the chick’s basement.
Friends, what do you say to that? Besides the mind-boggling logistics of her work situation, there’s the million and seven special considerations of having a baby in New York City. My sister doesn’t have a trust fund. She doesn’t even have a CAR. What if the baby is sick in the middle of the night? Do you just hail a cab? What about in a few years when you just want to lock the kid outside but you can’t — you’ve got to schlep to Central Park or something?
And I’ve lived in New York: You hemorrhage money every time you walk out the door. And the preschools! You had better get your little snowflake on the waiting list as soon as you see that second line — lest your child is relegated to some lousy second-tier preschool. And even if you magically get through the daunting application process for the top-tier preschool, you’ll pay tuition roughly equal to four Holland Halls…for a 3-year-old!
Ah, I could go on, but as my sister has asked me for advice here and there (and left it totally unheeded), it occurs to me I have a thing or two to say to a new mom (now stop laughing!). I’ve been pregnant many, many times, and birthed many babies, and while it looks like the sun is setting on that time of my life (sob, sob), I have a few opinions in case you, too, are having your first baby. So humor me and let me wax on a bit about those first few weeks and months of pregnancy and new mommyhood:
My sister is always bragging how her husband goes to every appointment. Ladies, this doesn’t impress me at all. If your husband can get away, if he enjoys going, then by all means! But assuming you have a nice, boring, normal pregnancy, if it’s difficult for him to make these appointments — let it go! If my husband went to every doctor appointment, he’d be unemployed and we’d be living under a bridge somewhere. You can handle peeing and lying down on your own. If he can come to a big appointment — the gender reveal, maybe? — that’s great. But use your leverage for later, when you want to shower or run away for an hour to do some blessed errands without the baby. That is when you will need some support — not now!
My sister was curious if she should take Lamaze classes. Well, I went with my first, and I guess the breathing exercises helped with those late, deep contractions from Hades. But then my first child was vacuumed out! Since then I’ve had C-sections, so I just show up and get sliced and diced. I don’t know; go ahead and go to a class if you want to meet other pregnant people. Maybe you are passionate about wanting a drug-free birth, or giving birth in a big bathtub, or having the baby at home? You can probably look up some breathing techniques on YouTube. Well, have some thoughts, but don’t get too hung up on anything. The best deliveries are the ones that result in a healthy baby and a healthy mama. The end.
Are you spending a lot of time, sweat and love on a nursery? If you are, that’s great! But if you don’t have the time, patience, money or stamina, don’t sweat it at all. My husband was unemployed during my first pregnancy; we had a crib — well, MY crib from when I was a baby — and that was it. Since then, the babies started coming quickly enough that we’d have a room for the “big kid,” and I had the “new” baby right next to my bed anyway. My sister’s apartment is about 600 square feet; there’s not going to be any nursery to speak of. Guess what? The baby doesn’t care one little bit if he’s sleeping in a Kardashian-inspired seraglio, or a modest bassinet next to you. All he wants and needs is your love, attention and food!
Work is such a complicated thing once you have a baby. You just don’t know how you are going to feel — and quite probably how you feel is largely irrelevant to your financial situation. But if you have any financial flexibility, see how it goes! With my first couple of children, I had a really great work situation: two days per week in the office, and a bit of working from home. And, yet, I still dreaded dropping them off, and could not leave work fast enough, especially when they were still little bundles of fleshly baby flab. I should note I was a CPA, and while the work was fine and paid the bills, the only aspects I truly loved about my job were lunch, gossiping with grown ups, and happy hour. Most of us have to work; my sister has to work. Hopefully you are able to work out a situation that suits you and your baby — without a jillion-hour train ride. Which brings me to my last point:
Move to Tulsa!
OK, smarty pants, you already live here? Great job! We moved here from Portland when I was pregnant with my third child; we had made the calculation that the costs of having three children in daycare even part-time meant I ought to be earning a salary roughly equal to the CEO of Nike. Alas, I was not. PVT found a job in Tulsa that meant we would need to make sacrifices, but that we could get by on one income for a while. And that we did!
Now that I’ve been here 10 years, I appreciate Tulsa so much more: It’s a city that aspires to be both hip and family-friendly. Oh, pregnant mamas, aren’t you glad you live here? Whatever your pre-baby situation is, I bet it doesn’t involve train rides, fifth-floor walk-ups, washing machines that might involve a trek in the rain or snow, and living in someone’s basement. Another bonus? Somehow it seems like wherever you land here, you are bound to find a caring and concerned community surrounding your doorstep. My poor sister doesn’t know a single neighbor. Whatever your concerns are regarding motherhood, dear mama, rest easy knowing your baby will be born here in our little lovely town of Tulsa, Oklahoma.