We have had a busy, exciting, scary, anxiety ridden, joy filled few months!
At this point you know lots about my pregnancy and the upcoming birth of baby Isla. What I haven’t discussed in detail is the other stuff we’ve been planning for, mainly, the purchase of a new home and the sale of our current one. I wanted to share a little bit about our experiences and maybe give you my top tips for dealing with these different situations. So here goes;
We actually purchased the home quite a while ago. It’s a new build that is about a 3.5-minute walk from my parents’ house! Which will come in super handy for all the babysitting abuse we are planning on dishing out.
It is a little bigger than the one we have now, but is a detached, which will be a nice change (we have very noisy neighbours at the moment). We love the layout and have customized it quite a bit to our taste, including taking out the tub in the master ensuite (I know, controversial right? But I NEVER take baths and hate cleaning it). Instead we made the shower large enough to fit all five of us if we ever have some sort of dirt emergency… We also made the vanity larger with a sink for both Peter and I where we will compete for who can leave out the most hair product, as well as an added makeup station in the middle.
The purchase of the house started off easy enough, we knew the area we wanted to be in, looked at a couple of builders and found a model that we liked within our budget. We didn’t have to do anything for several months except give them down payment money (of course) and our closing ended up being about a year away in the summer, which was perfect. Over the next few months we had several appointments to discuss our custom choices, and colours etc.
It quickly became evident that the builder we had chosen was lets say, “less organized” than what we were used to.
Our appointments started to feel burdensome because for some reason, anything we discussed was either not written down, or lost, or forgotten, or not quoted properly etc. Which meant that we had LOTS of extra appointments to discuss the same things over and over and ended up with some surprise costs down the road. Not fun.
The house was then delayed, 3 times, finally landing on a date about a year after the initial closing was supposed to be, and also in the winter. Our builder only had to give us a 30-day notice on any delays, which meant we couldn’t plan the sale of our current house until almost the very last minute – or until we were certain of a more concrete time frame.
I also got pregnant during this time, and our final closing was made for 2 weeks after Isla’s due date, which really added some pressure!
We seem to be on track now though! We have actually been scheduled for a walk through of the home in a few weeks. Still, I think there are some definite take aways from our experience building a new home;
1. Research The Builder: When you go to a sales site, its easy to get caught up in the finishes that the builder is presenting to you or in their model homes. Sometimes builders have great incentives to get you to commit as well. All of this is great and important – however, its vital to do your homework on the builders at some point before making the commitment. We didn’t realize until after we had issues and we spoke to other buyers that builder we purchased from has a reputation for slow work, and for some pretty extreme delays. Had we been in a more precarious financial or home situation it would have made life for us extremely difficult.
2. Prioritize Your Upgrades: Again the builder will show you all of the best (ahem, most expensive) finishes available to you. They will offer these things to you as upgrades and then charge you 2 to 3 times the actual market value. There are so many things that can be done AFTER the fact, at a slower pace and a much more reasonable price. When choosing your upgrades focus on the things that will affect resale value, or that would be a significant amount of work after ( like removing a tub).
3. Write EVERYTHING Down/File EVERYTHING: I had this down about 50/50, which is why I mention it. Most of the discussions we had with the building coordinator in person I did not write down. Later, when things we discussed were missed (like a refund we were promised but didn't receive) I really regretted not having detailed notes of our conversations. Luckily a few of these issues were resolved because I had sent follow up questions through email (and I keep all emails).
We finally decided that it was time to sell our current home just before Christmas. We had a short time frame in which to get rid of some of our clutter (which surprisingly we still had – even though we live pretty minimally). We had the carpets redone, and the walls painted all in December so that we could list the house at the beginning of January. Luckily our realtor was a superstar. We have a friend who is a realtor in the area, very good at his job and was extremely helpful in making us feel prepared and relaxed about the whole process.
We also live in a really hot housing market, so our house sold in a day! Which was amazing because let me tell you, we had, I think 4 showings over that time frame and getting the dogs in and out of that house each time while 7-8 months pregnant was maybe the least fun thing ever.
Of course immediately after the sale I got very emotional about the whole thing. This is after all our first home; we decorated together and redecorated every time our tastes changed. We had some sweet dates here and some big fights; we started our little family and learned how to exist as a married couple. I am grateful that this will be Isla’s first home for however short a time. Peter is a lot less nostalgic about the whole thing (for now); he is ready for the next part, which I am also excited for. I’m not usually the nostalgic one so I blame all the hormones.
So, December/January was a very busy month for us! Most of the final decisions, payments for the new house had to be made, contractors booked, appliances bought etc. We had to sell, list our house and then immediately start packing. I wanted to get a head start since I know the time I have before my energy is completely gone is limited!
Everything feels a bit calmer now, most of the major decisions have been made, everything booked, planned and organized and I’ve packed quite a bit. I’ve had some time to focus on the upcoming birth and necessities to make sure we are comfortable at home when she’s here and during the process of moving. Here are my top tips for selling your home;
1. Use a Realtor: Guys, a few months ago I was certain we’d be using a company like Property guys, Comfree etc. Like I mentioned before we are in a hot market and I just felt that it wasn’t necessary to hire a realtor (and pay all those fees). But then I did a little research, and while upfront it seems like you are saving a tonne of money – it actually isn’t quite as huge when you take everything into account (like still having to pay the buying agent for example). Plus, I saw how much work it was to have to deal with all of the other agents, buyers etc. and honestly, I could not have handled it….And our house was on the market for ONE DAY. I would have for sure had some sort of panic attack If I was trying to do it on my own for any longer than that. Just saying, there is a lot that goes into selling your home and too many places of vulnerability. Save yourself and hire a realtor.
2. Declutter In Advance: I am so grateful that over the last year or so Peter and I have adopted a more minimalist approach, and had already pared down a lot of our belongings. That being said there was still quite a bit that we ended up getting rid of while in the process of getting our house ready for sale. We went through each room slowly, and were often a bit ruthless. But I really feel now that everything I am packing away are things that we love and bring us joy and will be useful to us. It feels good to not have so much junk.
3. Find/Make Connections: Throughout the process of buying/ selling, we reached out to friends and family to find trustworthy people to do some work in both houses. We ended up finding amazing people who did excellent work – and who charged us reasonable (or actually amazing) prices. We are using a few of them for the new house as well, and they will always be the people we recommend to others.
Growing a Human
Because the beginning of this pregnancy was difficult for me, I feel extra grateful for the fact that I’ve had a pretty easy and uneventful second and third trimester. I almost hate to say that – because I do realize that this isn’t the same experience for everyone, and I have the greatest sympathy for people who struggle the whole time – 40 weeks is a long time.
I am currently at week 38, full term! And this is possibly the most pregnant I’ve felt thus far. Sleep is starting to get harder for me because of the frequency of the bathroom trips. My belly finally feels like its big enough to hold a human, I find myself with less energy and not able to do as much before I get tired. I am also getting more anxious/excited/impatient/but terrified for the whole labour and delivery event, not to mention the parenting part after.
I’m doing my best to stay calm and peaceful and relax in these last few weeks because I know my whole world will look a little different after. Here are some top tips for pregnancy (which although has not been as difficult for me, has still taught me a few things, and I could have written many more points really);
1. Buy The Pillow: I’ve had this discussion with people that have both used the pillow and some who haven’t. Those who haven’t generally assume that it’s just a gimmick, those who have used it know better. I don’t know exactly why it’s better than regular pillows, but it is. I am also not saying that you will be perfectly comfortable 100% of the time, because I mean – you are growing a human and only being able to sleep on your side, whilst 30 pounds heavier, and having to pee every time you turn around – is not comfortable. But it will make a difference, and I think any little bit of comfort you can get is absolutely necessary.
2. Skip The Books But Get The App; For that matter skip most of the stuff that is going to either freak you out, or make you feel inadequate etc. I found that reading the books actually made me feel more stressed out and over analyze every detail of the pregnancy. I also found the same kind of effect from reading anything online. My one exception is to get a really good pregnancy app. After trying a few, I settled on using Ovia Pregnancy which I LOVE. It’s crazy how much they fit into this little app. It gives you a calendar where you can mark important dates as well keep track of how you are feeling, your sleep, symptoms, what you ate etc. It has a spot already set up for notes on questions to ask the doctor, things to buy, registry checklist, notes to baby etc. As well as a place to add photos of all the big milestones, ultrasounds etc. And that’s all in the back menu – on the main screen there is a space that shows you your progress in weeks as well as how big baby is (compared to tropical fruit or cute animals or baked goods) And provides you with daily tips and articles about baby and its development. Its honestly the best app around, amazing.
3. Have Some Deflection Phrases: This one is difficult but important. Pregnancy (especially for first time moms) is a difficult, overwhelming time for women. We just don’t know what to expect really and it’s so different for each person. This makes other people – who have already gone through it want to impart all of their wisdom – to make it easier for those currently in that position. They want to help and maybe make it a little easier for you than it was for them.
As wonderful as that sentiment is it can be incredibly difficult to actually deal with, particularly when you are as frightened, uncomfortable, hormonal etc etc as you are. What others don't seem to realize is that you have already heard this advice, possibly more than once, and probably from multiple viewpoints.
You have already heard about the importance of Breastfeeding, and how you’ll “get over the pain” in a few weeks. You’ve already heard that natural birth can be empowering, but also that having an epidural can give you a little bit more sanity in a tough situation. You’ve already heard that you need to work on your marriage now because it will never be the same after, but also about how it can be a real strength builder to create a little human together.
My point is just that everyone has a different view on almost every topic related to pregnancy, childbirth and parenting and they will want to share it with you. Sometimes rather forcefully. Try to remember that it is likely coming from a good place and that no one else’s judgment should affect your life choices, and the things you do that get you from one day to the next.
But lastly, have a collection of key phrases that you feel comfortable using to shut down a conversation that may be making you uncomfortable. Mainly, I use a sort of change the subject approach, such as; “ Oh thanks for the advice! Maybe you have some on (blank)” - This would often change the topic to something I was more comfortable discussing ( ie; freezer meals or something less personal).
Anyway, I know that was a lot of info! And I do hope that some of it is helpful to you! I will leave you with a video that some of our amazing friends put together of the baby shower for little Isla. Enjoy! xo