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The Bumpdate: 2023 Recap, New Parent Tax Tips, Community Events, Surviving the First Year and Bluey!

The Newsletter for Heart of Houston Birth and Wellness Friends and Families.

And a Happy New Year...

Happy 2024, friends! Can you believe it? We made it! I've been slacking on my Bumpdate duties since the kids have been out of school. Not gonna lie, I really enjoyed the break but I'm excited to get 2024 programming off to a great start.

What an incredible year for our little birth center. 2023 was our first full year here at the Mapleridge location. Midwife Bethany ran our stats yesterday and we couldn't be more proud to have been a part of so many incredible births last year. We welcomed 67 babies in 2023, 5 of them were repeat Heart of Houston families. While this summer was the summer of breech babies, which resulted in a few unexpected surgical births, overall 84% of the folks who planning on delivering at the birth center did so. Mary, Bethany, Kate, Rachel and I are so very grateful for each of you and the trust you have in us. We are looking to make some changes in our practice for 2024 and we are committed to providing the very best care to everyone who walks through our doors. Thanks for growing with us.

Meet Your Peeps

I wanted to invite those of you who might be feeling anxious about joining our postpartum group to swing by next Thursday between 10-12ish and meet your community. I know it might feel daunting to be around other people right now, but hear me out! For the past 10 years I've met with new parents monthly and sometimes weekly to celebrate and lament their new realities. I fully credit my village of birth-workers and friends/doula clients for surviving early parenthood and many continue to support me in the beautiful chaos of parenthood. Here's what I've learned along the way.

  • This will most likely be the destination for your first solo outing. No one shows up on time so you can focus on practicing getting out of the house without unnecessary pressure. Group shouldn't be a chore but it definitely takes effort to attend. It fills your cup and might be your only outing for the week at first and thats just fine.

  • This room will be the space where you learn how to feed your baby in public. No matter how you choose to feed your baby, this is a safe space for you to figure it all out. Our very favorite IBCLC Leah Jolly sits in twice a month to give expert advice on all thing feeding related. Your peers are around to share their experiences about feeding their little ones.

  • Every time you attend group you are helping someone sitting beside you. You may feel lost and alone the first time you show up but seeing others in the struggle with you can light a flame of hope. One that might need to be rekindled every Thursday.

  • These people will be vital in your inaugural season as a parent and some will remain in your life for more than a season. They are all important; tell them.

Tax Season

Our friend, OG HOH mama and accountant extraordinaire , Katherine Pomerantz shares her tax season tips for new parents.

A newborn can be great for our taxes. Most tax breaks come in the form of tax deductions, which reduce the amount of income we use to calculate our tax bill. Most child related tax breaks, however, are tax credits. Tax credits directly reduce the tax we owe and can even result in a refund if they reduce our tax bill to zero. Common child credits include:

Child tax credit

The child tax credit is an automatic $2000 per child, even if your little one was born late in the year. My daughter was born in November, and I greatly enjoyed writing off thousands of dollars before I had even returned from maternity leave.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The EITC is a tax credit for low- and moderate-income earners. While the amount of this credit varies depending on your filing status and number of dependents, if your household made less than $50,000 in 2023, your newborn likely qualifies you for extra money through the EITC.

Childcare (or dependent care) tax credit

If you pay daycare, babysitters, nannies, or camps for childcare so you can work, you can claim a percentage of your childcare costs as a tax credit. You need an address and a social security number (or tax id number) for every childcare provider to claim this credit.

Each of these credits phase out as your income grows. If your income is too big to qualify for the tax credits above, there are additional tools you may use to offset all current and future baby costs.

Dependent Care FSA

Some employers offer this benefit. If you sign up, up to $5000 in 2024 can be withheld from your paychecks throughout the year and put into a savings account. You can then withdraw from this savings account and pay for childcare without ever paying taxes on this money. Choose the annual amount you want withheld in advance and be aware that any unused savings will be returned to your employer at the end of the year.

Filing Status

If you’re not married, having a kid means you can change your filing status to head of household. This new status would raise your standard deduction and your tax brackets, giving you a big advantage on your overall tax bill. You must pay more than half your little one’s expenses to qualify.

Saving for college and other education costs

There are special investment accounts for education expenses called 529 Plans. Any money in a 529 plan grows tax free and can be taken out tax free for qualifying education costs. Saving as little as $50 a month can result in thousands of dollars in income you don’t have to pay taxes on, as this table from shows:

 I really like 529 Plans because more education costs qualify than you might think (like buying your high school student a new computer), there are no income limits for using a 529 Plan, and anyone, including friends and extended family members, can make contributions in your child’s name. The College Investor is a great resource to learn more about 529 Plans and other ways to save for your newborn.

These are some of the simplest ways a new baby can reduce your tax bill. Dedicated savers and the self-employed have even more tools available to them and may want to consult with a tax professional to set themselves up for success. I’m cheering for everyone in the HOH community and can be reached at if you need further support.

Thoughts from a new parent

How it started, how it's going.

Please enjoy this beautiful reflection on the first year of parenthood from our friend and HOH mama, Alex Lekometros.

It Started with a Chair

(Bonus points if you can name that movie)

When we bought our (exorbitantly priced) glider, I envisioned myself rocking, nursing my sweet, content baby.

Instead, I got a baby who screamed like we were cutting off a toe, and arched her back like my nipple was the most offensive thing in the world when offered the breast.

Instead, I had my baby’s mouth cut with a laser at four weeks old.

Instead, I got a month and a half of five-times-a-day “tongue stretches” where you essentially stretch aforementioned incision until your baby screams bloody murder.

Instead, I got four months of nursing with a nipple shield - a plastic sombrero for your nipple so that baby can attach properly.

Instead, I got so many lactation consultant visits, she offered me a free one - like when you get nine coffees so the tenth one is free.

And then, finally, I got a baby who cared to nurse. Whose eyes would roll back with relief when she latched. Who wiggles with anticipation when she sits on my lap. Who lights up like a Christmas tree at the word milk.

And now, it’s coming to a close. Because I want to eat a quesadilla. Because I want to go on a trip without a pump. Because I want to be able to work out in the morning without hosing the person in front of me down with milk.

Sometimes, I say to Nate, “can you believe I make milk?” It’s such a brief moment of life, but it’s so all consuming while it’s happening. Raise a glass of milk to a mom today. However she fed her baby, it definitely wasn’t gently gliding in a chair with a smile.

Save the Date

It's that time again! Bring your gently used pregnancy, baby and breastfeeding items to swap with your HOH and WHC friends. Drop off your items Friday 2/9 from 10 to 2pm and then come shop from 12-4pm on Saturday 2/10. Every member is welcome to come parooze the items and take what they need. We'll open it up to the public at 5pm so come early and grab what you need.

Massage with Mary B

Our friend and resident massage therapist, Mary Bratcher, LM signed on a new space last month. While we are sad we won't see her in the building on Wednesdays we are lucky to keep her on as on of our birth assistants. HOH and WHC folks can still get discounts on services. Visit her scheduling site to book your next massage with Mary.

We'll miss your sweet spirit around here, Mary. <3

January Events

New address 6550 Mapleridge Ste 100

Monthly Ongoing Events

  • Thursday In Person Postpartum Support Circle: 10-12 in the community room. Open to current HOH & WHC members. Feeding clinic first and third Thursdays of each month.

  • Queer Parent Circle: Second Sunday of every month 2-4pm Open to the public.

  • Babywearing Beginners Series:Every Second Saturday 4-5pm Free for HOH & WHC

  • Birth workers Circle: Second Sunday of every month 11am-1:00pm midwives, student midwives, doulas, birth assistants, Obs and L&D nurses are all welcome to attend.

  • Various Childbirth Education Curriculums starting soon: Bradley Method with Anne Zwicky, In/At Labor with Debbie Hull

That's all for now! Have a great week everyone.

Know someone who should join our collective? Forward this to a friend!

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