Sticker Shock (24w5d)

First things first: I am (finally) wearing my carpel tunnel brace at work (after having to pause every 10-15 minutes to regain circulation to my fingers while not wearing it) and while I seem to be suffering from less blood drainage than before, it sure makes typing a bitch. So, bear with me y’all.

I was going to just wait to do any sort of update until Friday, when we have our next midwife appointment (last one of the second tri!) but then I remembered that I actually have something to say and there is no reason to ‘save’ it, so why not write a little update? So, you can expect a bonus on Friday!

On Monday, I got my first bill from the hospital where I get my prenatal treatment. I was a little surprised – my insurance plan covers all prenatal care, with no co-pay even (after the initial visit to confirm pregnancy) and a mid-term ultrasound. So what was I getting a bill for? The bill was, in fact, for the anatomy scan – $513.00 for the equipment, and another $200 for the physician fee. How could this be, since my plan so clearly states that I have coverage for an ultrasound?

I called the insurance company and asked this question. The (very nice but ultimately inept) agent looked things over, agreed with me that the scan should be covered, then put me on hold for 20 minutes while she talked to the claims folks. When she came back on the line, it was to tell me that actually, the u/s was only covered after I’d met my deductible. Not that this caveat was mentioned in any of the paperwork I had access to (which even the agent acknowledged.) When I asked her how, exactly, I was supposed to know what was actually covered and what was subject to loopholes like this, she didn’t have a clear answer. Instead, she instructed me how to manually resubmit the claim. I’m not sure why my manual resubmission will make any difference, but that was the best she could do for me.

This sent me down the rabbit hole of investigating estimated costs for our delivery (our hospital is one of the cheapest in town and we are anticipating the most basic vaginal birth (with, hopefully, not even an epidural to pay for) and the total cost is still going to range between $12-20,000 (our portion is likely to cost around $3-4K), and double checking my flex spending limits and the limits around all of that (praise be that I can use the entire amount in the 125 account in April, even if I haven’t paid that amount into it yet!) Which of course sent me into a tailspin about all the other costs associated with having a baby, which even with a minimalist approach like we are taking, will still exist.

We don’t make a lot of money. This may be confusing, since we conceived via IVF. But we were only able to do so thanks to the incredible generosity of my very frugal and financially savvy mom, who gifted us the cash to do so (I have a lot of feels about this situation – about privilege and having my mom ‘own’ some stake in my kid, and etc etc etc). I work at a non profit organization and while I make a reasonably good salary for my position, it’s still a LOT lower than what folks my age (education, experience level, etc) in the private sector make. La is adjunct faculty at a local college. If you weren’t already aware, I will fill you in that the adjunct system is basically a way to exploit labor in colleges and universities, but it’s also a system that you basically have to pay dues into before you can get a tenure track or even permanent position at most academic institutions. She’s paid per credit class, but if you boiled it down to a per hour wage, it would be below minimum – that’s how bad it is.

Sometimes I have some guilt/shame about the fact that we are not as ‘financially stable’ as maybe I (and I’m sure others) think we should be. I mean, I want to be clear, we have a house (that we own) and cars, and plenty of resources to pay for those things plus food and clothing and essentials. But we don’t have a big savings account, and a bill for 500 (let alone $3,000) will be a matter of payment plans, not withdrawing from savings. We very well may never have many of these things – I love the work I do, and while I am successful and will likely continue to increase my earnings, there just isn’t big money in the field I love. La will eventually get a full time position that will pay her much better, but academia isn’t where you get rich either.  I also believe deeply that you don’t need to be wealthy to have a kid, and the idea that there are people who ‘shouldn’t’ be having kids because of their income level is basically just veiled classism and racism. But it’s always a lot harder for those high minded ideals to apply to yourself. At least, that’s usually my issue.

We are cloth diapering, going to do our damndest to breast feed, and are making choices about child care based in part because we are kind of crunchy, but more so because we don’t have the disposable income for disposable diapers 😉 or formula. Folks don’t always get that. When the average cost of disposable diapers for one kid (over the average years they wear them) is equal to one person’s annual salary, you start to rethink these things, you know?

I’m feeling a lot less terrified right now, but I’m sure it will ebb and flow. La and I know how to have the things we need and want in our lives with the money we have. A lot of our choices are ‘counter cultural’ because of this, and I am 100% ok with that. But there is enormous pressure from the world at large about what you ‘need’ to have a baby. My aunt, for example, was insistent about registering for a bottle warmer – that we needed  it – despite it being about as far down on my list of necessities as is possible. It’s hard for that kind of stuff not to weasel it’s way into your head and, in conjunction with general parental guilt (it’s totally already started!) make you feel like shit if you heat your bottles in a bath of hot water. Or whatever. And so it begins.

I’m also feeling crazy lightheaded the last few days, despite keeping up with water and food, and not taxing myself with standing, etc. I’m vascillating between feeling like I need to call the nurse line and thinking it’s totally not a big deal at all. Advice is appreciated, if you have thoughts. I’m starting to think about those great third trimester fears – gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. I have my glucose tolerance test on Friday, so at least I’ll get some intel there. But, of course, anything unusual makes me feel a little uneasy.

We met with our doula who had a LOT of questions about what I might want during labor. And I was like . . .uh . . .I don’t know. Some of the questions about how I like to be supported, I could handle (please don’t make small talk, tell me what to do or offer options don’t ask what I need, etc.) but I honestly hadn’t thought through a lot of my birth wants (other than being quite resolute about NOT being induced unless its an emergency – luckily my midwives won’t even talk induction until 42 weeks, and then will only push for one if an ultrasound shows low amniotic fluid) So I invested in Henci Goer’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth  and Birthing from Within both of which I am in the process of devouring. It adds a little to the terror (I had 100% not even considered what I’ll do if seafoam is breech, for example) but I am a researcher to the core, and am excited to have access to research studies and data to think through these things.

I leave you with a picture of the baby bulldog curled up next to my belly. All of the dogs seem to especially love snuggling with the bump, but Hilda loves it the most.




19 thoughts on “Sticker Shock (24w5d)

  1. Wow. You post makes me feel blessed to have Canadian health care. Labour and delivery is not something I have to worry about, but paying for IVF is. I could not imagine the extra stress of a delivery bill. I love your approach to parenting. I also haven’t spent much time contemplating my birth (as I’m still working on the getting and staying prego part), but I will definitely check those books out when my time comes! I just bought Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth for another crunchy friend of mine 🙂

  2. I can relate to so much of this in so many ways. We just about spent my wife’s entire annual salary on fertility “stuff.” I took a loan from my 401k for a chunk of it, but half of the money came from my mom. The same mom who now wants to pay the down payment on a house for us, and I can’t even begin to address all of the feels I have on that. I am married to a private school teacher, and we live in one of the most expensive cities in the country. It’s really scary to think of the expenses a baby is going to add to our lives, but I know we’ll manage. People raise children with so much less than what we have. LOVE the bump/pup pic. Our boy dog Rolo has started cuddling with me lately, which is totally unusual for him. Catch found a quote online the other day that said something about how dogs totally know you’re pregnant, they just don’t know how many puppies you’re having. Since she read that, we’ve started referring to the baby as the puppy. Non-dog people would probably think we’re nuts!

  3. Babies need love more than things and you and La are clearly going to shower them with that. I can relate to finanical hardship though. At 26 weeks when I went on bedrest I was laid off so I need to add getting a job to the list of things to do. We’ve diminished our savings at this point and went through Devans PTO but still have a little one in the NICU…which meant borrowing money from my grandma to get us by until Harper comes home. The health care here is disgusting, and maternity leave is even worse. The fact that I am expected to return to work January 8th even though Harper will have just been released from the NICU makes me sick. Other countries give 6mos-a year.

    We got our bills for just me and were around 3k right now, thankfully me getting laid off had its benefits, all od the babies bills (which would have been about 20k at least out of pocket) is covered by a program for nIcu babies. You and La are doing awesome and are going to be amazing parents! Cant wait to see seafoam!

  4. Oh goodness, I understand this so well. We’re not quite in the same place, but I have worried more than a little about all the costs associated with pregnancy and delivery. It still blows my mind that it costs so much just to do a basic vaginal birth in a hospital! It’s crazy.

  5. Sorry you’re feeling stressed. Some thoughts. 1. After class three in hypnobabies you will be much better equipped to answer your doulas questions. You will also get tons of info to share with her on the ways she can support a hypno birth. 2. Fuck what anyone else says you need the idea that you need to be financially successful or even stable is bull Mahonkey. Cloth diapering is great. Even better if you can buy used or make some yourself. The world is overfilled with waste and unwanted items. Your baby will grow fast and not give a crap where their belongings came from. If you get new stuff from family great but consignment stores and craigslist are amazing and then you’re helping the environment too! Our baby has literally everything she could possibly need until age three, we have no family gifts and we have spent under $500 on everything. Including cloth diapers! 3. It sucks that it seems the positive career choices never seem to pay as well. But I think you are giving sea foam a gift working to change his world

  6. My wife and I have had so many long conversations about this very topic. We are both of the mindset that you shouldnt need to spend ungodly amouts on baby products and that it really doesnt have to cost a fortune to raise a child.. That is merely the society that we live in that pushes “stuff” on to us and claims it to be a necessity. I think that with love, guidance, and a lot of imagination we can raise better kids who really value what they have and people more than things. We have a very minimalist perspective and we hope to pass that on to our kids. Its very easy to get sucked in to the “what you should haves” Im so glad that you shared this part of your story with us and so glad to see that there ate others who share these thoughts! Very refreshing! Hope you find some relief and a way to make the financial burden lessen! Ina Mae Gaskins writes some amazing books, you should definitely give her a read even if you plan on a hospital birth! Good luck!!

  7. I have NO idea how much our l&d will be. I guess i need to explore that. We dont have a deductible on our plan, so i dont know what to expect. I remember PICKING this plan because the terms for maternity and l&d looked good at the time, but that doesnt mean they couldnt have changed since then.

  8. I love this post. Remember that people have been birthing and raising children for thousands of years without all of the accessories parents now claim are “essential.”

    Re: Delivery cost, is homebirth with a midwife an option? (I know that’s a really loaded question, but just throwing it out there…)

    • We definitely talked about home birth, but it wasn’t something my partner felt good about, and I didn’t feel strongly enough to push for it. I’m also wary to pursue it for financial reasons, as I had a friend who was preparing to home birth and ended up with an emergency C-section. Because home birth midwives aren’t covered by insurance, she ended up paying for her homebirth AND her C-section! If we felt strongly about having a homebirth for other reasons, I think I would feel differently, but I chose the hospital midwifery program in part because it was a good compromise.
      And YES! I had a friend who once said, “I have two tits and a drawer . . .what else do I need to have a baby.” So accurate!

  9. Wow. I am horrified by the thought of a medical system that forces you to make choices about your maternal health care that consider cost. The nz public health system took care of everything I needed during pregnancy, l&d, and is continuing to do so during new motherhood. I know that isn’t any help to you, sorry. But seriously a comprehensive universal health care system should be a marker of a civilized society.

    I hope that your insurance gets sorted out. Good luck for the rest of your pregnancy. Very cute picture 🙂

  10. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with all of this money crap. I am in the same situation. I am also an adjunct instructor (and soon to be substitute teacher). We also get money from my mother. *sigh* I also find it stressful that other people think some things are so needed when they’re really not. So many people have so many opinions about all things baby! I’m wishing you and yours all the best and hope you enjoy the snuggling puppies! All I can do for myself now is have faith that things will work out and that’s also what I wish for you. ❤

  11. Oh GIRL! Story of my damn life!!! Callie has been on bedrest since Oct 10th, having just gotten paid (FINALLY!) for the past 2 months at 60% her salary which is really nothing anyway! We drained our savings TTC for 1.5 yrs before we got approved for IVF through my insurance ($25,000+) and upgraded to an apartment we knew we really couldnt afford. Sometimes I wish it would have been easier for us to get pregnant but the money would have gone to something else! My dad always says ( i don’t know if it’s that great of a philosophy, but it puts things into perspective) “Ebrybahdee born wis no money in de pocket! Ebrybody die wis no money in de pocket!” Old Colombian saying…Callie’s mom always say, “You make it work! No matter what , you make it work!” If we have to live with 4 kids, in a 2 bedroom 5th floor walk up tenament, where we convert half of our living room into our bedroom, and we have to have the “daily butcher special” everyday at the grocery store, at least we have each other and LOVE ( and probably lots of sibling fights)…and that’s what really counts! Hope this doesn’t put you too much into a hole, but you have La, and Seafoam..what could be better!?!?

  12. Wow. That is a lot of money. How do people afford that? I love the picture of Hilda. It’s good that you have priced out the L&D costs, as now you can somewhat plan for it. And a bottle-warmer? Do you have some friends with babies that you can ask about that? It seems like a convenience luxury, rather than a necessity, but I have no experience with it.

  13. Wow, I can’t believe you have to pay for the u/s if you deductible hasn’t been met. We were planning on a relatively cheap home birth and ended up with a week on bed rest in the hospital and a c-section. Between my son and I our hospital bill (that we owed) was roughly $7,000. I about had a heart attack. The hospital does an interest free payment plan for a year. It’s still a ridiculous payment and one we really can’t afford. Usually hospitals will work with you and let you pay what you can as long as you are paying something. My wife and I both work for nonprofits, it’s a struggle for sure. We’re also cloth diapering and drive old, paid for cars, have a tiny house, etc. You should have an out of pocket max too, so make sure you look into that.

  14. I know that in the US healthcare is a different situation then here in Canada, but every time I read about I still feel shock. Access to proper healthcare should not be something a person can lose their house over. It is so frustrating to me. Yes in Canada we pay high taxes off every paycheck but I wouldn’t trade that in for the security of knowing that my family was safe if an emergency was to arise.

    My birth was supposed to play out just like you are hoping yours will and as you know it didn’t, but all I had to worry about was the disappointment of not getting the birth that I wanted – not the cost to my family. Also about induction. My midwife recommended I induced at 10 days over as the risk of still birth significantly increases at 42 weeks. I also kind of feel and it’s a personally opinion that of you know your dates bang on as I did, and baby is not anywhere near on his way out at 10 days after, something is going on. For me it was a slightly tilted baby which the ultrasound didn’t pick up.

    Some ways we have found to save money was to look on the online buy and sells in our town for clothes and used items. The only things that we bought new were a stroller and car seat. We have cloth diapers as well but won’t be using them untill he slows down with going to the bathroom. We go through about 15 diapers a day. If people ask to buy you diapers size one is a good place to start. Also something that would’ve been helpful before the baby came would be after your baby shower but before the baby is born to buy a couple things you know you will need every paycheck. So for example, baby Tylenol, a thermometer or bum cream. Diapers go on sale here and you can easily find a pack of 50 dollar diapers for 30 if you look around.

    Are you covered by la’s medical? I really hope you get the birth you want!

  15. Ya know, don’t feel guilty about not being stable. If you wait until you are ready – you will never be ready. We weren’t ready, financially – and it sucks sometimes, but we make it work. You will make it work. My bills for having Punky are still being paid for, still being collected on. I just resign to the fact that they can’t take my birthday! Eh, it all works for you in the end and all that will matter in the end is having that little one in your arms.

  16. Oh! And as for the things you need for your kid – make sure the little one has some clothes to wear, diapers, and food. Babies are content with cuddles and love those first few months. I think you have that covered! ;P

  17. Listen to your own logic and wants and needs and not your aunt’s your mom’s your friend’s and definitly not a stranger. Accept hand me downs and gifts. Have a codeword with La and your Doula that indicates you really need to renig your plans and reassess the situation. Read up on all the false reasons for induction including how ultrasounds cannot accurately measure amniotic fluid and that late in pregnancy baby is practicing swallowing, therefore reducing the fluid level. And and and I was thinking of you all today and hoping everything is going well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s