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.