Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays: The Debt Story Pt 11

"But how much will it cost us?" Mike asked, rightfully so.
"I don't ... I don't honestly know. According to the gal at the insurance company, since we've met our deductible this year, they should cover everything. The only things we have to buy are on the list from the midwife ... all said and done it's less than $70."
"Oookay," he said slowly. "How much does having the baby at the hospital cost?"
"Well, at a minimum it will cost us $375 for my stay in the hospital, plus another $375 for the baby, from what I understand."
"So, let me see if I understand this? If we do a homebirth, you get the natural delivery you want and most likely won't have to pay more than $70? If we do a hospital birth, you'll likely be induced, get an epidural, not have the delivery you want, and we'll end up having to pay $750?"
I nodded.
"So, what are we deciding then? It kind of seems like a no brainer."
"Really? I mean, are you comfortable with having a baby at home?"
"Is the midwife prepared for emergencies? Does she have oxygen? Did you ask about meconium?"
"Yeah, all of that. Here's a list of all the reasons they'll take us to the hospital, a list of everything they bring with them, and the mec, if it's not dark, won't be a big deal."
He looked over the papers I had brought home from the midwifery clinic.
"I guess, let's do it. I think it'll be fun."
"Fun? Are you sure that's the term you'd like to use?" I teased him.
He winked at me. "Baby, with your easy labors, it won't be anything less!"
I laughed and tossed a pillow at him.
"If I could move any faster than a slug you'd be in so much trouble right now!"
He easily dodged the pillow and said, "Don't I know it!"
"Do you have a pediatrician?" Darlene, our midwife, asked.
"No, not really. I mean, we're trying to find one. I've been really unhappy with ours."
"Oh, let me give you the number for Dr. S. He has a clinic not too far from here, it's a private practice. He is very supportive of home and birth center births and won't give you grief. He actually approached me and asked if we could work together. I think you'll like him."
I took his card and prayed he would work out for us.
The next day I called Dr. S's office. I explained that we were having a baby and considering coming to his office. I asked about his fee schedule.
"Oh," the receptionist replied, "we do all our own billing. He'll be more than willing to work with you as far as payment goes. It really won't be an issue. Just call after your son is born and we'll get you in right away."
It seemed too good to be true; but I hoped, that maybe we had finally found the right doctor for our children.
I opened my eyes in the dark, wondering if it was the urge to use the bathroom that had woke me. I laid there for a minute, closing my eyes, hoping I could fall back to sleep. The tightening that began at the bottom of my stomach and rocked through my entire body assured me that I would most definitely be awake for quite a bit longer. In that moment I remembered what real labor felt like and wondered why, during the last few weeks, I had ever thought I was in labor. I watched the clock now, waiting for the next contraction. It came ten minutes later. I waited for the next before I woke Mike. Eight minutes later. Far apart but they were real and I knew this was going somewhere. I reached over and grabbed Mike by the shoulder.
"Honey," I whispered softly at first.
"Honey," I said with more urgency. "He's coming."
"Really?" he asked sleepily. "How are the contractions?"
"Uh, ten minutes and then eight minutes."
He sat up and turned on the light. "Should I call the midwife?"
"Let's wait for a few more." The next one came six minutes later, followed by another one six minutes after that. "Ok, call the midwife."
She told us to call her back when they were closer together. Mike and I laughed. I knew it wouldn't be long.
Fifteen minutes later I was in the tub, in full active labor, when Mike called her again. My contractions were now two minutes apart. "It's just how we do labor around here," I hear him say. I found myself laughing in spite of the waves attacking my body. It was so true - it really was how we did labor.
I stared at our newborn son sleeping sweetly next to me in bed. I looked at the clock; it had been less than four hours since I felt my first contraction and the baby was here and the midwife and her assistant and all our family had already come and gone. Mike stroked little Sim's cheek and chuckled.
"Having an eight and a half pound baby in less than two hours? Like I said ... easy and fun."
I chuckled with him. When he was right, he was right!
Sim made funny noises when he breathed. At first we thought they were cute, but when he cried and he hardly made sound, and when he was totally relaxed and sounded like a duck, and when his lips had a shade of blue to them, we knew something was off. After a visit to the doctor and a chest x-ray to determine everything was fine, we were sent to Children's Hospital in Seattle.
"I'm sorry I have to do this to you," Dr. S said. He looked truly upset. "I know it is out of the way but they are the best place to go and there is something wrong and I don't know what it is. It's the best place to be."
I was alone with Sim in the car and cried. I called Mike, distraught.
"Your mom is going to get the kids. Come and pick me and we'll go together. I'm not letting you go down to Seattle, with an infant, in a post-partum state, alone." I was so thankful for him. Even though I didn't want to waste a minute, I knew I couldn't make the drive alone and was relieved he wanted us to be together.
We checked into Children's a few hours later and they ran a few tests and did a few more x-rays. They felt like they knew what the problem was, laryngomalacia, but they wanted to keep us overnight for observation. I wouldn't have it.
"Will laryngomalacia kill him?"
"Well, no. But if we're wrong you could end up back here tonight."
"But you don't think you're wrong."
"Well, no. But it is better if you stay."
After many back and forth conversations I was exhausted and the hospital staff finally won. We were admitted into our hospital room and Mike had to leave us for the night.
I was frustrated as I crammed myself onto the small bed next to Sim's crib. He was attached to all sorts of wires that were monitoring his breathing and heartrate. I knew that we really were in the best place, but I missed my bed, and strangely, I missed my other kids. Everything I had tried to avoid by having the homebirth we were now going through; and as much as I hated to admit it, the $375 price tag for a night at the hospital was not something I wanted to pay for, especially since I didn't feel it was necessary.
The next evening we were discharged with a diagnosis of laryngomalacia and reflux and instructions to give our two week old heartburn medication and to bring him back in six months for more extensive tests. He had never spit up before and after a brief talk with Dr. S I threw the medication away. Two months later he was breathing normally and quietly and we canceld his follow-up appointment.
I stared at the insurance statements in disbelief. After Simeon's birth we owed nothing. Everything was covered, every bill was paid. After our visit to the hospital we had a $375 charge; they had a financial relief program that we'd applied for and received.
We now had four children and, apart from diapers, it wasn't costing us any more money than when we'd had three. In fact, even with the birth and the hospital visit we'd still been able to make a large payment toward our credit card.
"Hey, Mike!" I called. "Guess what? It looks like we're going to pay our credit card off ahead of schedule!! Bet you didn't expect that?!"

To be continued...


Twyla said...

As always, I love your writing. Thanks for keeping up on the story!

Melissa said...

I love getting to hear all the behind the scenes stuff from your journey. Its awesome. Hubs and I are totally going to get back on the DR train here soon. Babies and moving and things breaking that need replacing... ay yi yi. DEBT. Oct 1 we are back on track. Oh and by the way I took baby girl to see Dr S and he rocks! He is our new ped!

Momma Fargo said...

Great journey you are taking us through. Love your stories and writing style. Keep it up!