Category Archives: Medical Stuff

Me vs. The Establishment

I haven’t talked a whole lot about my feelings on the birth industry, but I have some of them. Mostly, my problem is that some things are done because they have always been done, without a lot of thought or reason *why* it’s done. Or that it’s done because it’s best for those delivering the baby, but not the mother or child.

I’ve worked around this in a few different ways. I’m using midwives. We’re having a home birth. If all goes well, a hospital will never enter into our newborn’s first few weeks of life. But there’s still more. We’re declining erythromycin on the eyes, because I don’t see the need. We know I don’t have any STDs, why submit the baby to an unnecessary procedure in the first few hours of life? I considered declining the Vitamin K shot as well, but I would rather err on the side of caution with this one. Bleeding issues are no joke.

But here’s the kicker. You know how you know something is going to be a problem? I have known from the instant I read about Group B Strep and this NYT article about the positive benefits of mom’s microbiome that I’d test positive. At our 37 week midwife appointment last week, I found out I was, in fact, positive.
So. Happy.

Treatment is IV antibiotics during labor. The problem is that the antibiotics kill all your good gut bacteria as well as the bad. So, here’s the conundrum. The wife and I disagree on this. I don’t particularly want to do the antibiotics. Having read some facts, I think the chances of her getting an infection are slim, but bad effects from an antibiotic are basically guaranteed. I’d rather not risk long term immune / gut health issues on the 1 in 200 chance she’d get sick. My wife thinks that the effects are relatively mild and can be countered with probiotics, and she’d rather risk the kid having asthma than be seriously ill the first few weeks of life.

Weirdly, this is the first time that the two of us have been completely unable to come to a joint decision on something. Whenever we’ve had issues, one of us has always deferred to the other or heard and responded to opposing viewpoints. I am willing to compromise on this – it’s her baby, too, and my concerns aren’t great enough that this is the hill I want to die on. But it’s funny to me that this is the issue splitting us – not me trying to get her to a doctor, but her trying to get me to take doctor recommended medical care. (For those that know us IRL, this is pretty much the opposite scenario for us) I am mostly fine with this decision. It’s in the baby’s best interest, I’ve already spent an obscene amount of money on Breastfeeding Center recommended probiotics. But still. It keeps digging at me.

(If you disagree with my decision, I ask that you respect how much of a struggle this has been for me and keep it to yourself. Anything you say against it is not going to change my mind, only make me feel worse about my choices. In conclusion, please don’t be a douchebag.)

Health Insurance, Copays and Back Pain

Apparently, my pregnancy rage has lasted a month! (That’s not true, it’s ongoing, oh well) But I’ve had a lot going on this month – my grad school class just ended, my parents are officially in town for a quick visit before my next class starts, I’ve got endless fatigue issues and nothing is ready for the baby. Which is OK, because I’m only 31 weeks, but is also not ok because I’m 31 weeks.

I’ve been dealing with some serious low back pain, so I finally sucked it up and started going to a chiropractor. And she is made of magic and kinesio tape. A few adjustments and everything is calming down a lot.

But it’s frustrating because of cost. My employer considers chiros specialists and specialists are a $50 copay. I find this so incredibly frustrating. It’s only $15 more per visit than the 2013 rate of $35, but are you really going to spend $50 for a mole check at your dermatologist, even if they and your PCP think you need one annually? When you sprain your ankle and need physical therapy 3x a week for a month, are you really going to spend $600? No, you’re not. You’re going to live with the pain / uncertainty until the problem escalates.

Also, every single fucking visit to the midwife is $50. Every one. Let’s consider they want to see you at 12 weeks, once a month after that until 28 weeks, biweekly until 36 and then weekly. That’s 13 visits, over $500. IN JUST COPAYS. Is that really encouraging me to invest in the health of my baby? Compare that to Kaiser, who (I believe) waives copays for maternity care and for children under 5. Because they understand that preventative care IS FUCKING WORTH IT IN THE LONG TERM and not worth pawning the costs off on the individual. I really hate my current insurance plan, but I mostly hate that my employer has decided to pass the costs on to their employees in both higher copays AND raised premiums (and then sends out emails announcing the changes touting how affordable they are).

Anyway, the chiropractor (who specializes in pregnant women) is made of magic and is $50 a visit, twice a week. I’ve already spent $250 off my FSA that was supposed to go towards delivery costs or my $850 deductible for delivery. I’ve got one more for tomorrow and then I think I have to downgrade to once or twice a month.

I’m just not sure I can justify pulling more money out of my savings for my temporary comfort.

And that sentence pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with the American health insurance system.

Edit: I wrote this in a fit of cranky and realized later my privilege is showing. I’m fortunate to have health insurance and income to cover co-pays. Many people don’t. Health care costs in this country are outrageous and having a child or an illness shouldn’t bankrupt them. My original point is more that high co-pays discourage people from getting care. It’s savings in the short term which can raise costs in the long and that is just antithetical to me.

Maddening

As part of the birth process, we have to work with several independent birth partners. We have to hire a birth assistant from a list provided by the midwives and we have to attend some kind of natural childbirthing class. Both processes have been infuriating.

No one has a web page. No one responds to email in a timely fashion. Everything’s vague. It’s phone or nothing, which is really unhelpful when trying to schedule things without inadvertently revealing your pregnancy to your workplace. And even on the phone, people are flaky. I guess a good midwife is very process focused with a single track mind, but it makes for a shitty business person.

And then there are the birth classes. I can’t find shit. Practitioners have websites, but their latest class listings ended in May with no suggestion of when the next will be scheduled. Or they don’t list prices. Or if/when they have classes. Or where they have classes. Or it’s a 45 minute drive from my house. Or they don’t cover the curriculum I’m interested in. Or it’s only when I have grad school classes. Or think that Virginia Beach is near Washington, DC. Or the web page is broken. The web page is constantly broken. I need to book a class that starts sometime at the end of June or the beginning of July (for a 12 week course) and I can’t find shit that works for my pretty non-specific tastes somewhat near my work or home.

Unless I want private classes, which are more money for less time. Because that sounds like a great option. Not to mention my midwives are frustratingly unspecific for what they want.

It is 2014. I am somehow considered a Millenial. I don’t want to spend 10-15 minutes on the phone or writing you an email to discover that you’re not offering classes for fall babies. I have four people in my 200 person Facebook group having a baby in October, the demand is goddamn there.

I think I need some protein. Or a nap.

Anatomy Scan – IT’S A GIRL

After a couple of weeks of not that much, suddenly I have many things! But I’ll take them thing by thing. First thing, we had our anatomy scan on Monday. They recommend getting it at 16-22 weeks, but at our first trimester screen; they recommending waiting until later so things were clearer. We waited until 20.5 weeks.

The suspense was TERRIBLE. I have two friends also due in October who knew the baby’s sex last month. I distracted myself by not thinking about it and running a small contest on twitter. The appointment was at 1:30 on Monday and all of Monday morning was like… OK, so when I proposed to my wife, I did it at home – I made a tableau in the basement and cooked a nice dinner and bought a couple bottles champagne while she was out with friends. She called me to tell me she was dropping a friend off at the metro and would be home in a few minutes. I spent the next 20 minutes at my kitchen sink, washing the same dish over and over in a frenzied excitement while pretending to be casual when she got home. That’s what Monday morning was like.

Not to mention I had a dream early Monday morning where we had our appointment, I forgot the doctor note (which, I would have, thanks subconscious!!!) and the tech told us we were having a boy to our extreme disappointment (which is funny, because I wanted a boy IRL).

At the appointment, literally, she touched the wand to my stomach and told us (after confirming we wanted to know) that it was a girl. And then we both cried (with happiness). The remainder of the appointment was about an hour and a half of checking various anatomy to make sure it was in its proper place and taking ultrasound pictures (which I’ll share eventually). It’s so fun to watch a baby squirm around in your stomach! And man, she was active. Turns out every time I’ve felt her kick, she’s been doing like a somersault or flipping over in there. And she’s doing that a lot.

The words you look for a lot in this situation is “good” or “normal” or “exactly where you should be.” It’s pretty much about the only situation I want to be normal. And everything is. Our baby girl is 13 ounces (about the weight of a can of coke!) and hits due date exactly where we thought it should be. Of course, going through artificial insemination takes a lot of guesswork out of it all!

The evening after the scan, like first trimester, I felt exhausted and sore. Apparently, I was holding the Wife’s hand so hard that her hand got tired, so I must have been tensing, though it didn’t feel that way at the time. It’s been a rough few days that way.

More about our 20 week midwife visit, my new food plan and other fun stuff soon.

imageThings they don’t tell you when you get knocked up… how many pills it will entail. Pictured above is a day’s worth.

Now, I should mention I’m a pretty pretty princess and already take Vitamin D, B, multivitamin and a calcium supplement per my doctor’s suggestion. Once we started talking about babies and I needed new vitamins, I switched to prenatal. I ran out shortly after getting the good news and took advantage of CVS’s buy one get one sale and bought 600 prenatal vitamins (you’re also supposed to take them while nursing).

I talked to the healthy pregnancy counselor, who suggested that I get a prenatal vitamin with DHA and/or take a DHA supplement, especially since I hate seafood. I had, of course, bought the cheapest prenatal vitamins figuring they were all the same, so mine didn’t have them. Well, I wasn’t about to toss 570 vitamins, so back to CVS I went. Turns out most DHA supplements are 300mg and 200mg is the upper limit for pregnant women, so I had to specifically buy a pregnancy supplement (and, like weddings, I think they mark it up because it says the word pregnant on it!!!).

In reading the the Mayo Clinic guide, they also suggested that pregnant women take Vitamin D. Score, I already am! Oh wait, the upper limit for pregnant is 4000iu and I take 5000iu per a doctor’s suggestion (my vitamin D was in single digits before I started taking it, normal range is above the 30s). Confirmed that with the midwife, so I had to shelve my recently bought 5000iu bottles and but 2000iu bottles (since, of course, no 4000iu supplements are made). I take those with the calcium supplement in the morning, since they go best together.

And finally, the papaya enzymes. I don’t know if they’re taming the heartburn or if my body just decided to give me a break, but I’m sticking with ’em for now. Which means three chewed tablets after every meal, not to exceed nine in one day.

I’m really sick of pills.

Of course, my vitamin regiment tends to be a weekday only sort of thing. Without a structured work routine, it all falls apart on the weekend. Of course, now I have my fitbit set to remind me to take a pill at 12:30 every weekend day. It works about 40% of the time, since I’m either out and about or in the middle of things or lazy. But it keeps it to the forefront of my thoughts so I end up taking one eventually.

In conclusion, prenatal vitamins and DHA supplements are FSA eligible and I’m glad I finally trained myself how to swallow pills in my late teens. Sheesh.

Week 16 Midwife Visit

Things are starting to get surprisingly routine. This visit was really just a ‘yep, baby’s still in there, you’re not as miserable, let’s take some blood and call it a day.’ It still took 45 minutes, and I got to meet another midwife in the practice, which was nice. I don’t get to specify who delivers this kid, it’s basically who’s on call when I go into labor. This midwife is also pregnant with her first child (VERY pregnant – she’ll have the kid, take maternity leave and be back before I deliver), so we bonded a touch over being nervous.

The most exciting part of the visit, after hearing the baby’s heartbeat again, was getting the prescription for the 20 week anatomy exam. It won’t happen until early June, but we’ll get to see the baby, get pictures and find out the sex (more on that later).

The least exciting part of the visit was the blood draw for the AFP test. I’ve always had hard to find veins and despite drinking my weight in water, I didn’t have a lot in the two hours before the exam, so my veins were hiding. It took 4 sticks to get a vial, first in my left elbow, then my left wrist, then my right wrist, then they called the ‘go-to’ person into the room and she got it from a different part of my right wrist. My left wrist is still a little bruised. And I thought it was rough when the fertility center left a bruise that stayed for 2 weeks or when they drew blood from my hand.