Mortgaging My Kid, Part One

I think this is going to have to be a several part post, and it will be a lot of numbers, so please bear with me.

It’s Little Bear’s story, a story of how he went from this:

to this:

and finally, to this:

Let’s start with November 17, 2010November 20, 2010.

I can’t find an Explanation of Benefits [EOB] for the initial visit to Labor & Delivery, so I’m assuming it’s been wrapped into the cost of my c-section care. And I’m not entirely sure I’m following the EOBs correctly, because a lot of stuff for Little Bear is under my name [the entire time he was in the NICU, he was referred to as Baby Boy MamaPhan LastName].

For various reasons, I’d always planned to have a c-section when Little Bear was born. It was scheduled for November 29, 2010, but obviously my body had other ideas. You can read his birth story here; this is an accounting of just how much Little Bear’s birth actually cost us [and it’s a testament to why, though I complained about my health insurance for a long time, I’m learning to keep my mouth shut as these EOBs roll in].

The cost of having a c-section and having my tubes tied [which was something I’d literally decided on a week before Little Bear was born. I hadn’t even discussed the possibility with my OB before I went into the hospital] totals: $4,985. My co-pay for the surgery was $50.

The total for c-section care was $11,400.65. Our co-pay is $1,500 for 3 days in the hospital. Anesthesia was $3,120. We didn’t have any out of pocket costs for that.

So far, we’re up to $19,505.65, just for Little Bear to be born, and the care I received afterward. We’re out $1550. I’d say we’re in the clear as far as that goes.

I cannot say enough about the doctors and nurses who cared for me before, during, and after Little Bear’s birth. Aside from being annoyed that I had to answer the same several questions, they were fantastic. And though my doctor wasn’t the one to do the surgery like we thought she’d be, afterward everyone [and I do mean everyone] commented on how fantastic my incision looked. It actually became a running joke between M & myself because they’d say, “Let’s look at your incision,” followed by, “Wow, that looks great!” Let me also say that they’re pretty much saints for dealing with my fits of rage the day after Little Bear was born because I just wanted to see my baby, damn it.

I’m fairly certain I told the PA from my OB’s office in some really colorful language that I wasn’t going to eat anything until I could see Little Bear.

Ahem.

Like I said, I’ve complained about my insurance in the past. Loudly. Especially when we got all the bills for my “migraine” in August, and the tests that followed [we still hadn’t hit the deductible at that point]. Knowing that we’re only paying $1,550 out of nearly $20,000? I feel very grateful to have insurance right now, and my appreciation only grew when I got the EOB for the NICU.

March for Babies

Two years ago, I did the March of Dimes walk with a friend who’d had a preemie. That friendship has dissolved, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t keep the March for Babies in the back of my head.

Several months ago when I met Juli, she mentioned that the March of Dimes was something she was a big supporter of, and I said “Why not?” when she asked me to join her team for 2011. [One of these days, I’ll get Juli to tell you the story of why she supports MOD and why she was such a valuable resource to me, personally, during Little Bear’s stay.]

As you obviously know, November 17 was the start of a twenty day stay in the NICU for Little Bear.

He wasn’t there more than a few days before the March of Dimes representative sat with me and told me her personal NICU story. She was incredible and let me cry on her shoulder [figuratively, I promise] because she knew just how overwhelming the entire situation was for us.

I’ve been sitting here for more than twenty minutes, trying to figure out how exactly to word the rest of this post.

I know times are tough. But I know people can be generous, and I’m asking you to consider making a donation to our walk this year. It’s super easy. See the widget on the sidebar? Just click on that and it’ll take you to my personal fund raising page for the walk on April 30, 2011. Butter already has one March for Babies under his belt and this is just the start of a new tradition for our family. Little Bear will be there, proudly wearing a NICU graduate t-shirt.

Thank you, from my entire family and the families of other NICU babies.

Giving Thanks for the Gifts We Were Given

So where did I leave off yesterday?

I was sent to L&D triage because my doctor’s nurse thought I might have developed a clot in my lung. Turns out that wasn’t the case. Officially, I was diagnosed with fluid in and around my lungs, though they had to do an echocardiogram to rule out problems with my heart [you may remember I had one of those done shortly after the Epic Migraine].

I was admitted, and none too happily. Thankfully, the nurse in triage was sweet enough to take me to see Little Bear before she took me to my room. It’s absolutely terrifying to hear you’re going to be put in a high risk room, by the way. Not fun at all. Turns out I was the only patient there who wasn’t pregnant, and one of the doctors joked that I was her favorite patient that night because I was the healthiest.

Wednesday was a bunch of tests for me, and then around 10 am I got a medication to get rid of my excess fluid. Within a few hours of receiving it, I’d gotten rid of over 4 liters of fluid, so it worked. Really well. So well, in fact, that the doctor canceled his order for a second dose at 6 pm and okay’d me to get the dose the next morning.

Little Bear was finally starting to go the right direction on Wednesday. He wasn’t exactly improving, but he wasn’t getting any worse. M asked whether his compass was pointing in the right direction, and the nurses said yes.

Thursday morning I was given another dose of the meds to help get rid of the fluid. Went to see Little Bear and found that he was off of the oscillating ventilator. They were also turning his oxygen down at a rate of 2% per hour. He was being weaned off of the medications [versed and morphine], and just doing so much better. That night, I was able to hold him again for the first time since the day after he was born. Thanksgiving will always mean something to me beyond a day to hang out with family and eat good food now – it’s the day my baby boy started to make a turn for the better.

Friday I was discharged. Saturday Little Bear came off of the ventilator. Yesterday he started to take feeds [10 mls at a time] via bottle and feeding tube. He’s entirely off of the morphine and versed. M and I both got to hold him last night, and we’re able to pass him back and forth between us. I’m hoping I’ll  be able to try to breastfeed soon. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to bring him home next week, but I’m not going to hold my breath in case there are any set backs.

I know there are a lot of people who have been saying prayers for Little Bear. I cannot thank you enough. I can never mention all of you who I know were behind us so much on twitter, because I’m afraid I’ll forget someone. Thank you to our families, friends, friends of friends, twitter friends, and anyone else who isn’t involved in social media who said even a single prayer for Little Bear. We appreciate it so much.

If you’re finding these posts through twitter or facebook, you’ve seen pictures of Little Bear. For the first time, I’m going to share one on this blog. This was the night he came off of the ventilator [the blue light is from a biliblanket].