March for Babies

As of today, there are 79 days until the March of Dimes walk I’m doing.

My fund raising goal is $275. As of right now, I’ve raised $127. I’m in for a dollar for every day until then.

That leaves $69.

Who wants to be awesome & help me reach my goal?

When This Boy Meets World

Until Little Bear was born & I was up at random times, I didn’t realize Boy Meets World was still aired on TV. I absolutely loved this show when I was growing up [and didn’t realize it was on until 2000, but I probably watched it the entire time].

Until this morning, I’d forgotten about one of the more serious episodes of the show.

Through Google and IMDb, I reminded myself this morning that in season six, Eric & Cory’s mom was pregnant. I missed the episode yesterday morning where the baby was born, but this morning the episode where the baby spends time in the NICU because of his size [he was 5lbs] and losing his sterile environment when Amy’s water broke early. He had an infection and they were going to put him on a ten day course of antibiotics.

When the Matthews’ doctor says she is turning the baby’s care over to a more qualified doctor, the first words out of Alan [the Dad]’s mouth are “Is our baby going to die?” I found the script online, and this is a transcript from the show.

Alan: Is our baby going to die?
Amy: (Indignantly) No. (Stands)
Dr. Markman: I don’t know. (Paces around bed)
Alan: You don’t know?
Dr. Markman: He has a respiratory infection because the early loss of amniotic fluid compromised his sterile environment.
Amy: So when can we take him home?
Dr. Markman: We’re going to administer a course of antibiotics over the next ten days.
Amy: And then we can take him home.
Dr. Markman: And then we’ll see where we are.

Several scenes later, this happens:

[SCENE – Hospital, NICU. Alan enters, there are many worried parents already there]
Alan: (Walks to one bed) Hey Karen, Paul. How’s she doing today?
Karen: She’s a little better today. She’s much better color, don’t you think?
Alan: Oh yeah, yeah, she looks great.
Paul: She looks great
Alan: (Pats Paul’s shoulder, then moves to another bed, where a father in ___ is reading a Torah book) Michael, how’s your son?
Michael: I think he smiled at me.
Alan: (Puts his hands on Michael’s shoulders) Hey, say one for my boy, will ya?
Michael: Oh, these are for all of us.
Alan: (Walks over to his son’s bed. Amy is in a nearby chair, sleeping. He puts the blanket over her shoulders, then circles the bed and looks at it) Come on, kid. Let’s get better and get out of here, I have a much better place for you at home. Come on, kid.

Obviously, the episode takes place over the course of several days, because this is the final scene between Amy & Alan.

[SCENE – Hospital, NICU. A sign reading “Boy Matthews/5 lbs. 0 oz.” with “Boy” crossed out and replaced with “Joshua” is zoomed in on on a bed. A hand comes from offscreen and pull the off the bed, which is empty. Alan is watching in deep contemplation through a window from the hallway]
Amy: (from off screen) Alan, what are you doing?
Alan: (Turns to Amy) I’m saying a prayer for everybody that has to be in there. (We hear a baby cry, and see that Amy is holding Joshua) Well… Joshua Gabriel… (To Amy) Well, let’s go home.

I started watching this show when I was 9 years old. By the time this episode aired, I was 15. I’m fairly certain I cried when I saw it for the first time [I’ve been a big softy my entire life], but there is no way I could have imagined that 12 years later a show I grew up with would stop me in my tracks and make me actually pay attention to it [because I initially put the TV on for background noise this morning].

The thing is . . . something like a NICU stay can’t be solved in 22 minutes [generally, a 30 minute sitcom has about 8 minutes of commercials]. Life isn’t like a television program.

We were lucky. Little Bear came home to us after only 20 days, after being born full term at 38 weeks. But every day, babies who are much sicker than he ever was are born. One thing we can all agree on is that our trips to the NICU will never been as short as 22 minutes.  Like I’ve said in the past, the March of Dimes has always been something I’ve been proud to support. The money they raise goes to help babies who are born too soon & helps fund research for the problems that threaten babies.

It’s because of the research they do that Little Bear is a healthy baby today. Please consider donating to my March of Dimes walk. I know I’ll appreciate it & so will the babies who will benefit from the work the March of Dimes does.

Mortgaging My Kid, Part Two

So far, we’re up to a total cost of $19,505.65, and a cost to us of $1,550.

This second part is immensely frustrating to read on the EOBs, because not only was Little Bear in the NICU, but I was also readmitted to the hospital the Tuesday after he was born.

In this post, I shared that we’d gotten the first EOB from the NICU. That isn’t necessarily true. We’d gotten one from my OB’s office for the c-section, and it included few charges for “Neonatal Critical Care” totaling $6,887. Adding that to the $19,505.65 and the $132,349.15, we have a total of  $158,741.80.

That’s a big number.

In the spirit of disclosure, we recently secured a $167,000 mortgage on our house.

Not included in any of these numbers thus far is how much my second stint in the hospital cost. That one, and many of the tests Little Bear received in the NICU, was roughly $42,233.46, bringing our grand total to $200,975.26.

For my second stay in the hospital, which was also three days, we owe $1,500, bringing our total out of pocket cost to $3,050.

I plan to break down Little Bear’s NICU costs in another post in order to show you how much everything cost individually, and how donating to my March of Dimes walk [by clicking on that handy dandy widget on the right – it’s purple; you can’t miss it!] will help ensure enough research is done to help all babies be born healthy one day.

But look at those numbers.

Our house is mortgaged for $167,000. Little Bear’s birth and subsequent NICU stay [including a second stay for me because I wasn’t able to catch my breath after his birth] cost $33,975.26 more than my house. And we’re only responsible for $3,050 of that so far.

I also feel like I should tell you that, obviously, the insurance company has deals with the hospital and only pays certain amounts for things. The total cost to our insurance company was not over $200,000, it was $150,500.88.

Those are some big, big numbers. They’re scary. Can you imagine what a person pays when their children are in the NICU for longer than 20 days? This incredible woman has triplets who were born at 28 weeks, 1 day and are in the NICU.

I called this mortgaging my kid, because Little Bear’s medical costs added up to more than our present mortgage. I’m in real estate. If we mortgaged the $200,975.26 that Little Bear “cost,” for 30 years at 4.75%, our payments would be about $1209 a month and we’d end up paying over $435,000. Holy. Crap.

Can you imagine what this would be like without insurance?