Mike and I showed up for my OB appointment yesterday anxious and excited. Excited to possibly discover Binky’s sex, check growth, and see little fingers and toes. And anxious because…well, I have just been an overwrought mess lately.
It’s hard to describe the terror I feel before every appointment. I wake up with lumps in my throat and an elephant on my chest. I am always scared that TODAY will be the day we find a blood clot. TODAY might be the day I have protein in my urine. TODAY might be the day one of my blood tests come back abnormal. The only thing that keeps me from having a complete panic attack every week is my ultrasound. It is just as important to my mental health as it is to the baby’s and my physical health.
When I was called back yesterday, I was taken into a different room than usual. Then Dr. Risky’s nurse practitioner came in with a Doppler (a high-tech microphone used to hear the baby’s heartbeat). After she located the heartbeat and left, I turned to Mike and said, “I’m not getting an ultrasound today. Something is up.” I started to freak out a little. Mike talked me down, saying that I didn’t know that for sure, and I shouldn’t panic. I calmed a bit but I just had a feeling.
Dr. Risky came in, did a quick exam, gave me some test results, and then wrapped up the appointment. I looked at Mike frantically, so he asked if I was going to get an ultrasound. Dr. Risky sighed, and said, “No. Your insurance won’t pay for weekly ultrasounds anymore. Because we thankfully haven’t found any abnormalities, your insurance will no longer accept that these ultrasounds are medically necessary.”
That’s when I had a full-blown panic attack. Dr. Risky kept looking from me to Mike, clearly wondering where her somewhat-rational patient had gone. I tried to explain to her through my tears that the one week we DIDN’T have an ultrasound with Madeline was the week my water broke. And that while I understood this pregnancy was totally different and everything was looking SO much better than the last time, that didn’t keep me from being utterly terrified. Dr. Risky tried to comfort me while Mike asked questions and I took giant hiccuping breaths. I hate crying in public, I HATE crying in front of doctors, I hate losing control of the situation. Dr. Risky said next week she’ll “sneak” me an ultrasound if she has to.
I don’t care about not knowing Binky’s gender yet, that’s obviously going to be known at some point. But having to go another week without knowing if there are blood clots, or how the placenta is doing, let ALONE the baby, is going to push my already fragile mind to its breaking point. It helped a bit that we heard the heart beat, but it would have helped a lot more if I’d gone into the appointment knowing I wasn’t having an ultrasound. I would have been able to prepare myself a little better. I was booked for an ultrasound appointment, and Dr. Risky’s office thought I’d be able to have one until I showed up that morning.
We have health insurance thanks to COBRA. I was laid off in October, and Mike’s company didn’t offer him health care coverage. COBRA is astronomically expensive – for our family, it was costing over $1300/month for health insurance. Because Madeline and I both had pre-existing conditions, we were both impossible to insure, so COBRA was our only option. Luckily, I qualified for a cut in the price of COBRA thanks to Obama’s stimulus package, and it came at the perfect time as Mike was laid off in June. I say all this because I KNOW I am lucky to have insurance. Mike and I freelance right now and pinch pennies and we make it work, because this insurance is the only option I have and I HAVE TO be insured.
But. This is where I get so supremely annoyed. Based on my medical conditions and my previous pregnancy, I am classified as extremely high-risk. I know that ultrasounds are expensive, but it’s so frustrating that my health insurance is choosing to hold back on an ultrasound at the potential risk of my child and myself. Sure, they saved $1500 this week, but what if there was a problem that could have been detected and PREVENTED this week that was missed? That $1500 would turn into hundreds of thousands of dollars – just for me! My medical bills from my first pregnancy were astronomical, and Madeline’s bills? Well, she was a million dollar baby in more ways than one.
I understand that in this country, health insurance is a business. I understand that, for them, I have proven to be an astronomically bad business decision. But they’re stuck with me for now. I think a better business decision for them would be to allow my doctor to provide me preventative care. There are thousands of other women in the same position as me. We don’t like being thought of as business decisions, especially when our children are the unwitting victims. We’re people who have been through a lot. We’re more than just a dollar amount.