Archive for March, 2011

The sun and the moon

Pregnancy, I’m discovering, leads to a very special kind of obsessive-compulsive state.  It completely out ranks the crazed focus of a bride-to-be, surpasses the “instrument” obsessed Soprano diva. If I am awake, I am thinking about one of two things: What the hell is my body doing now OR Next week, when the baby…next month, when the babywhen the baby comes…I’ll apologize now if you have been anywhere near me in the last 5 months, you are certain to know too much. I find myself shouting to my husband, from the bathroom, about the quality of my pee; discussing food aversions with the checkout lady; showing the 15-20 week gestation video on my ipad to anyone who happens to sit too close.

I have given in to the mania. After spending years worrying over a pain I could not control, I feel this baby lifting me up. I am reminded of  being a daydreaming second grader, fantastical stories building themselves in my head as I wandered my way through the lunch line, math class, bus rides. It is quite possibly the last time I  lived in this imagined world.

I realize that this baby is not the sun and the moon for you, but please just smile and nod at me for the next few months. That glow you see is the euphoria of a dream about to come true. You’d be obsessed too.



You really can’t have a conversation about chronic health issues without it becoming a conversation about health insurance. Please allow me this brief bitch session: Stuck in morning traffic last week, I found myself shouting obscenities at my radio and dialing random numbers, trying to call-in to the local MPR station (of course I remember the pledge line number).  The experts were discussing pain  management and systemic abuse of medications. One said expert was complaining that patients just wanted a magic pill and were unwilling to try alternative measures.

I’m sure there are patients like that out there – and can you blame them? Magic pill? Yes, please. However, my experience has been that health insurance really only allows for pills, pills and more pills. For example, knowing that I would soon be a pain med-free pregnant woman, a specialist recommended that I try a second run of acupuncture with a specialty clinic under my hospital’s umbrella.  I was elated to discover it was actually covered under my medical plan and I booked 6 visits.  Adding to my elation, I had a glimpse of hope, feeling my pain recede slightly after my second treatment. I truly want to deliver a medication free baby and it was starting to look like a real possibility.

That was the week my insurance sent me a $300 bill for my first visit. While I was waiting to get into this sought-after clinic, they had dropped acupuncture from my coverage without warning.  The ridiculousness of this is impossible to comprehend when you consider the costs of life-long prescription medications, steroid shots and general wear & tear caused by the daily use of pain medications.  Not to mention issues of healthy pregnancy and general well-being.  What will it cost them if my infant is born in withdrawal and requires an extended stay at the NICU?

The customer service rep on the phone responded “Just because something is medically required does not mean that we cover it.” My family pays $1,200 a month for this insurance coverage. We cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for anything.

Unless you are independently wealthy, the system does not allow for creative or even obvious solutions. Take the damn pill, magic or not, because it is all the comfort you can hope to get. It is neither logical nor human.


My current state is over-running my existence, so this is where I am taking the leap to real time. In short, all the the Docs gave their enthusiastic “go for it”, I dumped the Fentanyl patch in late November and we took our first and only shot at baby-making in early December. This being clearly wanted to happen.

About 8 weeks in I had that terrifying spotting, a symptom that leaves you feeling like this whole thing may be a figment of your evil imagination. I begged and bothered the nurse line enough to get an early ultrasound, a new level of “crazy expecting mom” for me. We left the hospital with our first two pictures of the healthy baby – deemed bugaboo until birth by my husband and 5 year old.

Much of this pregnancy is like any other, the morning sickness has brought me to my knees and I am praying that it won’t extend a day beyond today. Working full time has had its challenges, I am holding onto my sick days like they are gold. The chronic pain stepped up a notch after the patch, but is still bearable with the help of the low-dose vicodin.  Having left the danger zone of the first trimester, I will begin weaning off of those pills next week. Feels like I’m climbing that first clicking hill of the roller coaster and the ride down will either thrill me or send me into a dark oblivion.

I have a pregnancy tracking app that delivers a little piece of inspiration to me everyday. My daughter especially loves the ones that associate the size of the baby to a piece of fruit, studying the pictures of lemons and apples  carefully. Yesterday she put her little hand on my belly and, squealing, felt the beginning kicks of our precious avocado, in that moment I felt no pain.

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