Category Archives: keep lawrence weird

bumpwatch terror alert: week 29

one of my friends told me that she doesn’t understand these pregnancy photos & can’t gauge how big i am getting because of “the flash” in them. i was super-confused because i take these photos in a mirror & obviously don’t use any flash because i know it would obscure the image. i still have no idea what the hell she was talking about. i even took a photo right in front of her & showed it to her on my camera without any photobucket alterations & she was like, “yeah, i can’t really tell what you look like.” rationally, i feel that an inability to understand a photo is something weird on her part, but i’d be lying if i didn’t admit that it made me feel self-conscious about these photos. i don’t think i am necessarily getting appreciably bigger from week to week, but you can see the bump, which is all that really matters. i don’t know. the whole thing totally weirded me out.

so, after much hullaballoo, i got my hands on a blood pressure machine & blood pressure medication yesterday. i got the machine from the hospital pharmacy. my regular pharmacy told me that was the way to go because the hospital pharmacy can bill my medicare for a “medical device” & i can be reimbursed for the expense. of course, when i inquired about it, the pharmacist was all, “yeah, they are really cracking down on that & it’s probably not even worth filling out the paperwork.” when i explained that a doctor had actually ordered the machine for me, & i stepped back from the counter so he could see that i’m legit pregnant, he changed his tune. it was kind of annoying because he walked me through all the paperwork like i’d never filled out a form before. it was mostly just filling in my name, address, & medicare claim number over & over again. the last page was a survey about my experience at the hospital pharmacy, & he said, “what we like to see here is all fives,” & then sat there & watched while i circled all the fives. even on stuff that was totally inapplicable, like “ease of use for product,” “product safety,” & “explanation of how product works” (he did not explain how it worked). i considered answering more honestly, but i was late for my doula’s breastfeeding class & just wanted to get out of there without any strife. it was uncool though.

when i rolled into the breastfeeding class, i realized that i knew one of the other pregnant ladies there. & i was not pleased about it. i mean, we’re all adults, we can go ahead & have babies any time we want, no one needs my permission. but this is like the third person that i don’t really like at all that is pregnant at the same time as me. i wish one of my close bros was having a baby at the same time as me–just one? please? to balance out all these assholes & nitwits? not that it really matters; it’s not like our kids will necessarily play together or anything. but i was especially upset to see this woman the day after being diagnosed with such a serious pregnancy complication because we have had some major arguments in the past over things like medicare. which basically boiled down to arguments over whether disabled people deserve to live. i mean, if you are seriously arguing that you don’t deserve access to health care if you have health conditions that prevent you from working for an employer that offers health care or making money so you can buy a policy on the open market, you’re basically arguing for disabled people to just go die in a corner. i really don’t think i’m being hyperbolic here.

i had been thinking that morning about how grateful i am that my health care will cover the lion’s share of my suddenly super-intense & expensive prenatal care (i have to have a biophysical profile done every week for the rest of my pregnancy, & each one would cost me at least $500 out of pocket without insurance), & then here’s this awful woman sitting there, all knocked up. obviously i am feeling a little extra-protective of the baby right now, & i could barely stand to be sitting in the same room as someone that i know holds such vile opinions about the health care i need to keep my baby healthy. she has not historically been the best at understanding that our differences of opinion are actually fucking serious & not just a whimsical lark that i’m willing to overlook, so i was really nervous that she might try to chat with me after class. thankfully, i think one of the numerous times that i informed her that her political viewpoints make her a horrible monster of a person actually sunk in, because she just got the hell out of there once we were dismissed. here’s hoping she takes the same approach if we ever run into each other on the playground. here’s hoping even more that becoming responsible for a tiny life imbues her with some degree of compassion for other people.

i started trying to figure out my blood pressure machine when i got home, & it kept giving me crazy high readings, like 154/126. i mean, my blood pressure is on the high side, but that’s taking it a bit far. i had a friend come over to serve as a control & his reading was also abnormally high. but i think i figured it out. the cuff needs to be positioned just so for an accurate reading. i’m still getting high-ish numbers, but they’re not completely beyond the pale. i am still absorbing all of this new info & recalibrating my feelings about the pregnancy, but between my perfect bloodwork, lack of edema, & decent home blood pressure, i’m hoping i can avoid a super-premature delivery. my goal right now is to make it to 37 weeks. i just want the baby to have nice mature lungs & be able to breathe on its own. i told my doula that a week ago, i was just focused on getting ready for a newborn & not really thinking about the pregnancy that much. now the newborn aspect is totally on the back burner while i put all my energy into sustaining this pregnancy to term. so much of the stuff i cared about a lot before seems really unimportant right now. i’m glad that jared & i are mostly all set for the baby. all i really need to do is prep our diapers, install the car seat, & put together a labor bag. i’m so relieved i don’t have a bunch of last-minute shopping to do. people may have laughed at me for taking care of so much of that early in the pregnancy, before the baby showers, but thank god i did.

the worst day of my pregnancy, part two

all of this took like an hour, & i still had a three-hour glucose test ahead of me. so i went back down to the lab & drank my horrible drink. i got lemon-lime flavor this time, which was even more disgusting than the tropical punch. i tried to curl up in the waiting room & read “the new yorker,” but i had a much worse reaction to the drink this time & felt really nauseous. after almost an hour, i asked the receptionist what would happen if i just couldn’t do the test. by that point, i hadn’t eaten anything in twelve hours & hello! i have a three-pound infant living inside of me! i am hungry all the time! i surprised myself by starting to cry. i am really not big on the public crying–or the private crying, for that matter. the sugar was just really fucking with me. she offered me a private room–“it doesn’t have a TV, but you could lay down.” considering that the TV was tuned to “sesame street” & all i could think was, “oh my god, what if this blood pressure situation kills my baby & after all of this time being pregnant, i don’t even have a kid at the end of it,” i was MORE THAN HAPPY to get away from the TV. she set me up with a glass of water & warm blankets & i managed to power through the rest of the test (which is a blood draw every hour on the hour to see how my body is synthesizing the glucose load). someone told me afterward that it’s best to walk around between blood draws because the activity lowers blood sugar, & my napping will probably make me fail (ie, be diagnosed with gestational diabetes), but i don’t even care. i’m already being monitored weekly for hypertension. it seems like the big threat with gestational diabetes is that it can make the baby extra-big or extra-small. but my baby’s size is already being checked on a weekly basis, so who the fuck cares if i have gestational diabetes? i have bigger fish to fry at the moment.

by the time the third blood draw rolled around, i was feeling a lot better physically. & luckily, blood & needles don’t freak me out at all, so i was free to go. i drove home & laid into some motherfucking lunch. i started feeling really headache-y, probably because it was like 3pm by this point & i hadn’t had any coffee. i didn’t want to get back in the car & drive to the pharmacy to pick up my blood pressure medication & cuff, but i knew i had to get groceries anyway, & jared is still on the east coast doing research, so off i went.

the pharmacist gave me the cuff but told me they had not received a call about any medication for me. i told him that i’d been instructed to request a large cuff, because a too small/too tight cuff will cause false high readings & freak everyone out. he confirmed that he was giving me the large cuff. obvs my insurance paid for nothing, because i don’t have any prescription drug coverage, & he told me i could get the cuff processed through the hospital pharmacy & billed to medicare as a “medical device,” but it was only $20 so whatever. i just paid out of pocket. then i called my ob’s office to ask about the medication. i did my grocery shopping & sucked down a latte & waited for them to call me back.

when i got out to the car, it occurred to me to check the size of the cuff before i left. sure enough, it was medium, not large. i went back inside & waited in line. perhaps uncharitably to all the other people who clearly have health issues, considering that they were in line at a pharmacy, i was getting grumpy that no one was letting my big fat pregnant self cut them in line. eventually it was my turn & i explained the sitch, only to be informed that the pharmacy doesn’t stock blood pressure kits with large cuffs, & that i’d have to buy the other size separately. & they had none in stock, so they’d have to special order it. & it would cost me another $20. correct me if i’m wrong, but isn’t this kind of obviously a form of discrimination against larger people? supposedly larger people are at higher risk of heart disease to begin with–so let’s charge them double for this medical device that can help them monitor the situation? FUCKED UP. i asked for my money back & then surprised myself again by bursting into tears. to the point that some burn-out an aisle over sidled up to me & was all, “listen, how much are you short by? i’ll cover you.” & some woman behind me in line cried out, “god bless you, sweetheart, it WILL GET BETTER!” thanks, random nice people of lawrence, kansas. sorry if i freaked you out.

the pharmacist grimly tendered my refund & i shuffled back out to my car as fast as i could. i wanted to just cry there for a while, but it was pretty warm out & my trunk was full of, like, yogurt & fresh green beans. so i drove home & stuffed all the perishables into the fridge & then called jared, who was thankfully just getting out of the archive. i cried & cried & explained all the fucked upness of the day, & then my obstetrician’s office called again & told me that the pharmacy had my medication ready & the medical arts building on the hospital campus had my large adult blood pressure cuff & was ready to process it through my medicare. & then medical arts called me & asked if i wanted them to deliver it. & jared said, “i wish i was there to help you with all of this,” & i gradually started to feel better.

jared will be back in about two weeks. no sense having him come back just because i am being referred for medication & extra monitoring. he can go with me to all the biophysical profiles, & if i start showing signs of fetal or maternal distress–yeah, my doctor will probably want to induce. the only real cure for gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia is to get the baby out. but my kidneys & liver & still handling everything well, so hopefully we can leave the baby in for as long as possible so it will be fully baked. NO ONE is happy that i am showing symptoms like this at only 28 or 29 weeks, but…it is what it is, i guess. i am basically throwing my to-do lists out the window & just devoting myself to trying to stay relatively healthy for the next couple of months. i just want a healthy baby born as close to full-term as possible, nothing else really matters right now. baby is jumping all around right now to underscore this point. keep wiggling, baby!

bumpwatch terror alert: week 25

if you look carefully, you can see charlotte’s tail in the background.

this pregnancy is racing by. only 15 weeks to go. it sounded like kind of a while until i realized that we’re talking fifteen weeks until jared & i become responsible for sustaining a tiny human life. not that i didn’t know that going in; it’s just kind of easy to lose sight of the big picture when the big picture is so fucking terrifying.

fewer than two weeks until jared is temporarily back in town (along with our friend amanda), two weeks to the day until the baby shower & the start of the second trimester. in three weeks, our babymoon in boston will be over & i’ll be back in lawrence by myself while jared tries to finish up his research on the east coast.

i have been going to bingo as much as i can while jared has been away. jared is generally pretty supportive of most things i want to do, in that he encourages me to do them even if he has no interest in joining me. i don’t think anything could compel him to play bingo. i myself have mixed feelings about it. it can be a very depressing scene. the game i play is at the american legion hall & most of the folks playing are clearly retirees. the young people that are playing would fit right in on an episode of “cops”. or in pretty much any scene from my childhood.

it’s not really a secret that i didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. my dad had a decent job at an oil refinery, but he was an alcoholic & a drug addict, so the money he made was not well-managed. there were times when we had nice things, like a house big enough for all us kids to have our own rooms, or a nintendo system right when they were first introduced. there were other times when i had to get through the entire school year rotating two shirts because there was no money for a third.

now that i’m an adult living on a disability income, obviously i am not exactly rolling around in giant piles of money all day. & especially with a baby on the way, i’ve had a lot of anxiety about money. but my impending motherhood is also making me think a lot about my own childhood & the weird baggage i carry around from it & what values or assumptions i might pass on to my kid. for example, sometimes when i’m going out in the evening & am not going to be around for dinner, jared makes himself a dinner of lentils or beans on toast. i don’t like to eat meals like that. my gut reaction is, “why are we eating this way? we’re not poor.” (even though we kind of are.) but i was also telling him recently that i never really got into foods he thinks i would like, such as pancetta or lamb chops, because i think of them as “rich people food,” ie, food that people like me don’t eat. regardless of the fact that i undoubtedly buy groceries that are comparable in price. i’m not saying that any of this makes a lick of sense. i am saying that growing up with such limited means gave me a weird complex about money in ways that i am still unraveling, over fifteen years after i left my parents’ house. i think about what relationship i want my kid to have with food & i hope s/he will have an adventurous palate & like healthy foods, regardless of how much or how little they cost.

this weird class whiplash totally happens at bingo too, because, let’s face it. you can just tell that most people at the bingo game don’t really have a lot of money. the parking lot is full of cars manufactured at some point in the 90s, & a large percentage of folks in the hall are wearing sweatpants. & although bingo can be a lot of fun, & the prizes at the game i play are quite generous (the smallest payout is $40), the expense of it all can add up if you don’t watch yourself–& you are by no means guaranteed to win every night you go. in addition to bingo, there are other gambling games available, & they are popular. i’ve talked to a few people at bingo who told me they usually “only” play about $50 worth of bingo cards, but they easily drop $100 on the other games. $150. games happen twice a week. that’s $1200 a month. you recoup almost all your costs if you win a single progressive black-out within the time limit (a $1000 prize), but the likelihood of that happening is not good. so basically, going to bingo is an exercise in watching people who don’t have much money piss away what little money they have. in that respect, it can be very depressing.

personally, i try to limit myself to $40 in cards & i don’t play the extra games. the last time i went to bingo, i won the first special of the night for a prize of $200. that’s the most i have ever won in one night of bingo & i was very happy. more often than not, i leave the hall having won nothing. i just find the process of stamping the cards relaxing. i have heard tell of people who play bingo specifically to raise scratch for expensive hobbies they have (pageants, doll collecting, etc). i don’t get that. i haven’t kept track, but it seems like you pay more to play then you end up winning. the game i play actually posts statistics on this. they claim that they pay out, on average, 75% of their take. not 100% & definitely not more than 100%. & it’s in no way a game of skill, so there’s nothing you can do to increase your chances of winning besides get fast enough at dabbing to play more cards than anyone else in the game & give yourself more bites at the apple. & even that is a long shot.

none of this has much to do with the pregnancy, but it’s something i have been trying to wrap my head around for quite a while.

bumpwatch terror alert: week 24

i am officially gestating a viable fetus! what an accomplishment.

yesterday was bittersweet. on the one hand, i achieved gestational viability, which is something i’ve been looking forward to for months. a baby born at 24 months has a pretty decent shot at being kept alive (although, obviously, the earlier a baby is born, the more long-term health issues it potentially faces, so don’t expect me to start trying to induce labor any time soon). on the other hand, jared left to do dissertation research in new england. he’ll be back in less than three weeks for our baby shower, & then we’re traveling to boston together for one last hurrah before we become parents, but i’ll be flying home to kansas alone while he stays to do research until thanksgiving. he also anticipates having to do a little more research in december, meaning he won’t be home full-time again until i am around 35 weeks pregnant. & then, only because i put my foot down & said, “no traveling out of state in the month before my due date.” just in case i go into labor a little early.

my most recent prenatal was a few days before he left (& the same day he did his master’s exams, which means he is officially all-but-dissertation at this point–go, jared!). both the baby & i appear to be in excellent health & the nurse didn’t anticipate any physical problems with me taking care of the house by myself for the next couple of months. my blood pressure was normal & i didn’t have any signs of elevated blood sugar, which were relieving developments in light of the fact that i have gained eight pounds in the last four weeks. rapid weight gain can sometimes be a harbinger of pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, but i guess in my case, it’s just a hint that i may be pregnant, & that the morning sickness that gave me such an aversion to sugar is long gone.

i was supposed to see my actual doctor, but she was called away to a delivery & i had to see the nurse practitioner instead. i do not care for the nurse practitioner. i had made a list of things i wanted to make sure i mentioned at my appointment &…i kind of feel that it didn’t go so well. for example, i said that i needed to schedule my gestational diabetes test. she looked at my chart & said, “yeah, we do that at 27 weeks so we’ll get that scheduled at your next appointment.” i pointed out that i will be over 28 weeks at my next appointment. not that it really matters, it’s just a week’s difference, but she was all, “don’t worry, it’s being scheduled, we’ll deal with it next time.” she said the same thing when i asked about referrals to pediatricians: “we’ll do that at the next appointment.” i mean, that’s cool, i can wait four weeks, but it was like she was irritated with me for planning ahead, or for being a first-time pregnant lady who is not already familiar with the time table the practice has established. it’s not like they gave me a hand-out about exactly what topics will be addressed at each prenatal. i just know i’m supposed to do a gestational diabetes test & get referrals for pediatricians at some point in the late second trimester/early third trimester. forgive me for trying to be proactive about that.

she also asked if i am experiencing any pain anywhere, & i told her about my right knee, which has giving me all kinds of trouble in the last month. maybe it is just having trouble supporting my heavier pregnant self (i have gained 25 pounds so far), maybe it’s related to my arthritis, maybe i actually injured it somehow. all i know is that it hurts A LOT. the nurse was all, “well, we can refer you to physical therapy.” i was like, “okay, sure, we can try that.” she was all, “unfortunately, we really can’t give you any medication for that because you’re pregnant. nothing stronger than tylenol. we just can’t write you a prescription for narcotics,” blah blah blah. never mind that my actual DOCTOR has already written me a prescription for something stronger than tylenol for the headaches that plagued me at the start of the second trimester. instead, let’s focus on how i never asked for narcotics & agreed to physical therapy. i really felt like she was treating me like a pill seeker, like i was trying to get hooked on oxycontin & using my baby as a fence or something. this was underscored by the fact that she obviously forgot to put anything about a physical therapy referral in my chart because i did not actually get referred to anyone. it’s like she thought i was making up the whole “knee pain” story to get drugs & when it didn’t work, she decided i didn’t need any real treatment.

there was also an awkward moment when one of the other nurses weighed me & then ducked into the hall to retrieve the “large adult” blood pressure cuff when she saw the numbers on the scale. i’ve never had trouble fitting into the regular cuff in the past. i know this is far & away the most i have ever weighed, but IT’S ‘CAUSE I’M PREGNANT. & the baby mostly stays in my abdomen. it makes very few forays into my upper arms. the “large adult” cuff was really not necessary.

anyway. our kansas baby shower is coming up in a few weeks & we specially ordered really cute invitations featuring a blue bird & a pink bird canoodling over an egg in a nest. jared was really motivated in making sure he took invitations up to school & passed them around to colleagues. & then his mom got in touch with us & asked how we would feel about having a second shower while we’re in boston! i never even expected anyone to give us one baby shower, let alone two. so i am hopeful that maybe this baby will have people that care about it, aside from jared & i, & that we’ll be all stocked up & ready for it once it is born.

bumpwatch terror alert: week 23

one week until viability!

i got out my fancy blue dress yesterday because one of jared’s professors is leaving to take a long-term teaching assignment in china. he’s a pretty big deal. he kind of started the entire field of environmental history, which is what jared studies, & he’s a big reason why jared wanted to come to kansas for grad school. they had a conference addressing a bunch of his work yesterday, & there was a bon voyage party at this house after, attended by a bunch of his current & former students. so i was experimenting with getting dressed up for it.

the dress actually fits better now than it did when i first bought it, back before i was pregnant. i have gained about twenty pounds with this pregnancy so far, but i am down several pants sizes. it will be interesting to see how it all levels out once i give birth. unfortunately, none of my shoes fit anymore. thankfully, i’m not experiencing edema yet, but the ligaments in my feet are stretching out & my feet are a lot wider than they were before. only my sneakers still fit, & they’re a tight squeeze, plus they literally have holes in them. jared said i could probably just go casual & wear the sneakers, so i changed into jeans & a sweater.

at the party, one of his professors, who is a woman & has had a couple of kids in the last few years, so you’d think she would know better, saw me sitting around chatting with people & told jared, “wow, ciara doesn’t even look pregnant yet!” are you kidding me, woman?! i don’t think i look like i’m about to go into labor in the next five minutes, but i think i definitely look pregnant.

i kind of get where she’s coming from, because it seems like a lot of pregnant ladies are insecure about looking “too big”. the internet is full of women complaining about people expressing surprise that they are not further along than they are, or that they aren’t pregnant with multiples. women that are six months pregnant are getting nervous because they’ve gained eight pounds. there’s this whole culture that reinforces the idea that pregnancy shouldn’t really change your body that much, that it’s better to look small no matter how you’re accomplishing it, that it’s complimentary to tell a pregnant woman that she isn’t showing.

but COME ON. i AM showing & when someone says that i don’t look pregnant, i just hear, “you’ve always been a fatty fatty two by four, i see no change.” not to mention, i am not concerned about how much weight i gain, or looking svelte & stylish during pregnancy. i just want to try to be as physically comfortable as possible, & hope my baby is born healthy. jared said that maybe she just couldn’t see the bump that well because i was sitting…maybe.

also at the party, the wives of a couple of jared’s colleagues were chatting about what they do for work. one works in the social work office at the hospital, & the other is in child welfare, working with foster kids. i piped up, “so, when jared & i do this baby wrong, it is going to be AWKWARD!” jared laughed really hard, but other people kind of had a pearl-clutching moment. i don’t know what the world is coming to when a pregnant lady can make a few timely jokes about child neglect.

i had a few weeks of feeling really chill about everything, but i am back into pregnancy burn book mode again. here are just a few things that have been annoying me to an irrational degree lately:

1) the trend of fully-outfitted nurseries, complete with the baby’s name spelled out (in wooden letters or stickers or whatever) on the wall. why? are you afraid you’ll forget your child’s name? are you afraid the child will forget its own name? some people are starting to complain that this style has become too trendy & is no longer “original”. i know i haven’t been keeping up on my baby nursery trends for the last ten years, but…really? someone somewhere spelled out her baby’s name on the wall with wooden letters at some point in 2004 or whatever & was truly making a bold, original statement? but now it’s just as played as aviator sunglasses, apparently.

2) people complaining about the small ways they disapprove of someone else’s parenting (i always hate this), & then they top it off with a remark like, “& she had that second baby way too fast. her first baby wasn’t even a year old when the second one was born,” or some variation on this theme. like having babies back to back like that isn’t super-stressful? like a woman in that situation needs to be judged for that too? shut up.

3) prissy, impractical baby girl clothes. i don’t know why baby girl clothes bother me more than baby boy clothes. don’t get me wrong, baby boy clothes bother me a lot too. but baby girl clothes…put a tiny infant in a dress with a big decorative bow in the back, & she’s going to be laying on that bow & feeling really uncomfortable. put those cute little pink shoes on her & her feet are going to be constrained from developing properly. those ruffles on the rump of her onesie are throwing her hips out of alignment when she lays on them. & don’t even get me started on those prim headbands that serve no purpose except to a) get lost, & b) gender your child to strangers, because strangers are distressingly interested in the junk of strange babies.

4) when people prop newborns up into a sitting position for photos. why?! if they can’t sit up on their own yet, they probably shouldn’t be posed in that position. it stresses their joints. trust me, your baby will be just as cute laying down in a position that is comfortable for it.

i am just going to console myself with joyful memories of how a little girl ran headlong into a screen door last night at the party & knocked it right out of its frame so it fell on top of her & she was trapped. she was fine–just embarrassed. i laughed so hard, as did jared. everyone else was like, “ooooooh.”

i don’t know how to insure my child

needless to say, i have been gobbling up the parenting books in the past few months. some are funny, some are helpful, some are just obnoxious. some make me realize how many little things i haven’t even stopped to consider when it comes to this whole parenthood lark. the book i am reading right now (the must-have mom handbook) has an entire chapter on how to educate & protect your kids from sexual predators. it’s all helpful info, & they do an excellent job of explaining that both boy & girl children can be preyed upon by sickos, & may respond differently, & differently-gendered warning signs to keep an eye out for, & even that the sexual abuse of boys by adult men has nothing to do with homosexuality. but…OMG! sexual predators! god, i hadn’t even thought about that!

i am officially five months pregnant now & while i was perusing some fetal development website for milestones, i noted that they recommended i start interviewing potential pediatricians. because, duh, newborn babies are supposed to go see their pediatricians like five days after they are born. on some level, i knew that, but on another level…i thought maybe some god of pediatricians just assigns one to you & you don’t actually have to do any work. but not only do you have to seek out & select a pediatrician before you even meet your baby, you also have to find a way to pay said pediatrician, ie, health insurance.

this isn’t so difficult for normal people with normal health insurance to which they can add a dependent by making a phone call or filling out some basic paperwork. but i’m a medicare recipient thanks to being on disability. medicare obviously doesn’t allow me to add a beneficiary to my plan. jared gets health insurance through the university, because he is employed by them, but for some reason, we assumed he couldn’t add a dependent either. in retrospect, this was kind of a dumb assumption. he has the same health insurance as all the professors & everything, & obviously they have insurance for heir spouses & children. so we were pleased to discover that he could add the baby to his plan. we were less pleased when we discovered that it would only cost $400+ a month! what a bargain, amirite? why, that’s only 20% of our total monthly income!

but, you know, surely there are subsidies that we would qualify for that would bring the costs down a little. jared went up to the university to ask around about this, & that’s when he discovered that his paperwork for this school year had been misfiled & he was classified as a student rather than an employee. not only does that eliminate the option to add a dependent to the plan, even if you are somehow able to afford the cost, but it also means that his own premium skyrockets like ten times in price (& trust me, the employee rate isn’t chump change). it’s fixable–it’s obviously just an HR mistake & they can re-file him properly. but we need to wait for them to take care of that, & then ask about subsidies, & then see if we qualify, blah blah blah. meanwhile, my due date is about 18 weeks away, & jared intends to spend eight of those weeks out of town doing dissertation research. & because this is all HIS insurance, there is nothing i can do while he’s gone to speed the process along. school will also be out of session for winter break for five of the weeks when he is here, & he won’t be able to pursue insurance questions then either because the university will be closed. so that leaves us five weeks until my due date during which we can get to the bottom of his mess. & perhaps i didn’t mention that three of those weeks will be spent with jared preparing for his master’s exams. & one will be spent on a “babymoon” together in boston. so…one week.

oh my god.

so i looked into healthwave, which is kansas’s medcaid program. income-wise, we qualify. on their website, they say they don’t count “social security or SSI income” toward the eligibility requirements. because my disability is the lion’s share of our income…does that mean they won’t count it? in which case we would qualify for the free insurance? or does it count as SSDI because it’s for disability, & therefore they will count it & we will only qualify for the subsidized insurance? it matters because apparently you can’t apply for healthwave on behalf of a newborn until said newborn is born. & obviously there’s a bit of a waiting period while your application is processed & considered. with the free insurance, you have three months of retroactive coverage once it kicks in, which means baby’s first visits to the pediatrician would be retroactively covered. but the subsidized insurance only takes effect upon approval, meaning any medical care the baby requires before the application is approved would be our financial responsibility. & considered that a simple blood draw at our local hospital costs $250 without insurance, this could swiftly break the bank.

naturally i called the helpful healthwave customer service line to inquire. first i asked if they would require proof of name change paperwork for me, since there’s a section on the application for “other names used”. the guy said, “if your name was changed on your birth certificate, then no.” huh? what does that mean? i legally changed my name & no longer use my former name, but i never got a new birth certificate with my new name on it. i have a new social security card & a new state ID, etc etc, but no one even told me it was possible to change your birth certificate, let alone that i should. i asked what proof of identity they would need & he said, “copies of your social security card, birth certificate, & state ID.” but…it’s illegal to photocopy to a state ID. i mean, people do it anyway, but it seems a little crazy for them to request an illegal photocopy to process an application for state-funded health care, right? i asked about the disability thing & he said, “we consider social security to be unearned income.” okay…what does that mean? it counts toward your income eligibility or not? he repeated, “we consider that income unearned.” o…kay…but could you answer the question? i’m also confused because most of my social security income is collected on my dad’s record, & that could be considered a social security pension, because it’s the money he would have collected had he lived to retirement age. i am supposed to classify the income myself on the application (SSI, social security annuity, social security disability), & i honestly don’t even know how to categorize it, let alone how each categorization would affect my eligibility. nor do i know how to find out.

so right now i am kind of hoping that we can just find some subsidies that will make it affordable to add the baby to jared’s insurance, because healthwave seems crazy complicated & confusing. but, as with all obnoxious things that have transpired during this pregnancy, i know it is but a taster of the crazy bureaucratic hoops i will have to jump through constantly on behalf of my child. argh!

i wouldn’t force this pregnancy stuff on my worst enemy

despite all my clever jokes, the pregnancy is definitely taking a turn for the uncomfortable & potentially worrisome. on sunday, i hit the pool hardcore while jared stayed home & did research. i usually try to do sixty laps at the pool, but my last session had been truncated by lightning, so i decided to try to make it up by doing one hundred laps. the other people at the pool kept me entertained as i water-trudged back & forth, back & forth. i saw another pregnant lady at the pool with her partner. she looked more pregnant than me. i kind of wanted to jump out of the water & say, “i’m pregnant too! want to come over for dinner sometime?” that is always my reaction when i see other pregnant ladies. i start daydreaming about how our babies will become best friends & we’ll watch each other’s kids so we can have date nights with our partners & we’ll hit the baby consignment sales together, etc etc. but i’m too scared to say anything because i still worry that i just look fat, not pregnant, or that they are pregnant with their seventh baby & are already all stocked up on mom friends, or that they’ll just have really different parenting philosophies & we’ll hate each other or something.

there was also a dad at the pool with two little girls. one was maybe six years old & the other was a baby, probably under a year. the baby was in a little baby innertube with holes for the legs so she could sit in there & be safe. he put the little girls in the lane next to me & did a few laps while they watched. the baby gnawed on her innertube & the older girl patted the baby’s head with water. i guess they were getting bored though, so he let the older girl ride piggyback while he pushed the innertube back & forth across the pool. so cute. i hope jared does stuff like that with our kid.

anyway, while i was walking home, i noticed that i felt weird. there was a strange, painful pressure around my pubic bone. i have heard of this weird condition that afflicts some women in later pregnancy, where their pubic bone actually separates because of the relaxin. apparently it’s incredibly painful. i started worrying that maybe this was the start of something awful. i asked about it in my due date club on the internet. one woman said it had happened to her during her last pregnancy & she was confined to a wheelchair until after the birth. another woman said that her first symptom of something being amiss was when her hip suddenly dislocated & she fell down on the ground screaming in agony. & these are women who chose to get pregnant again! holy shit! having a kid must be AWESOME to make someone risk their bodies like that more than once.

the pain i had was nowhere near that bad, but of course i woke up in the middle of the night worrying about it anyway. i called my doctor’s office & the nurse said that usually the dislocation thing is WAY more painful than what i was describing & it was more likely that the baby was just wedged up against my pubic bone in an uncomfortable way. she recommended stretches & liberal dosing with extra-strength tylenol (i have not told my doctor’s office that they really need to stop giving me the okay to take pills–the reason i’ve never experimented with hard drugs or heavy drinking is because i know i’m an addict at heart, as manifested by my grand love affair with over-the-counter sleeping pills). the baby moved the next day & now my pubic bone feels fine. though my ego is a bit wounded by the fact that jared’s response to this whole area of concern was, “haha. you said ‘pubic’.” that guy is going to paragon of maturity in the delivery room.

& then yesterday, jared & i decided to check out the new grocery store in east lawrence. it’s not technically new–just refurbished. it’s the closest grocery store to our house & used to be known as the “dirty dillon’s”. they tore it down last summer & completely made it over. this is why jared & i got a car, actually. this grocery store was close enough to walk to, but the other stores require a car, & we had to use the other stores while the dirty dillon’s was being transformed into what the local newspaper is calling the “dapper dillon’s”. it had its grand opening on sunday & it IS pretty dapper. there are now bulk bins, a “cafe,” a starbucks, an expanded bakery section, skylights, new carts that don’t have sticky wheels, way more express & self-check lanes…the produce is all displayed in a really arty way. we needed garlic, but it is now located in a faux roman pedestal bowl on top of a large display of various onions & endives. i almost couldn’t reach it with my big pregnancy belly getting in the way.

about halfway through our shopping trip, i started feeling crampy, clammy, & shaky. it got worse & worse & i noticed the crampy feelings were coming in waves. i actually had to stop & breathe through them. i haven’t felt anything like this all pregnancy. i bailed on jared when we got to the check-out & went & laid down in the car. sitting down immediately made me feel better, & by the time we got home, i was 100% back to normal. i assume this was braxton hicks contractions? it seemed too early, but i looked it up online & i guess it’s not uncommon for women to start feeling them this early. some women say they don’t hurt, some women say they do. i say THEY DO. it was probably nothing compared to labor, but the anxiety of experiencing a contraction at only 18 & a half weeks pregnant (baby won’t be viable until 24 weeks) definitely added to the pain.

of course the internet is of two minds. half the respondents in my due date club say, “same thing happened to me last pregnancy, don’t worry about it. just make sure to stay hydrated.” half say, “this happened to me last pregnancy, i ignored it, & then i went into preterm labor at 23 weeks & delivered at 26 weeks. call your doctor ASAP!” plus i’m still getting headaches, my feet are starting to swell (slightly) & i am scared of getting elephant feet, my hands feel swollen but don’t really look different (though i don’t wear jewelery, so it’s hard to judge), i’m congested all the time, i’m way too hot all the time…i’m just uncomfortable. already. & i still have 18 & a half weeks to get through before i am considered officially full-term (37 weeks). wish me luck, guys. on the plus side, i finished the top of my baby quilt:

it’s kind of messed up in places, but the baby will probably be messed up in places too. they’ll be a matched set!