Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tired

Since Cody's surgery, I've taken up 100% of everything around here. I'm doing all the dog-walking, cooking, cleaning, etc., in addition to taking care of him and the baby. I wake up with her in the middle of the night to nurse, then am up early to walk the girls. This is all just making me feel so drained.

Then last night was spent in the ER. Cody's been not doing so well. Among other things, he's had a fever between 100.4 and 101.2 consistently. Since the doc won't be in until Monday, it was to the ER with us, to make sure nothing serious was going on. So now he's got a script for Keflex that I need to go have filled before noon.

It doesn't help that I'm starting to feel sick.

Oh well. I'll get over it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The first week

Latching issues aside, Charlotte's been a dream of a baby. She doesn't cry often at all. When she needs to eat, she makes this cute cooing sound and puckers her lips, moving her tongue in and out. As long as she gets fed within a minute and a half or so, there's no crying. Now when she's got gas bubbles, she gets fussy and cries a little then. But even at night, she will grab at me with her hands and make that smacky sound, which wakes me up and she eats. Yes, she sleeps with us.

The first three says were spent with me in bed.

On the 6th, she met my aunt Sandy and one of Sandy's friends. I hadn't seen Sandy in years, so this was especially nice.

On the 7th, it was Daddy's birthday, and the 8th was mine. I made roasted chicken on Cod's birthday and his mom came over. On my birthday, he made pot roast. Our midwife also came over and we had a lovely visit. I absolutely adore Karni.

On the 9th she went to see Santa and got a picture. It was her first time outside, and she was wonderful!

Yesterday she spent the day in the out-patient surgery department while her dad had his tonsils taken out. We were waiting with him for him to be wheeled back, and it was harder for me than for him. I'm not used to being on this end, waiting for a loved one to be taken into surgery. Knowing he was going to be hurting afterward was hard for me. Afterward, his throat started bleeding a good bit more than it should have, and he was nauseated enough to need a cocktail of anti-nausea drugs. By the time I got to see him, several hours later than expected, he was very ashen, paler than I am, with blue lips. They said he was actually doing a lot better than he was. It breaks my heart seeing him like this. With the surgeries I've had, this would be a walk in the park, and I'd gladly be in his place if it could keep him from having to hurt like this (but that's impossible, plus mine came out when I was 8).

The dogs have been very good girls. They're so protective and check on "their baby" several times a day. If Charlotte makes a sound that isn't so happy, Emma will give this throaty growl and cock her head as if telling me to take proper care of the baby! They also both have a tendency to sit guard over her. If you want into our bedroom when she's in here, they'll be sitting in the doorway like little protectors.

Daddy's changed diapers!! He's changed every single once except for three. The first time he asked me why I didn't get him up to change her. The second two times were today. Oh how I hate having to use disposables right now, but she's too little still to fit her Bum Genuinses. Among other things, the chemicals in the diaper absorb so completely that it can be hard telling if she's wet or not. So I decided to change her, even if it doesn't look/feel like she needs it. Sometimes when her diaper is off, the weight indicates that she did indeed pee. Cloth will make it so much easier.

It's been a busy week, but I think we're doing very well, all in all. Despite being new parents, we still have the time to actually cook (Charlotte sleeping so well at night, waking me up usually just once, helps this) and clean and do whatever we need to do, plus the critters aren't neglected. I'm pretty proud of us, really. We've managed to hold it together very well. Baby care and all that's new seems so natural to us. I do think this has something to do with our old-fashioned mindset of "You've gotta do what you gotta do, quit making excuses and just do it."

I am so very happy!! This doesn't seem like it can be my life. But it is!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Birth summary

The full birth write-up will take a little while. I'm still mentally processing parts of it.

The summary is labor did start at about 11:45 on the 2nd, her due date, and she was born about 18 hours later. The labor itself didn't really hurt much, so it surprised me when the midwife got here and I was full dilated. Birth pool ftw. Things got hard when we realized she was coming out chin-first. She was sunny-side up, chin first, and she wasn't coming out straight. As this was something I'd never heard of, I was terrified out of my mind. Breech would have been fine, but I'd never heard of a head-down baby that wasn't crown-down (whether posterior or anterior), and never even knew anything else was possible. So I was delivering without knowing what was happening. Her chin, then her nose, her eyes, eyebrows (Cody saw her face peeking out and she was sticking her tongue in and out), until the crown of her head was able to flip out and around. From there, the rest of her came right out in the same push. I lost a lot of blood but not enough to need to be transported, thankfully.

So much for the calm, serene birth I'd imagined full of happy tears and songs (yes, I'd envisioned singing since Cody plays guitar and there are some songs I really wanted played, like House at Pooh Corner, which always makes me cry). I swear I'm going to find some humor in how this birth was almost the polar opposite of what I'd hoped for. But she's a healthy baby and I'm okay (not even a slight tear, a miracle unto itself), and this is what matters.

When I finish my write-up, it's going to be pretty detailed. We're all doing well now, but it was just so hard and the scariest and yet the best thing I'd gone through in my life. Our baby was pretty banged up and swollen with her face bruised, but that started going away quickly. Now you have to look hard to tell.

We did have her at home, and I'm so very glad for that. We were assisted by midwife Karni Seymour-Brown, who I can not recommend highly enough. She's amazing. In her 30 years of midwifery, this is the third face-presenter she's had. And Cody was incredible. While many dads can't handle a birth where all goes as planned (his own dad passed out!), he was a rock and never wavered. He admitted he got into the mindset of something being wrong, a problem to be solved or fixed, rather than getting to be in the moment with his daughter being born. Regardless, his strength gave me the determination to not give up when I swear I thought I was going to die from exhaustion.

Maybe I'm nuts, but I'd actually go through it again. It was harder than anything I've ever gone through, but it all was okay in the end, and I've got a little girl sleeping beside me, and she's ours!


You can see the poor thing had quite a wild ride.




I don't even think I was comprehending anything much yet at this point. This was about three hours after birth. That's as cleaned up as I felt like getting. I wanted to get back into bed!




Daddy's first moments holding her. Her poor little eyes were so swollen!




This was on Sunday night. If you look hard, you can still see a slight mark by her nose. Lots of Neosporin has helped. Soon you won't be able to tell at all!




This was taken Monday. It was her daddy's birthday! (And mine was Monday. Talk about a busy birthday-week! And our anniversary is the 6th!)




A funny thing really quick:

After delivering, I had to have a shot of Pitocin to help with uterine contractions to help stop the bleeding I had, and when the needle was brought in, the first words out of my mouth were, "Will it hurt?" Um, I just pushed out a baby in one of the hardest positions possible to actually deliver, and I was chicken of the needle! This makes me laugh.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

She is here!!

Charlotte Elizabeth made her debut at 6:26pm.

Talk about traumatic for all of us. She's in rough shape right now, but will be fine. Details within a few days. I'm too exhausted to go into it all now.

Maybe...? Please?

8 contractions in 29 minutes of a minute or slightly longer. We are timing them.  Pretty please let this be labor starting!! Watch Twitter for updates.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Three of my friends gave birth today.

THREE!

So congrats to Dawn on the birth of her son, Jacob, at 8:06am pst, Latavia on the birth of her daughter, Anya, at 2:53pm est, and Angel on the birth of her baby, stats/time unknown!!

Only now I'm feeling very discouraged. I am at 40 weeks, not by estimation either. We know exact dates thanks to having had IVF. Charlotte is still content to stay in there, and I've got an NST (test to make sure the baby's not stressed) scheduled for next Wednesday if she's not here by then.

We actually got a tree today, a 7' noble fir. It's decorated, and sheesh, I forgot how long our light strands are. We kept having to wrap unwrap, and rewrap then, to fit them all on. They must be 1,000-light strands or something. I'll get some pictures as soon as I find the digital camera. Also I found a box in the garage with a ceramic Christmas train set y grandma made years ago, as well as these "Dueling Banjo Bears" my dad used to get a kick out of, a carousel, and a bunch of other holiday stuff I'd forgotten about. Somewhere, I think in my sewing room, I've got the nativity set Grandma made years and years back. The wood manger my dad made is in the garage. Need to decide where to put that. Even though we're not Christian in this household, it's still tradition to have it out, so out it goes.

Cody had a pre-op today. He's having his tonsils out next Thursday. He'll be hating the world for a few days. It's the first time in his life he'll actually be having something medical done. He's had just a couple blood draws in his life aside from regularly donating blood. He's never had an IV or anything else, so this is a new experience for him, and, understandably, he's a bit nervous. But he'll be okay.

We also got fabrics today for a couple toddler regency dresses for someone who already bought a little navy dress. Getting started on that will help occupy my time tomorrow, washing the fabrics (cotton broadcloth is so easy to care for, and I think my favorite cotton fabric) and starting the pattern-drafting. Maybe if I stop thinking about my own little girl for once, she'll get jealous and decide to come out and distract me. Eh, I know, that's not how it works, but I'm trying to amuse myself.

Also Apple said they're going to make United pay. Our complaints aren't isolated. They've been getting enough complaints to finally notice, and I guess we're the ones who finally tipped the scale with the extent of what we have documented. So Apple's taking action and we have it in black and white that they're going to force United to pay for the midwives they've been denying. Who knows how long it'll take to get United to actually do it, but it's something for someone much higher up in Apple to be doing something, and to even contact us directly to let us personally know.

I'm just so discouraged. If she goes another two weeks, I can't have a midwife-assisted delivery, and it has to be at the hospital by law unless we go it unassisted altogether. A hospital-delivery just is not the safest option for me as it would mean I'd be forced into a c-section. Have to be at the hospital unless it's unassisted, but the hospitals here won't admit me without my consenting to be cut open. So two polar opposites. Please, Baby, be born. Please let labor start tonight.... I'm getting so desperate.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ha!

Movement under way in California to ban divorce

The effort is meant to be a satirical statement after California voters outlawed gay marriage in 2008, largely on the argument that a ban is needed to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. If that's the case, then Marcotte reasons voters should have no problem banning divorce.

"Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more," the 38-year-old married father of two said.


And it's true. It's just as absurd to ban divorce as it is to ban gay marriage. I'd gladly sign this petition. Equal is equal. If the voters are all about "protecting" traditional marriage, then this seems like another way to help do it, right?

I remember years back, some politician in Washington State, I believe it was, said the purpose of marriage is children, which is why gays shouldn't marry. I chewed off the ear of anyone who'd listen that I guess that means that infertile straight people should also be banned from marriage unless they can find a way to have a baby.

But of course, the government should really just keep the legal hell out of it altogether. If two consenting adults want to marry, it's not the government's place to say no, nor is it the voters' place.


Also I am exhausted. Luthien was a pain last night and kept trying to jump all over the bed. I know she was just trying to be protective of me, but I kind of need sleep to eventually push this little human out of me! I'm tired, but don't want to sleep. Want to eat salad, but too tired to eat. Too hungry to sleep, to sleepy to eat.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Impatience!!

I swear I feel I'm going to be pregnant forever. I can't wait for her to decide to come out.

HURRY UP, CHARLOTTE!!

Insurance update

Cody heard from HR last Wednesday that there is a new policy taking effect that may benefit us. But being a holiday week, he had to wait until today to talk to the lady on the phone.

Turns out that they've been getting a ton of complaints from people in the exact same position we're in, being told their midwives would be covered at the in-network rate, then, in practice, being denied all together after being given months of run-around. So they said they're going to be forcing United to follow through and pay for the midwives at the in-network rate.

Insurance being insurance, I'm going to remain skeptical until we not only have something in writing, but until it happens. In the meantime we're going to pay the midwife out of pocket what we can since we absolutely don't want her or her center to suffer financially because of having to wait around for United to finally pay out. I wouldn't put it past them to drag on payments.

I don't know how it would work in regards to being reimbursed by United for what we spend out of pocket to the midwife, if she'll be allowed to bill the full thing and reimburse us what we pay to her, or if she'll be allowed to bill what's over what we pay, and we have to submit a claim ourselves for reimbursement, or how is all works. But the money raised so far will still go to her right now, and if it's reimbursed to us later, will go into a fund for MCF, and/or to help another mom get in with a midwife, as this money was given with the intent of helping with midwife costs, and so that is what it will be used for.

His employer's corporate HR finally openly acknowledging a problem with United's refusal to cover a covered service is a huge step in the right direction. Let's hope things continue. After yesterday, some good news like this is appreciated. Fingers crossed that it all finally works out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Scary morning

I woke up thinking I was peeing the bed. I stood up and it turned out to be a bunch of bright red blood. I don't recall ever shaking so much from fear over what was happening. If it was just me, fine. But my thought was what was going on with the baby. Since morning isn't usually an active time for her, I couldn't feel anything and didn't expect to. Only thing that that's happened different was we actually had sex for the first time in ages last night. I was freaking and thinking that somehow hurt her.

We called the midwife, called Cody's mom, snapped a picture of the bed (which only had about half of it - there was more in the toilet) and hightailed it to the birth center (Karni was there, despite how early it was, as there was a birth last night, a baby boy!).

Good news is it was probably a bunch of cervical irritation, and the back-up doctor concurs. Charlotte's heartbeat is fine, the bleeding has stopped. I am on complete bed-rest from here on out, which will annoy me, but it would be so much worse to lose this baby. The midwife estimated from the blood on the bed to be half a cup.

So an adrenaline-filled morning, lots of blood to clean up (actually most is cleaned up already), and now for a day of me keeping my feet up and Cody doing some housecleaning. He is taking the day off, of course, and will be getting the place ready in case full-blown labor kicks off. I'm having some mild contractions, so we'll see.

Last night I had a dream where things started to go wrong, so that just added to the nerves for me. There was blood in my dream too.

For emergency situations, I won't be taking the time to get online, but in the car, I will have my iPhone, and so will be posting updates to my Twitter feed and/or Cody will be posting to his feed, which will both push to our Facebook accounts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Maybe getting close?

Low-grade cramping persistently over the last few hours. It's not completely constant, just almost consistent without break. It feels like period cramping, both abdominal and lower back. Maybe I'm being hopeful, maybe it means labor will happen in the next week or so? Finally?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A good laugh

Now that we have more turkey left over than I know what to do with, well, I don't know where I was going with this thought. I'm in dark meat heaven. "Why does everyone like the white meat?" I once asked my dad after leaving his parents' house. "Because everyone else likes it too," he said. Well not I. I'm a lover of the thigh meat. More flavor, softer, just so much more delicious.

Anyway we were eating some of the pumpkin pie I made last night, and a chunk of seasonings didn't get blended in well enough. So I plucked it out and tossed it to Emma. Toss anything edible in that dog's direction and she'll catch it and eat it. As she did. A couple seconds later she looked like she was second-guessing that move, and then started rubbing her face into the ground while giving me the occasional look of death! It was so funny that I laughed so hard I'm still achy. Tomorrow we're going to freeze some of the leftover turkey, and I think we're going to donate the other one we have in the freezer.

It's been a relaxing day so far, done nothing more than cook and lounge around, watching some movies, crocheting, reading, willing Ms. Parasite to pretty please come out now.

Hope most of y'all have a good one!
So a few nights ago, Cody had an idea to start a foundation to help make midwifery and births outside of hospitals affordable options to women, to help fund when possible, and to help put women in contact with resources in their local areas. More emphasis would likely be put on the financial aspect of it. Many women desperately want home births or births in birth centers, already know the options and know exactly what they want, but insurance claiming to cover and then refusing to in the end (I am not the only one dealing with this), or not covering at all, and having to come up with a couple thousand or more, pretty much cancels this option eliminating any real choice in childbirth. "Get to a hospital where you belong, Woman."

Plans for this foundation, which we have been referring to as Mother's Choice Foundation (MFC), are on the very early stages, and we won't have much time to jump on it too much for a few months yet as we're, well, waiting for our own baby to be born any day now, which will take up plenty of time for now. It's obviously a long-term project, for lack of better word, as filing and gaining 501(c)3 status takes a while (I've helped another organization do so). While we'd like to make this something national, we also realize the need on even a local level to have the locations for options available in the first place.

So it excited me to just now find The Birth Action Coalition. I haven't had much time yet to look through the site in any great depth, but do know that, in our area, most non-hospital birthing facilities have been put under by the state. There are startlingly few midwives and birth centers here. And the local hospitals refuse VBACs and such regularly, allowing only c-sections for these women and many others (I would be among them). SO anything that helps change this, even at a local level, is awesome in my book.

I also found Choices in Childbirth, an organization dedicated to providing information about the different birth options out there. While it doesn't help with the financial aspect of things, it takes the step of providing information. The default for childbirth shouldn't be rushing off to an OB/GYN and then doing whatever they say without question. People put more research into options for a car than options for childbirth, and really, this is largely because many women don't know that there truly are other options. Out-of-hospital births are still against the mainstream, foreign, very odd, because so little is generally known about them by most people. What information is known tends to be incorrect, such as "home births are dangerous." No more so than a hospital birth, and various studies are showing home births to have a lower mortality rate.

I could go on all night about this, but probably should get to sleep soon. I've got to be up early to get Chuck in the oven. Or, uh, well, have Cody do it anyway. I'm not supposed to be lifting anything over a few pounds right now. I'm using all my willpower to not go devour all the pickled and olives right now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre-T-Day

Watching Christmas movies and shows, the old ones, like the ol' Rudolph Movie, and the animated Grinch. Have a couple pies made and cooling, and a turkey far too big for two people. But we couldn't pass up a 20-pound bird when it was $7. And we got the apartment all nice and scrubbed down and the carpets steam-cleaned (okay, Cody did, I'm too achy with my right leg trying to fall off and all). So we're good to go for waking up, popping Chuck in the oven (I named the bird), making French toast, and then getting on with the rest of it.

It's going to be a day of just kicking back and watching movies. Cody's step-dad is still sick (brief update: had prostate-removal surgery, and then found out his bladder was punctures twice) so not much happening there, Cody's dad is with his sister, who has esophagus cancer and likely won't be around longer (sick, sick, everywhere), and everyone else is further away. So us, the dogs and cats, a dead birdie, movies.

I wish the weather would change. What the hell is the sun doing showing its face and make it 80 degrees? Warm breezes, not a single cloud in the entire sky. Um, it's late fall. Where is the rain? WHERE IS THE RAIN?? I hate all this sunshine and heat. I'll be so happy when it starts getting windy, cold, and rainy. Dare I say it? I miss the Oregon and Massachusetts weathers of rain and snow. I remember it well, and miss it. Those states actually got seasons. Here, we get seasoN. One. Summer.

All in all, it's been a pretty good day today, and I think tomorrow will be better.

Hopefully Miss Charlotte decides to start coming tomorrow. Cody wouldn't mind not having to go to work on Black Friday. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Insurance update

Okay so letter together for the insurance company. They are going to pay/pay back/something for this, in addition to roast in hell.

November 6th I was told:
1) that Apple allows them to deny midwife coverage for homebirths and birth center births if there's a doctor in the area.

2) that if a decision for an appeal hasn't been made before the baby is born, then they won't cover any of the prenatals dating back to August because those appointments have all been with the midwife (which, btw, is included in the total cost of the midwife - $2500 for all prenatals and delivery AND the first month of postnatals is a steal compared to going to an OB/GYN for the prenatals alone!).

3) that they will consider it a file closed as of the date of birth and so will no longer even consider the appeal. Yet they have no guidelines or rules about how long they have to decide, so they can just wait until she's born and then say, "Well, she's here, case closed, you're SOL now."

Apple's HR eventually told Cody that United can deny covering home-births and birth centers if there's a midwife who will deliver at the hospital. Too bad for both United and Apple that this exception isn't actually in writing anywhere. The policy states home-births and birth centers are covered with no exceptions listed. Can't legally advertise a benefit you won't cover.

Ah, but what about if the policy changed? I called yesterday and verified, once again, that these things are still covered with no change. And I verified that there are no exceptions to coverage listed. And I got more names and the reference number. It's only when actually trying to utilize the benefits do exceptions suddenly exist (but not in writing) that don't really exist in writing anywhere.

So we're still fighting, and at least I'm feeling low about having to accept help with the midwife cost. This whole ordeal hasn't done very good things for my health or self-esteem. Those who know me well know how much it takes to ask for help and how it makes it so hard for me to hold my head up.

Fuck these insurance freaks. Money wouldn't be so tight if it weren't for worthless insurance. They have dragged our lives down and compromised my health, endangering me and this baby.

Recalls, recalls

I am so very annoyed with recalls sometimes.


Stork Craft Cribs
The latest one is for Stork Craft cribs.

The Stork Craft cribs have had problems with their hardware, which can break, deform or become missing after years. CPSC said there can also be problems with assembly mistakes by the crib owner. These problems can cause the drop-side to detach, creating a dangerous space between the drop-side and the crib mattress, where a child can become trapped.

You mean...things with movable parts get wear and tear after years of use? Say it ain't so! And assembly mistakes by the owners... Before we picked our crib, we researched cribs, and these were the main arguments on the CPSC's website against drop-sides in general. Rather than any manufacturing problems, they're end-user problems that are out of the control of the companies making the products.

While we ultimately went with a non-drop-side (convertible cribs that turn into toddler and full-side beds aren't available as drop-sides), and I don't like drop-sides as it is (memories of those springs and such smashing my fingers when I played with them), I'm going to have to take the stance that Stork Craft shouldn't be held responsible here when the problem isn't a manufacturing defect. It's a parent's responsibility to make sure something is assembled right and that all parts are in fine, working order before use. Failure to do that shouldn't be someone else's financial loss.

Yes, I understand that, of the 2.1 million cribs being recalled, four babies have died. This places the chance of death at 1 in 525,000 (really far less since most cribs are used by more than one baby). Sure, "even one is too many," but there's simply no way to make anything in this world 100% safe 100% of the time, and having this expectation is unreasonable. Having it be a wish, fine. But expecting it, insisting it should be so? No.


Maclaren Strollers
Just earlier this month, Maclaren recalled over a million strollers because:

A side hinge mechanism poses the risk of cutting or amputating a child's fingers when the stroller is being opened or closed..

What the hell are parents letting their children put their fingers in the hinges when opening and closing the strollers? This is just plain stupid on the parents' part and, again, is not a problem with manufacturing, yet the company is forced to pay the price. Shit, use some common sense and don't be an idiot. Don't let your kids put their fingers in a hinge when you're doing something with it.


Easy Bake Ovens
I remember burning my fingers on hot Easy Bake Oven pans and just being told to be more careful next time. Now they keep getting recalled because kids stick their hands into the over and burn themselves. Wow, you mean something that's supposed to get hot enough to bake a small cake can burn? Really?! Seriously?! (end sarcasm) Good lord, what happened to common sense? This is a risk you take when you buy your kid a toy that is supposed to get hot. It's been a couple years since the last recall, so it'll be pretty soon that it's time for yet another recall on these things.


Lawn Darts
And let's nor forget a much older one, Lawn Darts. These were big darts with weighted metal points thrown underhanded toward plastic rings on the ground. Easy enough to know what not to do with them. You don't throw knives at people, supervise kids when using something pointy like this, etc. etc. etc. Well you know how it goes. People didn't supervise or just plain thought it was a good idea to let people throw darts at each other or something. Maybe they were bored, so tossing them into the air for the kiddies and other people to catch sounded fun. Who knows. But three people managed to die, so the CSPS outright bans them from the US.


Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kids Dolls
These recalls aren't like the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kids recall from 1997. With that one, toy food was stuck in the mouth to be eaten, but not clearly visible at all (I've seen these dolls) is that there is a sharp metal plate at the back that chomps the "food", with an awfully powerful motor. This was a hidden danger that resulted in fingers being amputated and children's hair being sucked in and pulled out by the roots. This wasn't a wear-and-tear issue, or assembly-by-parents problem, or a just plain "no shit, Sherlock" problem (or a lead paint problem, which no one should expect since lead in paint has been banned since the 70's, not that that's been stopping China and Mattel from importing toys with lead paint, and by the way, Mattel has managed to get an exemption from the CSPIA laws requiring third-party testing that's put so many mom-and-pop handcrafting toy companies out of business).


Even drunk-drivers should get off the hook?
At what point are parents expected to take responsibility? Or are we now in a world where it's always someone else's fault, no matter what? I guess so. After all, there are a lot of ads playing on the radio right now for Top Gun DUI, a defense firm saying that just because you drink and drive doesn't mean you should have to suffer the consequences of a DUI conviction, with their stupid slogan, "Friend don't let friends plead guilty." In my opinion, you choose to drink, you choose to drive you choose to endanger me and everyone else on the road, you can go to hell. How 'bout that? But nope, Berman thinks people shouldn't have to pay consequences of drinking and driving, who cares that this kills many people. I wonder if he'd feel the same if his child was killed by a drunk driver.



Anyway yeah, most recalls are stupid and send the message that no one should ever be responsible for anything they do because you can always just sue because of your own stupidity.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How am I high-risk in a hospital, but low-risk otherwise?

I've had some friends and family express concern here and there about the risks of home birth over being in a hospital with a c-section. Allow me to clarify how I'm high-risk in a hospital, yet regular, low-risk for a vaginal birth.

A recent study just came out (within the last year) showing that j-pouches and such are not of obstetric concern as once thought, and do not impede safe vaginal delivery for both mother and baby, but that c-sections come with substantial increased risk, including torsions, nicking of the small intestine, and irreparable damage to the j-pouch necessitating a permanent ostomy.

Any surgery that will deal with the intestine is a highly-specialized surgery. With a c-section, this means an OB/GYM rather than a GI will be the one dealing with the intestine. You wouldn't want a heart surgeon doing a brain surgery any more than I'd want a baby-delivery doctor doing a surgery on my small intestine. But since my small intestine is adhered to the top and front of my uterus as evidenced after I eat by actually watching food move through it, this would have to happen. An OB/GYN would have to attempt to separate my intestine from my uterus without causing any damage.

Thanks to the way hospital administration and all tends to work, if a woman's had any abdominal surgery at all before, even just a prior c-section, then a woman will be very hard-pressed to find a hospital that will allow a vaginal delivery. At that point, it's an automatic c-section. And don't try saying hospitals can't make you. Emergency court orders do happen forcing women against their will into ORs.

Now with a natural vaginal birth, it's not much different for me than anyone else. I can actually take pretty good hits to the stomach. My parents would have conniption fits if they were to have known I was taking shotokan and allowing 20-pound medicine balls to be dropped on my stomach from a height of about four or five feet.

The only risk to me that would be a slightly higher concern is a 3rd of 4th degree perineal tear straight through to the rectum, where my j-pouch is. The rate of tearing without an episiotomy is really statistically a lot lower than many people think, and most tears can be attributed to Pitocin causing faster labor, giving the body less time to stretch naturally, and the ol' lithotomy (back) position, which narrows the pelvic chamber and puts all the gravity and force downward onto the perineum.

Well, neither Pitocin nor the lithotomy position have any place in my birth plan, none at all. Further, water-births have an even lower rate of tearing at all as water, or indeed most types of moisture, give natural things additional elastic properties. Every notice how a strand of hair, after a shower can be stretched a good bit before it breaks, yet trying to same thing with dry hair results in instant, or almost-instant, snapping? Same thing with the human body and skin. Dryness is brittle, moisture is supple and elastic and stronger.

So this is how I'm low-risk for a home birth, yet such high risk in a hospital.

Deciding to go against the mainstream (and home-birthing is against the American mainstream, even for women with no medical histories at all) wasn't an overnight decision, nor was it one made without considerable research and thought. But it is safest, and the most recent doctor I saw (when Charlotte was breech, remember?) admitted that.

It was too much of a struggle to stay alive as a teen and young adult to make any medical decision lightly now. Even any medication that goes into my body comes with a good deal of thinking and re-thinking. I may do and eat the same normal things as everyone else, but when it comes to anything medical, what would be a very minor decision to anyone else comes with a lot of thought for me. My immune system sucks, my seizures are a result of all the medications and weeks of sub-60% blood oxygen levels, etc.. We don't exactly want to compromise anything any more than we must.

UGH

Why does it not surprise me that United is pulling yet more bull shit with us? It's gone on long enough that I'm speaking with an insurance attorney tomorrow. We've been given nothing but the run-around and lies for months on end now and only now is it becoming clear that they did mislead/outright lie to us, and now are in a position where, to get them to pay, we have to sue, but in the meantime, our midwife still needs to be paid, and by god she's going to. Karni's been nothing short of amazing in every way. Unfortunately we don't have that much cash, so Cody's set up a fund on his blog.

I really don't know how to begin expressing how pissed I am that we're paying premiums for a service that's supposed to be covered (midwives for homebirths), only to find out NOW that they have a secret back-end policy canceling it out, and we've managed to get proof. If we weren't paying premiums and were instead putting that money into savings and paying for everything ourselves, we'd actually be coming out ahead. So...why are we paying for insurance? When all it's doing is putting us in dire straights since the money we could be using for our own medical care instead is going to lining the pockets of some selfish CEOs somewhere, leaving us to scramble to come up with more money? As soon as this baby is born, we're canceling coverage and will get Charlotte her own private plan through another company.

Cody also has a wonderful idea regarding information and accessibility for midwifery for others. This will have to wait until things are settled for us, but still. I'll get into it later. Lots of details to work out on it, and then we'll also need to do a buttload of paperwork to file as a 501(c)1 (non-profit), get a board in place...basically a long-term thing and we both feel strongly about it. Women shouldn't be forced into hospitals, as United is trying to do with me right now, because the can't afford to get a foot in the door with a midwife. This is where we want to help.

And no, no birth yet, obviously. I PROMISE there will be an update here. Also I'll update my Twitter feed, or Cody will update his Twitter feed. We're both kind of attached to our iPhones, so without a doubt, his Twitter feed will be updated. Mine most likely, here definitely.

I am beyond impatient now. What gives? I wasn't supposed too go past 34/35 weeks, and here I am, 38 weeks and 4 days. The kicks keep me up at night and make me nauseated. Charlotte's welcome to come out aaaaaanny time now.

Oh, and last Tuesday night Cody was able to hear her heartbeat with his ear against my tummy. It was not my heartbeat he heard. He checked mine against hers. It made him tear up a bit. So sweet.

It's so odd how this feels, when she squirms in such a way that I can feel her head rubbing against my cervix. (Oh, quit whining about how that's TMI - it's pregnancy and birth stuff and no one's making anyone read a blog that started with the purpose of documenting a pregnancy!) It's kind of like a balloon, I guess. I feel like I'm being inflated in an odd way. Oh, and getting my butt kicked from the inside. It's weird and cool at the same time, but I'm so ready for her to come out now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Charlotte's size

On October 23rd, she was measuring at an estimated 5lb12oz, at the 52nd percentile. So if she comes now her size will be fine. I was born a 6lb15oz and 23 3/4" long, though Cody was 8lb14oz! My brother was 7lb14oz.

The Expectant Parent’s Guide to Raising Dogs Part II

Also, Cody finsihed The Expectant Parent’s Guide to Raising Dogs Part II. First part is here. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Still waiting...

Do you remember that sound the old Kirby toys used to make when they were bored? doot-doot-DOOO, doot-doot-DOOO. Yeah, I'm bored.

I'm crocheting a little afghan, and today make Cody some flannel pajama bottoms and started on making me a nursing gown, but I need narrow elastic to do any more. Not so easy to sew when I have to keep straight upright.

It feels like her back is again on my right side, but her head still feels down judging by her hiccups earlier today.

She's just chilling out in there. This is an unusually long pregnancy for women with my uterine condition. To think, the original OB wanted a c-section much earlier than this! It's only by having a midwife that out little girl is still a little internal parasite. :)

As soon as I go into labor, I'll be posting here, among other places.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am so ready for this baby to be out!

Dear baby, you are hereby evicted.

Since she's back in the proper position, I am allowed to either be straight upright or on my left side. I'm not allowed to clean or sew or do much of anything else that may involve bending over or moving around since we don't want her to start moving around much and get out of position. Since she has as much room horizontally as vertically, we don't want me bending over so that she'll feel more comfortable going transverse again. And this belly binder thing is making me itch.

Bed rest is boring. I was bored enough yesterday morning that I plucked my armpits instead of shaving them. Plucked. With tweezers.

We're ready for her to come, have everything necessary, and Cody's schedule at work is a few days out at a time so he can be ready to take off as soon as he gets a call from me.

Impatient? Why yes, yes I am!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Death

I think anyone who knows me knows I'm pro-life. My brand of pro-life includes not killing even convicted murderers. I got a Push notification on my iPhone from AP that John Allen Muhammad has been executed. I've been trying to ignore this happening, especially today of all days. Yes, the DC sniper did absolutely awful stuff, but I have a hard time with someone ding by the hands of another, not matter what. Lock the fucker up in jail for life, just don't kill. It accomplishes nothing.

And today of all days? It's six years to the day that my dad died. I've been trying to not think about this because it's traumatic. I still, even half a dozen years later. No one should ever have to see a suicide and feel that kind of panic. I've moved on I think as much as someone can, but there's still a lot about it I'm still dealing with, still a lot of anger and sadness and confusion.

The Saturday before it happened, my dad told me why he was feeling so bad, though there was no way of knowing what was going to happen, and it had to do not with any one person but rather with wishing things could all go back to the way they were when I was younger. It's hard having a kid on the cusp of death, and feeling just like so many things about life are falling apart and can never be fixed. I'm not going to get into the details as it would probably be like pointing fingers, and I'm not going to do that. No one pushed him, it was just awful circumstances all around. And it tore my family into a dozen pieces that only now are slowly starting to come back together.

I miss my family so much sometimes, and wish for holidays like the ones we used to have with the big dining table set so festive, and the great living room (aka doll room) with its large tree and very old ornaments at the top out of the reach of younger hands and my aunt Beth playing "Do You Hear What I Hear." A Thanksgiving tradition was the youngest person in the house started the record, the old vinyl, of The Harry Simeone Chorale's The Little Drummer Boy after dinner to officially kick off the Christmas season. That stuff was always a lot of fun.

Maybe I'll get to see them again someday. One aunt lives pretty local, but it always so busy. Busy time for business law.

She flipped!

The little booger did it! She'd been moving circular, more counterclockwise, like her head at 7 o'clock with her back toward 10 o'clock with her butt at 1 o'clock (her last confirmed positioning), just going CCW, but at some point over the weekend, she flipped vertically! Her butt is at 12, her back is at 3, and her head is DOWN! I'm having to wear a belly-binder right now, and the only type they had small enough is the post-maternity extra-small one, which is kind of funny. But we do NOT want her to travel in a circle again. She can flip her back to 9, but she needs to stay head-down. I'm also on bedrest to try keeping her as still as possible so she doesn't decide to squirm into a different position more comfortable for whatever it is I'm doing.

I'm so relieved to not have to have the hospital external-version. Not only would that have meant an IV, but I've heard they can be painful, and with my intestinal situation, could be potentially dangerous. So it was nice to see on the ultrasound that she's right about where she needs to be, just a tiny smidgen off, but labor contractions would correct that if she doesn't herself. Once she engages, she's stuck, and it's all good!

This means too that our home water birth is back as Plan A! We currently have this giant thing sitting in our closet all blown up ready to fill, and our bedroom has been rearranged and organized into a mini-birth center. We've got the baker's rack (no place in the kitchen for it, so we use it in here) set up with the birth supplies we needed to order and buy, before-birth and after-birth stuff, and just need to get a few more things in place in the bathroom, mainly just the towels we'll be using set aside.

We're also working out the logistics of a virtual video waiting-room for the friends and family who would like to be here, but can't be. Cody's looking into which streaming service would be best in terms of reliability and sound, so our far-away loved ones can see and talk with out loved ones here in the living room. This link won't be make public because I know some assholes stalking this blog would love nothing more than to try to cause hell and stress during my labor and delivery (a testament to how royally fucked up these people are), but if I otherwise know you or you're a regular person here who I know won't be a jerk, let me know where to send the link if you'd like it and we do end up doing this.

I'll definitely make a post when labor's started though, for obvious reasons, it'll be quick.

I am starving now, so off to grab something for lunch, then to lay down with a book!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ft. Hood again, and more baby stuff

When I wrote my last entry, the Ft. Hood shooter was believed to be dead. SINCE that post, some pretty compelling evidence has come out that he's just a bastardly freak of nature committing an act of domestic terrorism, to use much milder words than I care to type. These extremists just need to stop. But somehow they don't realize that it's acts like this that make ALL Muslims in this world look bad and cause the fear of their religion and give reason for governments to continue war against them. Or maybe they do, don't care, and think their fellow Muslims who wish to leave peacefully deserve to die right alongside Americans. I don't believe for one second that the Qor'an says to kill Americans anymore than the bible said to kills Jews.

This religious warring is going to make it so much harder to raise a child who is accepting of all religions, as we still hope to do. It's making it a lot harder for people to accept various religions. It's almost a "no wonder" at the people who want everyone to be their own religion. It probably feels like the world would be safer if all shared one religion, and maybe it might be, but that would be impossible.

Anyway the second version will be on Tuesday, and the third one on Monday still. Makes no sense? The first and third were to be with the midwife. Second in the hospital with the doctor using drugs. Original plan was to have Karni try first, since midwife-attempted versions are milder than doctor-attempted ones. If that didn't work, then the doctor-attempted one, which is in the hospital with drugs because it's a lot harder and said to be rather painful. Joy. It also carries the risk of setting of labor. So if the version doesn't work and it sets off labor and she's in a bad position (as one Friday, she was presenting her left arm and shoulder (head in my right hip), meaning no way she could come out vaginally, it would be an emergency c-section. But if it didn't work and no labor, then a weekend of resting before one more midwife-attempted turn. The OR wasn't available for Friday, so that doctor-try is Tuesday instead.

If it did work at the hospital and she popped back out of the correct position, then we'd do one more version attempt in the hospital and then Pitocin if it worked. Dammit, I really want to avoid that stuff, but a vaginal delivery is so much safer than being cut open. It would be Pitocin to eliminate the chance of her moving back out of correct position between the version and natural labor.

If she's head-down come Tuesday, bring on the castor oil.

She's got enough room in there right now (and enough fluid, actually borderline-high) to be able to move. We can move her ourselves. Hopefully this extra space doesn't work against us in that it gives her enough space to keep moving out of position. On the 28th, 35 weeks, she was estimated to weight 5lb 12oz, which is I guess small, or so everyone says, but I was born at 39 weeks exactly at 6lb 15oz (though I was 23 3/4" long, and I have the picture-proof, a pic of me at one week old, this looooong skinny thing).

We've also got a pool in our closet. A big thing about 5.5ft wide and a little over 7ft long. If Charlotte goes back head-down, she'll be born in it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Update, pictures, an Apple a day, why the post office sucks, and Ft. Hood

I've been going to the chiropractor every single day for Webster's breech technique, have had one attempted external version, another tomorrow, a third on Monday if tomorrow doesn't work, as well as accupressure and everything else under the sun. As of yesterday, still Charlotte wasn't head-down. Last night, however, there was a TON of movement, as well as today. Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, this means she's turning. Otherwise watching Ghostbusters II and Coming to America while upside down on an ironing board was for naught.

Yeah, an ironing board. Laying with the torso at an incline, pelvis higher than head, can help move the baby out of the pelvis so there's more room to move, and propping an ironing board on the couch and laying on that is more comfy than pillows. Also I get foot rubs when upside down. WIN.

I am fighting against a c-section if she's breech. If she's transverse, I'm not completely against at least seeing what would happen in labor, if contractions might move her into a deliverable position. Since midwives can't attend breech births, and the doctor here who is in favor of breech vaginal deliveries has one more strike before he's lost hospital privileges (yeah, he might be kicked out because he supports breech deliveries and VBACs and refuses to force women into c-sections or to try coercing them to appease the hospital), we may go it unassisted right here at home.

Honestly I feel safer and more relaxed at the idea of a breech birth at home, even unassisted, than in a hospital where they'll try to drug me up and force me to submit to a surgery that has a 50% chance of killing me (why can't my intestine be behind my uterus instead of adhered to the front?!). I don't like to take even Tylenol, let alone very strong drugs that will flow to the baby and then be cut open. C-sections have their time and place, but just being breech isn't one of them. FFS, there's not a whole lot of difference in the end which direction the baby comes out. Babies fit, period.

Of course, if she gets herself head down again, all's good.

Oh, and some pictures since it's been a few weeks. As you can probably tell, I'm not so happy right now.








Cody's going to be taking a few weeks off after the baby's born. They're hoping to have the head count soon for a new Genius position, and then he's got it. They've got someone he'll be training for his admin position. Handy, since they'll need one while he's gone and there's only one per location. So when they do get the count to add the position, which they're expecting this month or next, then he gets to go back to his old position with higher pay and everything. That's a certainty at this point!

So I mailed a dress the 26th. As of still right now, it hasn't arrived. Obviously it should have. So I went to the post office day before yesterday and asked about it and they said they'd look into it and get back to me. The receipt shows when it was sent, and their own system shows stuff going on there with it the 26th, and nothing since then. Last evening I got a call back that they found it. In their building. And would get it sent out right away. Well they damned well better get it out right away! Bastards should have upgraded it to overnight for losing it for over a week. I'm not going to that particular post office again. There's one a mile or so further that has been reliable.

Also, I just heard about the shootings at Ft. Hood. I'm taking probably what will be an unpopular stance on it. I can't make myself call that guy a bad guy yet, despite killing a dozen people (so far) and injuring dozens more. I'd like to know how much time he's spent stationed overseas, how much he's been through on behalf of the military, how much trauma he may has suffered. Sadly it's become pretty well-known that our government doesn't always take the best of care of our soldiers, especially their mental health. For all we know, he's been so desensitized to death that the line between right and wrong has blurred to not existing. He might not be another Timothy McVeigh, a clear-thinking military individual (I think McVeigh was out of the military, but still) who was trying to make some sort of point. There is still a lot to be discovered about what happened and what the motivation was.

I also hope Major Hasan's family isn't forgotten in all of this. They're also lost a loved one. Though he pulled the trigger, they did nothing, yet lost someone they love too. (Update: The Army has recanted and confirmed he's alive.) It's an all-around sucky situation, and Obama was right when he said,

It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas.

It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.


It sucks that innocent Americans have been killed, it's sucks that innocent Iraqis have been killed. To bad we'll never see a world where people don't kill each other.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So I had an appointment today with the doctor backing my midwife...

...and the baby is indeed not head-down. She is unstable, meaning she is moving around. As of this morning, she was transverse, oblique with her but by my right hip, head diagonal toward my ribs on the left. Since I'm also 35 weeks as of today and have already gone longer than the odds give me due to a bicornuate uterus we don't have a lot of time to spare if we're to get her head-down.

In her current position, if I were to go into labor right this second, it would be impossible for her to come out vaginally. She HAS to move. Stupid state laws won't allow a midwife to assist with babies who aren't head-down, and the stupid local hospitals won't allow anything but c-sections on babies who aren't head-down. We just don't have the money to ship me off to a state where a breech baby can be delivered vaginally, so we MUST get her to move 135 degrees clockwise. A c-section is just so incredibly risky. The back-up doc agrees, of course, and I trust him to truly want to help me avoid a c-section (he is so adamantly against women being forced into what he doesn't want that he is very, very close to losing his hospital privileges because he won't force women into c-sections for having breech babies and prior c-sections).

So inverse tilting, I got some acupuncturist names for moxibustion, a couple chiros for Webster's breech, and then, if that doesn't work in the next week, we're going to try an inversion. Since the placenta is posterior, this gives an inversion a higher chance of working.

I'm starting to go into denial about the fact that, should this baby not cooperate, I've got as much of a chance of being dead by my next birthday as being alive. At least being in a bit of denial is allowing me to function. The position of my small intestine and the adhesions just plain make a c-section too risky. We thought my intestine was behind my uterus for the longest time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Busy busy busy

Busy busy busy busy busy. Did I say busy? I'm going to crack if things don't slow down!

Last Wednesday Charlotte was breech. That just confirmed what we'd already figured. Her hiccuping was being felt up by my ribs on the left side, and Cody had found her head up there as well. He's really very good at figuring out what's what in there. So when the midwife confirmed, I wasn't too shocked, but still upset. Just another string in bad news. Breech babies can't be delivered by midwives in this state, and few hospitals will allow it either, meaning forced c-sections (courts orders, if necessary). We managed to get her transverse, and then, thankfully, we think we have her back head-down. This is tricky for someone with a bicornuate uterus.



The septum makes it harder for later-term babies to move around. As you can probably tell, this also makes less room ultimately for babies to grow, which is why I am very likely to deliver a few weeks early. Over 80% of women with bicornuates deliver early, most by c-section due to breech. I have to hold on until 37 weeks. Any earlier and law says it's a hospital birth. I hate state laws regarding delivery of a baby that the state says I can kill up to 24 week of gestation.

I spent some time crying this last week over this. I do NOT want a drugged birth. I do NOT want to be cut open again. I do NOT want to die fro a c-section, which has a 50% chance of happening. Death from the c-section, not the c-section itself. My damned small intestine is adhered to the FRONT of my uterus (which makes for some interesting nights watching my guts move around, which makes me not want to eat because this reminder that my internal system is fucked up depresses me), meaning they'd have to cut through my intestine to deliver. It's a gray, "glued-together" mass that can't be easily separated by even a GI much less an ON/GYN with little or no experience with patients like me.

I hate my system being so screwed up. I hate feeling broken. Deformed uterus, colitis, seizures, fucking hell, can't anything with my body be normal? At least nothing is hereditary, and my medical conditions, aside from uterine abnormality, which is a defect present before birth, are directly the result of either the colitis itself somehow (either treatments or just how it effected me), or from when I was hit by that car. And I would NEVER have gone through with IVF if there was reason to believe there was any chance of passing this on to a baby. We did see a genetic counselor and have VERY in-depth screening and testing done prior to starting IVF.

Still, I can't believe Cody's willing to put up with all of this. When dating, it's so hard to find guys willing to emotionally invest in someone so physically screwed up. It's really easy to find a guy who gets all excited at the idea of sex with no chance of an unplanned baby. But a guy who wants a family, or is willing to accept one may not be a possibility, who knows my medical history and still loves me for me anyway? Well, we were very good friends for a long time before falling in love, so I never felt I had to hide any of my medical stuff from someone who was just a friend. And he got to know me for me. And I got to know him for him. (He was so incredibly respectful through his divorce toward his ex and put the smack-down on anyone who spoke negatively of her because she did nothing wrong, they were simply too young and married because of the wrong reasons. She's a dear, beloved friend of both of ours, and will be considered an auntie to our baby. This makes me so happy.)

Anyway, it does feel like she's back in her right spot. I'm having the pains I had before (mostly), and her hiccuping hits my pubic bone again, and her back feels like it's on my right side again.

Just a little over two weeks to go until she's welcome to pop out. We're still aiming for a home birth.



Also I am wondering how I never knew the awesomeness of sweet potatoes before this past July. Since then, I've been in love with sweet potatoes. Too bad they're so expensive. Anyway, if I weren't so tired, I'd go boil one up and mash it. We've got a couple 1.5lb suckers in the fridge. But no, I'm too tired to go move around. Pregnancy insomnia is different than my usual insomnia. I can easily be awake 36 hours at a stretch or more, only pregnancy insomnia has be feeling physically drained. I need to sleep a bit, then get to the post office today. Stupid post offices around here don't have those 24-hour automated machines, so this means having to get down there between 9 and 5, hard to do when Cody works 8 to 5 most days, meaning getting down there requires going with him to work and driving home so I have the car and can get to the post office. Oh well. Just knock a bunch of errands off the list today after a nap.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This month can end now.

The insane amount of moving the past few nights that's had me grumpy and unable to sleep may have been her moving out of a head-down position. She very much feels breech to the midwife, I felt what she was talking about, and I agree. So I need another ultrasound, and if she is breech and we can't get her to turn (very hard to get a baby to turn head-down with a bicornuate uterus), then it's going to mean a c-section after all. I feel so sick right now.

And so much for live-streaming the birth.

Turbaconducken!

I might have to make one of these bacony heart attacks for Turkey Day this year. Bacon-wrapped duck stuffed in chicken wrapped with bacon inside a turkey with even more bacon. A nightmare for a vegetarian, and maybe enough to kill off all the vegans with aneurysms.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Positive thoughts needed for Cody's step-dad

Ironical enough, Cody just made a blog post lamenting the over-exposure of breast cancer research and how pink ribbons everywhere is desensitizing people to cancer research in general, making people more likely to say "no" right away to any donating to any cancer research at the check-out, etc., and that when it comes to gender-specific cancers (men do get breast-cancer, though rarely enough that this is often thought of as a woman's cancer), prostate cancer gets the short end of the stick, many stores running a week of prostate cancer fundraising before going back to breast cancer.

Well, yesterday his step-dad got the news that he has prostate cancer.

On the upside, he didn't wait forever to go get checked out. He's also fairly young (about 50), so, if he is indeed early-stage, the prognosis is very good.

On the downside, no one wants a diagnosis of anything major, be it a cancer or any disease.

We had all hoped he just had an infection, and were sure that's all it was. Ick.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Insurance

Let me start this by saying: Cody got a raise. Just enough to bump him into the next tax bracket, not enough to make up the tax difference. This is a negative for us.

We're trying to decide whether or not we should keep health insurance. On Charlotte, absolutely. On us? That's the tricky question. It'll be nearly $5,000 per year through work, with an $8,000-deductible before anything's paid. On top of that, only a percentage is paid. For us, we'd have to spend $12,000 in a year for UHC to cover anything at all.

Adding Charlotte is $1,000 more per year than for the two of us.

Now, exempting the IVF we had, the totals for our medical care over the last five years or so is less than five years' worth of premiums alone. Even counting the midwife UHC's trying to not cover, even covering Cody's possible tonsillectomy (I say "possible," because I wouldn't put it past UHC to try denying that, even though tonsillitis is recurring for him, his only medical problem ever, lucky dog). If we had to pay for all of it out of pocket, less than five years of just premiums. In no year was even spent on our medical care to even touch the deductible, exempting IVF, which is not something that happens out of necessity to staying alive and healthy. If you want to add in the IVF cost, then we're still under the cost of five years of premiums plus deductibles. Only because IVF all happened in one year did we meet our deductible and have anything covered. We are not planning another IVF cycle. Ever. Any further children will be natural, with a chance of as close to 0 as can be for still having ovaries and/or a uterus.

So, since we, medical-necessity-wise, get less out of our insurance than we put in and pay out of pocket, we aren't convinced anymore that it's worth it. This is taking a large chunk of money out of our pockets each more, straining us severely. Starting over again in January, we'll have to pay $8,000 out of pocket before UHC covers anything. If we don't have $8,000 to spend, there's no point to insurance at all.

I know, I know, what about catastrophic events. Well, not only is the chance of those small and care given no matter what in the case of catastrophe, but our insurance has a cap on yearly care anyway.

And the thing I learned about catastrophe the hard way is that not everything is necessarily covered anyway. You may have a half-million-dollar hospital bill and find that $80,000 of that is for uncovered services, or services provided by someone at the hospital who is out-of-network when someone in-network was available. Especially in true emergencies, whoever is nearest and available is the one called to the job. If you have out-of-network coverage, you could find yourself on the hook for 30%, if not 100% of certain services. What's the difference between filing bankruptcy on $80,000 versus half a million? Nothing but the premiums you paid only to go bankrupt anyway. Thank my personal experience ten years ago for finding this out.

I'm thinking that, for us, it might be better to take the money we're pay on premiums for our own insurance and sock that away into savings. With our credit union, it's a great interest rate. And then getting Charlotte private coverage. If our typical yearly medical costs are less than our premiums, and then we'd have to pay a further $8,000, it seems we'd get ahead by saving instead. It's a gamble either way, yes, and there's a much higher chance that we'd spend more money on premiums than we would on care in any given year, which has been the trend.

We have some time to think it over more and decide. Can anyone give us any compelling reasons for KEEPING our own coverage rather than paying as we go from the premiums put into savings? (Again, Charlotte would still have coverage.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

33 weeks!

Today is 33 weeks. I posted this to FaceBook, "Today marks 33 weeks! Just 7 to go until my due date, but 4 until we can realistially start expecting her," and Cody replied, "I feel dizzy." That's just cute. Pictures tonight or tomorrow!!

Baby shower on Saturday. I'm nervous. Lots of people. I get nervous around lots of people. I get nervous going to the grocery store. I think I'm agoraphobic. Either way, more than two dozen people have RSVP'd yes so far.

Cody needs his tonsils removed. Every year he gets tonsillitis, and every year it gets worse. Last year he ended up in the ER twice. It got bad enough to develop into an inner ear infection severe enough to cause temporary hearing loss. So I got him an appointment for tomorrow. He'll have three weeks off when the baby's born, so, if the doc agrees about tonsil-removal we'll aim for sometime when he's off.

I rearranged our bedroom. Cody won't be thrilled that I did it by myself, but I was careful. Not a single thing stayed in place. Problem was our bed was under the window, which is surprisingly drafty given that this place is so new Google Maps still shows the foundation for satellite. But it looks good.

Also that co-worker who was in the accident in New York was supposed to be back at work today, but likely on limited duty. It's going to be too much for him to be out at the bar all day, so here's talk about moving the guy to Cody's position (at his current pay), and maybe moving Cody to the bar for a while. Kind of screwed up if that guy gets paid more per hour to do Cody's job while Cody gets less per hour to do the guy's job. Since the guy is back before the end of the 12 weeks, it's not like they can dock his pay. But if Cody's going to (maybe) do the guy's job, he should get that (higher) pay.

Don't know yet about back-pay. I think his managers here are looking into when the review period ended that this review was supposed to have been done in. He was definitely owed the raise by the end of that period, though whether he'll get the back-pay is in the air.

I'm discouraged.

Heh, nope, not banned from that forum, just told to "respect the rights of others to having as many children as they want regardless of ability to pay for them, even if the only plan is permanent welfare." I really can't stand people who think it's just fine to intentionally conceive babies but to not actually care enough about those babies to take care of them. What a way to promote responsibility. Don't intentionally conceive kids you know you can't afford, especially if you're already living 100% on welfare, don't see that changing, and do what you can to ensure the welfare checks keep coming. And don't get pissed off at me for saying how selfish and irresponsible it is to have babies like that. I wonder how many of them are fine with Octomom having over a dozen babies without ever working for a singe dollar of the money to support them, just planning on welfare with each one.

Stuff

Have the buttons and buttonholes left to do on the little girl's navy dress. Of course my serger would decide to screw up when I was serging on the Wendy dress, throwing me back a couple days. Of course. Lovely. Well, that's where French seams come into play. They take about three times as long as serging, but look nicer.

Last week or so, there was the woman who questioned if WIC was a worthwhile program when it wouldn't pay for her preferred organic milk and organic brie cheese. This time someone asked:

is it irresponsible to have more kids?
When we can't afford health insurance for the one we have and have to have her on Medicaid?

When we have had foodstamps in the past year and only don't have them now because we made too much money in the past month(by $63, lol)...

????


Throughout this thread of almost 300 replies (and counting), and from other posts, it turns out she's a long-term welfare recipient receiving full benefits (section 8, Medicaid, etc.), but feels it's within her right to have as many kids as she wants, regardless of who pays.

Some other such stupid comments (not all from that poster:

money is a bad reason to do or not do things in general, i believe.


Oh really? So you'd go out to a fancy dinner and not let not having the money stop you because money is a bad reason to not do something?

I say if you want a baby, have a baby. It's your life and so long as you're not intentionally screwing over someone else to have another child, then go for it.


Oh. Good to know it's not screwing over the workers who pay thousands a year into the system for these people. It's not like working families have to do without basics often so that these people can have everything (some states are even passing out cell phones now to welfare recipients).

Except it IS screwing people over. Many working families could desperately use the money they're paying for able-bodied adults who refuse to work because they want more kids without supporting the ones they have. Many working families can't see doctors, and worry about paying the power bill and heating in winter, because they're having to financially support the kids of people who have them planning from the start to not support them.

, I'd gleefully live on welfare, foodstamps, WIC or whatever else I'd have to do to have one of them. And I wouldn't give a damn what any one on this thread, in this city, or on this planet thought about about it.

As far as I'm concerned, if you can feed him or her and keep him or her from freezing to death, you know in your heart that you'd never neglect or harm your child and you can provide the love and care that s/he deserves, don't let a soul tell you that you don't deserve every single child that God (or whatever higher power that you believe in) has to give you.


"if you can feed him or her..."...except this "you" is not. The taxpayers are. But clearly this person has no problem taking everything she could get, going by the first paragraph.

This comment was followed by a lot of support and people cheering her on.

There are a lot more comments like these, and a lot of support for those saying it's just fine to have kids and let others foot the bill. But I can't access the page now, probably banned by IP for the two comments I did make that were hella harsh, straight-up calling it selfish to conceive a baby with the sole plan for financial support from the get-go being to just go on welfare and make others pay, and saying that if workers have no choice about paying the financial support for the children abled people choose to have without intending to pay for them, then those people should be forced to work, even if it's making gravel. If you're of sound body and mind and choose to have kids, then not working at all, not even trying to get a job shouldn't be an option just because there are others who are working and paying taxes to force to pay up instead.

This is VERY different, however from someone who has kids when supporting them, then come upon hard times, lay-off, illness, etc., and need temporary assistance. That is what aid is supposed to be for. Aid isn't suppose to be used as a means from the start of long-term support. The first is genuine temporary need, and the second is created need that was entirely within the recipient's control.


Here is some common sense:

I guess I find it unfair that someone elses desires to have a child can be fullfilled because my taxes pay for it, yet I can't have that extra child because we can't afford it. That doesn't mean I don't support very temporary social programs, but I do not like the idea that anyone have access to aide and plan on using it when they are making the decision to have more kids or not. Social programs are supposed to be there for people who need it due to the current and temporary circumstances that arise out of things like illness, disability, marital changes or major employment changes. Not because people want to have kids added to a situation that can't support the current ones.


I agree. Cody and I wouldn't have conceived Charlotte if we weren't in a place financially at that time to be able to support her. We wouldn't have conceived her if we anticipated this rough patch we are in right now. We still haven't accepted a penny of aid, nor have we applied. It boggles my mind that people will intentionally conceive children without a plan to support them aside from taxpayer money.

I have known families in this poster's position, wanting another child, but unable to support another, so not having another. It's some sort of cruel irony that many working families could afford a/another child...if they didn't have to pay the financial support for people who have them without planning to support them.


I find it incredible how many people don't think people like this exist, the people who are perfectly happy to sit on welfare as long as possible. In that thread there are even some people who talk about how they make sure to keep income below a certain level by working part time to make sure their welfare isn't decreased. If welfare/section 8/food stamps/etc. benefits are really so paltry, then why are people only too happy to live on it as long as possible, to even go out of their way to make sure to stay on it?

How much longer can the economy really continue to support people who are unemployed BY CHOICE and keep punching out kids? When economic times are tough, there are fewer people working and more people receiving aid, fewer workers having to pay more to support more people. I'm not begrudging those with a genuine temporary need that wasn't their own causing. I AM begrudging those who create their own need and then stand there with their hands out and who don't plan to become contributing members of society until left with absolutely no other choice.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Busy day

O...M...F...G...! Talk about annoying bladder-bumping! You know that sharp, gotta-pee-right-NOW feeling you get when Little One hits your bladder? Yeah. It's 10x worse when the baby's hiccuping and hitting your bladder each time. That's what she was doing a little while ago.

Cody's managers here went ahead and did a review. They managed to get some info finally from his old managers. The review they got from the old ones was just a bunch of number based on nothing, and they didn't even consult with Cody's direct supervisor, the guy who worked directly with Cody every day. That guy's pretty indignant that these managers, who couldn't even always tell which employee is which, would put together a hasty review on someone they haven't actually worked with without any input from the supervisors who so work with that person.

Anyway they had one minor complaint listed that the managers here said they strongly disagree with.

So the gist of it is that yes, Cody should have received a raise based solely on what they did send, and he should have received it before the review period was over, which was months ago. So he's going to see about getting back-pay for the raise he was actually owed which, by the flat percentage that was the raise for that review period (everyone who gets a raise in a review period apparently gets the same percent), this would be a nice little windfall.

And his managers here will be giving him a raise. We won't know for a couple days how much, and it's not so very common for someone so new at a location to get a raise, but they really are trying to do right, and we appreciate this so much.

We went and checked out a house. It's not spectacular by any means, and the backyard needs to be landscaped, but we'd be allowed to do whatever we wanted with it, if we can get it. Painting is fine, whatever, and it would be so nice to get to landscape a yard and put in a garden. It's also got a large, wood play structure. Oh, AND it's 100% animal-friendly. Hardwood floors except in a couple bedrooms, and the garage has black-and-white checkered flooring. Kind of cool. We'll be submitting our apps and everything tomorrow. Fingers crossed. If we can get it, we're out of here November 3rd or 4th. HELL YEAH!

I found a nice little loophole to get us out of the lease here without it hitting our credit. If management won't do anything about the people upstairs, and then try to raise our pet rent without telling us, etc., then I don't feel bad about using this loophole. Besides, they'll have no problem re-renting this unit. The 3br-units here rent so fast.

The insurance company is trying to deny coverage still for a birth center birth as well as for a midwife birth despite these being covered benefits on the grounds that my midwife is actually a doctor specializing in midwifery and that there is an in-network midwife in the area who does births at a hospital. Okay. Let's see. First of all, my midwife is not a doctor. I already verified that with the State of California's licensing board. She is a certified nurse midwife, NOT a doctor. So they are wrong there. Second, the midwife they said I could use only delivers at a hospital, not at home or a birthing center, both which are covered benefits. So they are denying a provider who can provide covered benefits saying she's actually a doctor, which, as I stated, she is not. Third, the hospital-midwife they found doesn't accept patients less than a month away from the window where they're expected to give birth which, for me is the week of November 11th (I'm due December 2nd, but expected to deliver at between 37 and 38 weeks). They're also still claiming that a hospital birth with a doctor is an option.

Fuuuuuuck that. A doctor would try forcing me into a c-section which, thanks to my intestine being adhered to the FRONT of my uterus, would very likely kill me. And any doctor at this point wouldn't be familiar with my medical history. I would have an unassisted home birth before I consented to letting a stranger hack into me to try cutting through my intestine.

So I am filing an appeal and, if they still deny it, I will have no problem whatsoever taking them to court. It is illegal for an insurance company to advertise a benefit as covered (midwives for home-births and birth centers) only to deny covering it in practice. If they state it as covered and there isn't a provider in-network but there is one out-of-network, then they must still cover it. To do otherwise is to deny coverage of a covered benefit. Of the many people I've spoken with at United, about half of them have said this themselves. Yes, I've kept track of names, dates, reference numbers, etc.. They must cover it.

I've got a lot of documentation directly from United that backs me up on this too. I've got a letter where they claim that my midwife is a doctor instead, and that also states that a midwife I can see is at a clinic...that doesn't work with midwives. They are not offering in-network options, and have stated that there are no midwives within 30 miles in-network who provide the covered benefits, but that a gap exception would be extended if I found one out-of-network who would. I've done what they asked, only to be denied.

If they do not agree to cover in writing before Charlotte is born, we will sue them in small claims for the full cost of midwife care as well as for punitive on the grounds of refusing to cover a service advertised as covered as well as for the emotional distress this has caused. Small claims is easier than unlimited jurisdiction, quicker too, and the cap for small claims is high enough to cover what we'd ask for.

Well, well, well...

The old location is now actively trying to get Cody to move back. They're still short four people for his old position. When he left, that shorted them five, though one of those was a girl away on her honeymoon, so really four vacancies. If I recall correctly two of the other vacancies were from people who just outright quit in annoyance at the management. Regardless, they've still got four spots to fill. If, in this economy, in that area, in a tech area that has been his especially hard, they can not get all their vacancies filled, this is really reflective of some problems. Now I don't know if they've brought in new people to fill those spots and others are just quitting, or what, but in Silicon Valley, where layoffs happen by the thousands as jobs are outsourced overseas by the thousands (ffs, I ended up training my own replacements in Moscow under the impression they were to augment my team, not replace me!!), well, this doesn't sound so good.

So this gives weight to our suspicion that they were indeed trying to keep him there, hence all the lying to us about getting the transfer done, it's done, everything's fine, only to find out they'd done nothing and there we were a week away from moving when we found out.

Also they did the same thing to another of Cody's former co-workers when that guy transferred. I just found that out from the former co-worker. I wonder how many others who've transferred had the same or similar things happen.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Work stuff for the Code-Monkey

So. Cody's new managers had to get the district/regional people involved because the old managers were ignoring them, and Cody should have had a review, and by george, they intended to make sure he had the review and gets the raise he should each last spring!

Well. Now the old managers are replying, or sent a reply, as the case may be, that they did do a review.

Only there is no record of one ever having been done. The new managers can find nothing. On Cody's employee record, where there is a spot for the reviews to be posted, there is...nothing. Also the employees must sign off on the reviews as acknowledgment of the review. Only there isn't anything signed off on by Cody...because one wasn't actually done.

So the old managers lied to us and cost us money (by Cody not getting into one of the positions that were open when they were open, forcing him to take what was available at a pay cut), an nearly cost him a job altogether as it was only a stroke of luck that, at the end of his time off, one store just happened to list the position he's on now.

And now the new managers are being lied to as well. Kind of nice, in a sad way, that they're being lied to as well now, since it gives our complaints more weight. Other managers can now back up the dishonesty by the old ones.

Cody's definitely owed something for this.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pics, and wow are things every busy....

So my 32-week pictures, only a couple days late.



This pregnancy has made my scars and such so much more visible. Oh well.



From the front, I still have my normal shape. Kinda. Sorta. Generally.




Let's see. What else. A lot. In a nutshell, the people who live above us are the poster-family for entitled fuckwads who shouldn't have kids. They let their kids run and jump and scream (so much of the running and jumping, so hard it's knocked pictures out of place on our walls and I thought there must have been several kids the first few times, but it's just two), and when I asked them nicely about six weeks ago or so to please not let their kids do that, that I didn't know if they realized how much the sound carried down, they seemed understanding and nice, but it didn't stop.

Wednesday I finally went up there again, and they were hostile and just awful, and I found out the noise complaints about us were coming from them. These complaints made no sense because it is so dead quiet here most of the time. TV is rarely on, no music, dogs don't bark, etc.. I enjoy quiet when I'm alone, and when Cody's home, we still don't care for loud booming sound. The guy upstairs told me straight up if I wouldn't have asked them that, then they wouldn't have a problem with me, but I did, and so they're going to "keep trying to get [me] evicted." They both kept yelling at me that you can't control kids, kids are going to run and scream, it's what kids do, can't control them, I just have to get used to it. Um, yeah, you CAN control them. There's this thing called PARENTING. And today they filed a complaint claiming out dogs have been vicious and aggressive toward them, which is a lie. Not only are our dogs never around them, but these dogs are so submissive to other dogs it's embarrassing. A Yorkshire terrier, of all dogs, had them both belly-up at a dog park. I've spoken with management, and all they can do is nothing. Apparently noise caused by kids is protected by law, or some such crap, to prevent the chance of discrimination based on family status, and regarding the hostility, it's word against word on that one. But those freaks have lodged enough complaints that we are no longer allowed to transfer to another unit. There's so much more that they've done and said that it's become unbearable living here, which sucks, because this is a beautiful apartment and we just don't want to have to move again. But six weeks of complaints non-stop, and now finally finding who it's coming from and that they're dead-set on continuing is just too much.

So we are aiming to find a house by January. Not like we can really afford deposit and all but we have to try. I can't deal with those people trying to cause problems, having to deal with management on a near-daily basis as I've been doing for weeks now. Our baby deserves rested parents who can care for her instead of parents constantly on edge wondering what next.


On the insurance-front, no news really. Have to go through an appeal process with less than five weeks to go before I'm expected to possibly deliver. I'm due December 2nd, but am expected to deliver two to three weeks early. So got to be on the look-out starting November 11, just four weeks and five days from now.


Cody's managers here are pretty pissed. His old managers are still ignoring them, so they've had to take it to the district management to get clearance to do a review, and that may start a shit-storm because his old managers will probably have to account for why the hell they've ignored multiple attempts at contact from the managers here. If they ignore managers of other stores, it's going to call into question their fitness to be managers at all. Who knows what customer complaints they are ignoring. We like the managers here. They are actually taking action rather than being all talk, and they're keeping Cody in the loop, unlike the previous ones who it could take a couple weeks to get them to take two minutes to fill you in on something, and only when they can't get away from having to answer.


So. Insurance, possibly moving, and work stuff. Holy freaking cow.


In fun news, I've got a couple dresses to make, which is always relaxing. First up is a Wendy gown from Disney's Peter Pan, only it won't be like the parks' versions. Mine will be better because it will be more authentic to the look in the movie, and NOT made out of satin. It was a child's nightgown, not a ball gown like the parks make it out to be. Also the cut of the parks' gown is all wrong at the neckline, and in the movie, there are no visible sleeve bands. The gathers, when drawn in the film, concentrate toward the tops of the sleeves as well. So I'm going to make mine like the movie's.

The other is a little girl's navy regency dress. One of my favorite colors. Dark blues, absolutely. White trim, it's going to be adorable.

So tomorrow we'll be having breakfast with Cody's mom, seeing some of Cody's friends he hasn't seen in ages (if they're awake from partying late tonight before we decide to leave town and head back this way), shopping for the supplies needed for the dresses, and trying to figure out how on earth to send invoices with Google Checkout because I want to stop using Paypal. I hate Paypal. I hate Paypal more than I hate eBay, which is a LOT.


Also the worst game every invented is Facebook's FarmVille. I spend entirely too much time on it, like an hour a day or something. But it is good distraction. So good, bad, I don't know. I'm at a level 23 in six days. When I start to feel a lot of stress, into our room I go and off to mess around on the farm. I've even put a sandbox next to my black manor for Charlotte. It's a fun mental escape.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Angry. SO angry.

Our insurance explicitly states homebirths are covered, and if a provider of a service in network isn't available for a 30-mile radius of home, then a gap extension will be covered to the provider of our choice who will cover that service.

Well, after multiple phone calls with the insurance company making sure there are no in-network midwives in the area covering homebirths, and them saying they couldn't find any in-network midwives to begin with, I was told to file that gap extension and to go ahead and start seeing the midwife of my choice who does homebirths, which I did.

As of today, they are now denying coverage for my midwife and homebirth, saying, they've found two midwives at local hospitals, and though they won't do homebirths, I am to see one of them if I want coverage.

NO. Fucking NO. I will NOT go to a hospital where they will, without a doubt, try to force me into a c-section (not getting into it, but this is part of why I decided the midwife-route - no doctor I talked to would let me have a vaginal birth). I will NOT go see someone I've never seen before (presuming they'll even take someone this lat in pregnancy), especially when the baby's considered term in five weeks and I'm expected to deliver within six (despite my "due date"). ESPECIALLY when homebirths ARE a covered benefit under our insurance plan!!

So now, with very little time left, we have to file an appeal and wait for them to decide. If it were to come down to it, we would have an unassisted homebirth over a hospital birth. So far our midwife hasn't shown a willingness to drop us though.

I've got far too much on my plate as it is without adding this to the mix.