Health Insurance Is Not A Guarantee Of No Stress

I am epileptic. I have given birth twice. I am a normal person.

Yet, one of the things that causes me the most stress in this life is my health insurance.

Unfortunately, I have a chronic condition. It’s not an option. I’m lucky enough that I can afford insurance. I’m lucky enough to be able to control my condition. I’m lucky enough to have a simple enough solution to handle it.

Dealing with insurance, however, makes the condition feel worse than it is. There are constant problems with meeting all the requirements to get the medicine I need to control the condition. The insurance doesn’t talk to the pharmacy, the pharmacy doesn’t talk to the doctor, the doctor can’t talk to the insurance. It’s like I need to conference call all of them constantly to make everything function smoothly.

In the past 4 months, I have had to deal with it all at least 3 times. For a month, I was constantly calling the insurance company, the pharmacy, and my doctor to get all the paperwork in order so I could continue to get the medication that I’ve been on for 13 years.

Why is it so hard? Why can’t something that should be so basic be easier? I’ve definitely read that it’s easier in other countries. I do realize that the insurance industry is a for-profit business and this is a way to make money. Why is that the case though? Shouldn’t our healthcare be a necessity, not a luxury? Shouldn’t we be able to get what we need without stress? Isn’t getting sick stressful enough?

I hope I get to see things get easier in the insurance world in my lifetime. I don’t know how this country can untangle the mess that it is. I don’t even know if the people in charge want to.

All I know is that it’s frustrating that in addition to whatever our bodies and minds are going through on a regular basis, we have to add a good dose of stress to it.

Being Alone and Being Lonely

I moved. I knew I had to move. I didn’t expect it though. I moved across the country while being 15 weeks pregnant. I moved because my husband got a job. It was between the job we took near family or a job in the south where we knew nobody. I miss home. I don’t even know where home is anymore. My nearby family members have a life of their own so we’re not having the family gatherings I envisioned before moving here. We moved to a seasonal town that’s empty till it’s warm. There isn’t much of a community to meet or interact with even though I’m actively trying to make friends.

I had a baby in the middle of winter. I tell my husband everyday how much I don’t like it here. That combined with my post partum hormones the isolation and loneliness has really sunk in. My husband is a typical male, a solution-focused individual who wants to help but doesn’t understand completely. How can he understand? He doesn’t know what it’s like to have a baby, be tethered to a baby, and be at home all day day in and day out.

Complaining or venting also isn’t how you want to start new friendships and having a new baby makes it difficult to talk to the old ones.

And each day passes. My husband is tired of hearing me complain. This affects our married which affects me. This all becomes part of a self-fulfilling prophecy of me saying if we didn’t move here I would be upset and if I wasn’t upset I wouldn’t complain and if I didn’t complain then it wouldn’t affect our marriage. And the days go on.

Is it me? Do I just not know how to be happy? Should I be thinking of starving children in developing countries or war and destruction and be happier? Are my problems so first world? I have my health, we are financially comfortable, and I have a beautiful baby. I don’t know.

My First Baby

Today, I want to share something personal. Really personal. I think it’s important to share this story of mine because when I have told people about it, I usually hear that they have been through something similar. But they don’t usually share this information freely because of the fear of getting judged, of being blamed for something that is out of their control. Today, I want to share this story so that others know that this is more common than you think.

Statistics say that the risk of miscarriage is 1 out of 4.

After we got married, we decided not to wait to get pregnant. We both wanted a kid. We were ready for a kid. And then, one day, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive! We were so excited. I called my doctor and set up an appointment to go in.

It was pretty cool. We went in and saw our little bean on the ultrasound. We saw his or her heart beating. In the spirit of waiting the traditional first trimester though, we decided to wait to tell our families and friends.

In that time, we went to a family wedding and a few weddings for friends. It was this exciting little secret we had. We couldn’t wait for the day, however, when we could tell the world.

The next appointment came up about a month later. I was so nervous. I had this feeling but I didn’t know if it was because I was just overly paranoid or if something had changed. I kept monitoring my pregnancy symptoms to see if I was feeling nauseous enough or if I was tired enough. I just knew I needed to see my little bean again and make sure that he or she was doing well.

As soon as the doctor looked at the ultrasound though, I knew. She took a while to tell us anything. Then, finally, she told us that the baby hadn’t grown past 6 weeks, when it should have been closer to 10 weeks. She couldn’t see the heart beating anymore.

My heart dropped. I started crying. I was lucky that my doctor was incredibly supportive and just hugged me and said it was okay, that this didn’t mean I wouldn’t have a child later on. She had mentioned she herself had had a couple of miscarriages. My husband and I were just in shock for a bit. Everything we were dreaming of just crashed.

It all seemed so surreal. We were scheduled to go back next week to confirm that it wasn’t just slow development, that the baby wasn’t alive anymore. I spent that whole evening and night crying in my husband’s arms. I spent my time googling everything I could think of where the doctor could be wrong. I just wanted to know that my baby was going to be okay.

We went back the week after. We had had a week to research and hope but went in with very low expectations. The diagnosis was reconfirmed. My doctor set up one more appointment with a specialist to get a second opinion. We saw that specialist that afternoon. That doctor checked and double-checked everything. And she confirmed one more time that I had had a missed miscarriage.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a missed miscarriage is where women can experience a miscarriage without knowing it. A missed miscarriage is when embryonic death has occurred but there is not any expulsion of the embryo. It is not known why this occurs. Signs of this would be a loss of pregnancy symptoms and the absence of fetal heart tones found on an ultrasound. 

We decided to wait one more week before performing a D&C which is minor surgery to remove the fetus. Unfortunately, my body didn’t recognize that my baby wasn’t alive.

I went to a family friend’s wedding in this time. I couldn’t really enjoy it. I was miserable. All I could think of was that my baby, my first child, was inside of me, not living anymore. I kept thinking that I knew that 3 other friends of mine were pregnant. I was the 1 in 4 that had had a miscarriage.

A week later, I saw my doctor one more time. She checked everything again and scheduled my D&C. It was a quick procedure and I was back at work within 2 days. Physically, my body handled it well. Emotionally though, I was still having issues.

We went on a trip a few days later and even though I tried to put my best face forward, this loss kept hitting me. I knew it was not my fault. I did nothing wrong. I had been taking care of myself and my baby. So many things go through your head though. All of the what-ifs and if I had onlys keep recurring over and over again.

I had a really hard time for the next few months. My body still had to go through recovery and that limited what I could do physically. I still saw a therapist for my emotional recovery. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of looking at the positive and to keep thinking that everything happens for a reason. It takes a lot of hoping for a brighter future.

In our South Asian culture especially, blame is often placed on the mother for having a miscarriage as if it’s her fault. Any doctor will tell you that these abnormal chromosomal miscarriages are not preventable. They happen and there’s nothing we can do about it. I wanted to share what I had been through so others that have been through it as well know that it’s not their fault. 1 in 4 is a really high percentage.

Eventually, my doctor gave me the green light to try to get pregnant again. I am now a proud mother of a little girl. I can’t say it was easy though. I worried through almost the entire pregnancy. Every time we went in for a doctor’s appointment, I held my breath. I didn’t feel comfortable until she was safely in my arms.

Even with our beautiful baby here with us now, we will never forget our first child.

What You Need To Survive Pregnancy (and much more)

All right. Let’s get down to it. I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to talk about this in much more honest terms than you hear out there. So here we go.

Pregnancy is tough. There is so much you go through that only another woman can understand. You could have the nicest, most understanding significant other in the world (and I did) but there are times when he won’t understand what you completely feel. Things hurt, everything changes. I had morning sickness for the first 3 months. My legs ached literally from the beginning to the end. And that second trimester that everyone says is easier than the other 2, well, I spent that one worrying about all of the scans where the ultrasound specialists told me that various things could potentially be wrong.

The worrying kills you. Like I’ve mentioned before, you become a parent the second your pregnancy test turns positive. From then on, you watch what you eat, what you drink, what you do, all in the name of not hurting your unborn child. I stopped eating sushi, burgers, soft cheeses, and other various items. I googled every food I was unsure of.

Every doctor’s appointment I went to, I held my breath when I went in for the ultrasound. And I’d relax as soon as they found a heartbeat and took a look and said everything looked good. That would last for literally half a day and I’d start worrying about something else. I had a new pain or something felt different. I was definitely not one of those people who relaxed into pregnancy. I couldn’t even look at baby stuff and feel excited until I had hit somewhere over 30 weeks where I knew if needed, the baby could survive outside of me.

And then there was all the help from the ultrasound specialists. They are programmed to tell you the absolute worse case scenario (I’m assuming in order to avoid a lawsuit). I spent so much of my second trimester worrying about things that might be wrong like the placenta wasn’t doing its job or my baby wasn’t growing according to schedule. I learned a valuable lesson in how to think positively in this time frame because guess what. There’s nothing you can do at that point. You just have to think positive and move forward.

One of the biggest helps I have had is other women friends who have been pregnant. Every time I had a question or felt something new, I would text them and find out what they had been through. It helped me remain calm because I knew I wasn’t alone. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to pregnancy. We all are just trying to survive it so that, at the end, we can hold our beautiful baby in our arms. I still text them with baby questions. And luckily, I’m surrounded by a bunch of great women who don’t judge or think there is one way to do everything. So I definitely get the best advice possible.

Let’s face it. Pregnancy is tough. The best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure you have a great support system. An amazing husband goes a long way but you will also definitely need friends who have gone through it so that they understand what you’re feeling and can truly empathize with you. It’s a long 40 weeks. Do what you can to make those weeks as good as possible.

Independent Career Woman vs. Stay At Home Mom

This is a topic that I never thought I would have to consider since I grew up believing I’d always be working. I grew up in a household where both of my parents worked and I spent a lot of time in day care. I actually believe a lot of my independence came from this so I had no problems believing that I would go a similar route and be a full-time working mom when I came to that point in my life.

Life doesn’t always work out the way you imagine it to. Because I was already pregnant when I left my job and that job was over 45 miles away in LA traffic, it seemed to be the best decision not to look for another job through the pregnancy. And, obviously, I’d stay home with the baby for a while since we didn’t have a need for me to go back to work right away.

And while this was the best decision for me and my family, it was a hard one for me. I have always been the type of person who did multiple things at once. I worked at my day job while being involved in a lot of activities. All of a sudden, I was limited by my own body during the pregnancy. I couldn’t maintain my level of physical activity. Even when we went out socially, I’d get tired a lot. I would have to be careful with what I was doing and where I was going.

Now, let me get one thing straight. Everything I had to do or not do in order to get my beautiful baby, I do not regret. She will always be totally worth it. But this is an emotional time with a lot of change for anyone and I wanted to share what I was feeling (and still sometimes feel).

I’m still going through figuring out who I am now. I’m not the same independent woman I was 3 years ago. I’m now a mom whose primary job is to take care of my child. Until I decide to go back to work (if I choose to do so), my life is about raising my baby. I have to figure out how to reconcile the person I was to the person I am now. It’s difficult. How do you go from being someone who participates in all of these activities to someone who only possibly might be able to do it again some day but not at the moment? You can never go back to being the person you were.

Somehow, a new person has to emerge that combines both the independent woman with the stay at the home mom. And, somehow, I have to learn to become that person.