The cost of giving birth

I didn’t want to write about this, because for me she’s so worth it. But then I started thinking about it. And it goes way beyond the money. So here goes nothing.

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It was late August when I started to notice something weird was a-brewing. My body had all the signs of my period coming, with no actual period. When the four pregnancy tests all came back positive, my head started spinning. The biggest concern I had? How was I going to afford having this baby?

See, I wasn’t in the typical job. I was working at a gym and paying for my own health insurance through Obama Care. I legit didn’t have a solid paycheck. Some weeks I made over $700, other weeks it was closer to $300. I was living life one day at a time, and trying my darndest to turn my dreams into reality. That was until I knew I was growing a human.

Everything shifted. I didn’t have the luxury known as paid maternity leave. Even when the gym closed and I was forced into an office job, I took the first thing I could find which ended up being a contract position that also didn’t offer paid leave. Even with insurance, the medical bills piled up. I paid just about a thousand dollars of bills before the baby even arrived. Which may not seem like a lot, but as a single parent with only one income it added up fast for me.

Thankfully, I am pretty savvy when it comes to money and saving up. I’m currently in week 7 of unpaid leave and have yet to dip into my savings to pay my bills. But my time is running out, and because of the bills piling up, I am forced to go back to work ASAP. As soon as my baby is 6 weeks I am hoping to be joining the workforce once again.

But can I just say how thankful and blessed I am to have health insurance? I pay for it monthly, but the fact that my medical bills from January until now would have been 42k without insurance is mind-numbing. Instead they are a measly $7,900. Well, as of now. I’m currently trying to get the state to help me pay since, once again, single income makes it hard to swing nearly 8k.

But birth costs more than just the medical bills. With birth comes a child. Who needs to be tended to 24/7. Daycare alone can cost upwards of thousands a month. And all the baby supplies. Mainly diapers and formula if needed. I’m thankful for friends and family who have helped in that department. But this is just the beginning.

And don’t get me wrong, like I said she is so worth every penny. Another thought I had was in relation to the changes my body would go through. After going through college at 120 pounds and thinking I was fat, I knew being pregnant and giving birth I would gain weight. Needed weight. But I was scared for the after-birth time, when I would look at myself in the mirror and see someone I didn’t recognize. A girl with extra weight.

It took me 32 years to get to the point where I loved myself no matter what my body looked like. And I’m happy to report that mindset stuck. I’m about 25 pounds overweight but still feel myself 100%. I still feel sexy, despite the extra curves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be working hard to get the weight off. But I know I will enjoy every step in the process even more since I love myself and my body no matter what the scale says. I only cried once. And that is ok too.

After growing and birthing a human, I can safely say it’s all beautiful. Yes, I’m no longer on my journey to be She-Hulk, but now I’m just starting to work towards Wonder Woman, the mom version. 🙂

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My journey to squat out a baby

After nearly 42 weeks of being pregnant, the time had finally come to evict baby girl Brice. Of course, she couldn’t just come out easily. This is my labor story.

At 41 weeks pregnant, my midwife scheduled my induction for Monday April 29th, with me going in Sunday night to start Cervidil. But my body had other plans. I went into early labor on Friday night. Contractions were coming every 8 to 10 minutes or so. But once I fell asleep, they were virtually non-existent most of both Friday and Saturday nights (despite walking as much as I could during the day). So Sunday rolls around, and same thing. Contractions every 6 to 8 minutes despite walking all over Oak Park and Forest Park. We pack up and head to the hospital around 7pm. I’m sure to bring my laptop so I don’t miss Game of Thrones.

The receptionist at the hospital mentions the midwife on duty is Jenna, the same midwife who told me not once but twice to watch my weight as I was gaining a little too much according to the amount she wanted me to gain. I take a deep breath and start praying internally so that everything goes well and that I look past Jenna’s shortcomings. As we wait for the nurses, we squeeze in the Game of Thrones episode, you know the one where Arya takes out the Night King. Holy shit! But the nurse checks a few things and tells me that my water has broken. I did notice a little trickle earlier in the day but just thought I was randomly peeing myself. Due to my water being broken, Jenna says we can’t do the Cervidil but can start the induction right away.

Thankfully my cousin Shawna shows up and she helps me by getting my lazy bum to walk laps around the hospital with my IV line of pitocin going. This is fun and dandy as she helps me breathe through the contractions which are definitely getting stronger and more consistent. We take selfies and we talk about how perfect the verse of the day is since it’s now Monday:

Matthew 11:28 King James Version (KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

But then the battery dies on the wireless monitor, and I’m forced back to the room. This is where things head south. Once back in the room, Jenna comes in with some bad news. Baby’s heart rate keeps dropping during the contractions. The likely culprit is the umbilical cord, which could be wrapped around baby’s neck or leg or something that is causing this to happen. If this trend continues, the likelihood of a C-Section is high. Baby’s health is number one priority. I start crying, balling my eyes out. I can’t afford a C-Section, the recovery time alone will deplete my savings and then some (unpaid maternity leave sucks by the way, but that’s another topic). Jenna suggests we try a procedure to help relieve the pressure on the umbilical cord. There’s no guarantee it’ll work but she will try it twice in case the first time doesn’t work.

Sure enough, the first attempt didn’t work. As I’m laying in bad (due to this procedure), the contractions are getting more intense and painful. Also, Jenna mentions if we do go down the C Section route, I may consider getting the epidural sooner to help with the surgery. Due to this, in the middle of a contraction, I tell Shawna that I want the epidural. Thankfully, she says “We don’t make decisions during contractions.” Also, she determines we should give the procedure a 2nd chance, in hopes that it works. Thankfully it does. With Shawna’s help, I’m able to breathe through the contractions and I don’t fight the pain.

They move me to a delivery room and the first thing I notice is no tub. I had planned on and hoped for a water birth, but it looked like that was no longer an option. It was later determined that I couldn’t even get into the shower due to my IV and the fluid line going into my uterus. 7am comes a different midwife: it’s Mary and she’s my favorite. Around 8am, I asked for some rest. The nurse gave me a dose of Fentanyl to help me doze off for about 45 minutes or so. It was the perfect power nap I needed to make it through to the end. After that, I finally asked for a squat bar since they weren’t bringing one when Shawna asked for it. I had to get out of the bed. Being in bed was making everything worse for me. I felt like I had to be up and doing something to help this baby out. So with Shawna and Remi’s help, I get into a low squat with every contraction.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, those contractions sucked balls. I squat during them for about an hour and a half. At some point I ask for the stool to sit on as well. They put liners on it since I’m basically leaking fluids with each contraction. It was right around this point when the urge to push overtook me during the contractions. That’s how I knew it was go time. Mary makes me get back on the bed, and sure enough there’s a baby head. Up until this point I had been stuck around 6cm or so, but the hour and half of squatting helped get me fully dilated and ready to go. Mary coaches me on where and how to push. I’m pulling my legs up to my chest and giving it all I’ve got. Another hour and a half go by, of pushing this time. And then there’s a baby girl. And she’s perfect. And her name is Aria Lee. 6 lbs 14 oz 20 inches of amazing little baby girl.

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And I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. No epidural. It’s been a week and 5 days since she was born and I already feel nearly back to normal. Recovery hasn’t been bad. The first few days I was sore everywhere. Even my arms from holding up and pulling up my legs. But I was thankful to be able to walk right afterwards. And I was blessed to have nothing tear.

Overall, I would give Elmhurst Hospital and my experience a 4 out of 5. I was not impressed with the first midwife who did bring up C-section and epidural multiple times. But I know they are just doing their jobs and usually don’t deal with patients who choose to give birth naturally. Especially when pitocin is involved. I think a lot of people just assumed I would get the epidural once they induced me. But I fought hard to try to stick to my original plan. And despite taking a hypnobirthing class, I didn’t quite use the techniques but still feel like the class helped prepare me mentally for childbirth.

So I guess my two cents of this entire birthing experience is: squat it out. And prepare yourself mentally for the physical side of childbirth.