Thursday, January 22, 2009

Not Suitable for Children

I traded in the old baby countdown widget for a more biologically detailed one. If you push play you can see the baby grow from WAY BACK WHEN it was the size of an unfathomably small single cell, past the booger-sized phase, through the produce aisle of the grocery store (grape, kumquat, kiwi, plum, apple, cantaloupe, etc), until it became the fully formed (though slightly anorexic looking) little bundle of humanity that it is today. And by "little" I mean increasingly uncomfortable, animatronically powered (I'm having a brief late pregnancy denial period), pointy-parted mommy torturer... sorry, Zuul, but you gotta face facts. Being filled with you is not as comfy as being filled with, say, a nice steak, a glass of Cabernet, and some premium ice cream.

But then again, I don't often dream of the joys of picking up my steak and comforting it when it cries... so there is an overall positive trade off.

I'm hoping that, as we get closer to the due date, this widget will give us all a little clearer, if more graphic, picture of what's going on than the other one did.

I do kinda miss the little cartoon baby, though...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't Worry, Little Girl!

I'm trained in plastic baby CPR!! I can save your dolly!!

I hope that, like trigonometry, infant CPR is not something I will ever actually need to use now that I've learned it.

I hope that, unlike the resusci-baby they gave me last night, Zuul will be born complete with straw-like airway and plastic bag-like lungs. Hard to resuscitate a dolly with no windpipe!

I hope that the fact that I have a bruise on the butt of my hand from compressing the resusci-kid mannequin's chest means I was doing something right instead of something wrong...

I hope all of the plastic-torsoed parents appreciate the work that we did to save their children. I hope they know that we are protected by the Good Samaritan Law.

I hope our kid asks for our qualifications before it lets us take it home from the hospital, 'cause we're certified!! (Okay, we're not technically certified, but we are qualified... at least we're gonna be by the time it gets here.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cutting the Cord

Not that cord, not yet.

I have officially changed doctors. I hope that means the next 9 1/2 weeks will be much more peaceful. I do like the fact that I'm not afraid to see who's calling me when the phone rings.

I hope that this change will mean having a doctor that I can love and who will be excited for me and Senor and our baby. I hope it will mean a staff that acts like they are glad to see me when I come in, even if they are just faking it. I hope it will mean always feeling certain that they are talking to me and not some girl that looks like me. I hope it will mean dealing with people who won't make me feel silly for worrying about things that are mysterious and scary to me. Pregnancy is full of worrisome stuff, and while I try my best not to be an alarmist, there are still some things that set off my alarms. Considering all of the times I could have called in a panic but haven't, I should get a little kid-gloving when I do get freaked out. I'm hoping for all of these things.

But even if all I get is a fresh start and a guarantee that these doctors take my insurance, it will be a step in the right direction. Plus it's about 20 minutes closer to home. That's better than a poke in the eye.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Knittin' in the ER

(NOTE: No babies or mommies were harmed in the experiencing nor writing of this post.)

Gosh, where to start? I feel like a different person since Thursday afternoon. I'm going to have to give you the bullet point version of this story, or Zuul will be off to college by the time I finish.

- Thursday afternoon I got a call from my OB's office telling me that they were no longer contracted with my insurance coverage AS OF NOVEMBER and that would affect the out of pocket cost of seeing them. "Some people got letters." I wasn't one of them.

- I freaked out, but I had an appointment already set up for my regular check-up on Friday and decided to handle it with them at that time.

- Friday morning I saw first the Billing Lady who made me cry by telling me that instead of costing us $200 out of pocket for delivery (not including the hospital's fee) it would now cost us over $1000. This does not include any other visits either. She could not tell me exactly how much the difference would be, only that I would be responsible for 40% of the cost and the insurance would cover 70%.

- Apparently my baby is special and requires a total monetary contribution of 110%.

- I was sent back to the waiting room crying to wait to see the office manager.

- The office manager came out to get me and asked me if someone was going to be able to look after my baby while I went to her office. "I don't have a baby yet." I guess she saw someone else's empty baby carrier and got confused.

- She told me that I needed to tell her what was said to me because "nothing you've been told should have brought you to tears." Um. I'll be the judge of that. Perhaps you should wait to find out what exactly I've been told.

- At some point she said, "Ah, so you've already delivered." Um. No. Are you talking to the right person, lady? I'm sitting in front of you with a giant belly crying because my insurance changed MID-pregnancy. Isn't that what we've been talking about?

- I was sent back to the waiting room, having told my story to someone who did or did not know who I was, who told me that she would work out a "continuation of coverage" with the insurance company.

- I waited an hour. At that point I decided to stop being polite and start getting real. "I've been here for an hour and still haven't seen the doctor. You guys don't seem busy, did you forget about me?" They had to find my chart and brought me in.

- The doctor was nice and apologized for the misunderstanding about the insurance and assured me that everything would be fine. She also reminded me that I would need a Rhogam shot that day due to my negative blood type. Oh yeah.

- I scheduled my next two routine visits and left.

- Halfway out of the parking lot I remembered that I wasn't given a shot and went back in. Good thing my medical caregivers are thorough and remembery.

- They informed me that I would have to go over to the hospital across the street and get the shot from Labor and Delivery. I went, carrying my prescription and a print out of blood details.

- Labor and delivery doesn't do these shots. They sent me to the in-hospital lab.

- The in-hospital lab doesn't do these shots. They sent me to the ER.

- The ER can do these shots but don't seem to know much about them. They checked me in.

- I told them I needed the shot because of my negative blood type. (Should I have to explain to nurses about my routine medical needs?) I answered a bunch of questions that seemed strange to be asked, and they put me in a room.

- They tested my blood to verify my blood-type. Why they couldn't call the doctor across the street for verification of my blood-type, I don't know. I didn't think to insist that they call because I was trying to keep my cool in the face of the frustration, and I shouldn't be telling my medical care professionals how to take care of me, should I? Or should I?

- The nurse who took my blood accidentally pricked her finger, so I had to sign a waiver allowing them to test my blood for HIV and Herpes in case she had been exposed to my deadly germiness. (I know this is not a personal thing, and that they would have done that with anyone, but it's a strange position to be in, especially when I could hear this nurse down the hall going on and on about how scared she was about it)

- TWO HOURS LATER: A different nurse came in to give me my shot, and then left because she forgot to bring a syringe. She came back to find my sleeve rolled up. "This shot goes in your leg." "Oh, bummer," I said as I prepared to drop trow. "Although, you've got meaty arms, so we could try to do it there." Thanks tiny nurse, what a strange way to kick me while I'm down by insulting my weight!

- I got my shot.

- I asked if I could talk to someone about billing. They said they don't have a list of fees and that I should call the actual billing department. They gave me a number.

- I was discharged, finally, a full 6 hours after I'd shown up for my appointment that morning. Not having eaten nor had anything to drink since 8am.

- Once I got home, I called billing. They don't have a list of fees and asked me to call the ER. I told them that the ER gave me their phone number. Apparently, no one knows how much anything costs except that just to check in to the ER charges $200 to the insurance. I kept thinking as my blood began to boil that it wasn't even an emergency.

- I called the doctor's office to tell them what had happened. The receptionist said she'd have the office manager call me back.

- She did. I picked up the phone. "Hello?" "Hello, is this Cynthia Strong?" "No, but it is Natalie Strong, am I who you are trying to reach?"

- I let her have it. Once again she didn't know who she was talking to. She made a bunch of excuses for everything, none of which were valid, including that she didn't know what had been said to me about my insurance that made me cry (didn't we talk about that in person?!) and that they are really busy because they just opened a cellulite treatment and liposuction division of their practice (are you telling me that bumpy asses are more important than properly treating a pregnant woman?! You can kiss my bumpy ass!!)... and she followed it all up by letting me know that she has a background in law (um. Ever heard of malpractice? Maybe you should help your doctors avoid that.)

- The weekend passed pleasantly once I stopped crying again.

- Today I called the insurance company to apply for the continuation of coverage that was supposed to be so simple to get. The insurance company only allows you to apply if your coverage has lapsed, which ours has not. If the provider drops them, they have no obligation to me whatsoever.

- I'm waiting for a call back from the office manager and have set up an appointment with a different doctor who is in my network and whose office is much closer to my home and who went to USC. It sounds like the best solution... mostly.

- I don't actually want to switch doctors, 'cause I like the doctor, but the staff is too inept for me. I can't hold their hands through my first pregnancy. Perhaps the next time around I'll be a better help.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"This place has an upstairs?!" and Other Tidbits

--Last night the baby discovered that its special sack filled with water has an upstairs. It was a very strange feeling, almost as though there were something scary sitting down near my bladder that the baby was backing away from, cramming itself up into the safety of my ribcage. Easy there, Jr., Mommy can't breathe!

--Resolution Wrinkle #1: If you're trying to work on just one project at a time, and you run across something like, say, the end of a skein of yarn... and the next isn't balled up yet... and you're too lazy to ball the next one in spite of the fact that you now have a ball winder AND a swift at home... then no knitting happens at all. Resolution doesn't get broken, but that's just a technicality, 'cause the intended outcome of the resolution is to finish projects more quickly.

--Rachel Ray? Not a total quack. Yes, the "EVOO" thing drives me batty, but in the magazine you don't have to hear her say it, so it's not as bad. This week I've tried two of her recipes from the latest magazine, which arrived of its own accord at the office on Monday, and they both turned out pretty well! There are adjustments I'd make to both, but overall they are good foundations for personalization and experimentation, and that's why I picked them. Senor and I are sick of the recipes that I know off the top of my head and seriously need to shuffle in some new options. Mission accomplished! (Though the "30 minute meal"ness of last night's dinner must involve assistance or magical pre-prepared ingredients, 'cause it took me an hour)

--I'm rereading Harry Potter. I'm in the very early pages of book 1, and I have to say, if you loved it the first time, you'll love it the second time. It's so interesting to know where it all goes as you're getting reintroduced to everything and everyone. Pointy hats off to you, J.K.!

--The baby doesn't like it when I rest Harry Potter on the belly as I read. Little does Zuul know that trying to kick the book off has only inspired a new game for Mommy and Daddy: Things on the Baby. What stays and what goes? Endless fun!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Three and a Half Weeks Later

Here I am at 29 1/2 weeks, just over 10 to go. Yikes!!! Would you say I've "popped"? I would. And what's a measly 10 pounds in a month among friends? The baby already weighs 35 lbs, you know. Honestly. Almost big enough not to need a car seat anymore. They double checked. I am the first woman who will ACTUALLY have the baby that drops her back to her pre-pregnancy weight. It's an honor, really. I'd like to thank Christmas for it's love and support in my pursuit of appetizers and pie; I'd like to thank my sofa for being there when I needed someone to lean on for hours at a time; I'd like to thank my Barn-Raising Quilt for giving me something "better" to do; and of course my darling Zuul, without whom I'd never be able to justify drinking egg nogg after Christmas is over (it's on special, you know).

Monday, January 05, 2009

2008: Resolved

I will not spend another January working on this bad boy!! It is officially finished and in use!

Having started it in January of 2007, I decided near the end of 2008 that I would finish this epic before 2009 began. After three days of what seemed like endless end-weaving, I was finally able to curl up for a nap under my beauty on New Years Eve.

I can't lie. It felt great to be done.

So, my knitting resolution for 2009? Attempt project monogamy. Socks are the exception, of course, but I hope to finish things in shorter amounts of time by trying to limit the distraction factor. We shall see.

At the moment, I turn my focus on a lovely seed stitch jacket for Zuul. Over halfway finished... So far, so good.