Sunday, July 6, 2008

The search

I suppose this deserves a preface of sorts, to put everything in context. When I was pregnant with Luca, we had established my well-woman care with an OBGYN who worked with a Midwife. The midwife who was there when I started going to the office was great, but she left when I was almost 20 weeks. I was kind of nervous about the change and afraid I wouldn't care for the new midwife. I wasn't OVERLY in love with the one there, but both my husband and I felt really comfortable with her, so we were hoping we'd be ok with the new midwife as well.

Well, anyone who knows me knows that I was not only OK with the new midwife, but I really adore her! I also really like the OB, which is fabulous because either one of them might have attended Luca's birth, depending how things went. In fact, I liked them so much that I've referred something like 5 or 6 friends to that practice. I often joke that I should get a referral bonus from them!
Anyhow, I was more than thrilled with the way I was treated while pregnant, as well as with the way my labor and delivery went. And Janice, the wonderful Midwife, is such an amazing, spirited, loving, and supportive person to have there for a birth. I cannot express in simple words how much having her attend Luca's birth meant to both Darrick and me.

So...why "The search for a Midwife", since I already FOUND a great one??? Three simple words: Insurance Maternity Coverage. Darrick and I spent some time earlier this year evaluating our finances, and we kept hitting the same huge wall...the cost of health insurance through either of our jobs was about the same, and that amounted to...well...too damn much. So we started doing some research into buying into an individual plan. My work would pay for me, and his work would pay for him, but neither would cover Luca unless we were willing to take on the cost. When Darrick started his job, we had all switched to his insurance, which meant he was losing about $700 a month from his paychecks, which went straight into the coffers of the insurance company of his employer's choice. We loved the insurance and NEVER had a problem with them, but $700 is a LOT of money. It was offset some by the fact that my employer, when I went off their insurance, started paying the difference out in my paycheck. But $700 is $700, and what that amounts to is a LOT of lost income.

Something else we were considering: the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored insurance vs with our own individual plan. See, the thing we didn't realize until we looked into it further was that MOST indidivual plans, at least in AZ, do NOT COVER maternity (unless there is a complication of pregnanct) unless you buy a more expensive plan AND unless the baby is born 18 or more months after your coeverage begins. We weren't willing to wait 18 months. So what now?

There are no birthing centers in our area of Arizona, so we called my wonderful Midwife and asked what the cost was to have a pregnancy covered by them, sans insurance. And then we called the hospital where Luca was delivered, and found out what that charge, without an epidural and with an epidural, would be. The total for THAT was only about $400 - $2200 more than we paid WITH insurance. If you do the math, and you pay $700 a month...and you can find your OWN insurance for $150 a month...then you're saving $550 a month. At the LOW end of the self-pay fee schedule, in one month we've MORE than saved the difference. Even at the HIGH end (with an epidural), we still make up the difference in savings in 4 months.

None of this factored in a c-section. Which, with or without insurance (a 20% copay) we'd be screwed if we ended up with one anyhow. And, I never plan on having a c-section (let's hope that's not Famous Last Words), so I decided to not even find OUT the cost of that.

Anyhow, after crunching all the numbers, we decided getting our own covereage and paying for the birth out of pocket route was our better choice.

And then, one day, in the middle of all this discussion, I threw out a 'joke' about our next baby: "If all else fails," I quipped, "we can always set up a pool and I can birth in the kitchen."

Silence. Not the "HELL NO!" I expected from my husband. I glanced over, and he was looking thoughtful. "I mean," I filled in the silence, "it's not like it's unheard of. And we've done this before. And the hardest part would be not having pain meds, but if they weren't here for the offering, I could go without. Women do it every day."

More silence. "It's just something to think about." (Remembering in my head how, last time, he had insisted from the beginning that he didn't want to 'see anything' when Luca was born, and how he was SURE I shouldn't even THINK about going any other route than fully medicated.)

Finally, from my husband, "How much would THAT cost?" (Remembering, at this point, how he had done a 180, and not only watched Luca being born, but cut the cord and encouraged me to not cave to the epidural too early while supporting me through a 26 hour labor...and then how he was 100% behind me when I decided to get the epi.

(Also remembering how he was 'freaked' by breastfeeding before she was born, and then how he was the one who finally got her to latch as I sobbed fat tears at 3 am on our first night home along.)

And so it began...the research...the reading...the Google obsession and the Motheringdotcommune discovery. We soon figured out that homebirth, for us, would be the most economical solution. And, even more importantly, it was a decision I felt most at ease with. The pain thing worried me a little, I admit, but I had always viewed pregnancy and birth as a natural human function, not a disease or something in need of treating. I loved the midwife model of care. And I discovered the more I read, I really WANTED this.

And despite my fear that it would NEVER fly with my husband, he agreed.

Since making this decision, we've told a few people. Amazingly, we've yet to get any outright negative responses from the handful of people we've told. I anticipate lots of questions and weird comments, but we're ready for them (I think).

1 comment:

Brandi said...

Wow, I feel like I could have written this post (well, except for the fact that I'm not pregnant right now) LOL! Anyhow, yeah, insurance is insane and I will definitely be using a midwife at a birthing center next time around.

Best of luck on your adventure. :)


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