Rebecca Wood

At a 24 week ultrasound (there was an issue with the 20 week ultrasound requiring a follow up ultrasound; Charlie was breech), it was noted that Charlie lost weight (asymmetrical IUGR) and my placenta was becoming calcified. With the recent high blood pressure readings, doctors suspected pre-eclampsia. To confirm the suspicion of the perinatologist and my OB-GYN, I was to provide a 24 hour urine sample and have blood drawn. It was a Thursday which meant I would collect the sample on a Friday and turn it in and have blood drawn on a Saturday. All of the labs in the area were owned by LabCorps. And, LabCorps only had two locations open on Saturdays. I called to schedule and was told there were no available appointments. I explained it was crucial that I get lab work that Saturday. Lab Corps said to come in and they would try to squeeze me in. Saturday morning my head was pounding but, I managed to get dressed and lug my giant jug of a urine sample to Lab Corps. The small waiting room was over flowing with people. After waiting for two hours with a pounding headache, I was notified that they were backed up and not going to be able to squeeze me in. My husband tried to be polite when I barked out at the lady: So what am I supposed to do?!?! She told me to go to the emergency room. I went to the emergency room. My blood pressure was 190/110. I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia and hospitalized. I spent the next few days sitting in the dark (light made my brutal headache worse) while daily bloodwork documented my slow deterioration. Meds were given. The peri-natalogist explained to me we were defusing a bomb. We needed to keep me pregnant until the very last minute I could to where it wouldn’t harm me or the baby. I would be hospitalized until I had my baby. It could be days or, hopefully, it would be a month or so. After a few days, on Wednesday, the OB-GYN explained to me that I wasn’t crashing fast enough for insurance to want to pay for me to be hospitalized and that I would have to go home on Friday. Horrified, I asked the peri-natalogist about it. She said that she had done this dance with preeclampsia hundreds of times and there was no way it was safe for me to be home. But, my OB-GYN insisted insurance said that I had to go home. Thursday night, my kidneys failed. The only indication was the lab work. I didn’t feel any different than how lousy I already felt. It was very clear now that I only had a matter of days until I delivered. I got to stay hospitalized. I think about how lucky I was my kidneys failed when they did. Otherwise, I would have gone home for the weekend. By Monday, Charlie and I were both dying because I developed HELLP syndrome over the weekend. On the Friday my kidneys failed, when it was clear Charlie was coming in a matter of days, I got a NICU consult. During the NICU consult, a neonatalogist came in my room, handed me a piece of paper with Charlie survival odds based on gestational age and weight. He asked if I had any questions. I had none because, it was all so surreal and overwhelming, I had no idea what to asked. The whole visit lasted two minutes and I was charge close to $400. My insurance wouldn’t pay it because it wasn’t my doctor. Charlie’s insurance wouldn’t pay it because she wasn’t born yet.I think about all this a lot and it angers me. I think about how I was in the nation’s capital and this was considered “good” health care with “good” insurance and I’m furious. If this is what it was like for me, what chance do mothers with lesser privilege have? ;For Charlie’s first few years, I did peer support and met mothers from all over the country. I noticed how there weren’t many extreme preemies like Charlie outside of the big cities. It’s because those mothers lacked quick access (or any access) to level 4 NICUs and the expertise needed to save these mothers and babies. I will never understand how some can claim to be “pro life” and not fight like hell for things like Medicare For All.

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