An Unexpected Cost of Parenting: The Medical Journey

11 Oct

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Having to move from a one bedroom cottage to a larger house was a cost we expected when we decided to buy sperm. The price of a house and the price of said expensive sperm were things we figured we could afford even without much of a savings account to speak of. We would borrow just a little for the down payment and be able to pay it back quickly but without a savings we knew we were teetering on the edge of disaster, should disaster ever strike. But we wanted this baby so badly and we went for it.

We both agreed we hated credit card debt and that we weren’t going to abuse it like the rest of the country did. Then we became pregnant on the first try, we celebrated and vowed to quickly pay off the tiny bit of credit card debt we had left over from our wedding and honeymoon so that we could buy a bigger house quickly. We hadn’t expected to conceive so easily and I was sure I didn’t want to move while hugely pregnant or with a new baby.

Being crunchy, I told my wife we would only buy used toys and clothes for the baby (I was already collecting). I assured her that natural parenting negated the purchase of expensive items like a crib, a changing table, disposable diapers, and formula. We really wouldn’t need to buy anything! As a nanny and postpartum doula I had seen parenting purchases and Amazon shipping excess that made me sick and vow to parenting asceticism.

Hi Mom! I make you vomit!

Then, disaster did strike. Around the fifth week of being pregnant my low blood sugar and fainting turned into nausea and the nausea soon turned into full-blown Hyperemesis Gravidarum. At thirteen weeks I was hospitalized ($$) with a failing, ketonic liver from lack of food and water. I was puking up to 16 times a day. After that hospitalization I needed to go in for IV hydration ($$) to keep the nausea at bay once or twice a week for eight more weeks. I also needed medications made for chemotherapy patients ($$).

To pay off some of the first bills, we had to sell back the rest of the “sister sperm” we had in storage. With giving that back and reading that Hyperemesis doesn’t get better in future pregnancies, our thoughts of a bigger family were quite dashed.

Then when the nausea faded at 20 weeks, just in time for me to participate in moving to the “huge house I can never keep clean”,  I went to the emergency room ($$) for what I thought was a heart attack and was mis-diagnosed by the psychiatrist resident as having an anxiety attack (which woke me in my sleep and made me puke and hope to die?)

After a second attack ($$) I was diagnosed with Gall Bladder Disease but it was too late to take it out while pregnant. I was having these attacks more and more frequently with nothing to treat them except Vicodin ($$) which I would only throw up before it could dissolve. There were extra ultrasounds and non-stress tests to check on the baby ($$).

We had planned this glorious (and inexpensive!) home birth with a beloved midwife. My birth and prenatal care including rented tub was to total only $800 after insurance. Then my labor came and went away each time I had a gall bladder attack. The final attack was so horrible that I needed the E.R. ($$). I hoped for some intravenous pain meds and to be sent home to birth. HaHaHa.

I spent four days in the hospital fighting Gall bladder attacks and trying to

Day 4 in hospital

birth in between them and eventually needed Pitocin ($$) and then an Epidural ($$) and subsequently a whole lot of extra stitching ($$), though I thank God we avoided a c-section.

Everyone said, “Thank goodness you have insurance!” It’s True. But, thirty percent copay of thousands of dollars still turns out to be thousands of dollars! And this is why I implore all those who “don’t want to be part of the system and buy crappy health care” to do it anyway.

And now we were parents of a perfect little person and she saved us a bunch of money by being a champion breastfeeder. But then, she wasn’t sleeping well…and by six months she was not sleeping more than an hour at a time. What? Co-sleeping was supposed to bring us more sleep!

After three sleep specialists ($$) and a pediatric neurologist ($$), two overnight sleep tests ($$), an MRI ($$) and an overnight hospitalized EEG ($$), we had a baby with Central Sleep Apnea which she would just have to outgrow. Same outcome as if we never had gone to any doctors. Sigh.

2.5 years since we started the parenting journey and we accrued around 20K in very unexpected after-health insurance expenses. Most of which is still on a credit card.

I used to think parenting was made for everyone and could be done by anyone in any financial circumstances (because everyone around the world does it!), but in a country with non-socialized health care, my experience is that it is preferable to have some money in a saving account.

For health reasons, I probably can’t have another baby, but if we did I would make sure we had enough money saved to be able to afford medical disaster, pediatric disaster, and a lot of help around the home-maybe even meals made for us! But my one and only daughter came alongside credit card debt and a parent-exhausting sleep disorder but we love her and take her exactly how she is; so I try to not hate our credit card debt.

Our saga truly changed the way I think about the cost of parenting. I am now known to have training panties shipped from Amazon without even a second thought.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon October 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Money Matter$ — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money MattersWitch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
  • Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in BudgetingMudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. TimeMomma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending IntentionallyCatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having an allowance.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.

13 Responses to “An Unexpected Cost of Parenting: The Medical Journey”

  1. Leah October 5, 2011 at 1:44 am #

    Yes the cost can be way higher than you think. We learned that the hard way too, after a home birth. Not too bad, but the unexpected 18 day NICU stay, many specialists, many scans, tube feeding, apnea monitoring, open heart surgery, and follow ups. Thankfully we’re the parents of a healthy girl who has Well baby visits now! But the cost was definitely high!

  2. Michelle King October 5, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    I had no idea all the events you went through for Iris! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I especially relate to the part where you say how you use to think parenting was made for everyone and could be done by anyone! I thought this way as well and was so sadden by the loss of this opportunity! I would pay $$ to have a baby and I agree with you NOT on credit though! Thanks again for your story, it helped me!

  3. mudpiemama October 11, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    What a challenging journey you had while pregnant and into parenthood. I admire your determination to get through it all and it is so clear how much you love your daughter. thank you for sharing your story.

  4. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama October 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Oh mama – the amount of stress you two have lived through over the past almost-three years is incredible! I admire your strength and tenacity and willingness to help other parents through writing.

  5. Lisa C October 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Okay, your pregnancy was officially worse than mine! (Mine was horrible, but I am always so grateful it wasn’t worse!) Wow.

    It’s so so true, everyone needs savings. We have had to rely on our savings so many times. We just keep building it back up. I had debt before I married my financially-wise husband. Having debt was horrible–it was like being a prisoner. I’m so grateful we haven’t had to be in debt, except for our mortgage, in all the 6.5 years we’ve been married. This wouldn’t be true if we didn’t have our savings.

  6. Momma Jorje October 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Wow! You did, indeed, have it rough! I’ve always said that if you wait until you’re “financially stable” enough to have kids, you’ll never get there. This country (and specifically people in my economic status) is such a hand-to-mouth plague. So here we are, having our last child, supported by government insurance, and having a hard time of it.

    Still, I’m of Advanced Maternal Age, so I couldn’t really put off another child if we were going to have one more. This is the only one we planned anyway, the others were all surprises!

    Finances weren’t quite so dire when we were TTC… so we hadn’t planned to do it this way.

  7. Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama October 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Wow – you have had some big challenges, but being a mama is worth it all, isn’t it? I agree that we have to cut ourselves breaks to prioritize the most important things. If training pants from Amazon makes your life easier, then why not? You deserve it, mama!

  8. Phoebe October 12, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    In the UK it’s all covered by the National Health Service so I feel VERY lucky to live where I do because I ended up having two c-sections. I cannot imagine the stress those unforeseen costs would bring. I really feel for you having such a difficult journey, but I’m glad that you’ve got your beautiful daughter to make it all worth it.

  9. Laura Burns October 15, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    The hospital in my town charges $1200 for a vaginal birth. That is the birth only. Not the required iv. Not the doctor’s fee. Not the cost of your horrible food. Not any of the 84 mattress sized OB pads you’ll use during your stay. The birth only. Deductible aside, I still owe 20% of the bill. So I did the math and used the math to convince my husband to do a homebirth. My midwife charges $1000 for the birth.

    I also did not count on HG or special monitoring during either pregnancy. I didn’t plan on the drama we had with the kids after birth either. So you’re right… parenting has some seriously unexpected costs! I now warn my friends who plan to get pregnant. Kids cost money, even when you plan for it!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids | Peace For Parents - January 6, 2012

    [...] An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood. [...]

  2. How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune | LivingMontessoriNow.com - April 19, 2012

    [...] An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood. [...]

  3. The Green Stuff - September 14, 2012

    [...] An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood. [...]

  4. It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. - April 10, 2013

    [...] An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood. [...]

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