Tag Archives: health

In New Mexico Pregnancy Is Considered A Disease

Tiny-Small is pushing 2 years old and I am sort of pushing 40. I still have a few years to go, but I can feel it breathing down my neck like Rosie does when she is anticipating a dog bone or a walk. My husband and I are asked on a regular basis when child number two is coming or, “When are you going to give that little girl a sister or a brother?” Insert wiggly eyes and goofy smiles along with every comment. Anyway, we started thinking about it too, in part because of the almost daily reminders from friends and family, and well, my biological clock IS ticking, ticking, ticking…. I am getting closer and closer to 40 and I know my chances of having a less healthy baby increases with every week I age. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tiny-Small is growing up and if we are going to have more than one chlid we better do it soon, right?

When I was pregnant with Tiny-Small we discovered my health insurance didn’t cover pregnancy. Apparently Blue Cross Blue Shield has determined that pregnancy is a pre existing condition even if the condition was not pre existing when you started the policy. Luckily, at that time New Mexico had a program for all pregnant women called Premium Assistance Maternity (PAM) insurance that we could purchase for $500.00. I had to jump through several hoops and fill out paperwork until my carpel tunnel erupted, but finally most of my pregnancy and deliver were covered. I paid a few thousand dollars in doctors bills for the first three months of my pregnancy (it took three months for the PAM to start) but at least I was covered for the $10,000  plus hospital stay and all of the procedures leading up to that. In short, it was a financial life saver, a godsend, and the only thing keeping us from the possibility of complete financial ruin and bankruptcy. Two days in the ICU does not come cheap.

We now have a new governor. Governor Martinez was elected and she cut the PAM program as soon as she possibly could along with several other programs like low cost insurance for children of working families. These are families that make too much to qualify for medicaid and do not have access to health insurance through their jobs. In fact, most of the people I know who work full time jobs don’t have access to health insurance through their employers or their jobs. We seem to be a state with few employee benefits, but I guess that should be expected in a state that doesn’t even require employers to offer their employees a lunch break ( that’s even when they work an 8 hour shift). Now I am left wondering how do I have another baby. Can we afford to have another baby? Where do I get insurance now? My private health plan isn’t going to cover it. I know that for sure!

My husband called and made an appointment with a local insurance agency. Over the phone the insurance agent informed us that, in the state of New Mexico, there are absolutely no insurance companies or insurance plans that cover pregnancy. If, and when, I get pregnant again we will have to apply to the New Mexico High Risk Insurance Pool. This is a state-run pool usually reserved for people who are deemed uninsurable due to having cancer or some other expensive disease insurance companies do not want to pay for. In this state, pregnancy is considered a high risk disease. I will likely have to pay an exorbitantly high monthly premium in order to have my next pregnancy covered. I am guessing this is one of the reasons why New Mexico has such a high infant mortality rate, why so many children end up suffering from developmental delays, and why we were declared the worst state for children by the Foundation for Child Development. In short, most pregnant women probably don’t get insurance and don’t go to the doctor while they are pregnant. At least not as often as they should. They can’t afford to. According to Childrensdefense.org a child in New Mexico (in 2011) dies before his or her first birthday every two days. The other statistics presented on this page are too depressing to list here, but I encourage you to check them out, especially if you are a New Mexico resident. I am beginning to wonder if living here is a good choice for families or more specifically my family, but on the other hand people like me need to stay here and try to make it better. When I say people like me I mean mothers, people with friends, and people who actually care about other human beings. In short, I mean all of us. This isn’t right and it doesn’t make me proud of my state. In fact, when I read that over 15% of our our children do not have medical insurance, that 80% of our fourth grades do not read at grade level, and that 10,984 high school students drop out annually I felt ashamed and also a little disgusted. I think we can do better than this and I also think an opportunity for a healthy, happy, and productive life starts with good prenatal care.

Next Monday we meet with the insurance agent in person to get all of the gruesome details. I’ll let you know what we come up with after our meeting with the insurance guru. It’s a little sad to think that the decision to have another baby has to be made in this way. If a different governor had been elected, if the insurance company actually covered pregnancy, if we lived in a different state or even a different country might a different decision be made? Would Tiny-Small have more siblings if we made less money and qualified for medicaid or if we made much more money and could afford to pay out of pocket for any medical surprise that might come our way? It’s an unfortunate and uncomfortable process because in the end I am not sure I am the one actually making the decisions. I know having a baby is always partially a financial decision, but it feels like a factor that has more weight than it really should or than it did even just a few years ago. We are trying to live responsibly, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it pays off in the end. When I look at these pictures I can’t imagine not having a Tiny-Small-2, but when I look at out bank account I am not sure we can afford to have another baby. What if something goes horribly wrong with my pregnancy? I know a woman that calls her son “the million dollar baby.” He was born premature, flown by helicopter to Albuquerque for neonatal care and was in the hospital for over three months. I have no doubt his medical expenses were outrageous. How can I risk it? All I can do now is hope for some kind of insurance miracle. It happened last time so maybe there is still hope.

When Is Skinny Too Skinny?

Tiny-Small has the problem almost every woman in America, for the past several decades, has been hoping for: She is too skinny. When we go to the pediatrician her head circumference and length are perfectly average, but her weight is so low she drops off the chart. Well, technically she is still on the chart according to Dr. Brian, but when I look at it her weight is about an inch under where the chart ends. I always have a minor freak out about it and Dr. Brian always assures me that “apples don’t fall from the tree” as he sizes up me and my husband.

How Dr. Brian Sees Me

He tells us she has always been thin and probably always will be because her parents are not very big people. I always find this amusing because my daughter’s pediatrician thinks I am thin, but my own doctors are always urging me to lose weight. My primary care physician advises me to exercise, drink only water and eat several small meals a day. My OBGYN told me at my last check up to lose as much weight as possible and if I stop menstruating I have gone too far. Really?

How My Dr.’s See Me

I have a hard time taking him seriously though because he laughs extremely loud and for several minutes after everything he says. He also told me once that women should never leave the house without being dressed nice and wearing make-up. He is from Nigeria and I don’t know why, but for some reason that makes it easier for me to give him a pass on his crazy antics and sexist remarks. His laugh is so infectious I find myself laughing right along with him until I think about what he actually just said. Then I’m like…wait a minute here…. Anyway, back to Tiny-Small. Dr. Brian said she can eat anything, ANYTHING, she wants to. Whole milk, gravy, fat-filled everything and anything that she can stuff into her little mouth and chew up is hers for the taking.

How I See Me

I have this baby food book that is supposed to be full of healthy recipes and ways to fatten up your baby. It’s a pretty good book, but if your child has any kind of nut allergies I’d toss it out the window because almost every other recipe in it calls for some kind of nut or nut butter.

Tiny-Small is a cookie monster in training. All day long she asks, “Cook-cook?” I was starting to worry about how many cookies she was digesting on a daily basis and started looking for some healthier alternatives. My book has a recipe using ground oatmeal and peanutbutter that is formed into a ball and then rolled in a bed of crushed nuts. She loved it.  Then I got super ambitious and tried another cookie ball recipe that used mashed beans as the filling. I used baked beans in a light barbecue sauce. I formed balls and rolled them in crushed nuts. Jim said they were delicious. I couldn’t bring myself to eat one so I will never know. Tiny-Small hated them and she looked at me like I was a big fat liar everytime I offered her one and dared to call them cookies. She did take them at first. I thought she was eating them like crazy until I noticed one of the dogs had bean breath and sure enough she was doling out my bean ball cookies like dog bone candy to every flea bitten rascal that walked by.

I’ve tried slices of avocado strategically hidden in her sandwiches, peanutbutter spreads and real butter, drizzles of olive oil, ridiculous amounts of cheese and full fat yogurt. Tiny-Small eats it all in large quantities (except for the avocado which she seems to despise) and still remains a skinny-minnie. She is still a lean, mean, fighting machine. As a mom I worry about her weight and her nutrition, but I try not to obsess about it.

I do wonder if she will grow up to be one of those women that complains about how she can’t gain weight no matter what she eats and that all of her women friends will roll their eyes in disgust and talk about her possible eating disorder behind her back. Will there ever come a time when a woman’s weight isn’t really such a big issue? When women of all shapes and sizes can be content with their bodies?  I keep hoping the future is better than the past has been in that regard. I want Tiny-Small to grow up in a better world than I did and yet here I am thinking about her weight and she’s not even two years old yet.

I don’t want Tiny-Small to develop a complex over what she eats or how much she weighs so I only subject her to the scale once a month or so and I don’t say much about it. I just keep offering her snacks and high calorie foods and hope for the best. She has another doctor’s appointment coming up in a couple of weeks so I am hoping she has started to fatten up a little, just enough to get her back on that gosh darn chart. Until then I just hope her delicious diet doesn’t fatten me up too much. I don’t want to hear about it from my doctor(s). I don’t want to model a weight obsession (am I too skinny or too fat?) for my daughter either so I also try not to go on and on about my own weight. I just want us both to be healthy and happy people.  I mean at what point is skinny too skinny and most importantly do I really want to find out?

Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease Work-Out Video (Cue Nervous Giggling From The Audience)

 

Don’t ask me what I was thinking when I pushed the Carmen Electra Aerobic Striptease DVD into the DVD player and pushed play. Apparently I am a true masochist hell bent on humiliating myself in the hopes of earning a fit body and and healthy mind (her claim, not mine). I’m willing to try anything once, in the privacy of my living room, if it means I will fit into my pre-pregnancy pants again. I’ll even attempt staring into the eyes of Carmen Electra while she dances in knee socks and clothes that my daughter wouldn’t be caught dead in. At 21 months old my daughter already considers herself far too mature for pigtails and shorts so small they might as well be diapers.

 

It all started with a visit to my sister’s house. My sister is one of those amazing people that always seems to have exactly what you need at the exact moment you need it. If she carried a big purse she’d be the one that has a tissue, a piece of gum, pepper spray, cat food, or a copy of “War And Peace” the moment you articulated your desire to posses said item. She has a sixth sense or a magical intuition about these things. Sometimes she even has what I need before I even know I need it. For example, while at her house last week, I casually mentioned wanting to drop a few pounds. She handed me a workout video (I tossed it into the backseat of my car). That same day I mentioned I was looking for a grammar book because my blog seriously lacks punctuation as you may or may not have noticed. Of course, she just shrugged and said, “I have one in my car if you want to borrow it.” Who carries around a grammar book? My sister that’s who. She is awesome. She’s got psychic yard sale powers that any thrift store junkie would die for.

 

So, I get to my mom’s house after visiting my sister and pull out the video. I was seriously disturbed when I read the title. Oh no. I showed it to my mom and she looked at me and said, “Do you need a pole to do that?” Oh no. I call Jim and tell him about the video. He says, “Sounds like you need a pole to do that.”

Oh no oh no oh no.

So, I drive back to my sisters house and ask, “DO I need a pole to do this?” She tells me, “Not for that one.” Still, Oh no! What kind of world is this and how did I get lost in it?! I’m no pole dancer. I can’t even dance on the ground. I was born with two left feet, two left hands and with the grace and balance of a hippopotamus doing piroutte’s with a rhinoceros. No matter what happened I knew this wasn’t going to be pretty. In fact, I was confident my strip tease workout days had disaster written all over them.

After putting on my workout attire (a red shirt with a giant crab on it that says, “Leave me alone. I’m crabby” and green fleece pants that were seriously in need of a good vacuuming) I put the video on and started the warm up exercises. After about three minutes I realized I was being seduced by Carmen Electra AND, most importantly, that I really sucked at striptease type stuff. It’s like I have extra arms and legs. I can’t bend in the right places and it’s obvious why I never became a dancer of any kind, ever, not even once or for a minute. I’m even bad at square dancing.

Carmen Electra's Striptease Workout Video

Just as I was thanking the universe and my lucky stars that my living room never had full length mirrors installed on the walls my husband walked in and sees me standing there staring at the TV with my mouth open and a look of horror on my face. “What are you watching? Is this for men?” I told him it’s a work out video for women. He watches for a minute and says, “It looks like porn, but with clothes on.” Then my daughter walked in yelling, “Ewwwww!” I am not sure if she was talking about me or Carmen Electra. At this point it would have been appropriate either way. Then, my daughter started doing squats and counting 5, 6… right along with the video. She even laughed after Carmen Electra explained the importance of using your hands through nervous cheerleader like giggling (even Carmen Electra seemed to find her work-out video embarrassing).

 

It was disturbing to see that my 21 month old had better moves than I did. While I was contorted into a pretzel-like pose she was prancing in step to the music. The best part was when my daughter ran to the DVD player and pushed the eject button. “All gone,” she said and just like that my torture ended. It was too embarrassing and like Jim said, “That video doesn’t fit your personality. You’re too private for that kind of workout.” Yeah, I’m too private for that kind of workout, but not too private to blog about it.