In researching birthing options for Baby SnowCone, I decided that one of these two would be best:

A. A midwife in SLO named Tiffany. Virtually ALL of my friends/acquaintances here on the Central Coast have used and loved her. Jesse and I had a sit down consultation with her a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. She seemed to be just what we were looking for– minus the fact that she doesn’t take insurance so we’d be paying the full amount– a whopping $4,500 for a homebirth ($5,500 for a birth center), plus out of pocket expenses for bloodwork and 1-2 ultrasounds.

B. A CNM (certified nurse midwife) practice, much like the one we used in Dallas. The only difference? They use hospitals. For some people, I can see this totally being the best of both worlds– getting to go through insurance, but not needing a doctor.

My situation? I have insurance available to me through NCCS for a pretty low monthly rate (about $70/month), but, turns out, unless we’re talking routine Dr. appts. and checkups (which are totally free), the coverage is TERRIBLE. The deductible was $5,000, after which they only paid 40%! I was looking at needing about 7 thousand dollars for option B.

So, it looked as though Option A was where we were headed. We were going to divide the cost into 9 x $500 payments.

$500 extra per month is kinda hefty…at least, for us it is! Plus, we still don’t have a car or dwelling to call our own. So…we’re kinda trying to save lots of money….

And then, I decided on a whim to apply for Medical. I looked at the terms, and it looked as though I might just barely qualify, and for pregnancy related care only (apparently, we’re not poor enough to qualify for the full thing).

I filled out the form online. I received a huge packet in the mail. I gathered all the needed materials. I turned it in. I met with a social worker. The whole nine yards.

And…I GOT IT!!!!! For as long as I’m pregnant, I have Medical!

Guess who accepts Medical?

Option B, the “Creating Harmony” midwife practice! Every ultrasound, every bit of bloodwork, every appointment, even the birth are going to be ABSOLUTELY FREE. I will not have to spend a dime from here on out!

In the very back of my mind, I’m a little sad that I won’t get to have a homebirth. It’s something I wanted to try this time around.

Then again, as it turns out, free is pretty hard to turn down. It’s a ridiculously “light” feeling, really, knowing that I won’t even have co-pays to worry about!

Plus, when I went for my first appt/ ultrasound 10 days ago (they “floated” the cost knowing that I had applied and might get Medical), I LOVED it!

First of all, I was blown away by the office. I thought it was cute, neat and professional. Unlike many of my midwife appointments where I waited, I was seen within 5 minutes of walking in the door. The midwife talked with me for an hour about my medical history, expectations for the birth this time round, etc., never ONCE seeming rushed or brisk. She listened to all my fears about hospitals sympathetically, answered every question AND some, laughed about Texas related stuff (she’s from San Antonio!).

When we decided that I wanted an early ultrasound (partially, we weren’t sure if my due date was accurate, seeing as I’ve only had the one period in 2 years!) she was able to get me one within half an hour downstairs in the actual hospital (their office is attached to the hospital without actually BEING the hospital). No separate appointment needed! Later on, they have me scheduled for an ultrasound with an actual doctor who specializes in birth-related sonograms. Normally, it’s just a tech who is trained to read the screen for certain things, measure the baby, etc. This doctor, however, only works with baby songrams, so they are normally very expensive and hard to come by. Since this is all free, however…sure! Why not?

Also, turns out, Medical requires that I have my own personal nutritionist assigned to me…um, sure! As long as we’re talking free, why not?

Am I apprehensive about having a baby in the hospital? You betcha!

But I’m comforted knowing that the hospital they use 90% of the time (French Hospital, for those of you who were wondering!) is an extremely low-intervention hospital. The nurses are all trained to work with the midwives, seeing as they do it all the time. In most cases (unless you have Strep B), they don’t even start an IV on the mom (although, when I got one with Gregory, due to the continuous vomiting, I didn’t even notice…). They have  7 birthing suits, 3 with labor tubs. There isn’t even a “nursery”– the mom and baby stay in the suite the entire time; labor, delivery and post partum. Most of the time, you go home same or next day even!

After my ultrasound last week, my mom and I walked down to this birth center area. On a whim, I decided to actually just “walk in”. Right away, one of the labor and delivery nurses saw me and came up with a smile on her face.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m thinking about having my baby here.” (I know, I’m original!).

“Awesome! Let me show you around!” she said, as she put her arm around me. It was so sweet, I can’t even tell you. She just took immediate care of me, walking around and showing me the different birthing suites. She pointed out all the birth balls everywhere, showed me the tubs, showed me how each room is completely private and has its own bathroom, shower and sitting area, talked about how they encourage the moms to walk around in the halls or garden outside….

I’m gonna be honest– by the time I left, I was starting to feel a little bit indignant. I KNOW there are bad hospitals out there who sound like they do C-Sections for fun. But I think it’s good to remember that some hospitals are the complete opposite! From everything I’ve heard, this hospital does NOT push interventions, getting out of the way and letting the midwives do their jobs. They want women to manage their pain naturally, helping them walk around and use the birth balls. The midwife even told me that these nurses are trained in how to help with massages, positions, hot packs, etc.

I dunno, guys. After this encounter, I felt like a lot of people in the naturopath community have been making a lot of sweeping generalizations…it’s hard to feel like the hospital/doctors are the “bad guys” when they’re doing things the same exact way as many  midwives…with the added benefit of a safety blanket…

Of course, if my pregnancy becomes high risk for any reason (gestational diabetes that requires insulin, terribly high blood pressure early on, etc.)  my “care” would be transferred to the doctor who is the head of the birth center (the husband of one of the midwives). I would have to give birth at Sierra Vista Hospital just down the road. The difference between the two is that Sierra Vista is more of a high-risk hospital, seeing as they have the only NICU within 2 hours of here! As a result, they are quicker to jump the gun on certain things. I imagine it’s hard not to, especially if you’re getting a lot of sick preemies day in and out. But they still have birthing tubs and such– a plus!

Anyways, I decided I still want to hire a doula to be with me the entire time, just because I know that the midwife probably won’t get there until I’m already at the hospital. A doula would come with me to the house if I wanted and walk around a bit if need be. Also, we found that whenever Jesse left my side during Gregory’s birth (even just to pee or eat a granola bar! 21 hours is a long time!) I panicked and flipped out. It would be nice to have a doula there, just to cover all the bases.

The doula I’m considering (although I’m open to suggestions, if anyone knows a good one around here!) also offers free birth photography as well– something I really really want this time around. I didn’t want pictures last time, but afterwards, I was so grateful that the birth assistant grabbed my camera and snapped a few of Jesse “catching” G on his way out!

Anyways, I’m very relieved to know that I won’t have to pay any money for this entire pregnancy. Did I mention that? NOOO $$$$$$!!! Wahoo!!!

Not only that, but G also qualified for Medical. Soooo……looks like we aren’t paying anything for medical insurance around here!! Now, off to find a dr. who accepts Medical and won’t shove vaccinations at my kid!

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  • Deborah Granick

    How cool! It would be so awesome if you were able to have a water birth they are the best! 🙂

  • Becks

    Continuing on the free bandwagon, if you qualify for Medical, you most definitely qualify for WIC. I was with AIM, and I automatically qualified because I was enrolled in that program. I am pretty sure that all you need to do is bring your medical card and driver’s licence down to a WIC office (maybe a paycheck to verify income), and once you are signed up they will provide all of G’s formula for free, plus about $200 worth of food coupons for basics like milk, eggs, bread, peanut butter, cereal, vegetables, etc. (actually, since you are pregnant you probably qualify for more!) James was on this mega-expensive formula because of his milk/soy allergies, and it was SO nice that I could get it through them. It was costing us $200 a month, and he was only getting one bottle a day! And did I mention Nate was unemployed because his company went out of business? It was seriously such a blessing!

  • Kelly

    What a great suggestion, Becks! G will only be using formula for 3-4 more weeks until he turns 1, but I definitely would like to help out with groceries around here 🙂 I go back to the health dept. on Wed. to get my TB test checked out (teaching…ugh!), and I saw the WIC office next door. Great timing!

    Do you, by chance, know if organic milk qualifies for WIC?

  • Kerrin E.

    Hey Kelly! I am glad you found a good option for birthing! I had Jane at Sierra Vista and had a wonderful, all natural birth experience. I think you are right, we can’t make sweeping statements about hospitals and doctors in general. I never felt pressure to take drugs, my nurse asked me when I first arrived if I wanted any, I told her I wanted to try natural and that was the end of that discussion. I took advantage of their showers and things like that.
    I go to church with a lady who is a doula. She is really sweet, has 2 little girls and actually teaches classes at the birthing center in SLO. Just facebook me if you are interested and I can give you her contact info. Kerrin

    • Kelly

      Kerrin, I’d love her info!

  • Steph

    Is Amy the doula you’re thinking about?

    • Kelly

      Actually, Trina Dart was. I wondered who Amy was, since I saw her name on your blog, but googling her didn’t get any results.

  • Beth

    We had Medi-Cal for Avery which ended up being even more of a blessing than we initially realized since she spent 4+ days in the NICU – there’s no way we could have afforded that bill. The insurance statements that came in (not bills!) totaled well over $100,000. That was scary just writing that number, let alone thinking about paying that! Can we say medical bankruptcy?

    Just one heads up though… we received a letter of notification AFTER having Avery that Medi-Cal has a recovery program where they go after the money the state spent on you/your baby when you die. I can email it to you if you’re interested in seeing it. Either way, that was the best coverage and help that we needed at the time. So we’ll deal with that when we have to deal with it. I don’t really picture us rolling in dough at ANY point in our lives, haha.

    I’m so excited that you found some great hospitals and medical coverage. I remember the stress of trying to figure that out for both of our kids/pregnancies, and it’s such a huge relief!

  • Beth

    I just looked up the WIC site and organic milk is eligible. We qualify, but haven’t enrolled so far, but your post gave me a nudge. Especially with Justin going back to school in January and working less, the groceries would really be helpful!

    • Kelly

      Yay!!! Just in time for G’s 1 year!

  • Christina

    So awesome! I agree that the natural birth community makes too many sweeping generalizations. You can see from my birth story that I didn’t have a problem having a natural birth with Kaiser (and there a number of other hospitals in the area that are the same). It really just depends on your providers!

  • nyx

    I told you not all hospitals are evil! 😉 hehe. also, i’ve seen on a lot of birth boards that WIC covers things like breast pumps too if you need one. =) I cant wait to see pics of you taking a leisurely stroll in the garden when snowcone comes. =)

    • Kelly

      Yay….”leisurely stroll” while all of my bones are shattering….ugh, can’t “wait” for childbirth….