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What The Lord Taught Me During our NICU Stay

Murphy’s Law- Anything that can go wrong, will.

It started with Oliver coming into this world. When my water broke at 2am on June 25th I practically lost my mind. I’ll save most of the details for when I write Oliver’s full birth story but after I realized what was happening I started sobbing and hyperventilating and I couldn’t stop. It was too early. It was too close to Sawyer’s birthday. He was still breech. I would need another c-section. It was way too early. Still, 3 weeks later, when I think about the feeling of waking up to warm water gushing down my legs, it makes my skin crawl and sends a shiver up my spine.

By the grace of God, Oliver turned on his own after I was admitted to the hospital and I was able to have a VBAC. Trial #1 turned to miracle #1.

I had Oliver for a short few minutes before he oxygen was deemed to low and he was whisked off to the NICU. We thought it was very temporary. Even the nurses and doctors were telling us it would probably only be a few days to a week. After less than a week, he was already nippling 81% of his feedings and they told us he would be going home soon. The very next day he started regressing and only nippled 67%. Then 50%. Then he went up and down and up and down and showed no real consistency. The days dragged on and on and every day was more challenging for me than the last. Seeing him struggle was hard. The immense, soul crushing pressure I felt to make sure he finished his bottles while I was with him was so frustrating I usually ended up in tears. The nurses and doctor’s weren’t putting this pressure on me, I was putting this pressure on myself.

When Oliver had been in the NICU for 4 days, the first day after I had been discharged and sent home without him, we got a call that rocked our world.

Oliver had no insurance.

I’m only 24, and my parents were gracious enough when I got married to let me stay on our family plan until I was legally kicked off at 26. This, for the most part, worked out great, and has saved us a lot of money over the past few years. In most cases, when you have a baby, the baby is covered by your insurance for 30 days, after which the baby needs to be added on to a plan or it’s own plan. When Sawyer was born, my mom called our insurance to make sure he would be covered for 30 days. They assured her, he would be.

He never was. Our bill for Sawyer’s birth was astronomical. We just finished paying it off and he’s 2 years old. It financially crippled us for a little bit. It prevented us from putting away money into savings, from fixing our cars when they broke down (often), from me staying home with our children. It affected us greatly. We kept resubmitting the claim again and again and spent hours on the phone with insurance agents trying to figure out how this bill could possibly be so much when he was covered by seemingly great insurance. Not a single person caught that he wasn’t covered. We got a lot of “I don’t knows” a lot of transfers to someone “higher up” and no one could give us any answers. Eventually, we just accepted our fate, chalked it up to it being such a complicated birth, and started making monthly payments.

All it would have taken, was for one person that we talked to to take a better look at my plan and see the grandparent’s clause. Since I was on my parent’s plan and not my own plan, the “30 days of coverage” rule did not apply to me under the grandparent’s clause. Grandchildren are not covered. Not one person that we talked to after Sawyer’s birth noticed this clause. And we paid for it. Big time.

Luckily, when my mom called to double check that Oliver was covered, just as she had with Sawyer, whoever she talked to did notice this clause. Thank goodness for her. It was only then, 2 YEARS LATER, that we realized this meant Sawyer was never covered either and that’s why the bill was so high. We paid in full. I know I don’t need to tell you but NICU stays are extremely expensive. He had already been there for 4 days with no insurance.

We were in a restaurant when we got the call and I couldn’t suppress my emotions. I was terrified. And all these fears washed over me all at once as we stood in line for hot dogs. Kurtis held me as I silently cried with my head buried in his chest, so as not to draw attention to myself. A million thoughts rushed through my head.

This is going to financially ruin us.

I’m never going to be a stay at home mom.

I’ll never be able to take my blog full time.

I‘m going to have to keep working for years to pay this off.

We’re never going to be able buy a house.

We’re never going to be able to replace that dang car.

After we picked up our food, we drove to the hospital to visit Oliver and Kurtis immediately got on the phone trying to get Oliver on a plan, stat. I sat with Oliver and smelled his head and cried.

A few days later, we got hit with another blow. Kurtis has taken 2 weeks off of work paternity leave. We had it all set in stone, he had filled out the FMLA paperwork weeks in advance. Payday came and went, and nothing was deposited into our account.

He got on the phone with his payroll company where they delivered the news that salaried employees do not qualify for paid leave. Which is not what we were told initially. He qualified for job-protected leave, but it was unpaid. He got on the phone with his boss and they confirmed the same thing. How we missed that little, extremely important detail is beyond me.

He had already been on leave 11 days when we found this out.

I don’t tell you all of this to make you feel bad for me or my family. I felt defeated. I felt like my world was crashing around me and I was suffocating under the debris. I went into premature labor. My baby wasn’t home with me. He didn’t have insurance. My husband wasn’t getting paid.

Woe is me.

Right?

I know it sounds dramatic. But you have to remember I was also newly postpartum. My hormones were completely out of wack and all the stress that had transpired since Oliver’s birth wasn’t helping.

A week had passed. And you know what I realized?

I hadn’t spent any time reading the Bible or in prayer since before Oliver was born. I was so stressed and busy trying to control everything. Trying to make sure Oliver finished every bottle. Trying to make sure I pumped round the clock to feed him. Trying to make sure Sawyer was getting enough attention. Trying to figure out insurance. Trying to find a way to bring in money to supplement our 2 weeks without any income.

How could I not seek The Lord during the biggest trial of my life thus far? Why did I think I had to suffer alone?

I had this revelation and immediately gave the situation over to The Lord. I surrendered control. I cried out for help. For wisdom. For comfort. And I was heard. And I was comforted.

When I was finally ready to crack open the word, I started reading in Exodus 16 and 17. The Lord had promised the Israelites freedom, but still they question him and vie for the life they had back in Egypt. The Lord promises them food, on the condition they only take what they need, and still they test him and take too much or too little. He gave them freedom, food, and water, and still they complained. Still they doubted. Just like I had.

Sure, I had had a traumatic go of things. But Oliver flipped on his own. I got my VBAC. He was in the NICU, but he was healthy overall. This was my rainbow baby. The beauty after the storm of my miscarriage. Just as The Lord had promised me. Why wasn’t I thankful?

The next day Oliver took full feeds for the 2 bottles I was there to give him.

Kurtis heard back from some of our leads regarding insurance. Not only was Oliver approved but Sawyer was too, for a new plan, much different than his current one, that was going to save us hundreds of dollars a month (Sawyer’s current plan is very expensive). And it was going to be retroactive from Oliver’s birthday. Meaning his full NICU stay would be covered. Trial #2 turned to miracle #2.

I texted my boss and asked if I could have whatever vacation time I had saved up paid out on our next payday. I thought I only had 2 or 3 days saved up but I had 5. In addition to that, I had 2 well-paying sponsored blog posts fall into my lap. These posts plus my vacation time payout was more than enough to cover our 2 weeks without income. But then, Kurtis found out he could also get a vacation days payout for whatever days he had left for the year, meaning we were all set. Trial #3 turned to miracle #3.

Oliver continued to feed well. So well that they decided to take his feeding tube out to “challenge” him and see how he would eat on his own. This was exactly what he needed and he thrived without the tube. 48 hours later, they were ready to discharge him. Trial #4 turned to miracle #4.

For those of you that read this all the way through, I hope you are encouraged. There are always silver linings. The Lord will always hear your cries and heal your hurts, if you allow him to. I don’t know why it took me so many days of stress and worry and fear before I finally surrendered control.

“When you walk through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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