Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Baby Story (Part 1)

Recently my wife and I discovered that we were expecting our first child. As a part of this process, we both attended her first major doctor’s appointment of the pregnancy. While the ratio varies from practitioner to practitioner, I would estimate that within our 2 ½ hour appointment were we able to squeeze in about eight minutes of face time with the doctor. The rest was evenly divided between the waiting room and the insurance “hard sell.”

The “hard sell” consists of being taken into a small office where a cordial account representative informs you that their organization’s concern for your fetus is eclipsed only by their willingness to enforce a strict payment schedule. As with any life changing decision, you are not without options:
1.      Agree to evenly distribute the total predicted costs of a textbook vaginal delivery over the next seven months while being constantly reminded that this fee excludes unforeseen complications, foreseeable but unlikely complications, and inconsistently-occurring potential complications that have not yet been assigned a billing code. Also, none of this covers actually being in the hospital.
2.      Pocket the money, find an instructional YouTube video on midwifery, and begin chipping away at your spouse’s resolve with statements like “I know you like Dr. Bowmen, but I am not even sure East Dakota University has a medical school…” 
There was a also a surprising moment where the representative leaned over conspiratorially and informed us that while insurance does not cover ultrasounds for the specific purpose of determining the child’s gender, “a situation could arise whereby a medically-necessary test happens to reveal the gender.” I was unsure if the rep was simply suggesting we shouldn’t rush to pay out-of-pocket because our curiosity might be satisfying in the normal course of treatment or hinting that we could save $400 by embellishing my wife’s genetic risk factors.

The medical questionnaire portion was well executed by the nurse practitioner. After all, there are only so many ways a woman can be asked if she uses “recreational drugs” without seeming accusatory. The only time I participated during this process was when she glanced toward me while asking my wife if “she knew who the father was.” I was tempted to reply that we had met a mere fifteen minutes ago in the parking lot where I often come to troll for emotionally-vulnerable women, but a withering look from my wife convinced me that my most valuable contribution would be silence.

I am reading several books that promise to prepare expectant parents for what lies ahead. One contains intermittently-placed margin notes called “Dad Tips” that serve as a constant reminder that the publisher is long overdue for a revision. One suggestion was that I purchase “high quality VHS tapes” to capture the birth. I half expected a chapter on twilight sleep.

There was also a very stern warning against “forcing air into the vagina” of a pregnant woman as this can cause an embolism. Since this warning appeared under the “intimacy” section of the book I can only assume there is an area of carnal recreation I am blissfully unaware of. Up until that point I had never considered the reverse feature on my shop-vac as an instrument of seduction. Are there really guys that walk into a the bedroom and say, “You know honey, the kids are asleep and I still have a little compressed air left in this can after dusting my keytar.”

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