It all started with a $18,000 car ride.

Well, ambulance ride to be precise.  I got the bill today, and it’s a perfect example of how the medical billing community is always like, “That’ll be…….one MILLION dollars! MWAH HA HA!!

Just kidding, I’ll take fifty.”  Thank goodness for good insurance.  (Photo courtesy of quickmeme)

I should back up.  On September 9th I went to a routine check-up for my pregnancy. I chatted about my little aches and pains while the doctor examined by belly and checked the baby’s heart beat with the doppler.  After the exam she casually stated that she’d like me to have a quick ultrasound to double check something “since the doppler isn’t always very accurate.” Because I made it to the third trimester with no problems, I had recently concluded that I was going to have a normal, uneventful pregnancy, in contrast to the pregnancy with my son.  I had committed to not worrying about unlikely complications, so I walked to the ultrasound room quite unconcerned.  The technician completed a quick check and gave the results to my nurse, who told me I could leave.  Once the nurse actually read the ultrasound result though, she caught me on my way into the lobby and asked me to return. The doctor explained that she’d like me to head to the next floor of the hospital for some monitoring.  I learned that the baby’s heart rate was unusually high, and the doctor wanted to be sure it was just a transient occurrence.  “You may be there thirty minutes or so, ” she explained, “Just to be sure the heart rate goes back down.”  

I got a little concerned, as I had to do this type of monitoring (a “non-stress test”) every 3 to 4 days for the last month of my pregnancy with my son, and while it isn’t a big deal in itself, I know it isn’t really a ‘normal’ part of pregnancy care.  So I called my mom and hubby to coordinate plans for Rowan since I’d be delayed getting home, and I headed up for monitoring.

Once I was hooked up, the flurry of activity began.  The baby’s heart rate was way too high, and then way too low.  The nurses called in several specialists to do another ultrasound. Someone ordered an IV be started, and someone rushed away saying, “She needs oxygen.”  The experts at the ultrasound machine were concerned, and kept rotating out of the room.  While someone put an oxygen mask on me, someone else addressed me, saying, “Mom, we’re going to need to transfer you, ok? We need you to be seen by other specialists in the medical center.”  Before I could nod in understanding, a nurse stuck her head in the room and said, “Y’all need to get her ready fast because she’s going by air,” and then disappeared.  I looked around at everyone and, muffled by the oxygen mask, said, “Like by helicopter??” Someone paused and put a hand on my shoulder.  “Yes, helicopter will be fastest. You need to be in the medical center in case the baby needs to be delivered today.”  I was only 30 weeks pregnant at the time.  I nodded and got some sparse details, but I understood the bottom line was I needed to be seen elsewhere to figure out what was going on and what to do about it. And in the meantime I attempted the ridiculous task of trying to convey these emerging details to my mom and hubby via text. I don’t think even the YOLO generation has a text abbreviation for “Chopper ride in five- don’t wait up.”

The situation became a little less ridiculous when I learned that the chopper “was busy” tending to other family’s surreal situations, so the receiving hospital was sending their specialized flight team to transport me by ground.  But I was assured this was “no regular ambulance” and these flight personnel were highly trained to care for moms and babies in transit.  ($18K-a-pop highly trained, apparently.)  Indeed, they looked very elite in their flight jump suits and winged name tags, and they were all very nice.  But obviously I still can’t get over that I didn’t get a helicopter ride out of this whole deal.

That is how our hospital adventure began, and it’s been a crazy couple of months since then.  Thankfully, they did not need to deliver the baby on that day. I am wary of posting my daughter’s entire medical history online (same as I refrain from sharing my kids’ bathtub pictures and poo-splosion documentation with the world), but the basic plan since that day has  been to determine why her heart rate is so high, and to find a way to lower it so the heart doesn’t get tired.  I stayed in the hospital 12 days in September and then was treated as an outpatient for three more weeks before we had to deliver the baby to treat her directly.  She’s been getting excellent care in the ICU for the last month, where she is maturing and getting ready to go home with us.  We have an astounding number of people praying that that day arrives soon. 

I hope to be able to share little details of our hospital adventure on here, as time allows, especially the any tips we’ve learned and the touching or humorous moments that have surprised us along the way.  

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