Thursday, May 18, 2023

Things That Are Different Now

LB was around 4.5 months old here. We love the Copper Pearl burp cloths (also here) and the Crane Baby quilted playmat (affiliate links).

As I mentioned recently on Instagram stories, I’ve finished my maternity leave and am back in the office. I'm also hoping to get back in to blogging, now that I'm a bit more adjusted to being a new parent. And let me just say, it's all been an incredibly wild ride. Among other things, K and I moved out to the NYC-area suburbs a few months earlier than originally planned. We've had tons of help from my in-laws, both with the move and with caring for LB, but it's still been intensely difficult to get everything done. 

For obvious reasons, I'll probably be writing mostly about things related to parenthood and baby care items in the near term. There will be a fair bit about personal finance management too, at times, and some talk about fashion and shopping as well. It’s probably not surprising that my clothing-related needs and preferences have changed significantly, given everything that's new in my life! 

It's been surreal going back to the office, walking to and from the train station, when the last time I was in any of these places was in late November, before LB was born and before my long hospitalization. My life has been completely transformed, in more ways than I can count, but the office and its immediate surroundings are still largely the same. I sort of can't believe I'm no longer living in NYC, and I feel like I never really got to say a proper goodbye to my old life. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Our Little Bean is One Month Old

Our Year of the Tiger baby all ready for his second ever car trip.

Well, it's now been a really, really long time since I last wrote here! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is having a good start to their new year. For the past few weeks, K and I have been completely absorbed in learning to be parents to our newest family member. 

As some of you may have seen on my Instagram stories, our little bean ("LB") arrived roughly a month ago - at 37 weeks and 5 days - after I was officially diagnosed with gestational hypertension the week before. That particular diagnosis can lead to a recommendation to induce at 37 weeks, which was what my OB-GYN also recommended, so off to the hospital we went just after Thanksgiving. It ended up being a bit of an adventure, something I think it's safe to say no one really wants from their labor and delivery. 

My induction took around 30 hours before it was time to push, then ended with an urgent c-section not long after due to fetal distress. Thankfully, LB turned out perfectly healthy, and he's been that way since. 

I was recovering well and fairly quickly from surgery, but the night before my original discharge date (after the standard three nights in the postpartum unit, including the night I delivered) my blood pressure started climbing up again. It escalated into postpartum preeclampsia, and before my blood pressure ever crossed into the 170s systolic and before I ever experienced any of the additional "red flag" symptoms of preeclampsia outside of the high blood pressure, I was sent back to labor and delivery for a 24-hour magnesium drip.

Afterwards, my blood pressure proved somewhat resistant to being stabilized, and my doctors would not discharge me until that was accomplished. Including the time it took to administer and recover from the magnesium drip, I ended up staying a total of seven extra nights in the hospital. LB was able to stay in the hospital with me throughout, though his doctors had declared him fully ready for discharge even before the day we were originally meant to go home. Once the doctors adjusted me up to the correct doses of blood pressure medication that I could continue taking at home to keep my blood pressure stable at reasonably healthy numbers (mostly under 140 systolic and 90 diastolic), LB and I were finally able to go home. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Cost Of: Prenatal Care, First Two Trimesters

Coach wristlet (affiliate link) 

With any medical care-related expense in the US that's billed through health insurance, it's not necessarily that meaningful to hear about anyone else's experience. So much depends on the vagaries of one's own health plan, something I personally find nearly impossible to decipher or predict before my bills after insurance actually come in. (That's as someone who litigates multi-million dollar commercial contract disputes at my day job, no less!) 

Nonetheless, I always like to read about how much things cost, including American healthcare. I was originally hoping to do a post like this earlier in pregnancy, potentially one for each trimester. As it turns out, the billing department at my OB-GYN's office can be quite slow, so it was only recently that what I think(?) is the last bill from before the end of my second trimester - nearly 7 weeks ago - was finally processed with my insurer. 

This kind of timing isn't necessarily a huge shock in the American system, either. For instance, it was only this June that I finally saw a record pop up with my insurer for a PCR COVID test I took last December, during the start of NYC's Omicron surge. (That length of delayed billing is pretty unusual though, in my experience. There wasn't actually a bill to me involved either, because COVID testing in NYC was generally still free to the patient with government support back in December 2021.) 

For my prenatal care throughout the first two trimesters, through 26 weeks of pregnancy, the amounts I paid out of pocket for expenses that were - or could have been -  put through insurance was: $1,827.68

Unfortunately, I think this solidly establishes my health plan as being "not very good," in terms of the extent and quality of my coverage. Which is something I did already know beforehand. Many biglaw firms are known for offering associates extremely expensive health insurance plans, sometimes with poor coverage. My health insurance premiums aren't as bad, but the co-pays and other terms keep getting slightly worse by the year. For one random data point of comparison, a YouTube vlogger I follow who also lives in NYC only paid around $366.00 out of pocket on her insurance for prenatal care through roughly the same point in her pregnancy.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Fully Recovered from COVID

via Unsplash

Thank you for all the well-wishes after I got COVID! By the time my last post went live on Tuesday (after the onset of mild symptoms on Saturday and first testing positive with my peak symptoms on Sunday), I was already feeling much better. I've since continued to recover fairly quickly: I'm now close to feeling 100%, though have continued to rest at home as much as possible. (K tested at home almost every day, but he never got a COVID positive and his symptoms stayed mild.) 

Because I hadn't taken advantage of early voting before I came down with COVID - and because a certain conservative-leaning news sources in New York insisted that the only particularly contested race on my ballot, for New York's governor, was going to be close - I needed to step out briefly on Tuesday to vote. (That race turned out the way I wanted.) I masked the entire time I was out of my apartment. It's barely a two-block walk to my poll site; I was in and out in slightly less than ten minutes; and my symptoms were down to a mild cold level, though with some icky-sounding congestion. Nonetheless, I still needed to lay down for an hour or two afterwards to recover my energy. 

While my case of COVID has been extremely mild and quick to pass - even compared to fully vaccinated and boosted friends who were not immunocompromised by pregnancy at the time they had COVID (though I'm the only one who got it after having one of the new bivalent boosters, since those came out so recently) - it definitely felt weird compared to various colds I've had previously, or the flu. I lost my sense of smell completely for two days, which felt out of proportion to the moderate congestion I still had by then. (That, in turn, significantly muted my sense of taste.) 

Hard to pinpoint exactly how, but the cough and congestion just felt really different from my usual bad colds in past years, it sounded much worse than it felt. I think the hit to my energy levels for a few days also felt worse than with typical colds, but I've bounced back now, very quickly. 

It's looking like my mild to moderate COVID case won't increase my schedule or intensity of prenatal care, but I might not be able to fully confirm this until my next appointment OB-GYN on Monday. I was already due to be seen at least weekly starting at 36 weeks next week no matter what, so I'm going to have plenty of medical supervision regardless. My blood sugar was fully back to normal by Monday afternoon, and it's continuing to look like I won't need to go on medication or insulin for gestational diabetes this pregnancy, which is a huge relief, as that would have opened up a lot of potential issues.