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Friday, August 27, 2010

You've been through worse

I have been texting my friend and my cousin all week about MTSU's parking. They both attended there, and my friend is currently pursuing her master's degree. Yesterday, I went to buy my books and asked about the parking lot where I want to park and was told it fills up by 7:30 a.m. Yeah, right. I have a kid to get to school. There's no way I can get there that early.

After I texted my cousin about another spot, she called me. She told me I was worrying too much about parking and overthinking it. She said it would be hard for the first two weeks and after that, people would start dropping classes. It would be easier to find a parking spot then.

Then she totally summed it up for me. She said, "You've been through worse. You can do this." She's right. She totally put it in perspective for me. I have been through worse. I made it through that, and I can make it through finding a parking space and finding my way to class.

Tomorrow is my first day, and I know I will be able to find parking on a Saturday. I'm looking forward to this class because of it's Foundations of Mental Health Counseling and that's what I want to do when I finish school. I also have to admit I'm a bit nervous to be 33 years old in a classroom full of kids.

Please wish me luck. I know I'll be fine tomorrow, but the panic is still there about Monday. I am just trying to remember that I have been through worse, and if I can get through that, I can get through this.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ella's insurance issues are fixed

Yesterday, we received Ella's insurance cards in the mail. I have been fighting to get her covered since the day before she was born last November.

My husband's job pays pretty well, but the benefits stink. It doesn't offer insurance for family members, just the employees, so the girls and I can't get on it. Our state offers a program called Cover Kids. For children a year old and older, the income range for free coverage is $21,000 to $55,000. I think this is wonderful because so many people fall into this income bracket and can get good health care coverage for their children. If your child is under a year old, the income bracket is $40,000 to $55,000. What I also like about this program is that it's mostly for people who are middle class, who work really hard and pay taxes, but find it difficult to get help when they need it because they make too much money, and if someone says anything about government assistance and them paying for our healthcare, I can pull out our tax return and show exactly how much we paid in taxes last year and the year before.

I hate talking about how much we make, but we do make over $40,000 a year. When I signed Ella up, I was nervous about being induced as I was doing it just a few hours before I was to go into the hospital. I looked at Brian's paycheck stub wrong and put down his take home pay instead of his gross pay. The insurance company would not do anything though until I received Ella's social security number, which took almost two months. So, I put her number in and at the end of January, I find out we didn't make enough money for her to be under Cover Kids. They said she was eligible for TennCare, our state's version of Medicaid.

So, I go and apply for TennCare. They told me then they thought I would probably not be eligible based on Brian's pay. A few weeks later, we get a letter, telling us exactly that. At this point, I'm wondering why we aren't eligible for either one. I decide to do some investigation and in mid-April, I figured out my mistake. I corrected it in the computer and waited for a response.

Nothing came. I called in May, and they told me that since they had just opened up re-enrollment that it would take a while to get back to me, but they would eventually. So, I waited and waited. I paid out of pocket for medical expenses. Ella became sick in July with the adenovirus and had an ear infection. It was only $85, but I knew something else might happen. My patience with the people at Cover Kids was running thin, and I thought I had waited long enough.

They checked their records and said I was supposed to be told to provide proof of income. In all of the phone calls I made, no one ever told me that. I never got a letter, nothing at all. So, I faxed a paycheck stub to them and waited. However, just about two weeks after the adenovirus, Ella was sick again, very sick. She had a very high fever of nearly 104, but her ears weren't infected. Her throat wasn't red either. Her doctor wanted blood work, a shot of massive antibiotics and a urine sample, which would require her to be catharized. He wanted to rule out sepsis.

I was worried to death about the costs, because he was sending us over to the hospital. I knew it would be a huge bill without insurance. However, I wasn't worried about her getting treatment, because it was a hospital, and they are required to treat, right? Nope, wrong. They demanded full payment up front and gave me a rough estimate of $400 to $700. It would have taken everything I had in liquid cash to pay that, and I would have had to go to two banks to get enough out of savings to cover it. We are building our savings back up after emptying it to buy a car in February, but it's slow going right now.

Well, I complained (my mom was there and was awful about it), and they allowed me to make a $150 down payment. Luckily, Ella just had a bad virus, and it had to run its course. I was not willing to risk this happening again, so I called Cover Kids the next day to find out what was going on. They said they had received the paycheck stub and was processing it. I would hear something in the next week. Well, the next week came and nothing. I called last week and was told that since it had been a month since I had enrolled her, I would have to re-enroll her. I was furious, but at least, she will have coverage starting September 1.

As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, I am pro-universal heatlth care. Even after all of this hassle, I still feel that way. Tessa has been on Cover Kids for almost two years now, and all we have had to pay out in medical bills is co-pays and prescription costs. It is a wonderful program, and I have never had a problem getting them to cover something or pay. Brian, who is against universal health care, said all this trouble with Ella was why he was against it, but I reminded him of how well it has covered with Tessa. He had to admit I was right.

So, Ella's coverage starts next Wednesday, and we go Thursday for her nine month well baby visit. It's a little late, but that's ok. I am just so glad she has coverage.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I have geographical dyslexia

I am not even sure if that's the correct label for it, but I think it's close enough. I can get lost in a paper bag. I have trouble telling my left from my right, which I am a bit ashamed to admit. I am terrible at reading maps, and truth be told, I failed every test over them when I was in school.

When I have to go somewhere new, I always have to print out the directions from MapQuest. I can't just read them and remember which way to go. I have to have them right there in front of me to read, and the little map that comes with it, forget about it, I don't even bother to print it out anymore. Even after I go to a place once or twice, I still need the directions, especially if it's not a place I drive to every day.

My aunt asked me once how I found people's houses when I was working at the newspaper and would have to go there to do a story. I handled it in two ways. One, I asked them to come to the paper. If that didn't work, I mapquested it.

So, next Monday, I start my senior year at MTSU. The campus is huge and scary, especially to someone who gets lost very easily. Brian and I went today and walked my route to class, but I am so scared that I will get there on Monday and won't be able to find parking in the lot where I plan to park. If that's the case and I have to go to one of my back ups, there is a good chance I will never find a way to my class. Parking is a nightmare on this campus, and it was one of the most frustrating things I ever experienced when I went there in 1998. In fact, it, along with a few other factors, was one of the reasons I quit when I did. I could never get to class on time, no matter how early I got there, because I could never find a parking spot and when I did, I couldn't find my way to class because of my "geographical dyslexia."

Add in the fact that I have a very real phobia of driving long distances, especially in inclement weather. I had a very bad wreck in 2001, and since then, I am terrified of it. I have almost had a panic attack if the rain is so heavy I have trouble seeing. Slowly but surely, I am getting better, mostly because I have forced myself to drive, but I am so worried about days it rains. It's a 45-minute drive from my house. I really wish I could have gotten all my classes online.

I am excited about my classes this semester. I am taking Sociology of Families, Behavioral Modification, Learning Theories, Research Methods and its lab and Foundations of Mental Health Counseling. I know I will love these classes and succeed in them, if I can just get past this fear. Luckily, I only have two classes that meet regularly on campus, which helps because I won't have to try to find my way all over campus. Those two classes meet in separate buildings that are very close together.

I can't believe I'll probably graduate in May. I have made the decision to probably start my masters next fall instead of waiting and taking a break. I have also decided that I want to get my doctorate, too. I know I'll be heavily in debt, but it will be worth it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When good things happen

I met with a friend of mine on Thursday. I have mentioned her on this blog before. Back in February, her little boy, who was only four years old, was tragically killed in a car accident as the family traveled to visit other family members in Louisiana. They were, of course, devastated, as were anyone else who met the family. Here's a link to my original blog post,

She took her tragedy and turned it into something for hope. She is starting a support group in our area for families who have lost children. I know it makes her feel productive and as if she is doing something to help others, just the way I feel about my future career as a grief counselor. Since I still have contacts at the local newspaper, she wanted me to write the story, and I couldn't tell her no.

We talked about Logan at our meeting, and I brought up Jenna. I told her that I knew it wasn't the same thing, as we didn't have her for as long as she had Logan. I have always felt so funny talking to my friend about her, because I was so afraid she would feel as though there wasn't any comparison. While we were talking, she said, "I know it's different, and you didn't have Jenna as long as we had Logan, but she was still your child and it still hurts." I needed to hear her say that, because I feel like it validated my grief in her eyes. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but I guess I just want people to see that, yes, I did lose a child, even though she hadn't been born yet.

Well, tonight, my friend texted me about the story I wrote and gave me some of the most wonderful news. She is pregnant. I am so happy for her. I told her this baby was her rainbow, the beauty after the storm. She loved that. I love when good things happen to people, especially those who have experienced something so tragic as her family has. No baby is ever going to replace Logan, just like Ella or any other baby couldn't replace Jenna, but a new baby offers hope and happiness where there might not be any from before, and my friend so desperately needed that new hope and happiness.

If you could keep her in your thoughts, I would appreciate it, and since she's a praying person, I'm sure she would appreciate prayers, too. I hope she has the easiest pregnancy and delivery imaginable.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I don't think I'm cut out for this

I have been a full time stay at home mom since the summer started. Before that, I was taking classes online, so part of my time was devoted to that, not just to being a mom, even though I was here with Ella all the time and with Tessa after school.

I can't wait for my school to start back. I don't think I'm cut out to be a full time stay at home mom. I don't enjoy housework at all, and I know since I'm not working outside of the home, it should mainly be my responsibility. I'm not a little Ms. Homemaker, never have been, never will be. I also feel as though I am a more productive parent when I'm working than when I'm not.

I feel like I have lost myself this summer. I haven't been Tamara at all. I've been Tessa and Ella's momma. While I love having that title, there is more to me than that. I want to have something for myself, besides my house and my girls.

Maybe it's because I've worked since I was 16 years old. Maybe it's because I used to have a career. I miss making money on my own. It doesn't help that Brian's job makes enough for us to pay our bills with only the smallest cushion, and I hate being broke.

It also doesn't help that for the last three weeks or so, Ella has been sick off and on, so I have gotten very little sleep. She also would not nap while she was sick unless I was holding her, so now, I have that bad habit to break. I can't even try to do it right now because she is congested and croupy, and if I let her fuss even for a few minutes, it makes it worse.

I don't have a break during the day at all, because I'm having to hold her while she naps. By the end of the day, I am so worn out that all I want is for her to go to sleep so I can have five minutes to myself. And, then, I feel guilty because I feel this way.

Starting back to school should help. I'll have two on campus classes and the rest online. I'll have that to be mine, and I'll be able to get back to being Tamara a bit more, instead of just somebody's mommy, although there is nothing wrong with that either. I also think if I had a part time job that might help, too. Yet, I also know that I will miss my girls like crazy when I go back to work full time. It's such a double edged sword, isn't it?

I think it's a noble thing to enjoy staying home. I just don't, and I wish I did.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some people are just idiots

I do a lot of debating about the issue of abortion and medical termination. I mainly do this on the's debate team board. Most people understand why someone would choose to terminate a pregnancy, but there are some who don't. About half of those are nice about why they don't understand, but the other half are downright cruel.

I posted something like this last night on one of the debates, and I will repost it here as an education for people.

1. People who terminate a pregnancy due to a poor prenatal diagnosis aren't doing it because they don't love their babies. They do. It isn't about wanting a perfect baby. A perfect baby doesn't exist. It's about making sure their babies feel no pain and don't suffer. These babies are very much wanted and very much loved. Parents are devastated when they received the diagnosis, and it's an agonizing decision to make. No one makes it lightly, and when those babies are gone, they are grieved for and missed. I just truly hate to see and hear, "It doesn't matter to me. I won't have that testing done. I'd love my baby no matter what." People need to realize how painful that is to a lot of families.

2. Over the past two years, I have often heard, "My aunt, cousin, sister, teacher, mother, etc., had that testing done, and it showed the baby had something wrong with it. When the baby was born, s/he was perfectly healthy." This only happens when a woman gets the genetic screening, not genetic testing. These screenings are the AFP and the Nuchal Fold, and they measure a patient's risk factor for having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. They usually give a risk factor, such as the 1 in 10 that I had with Jenna, but both tests are well known for having false positives.

The people who say this DO NOT have family members who have had amniocentesis or CVS testing done. These tests are 99.98 percent accurate. Mistakes just don't happen. If these tests say a baby is going to have a chromosomal abnormality, they will. If it says the baby doesn't, then the won't. My maternal fetal medical specialist said he had never in all of this time of practicing seen or read about a mistake being made with the amniocentesis or the CVS.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One little life

It's amazing how one little life has touched so many over the years. I can't even express the amount of comments I have received on this blog about how Jenna's story has touched them. I have gotten e-mails about it, too, and whenever I debate medical termination on Baby Center, I often hear from people there, too.

Representatives all over our state have heard her story, and I'm sure they have repeated it to others. Her story has reached all over the world, not just the United States. It's hard to believe that a baby that barely weighed half a pound could touch that many people.

It's also hard to believe that it's been two years, two years since I held her in my arms, two years since I gave her body up, even though I know her soul and the essence of her had long since flown away. I have learned so much in that time, and I have changed, too. She changed me for the better. In her honor, I am going to help people who might be going through a similar loss or any kind of situation that leaves them grieving. In honor of her birthday tomorrow, Aug. 12, please do something kind for someone else, and tell them it's in honor of a baby girl who touched your life.

I can't be profound tonight, not on the eve of her birthday. Since I can't come up with any profound words, I will share the poem that was read at her memorial service. It means a lot to me. Also, if you see any dragonflies over the next few days, please let me know. I love to hear stories about them.

The Dragonfly
Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads,
there lived a little water beetle in a community of water
beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond
with few disturbances and interruptions.
Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of
their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and
would never be seen again. They knew when this happened, their
friend was dead, gone forever.
Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irrestible urge
to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would
not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what
he had found at the top.
When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the
surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so
warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body
changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful
blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body
designed for flying.
So, fly he did! And, as he soared, he saw the beauty of a whole
new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never
known existed.
Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking
by now he was dead. He wanted to go back to tell them, and
explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been
before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended.
But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could
not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he
understood that their time would come, when they, too, would
know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off
into his joyous new life!
Author unknown

Monday, August 2, 2010

Two years ago

Two years ago today, I sat in the waiting at an abortion clinic, the last place I ever expected to be. Two years ago today, I clutched my worn copy of Harry Potter, reading the Order of the Phoenix as if my life depended on it, and I guess, in some ways, it did.

Two years ago today, I learned more heartache and confusion were ahead for me. I made a vow that day, and again the day Jenna was born, I would do something to make sure no other woman had to go through what I was going through. I honestly haven't made as great of strides in that area, but I am trying.

I think, no, I know, I have changed people's minds about medical termination, and I am proud of that.