Three Countries, Three Hospitals, Three Stories, part 3

The girl with the $10,000 baby

Our second boy, the Hen, was born in the U.S. at Ball Memorial Hospital. Nostalgic, really, his being born in the same town his dad and I met, the only place we’ve actually lived for more than two or three years.

We arrived at 6.30am one week past my due date. The midwife I’d seen throughout my pregnancy arrived somewhere between 7.30 and 8.00am to break my water. After which she left to go to work, two blocks or so from the hospital.

We had a lovely nurse, Laura, who checked on me about every half hour. They read in my chart that I’d had a fast labor, previously, so another nurse came in, got the baby ‘bed’ ready, got all the tags ready, etc. The place was completely decked out for the Hen’s imminent arrival…and there I was with a contraction every ten minutes or so.

It would be fair to say I felt a wee bit of pressure, and said as much to Jason. People pleaser that I am, all I could think was: ‘what if this baby takes forever to arrive, and then they think I’m a big fat liar with my fast delivery story. And spend the rest of the week making fun of the woman who pretended to be a fast deliverer.’

Apparently they monitor contractions at the nurse’s station, because inevitably she’d come in and tell me that my contractions just weren’t strong enough….that they really needed to administer some pitocin. Seeing as I was planning on skipping the drugs again, I really wanted to avoid pitocin. Also, I didn’t think it was a big deal if my contractions weren’t crazy two hours after they broke my water. I mean those women who complain about having 17 hour labors, do they only swing by the hospital for the last couple of hours?

Finally, around 11am Laura came back in the room and basically told me that, since I was ‘only’ at 5cm they were going to start administering pitocin. In a panic, I asked for 30 more minutes, to buy myself more time to see if things would speed up.

Sure enough around 11.15am the Hen apparently decided he was ready to hightail it into this world; providing me with what can best be described as a ‘labor on crack‘.

At some point the nurse came back, I think I probably yelled at Jason to call her because I was freaking out that there was no way I could handle this amount of pain. She checked and, sure enough, I was at 10cm. I distinctly recall (even with my eyes beyond shut) her yelling ‘call Shane (my midwife) and tell her to come NOW.’

I have no idea about much of anything else, besides the fact that I was clinging to clawing and biting Jason’s arm for dear life. I remember hearing Shane’s voice though I never actually opened my eyes to look at her, or anyone else. At exactly 12.00pm the Hen emerged into this world wailing like nobody’s business.

That’s right, one hour after the nurse threatened me with pitocin for the last time. The same nurse who later told me ‘you made the right decision [refusing the pitocin].’

It really didn’t make me feel any better.

In the States, at least at this hospital, it proved to be kind of complicated to get released before the requisite 48 hours after baby’s birth. Apparently they don’t really care what you do, they just don’t want to release your baby. But I figured we lived a block away from the hospital and a block from the pediatrician’s office, surely we weren’t asking for anything too unreasonable.

So they let us go home at 4pm the next day. And we reported for duty at the pediatrician’s office the morning after that. ‘How are we doing today,’ the jovial pediatrician asked. ‘We’re doing as well as we look,’ I replied. He looked at our tired selves and said ‘ah’.

It always cracks me up how tired the men look after labor and delivery and one night of bad hospital sleep. You expect the women to look tired, but the men….

The only downside of the U.S. experience…was the bills. From the minute you figure out you’re pregnant and make an appointment, it’s all about ‘what insurance do you have’ and ‘we’re going to need you to prepay $700 in advance’ etc. Just for kicks, I asked for an itemized bill from the hospital for the labor and delivery and hospital stay.

The total cost of the experience came to $10,282.65 – which included the charges for my hospital stay, my son’s hospital stay, and the prenatal care/delivery. And, keep in mind, there was no charge for an epidural/anesthesiologist, and no charge for that second night of hospital stay. Fortunately insurance covered the bulk of the charges, and I’d set aside money in a flex spending account at work to cover the remainder. So I wasn’t upset about what I had to pay, per se….it was more a realization that all the ‘mark-up’ imbedded in the hospital bill, was surely the driving force behind my annual insurance premium increases. Which exceeded my pay increases.

Among the most surprising of the charges on my hospital bill were: $522 for a Rhogam shot administered because I have A- blood and my babies all have A+. Then there was the $9.06 charge for each Ibuprofen tablet I received following the birth.  This really irritated me – because an entire prescription of the same drug cost $4.45 at the pharmacy. I know, because that’s the price I paid when I filled the prescription the next day.

And the charge de resistance: $110.96 for a generic jar of 40 witch hazel pads.  A quick search on ‘Google’ revealed one could purchase a similar container for $3.99 from

‘You get what you pay for’ rings true, I guess.

3 thoughts on “Three Countries, Three Hospitals, Three Stories, part 3

  1. Ah yes, those stupid hospital bills…we pay cash for our delievery and I too ask for an itemized bill…this time I called that financial guru Dave Ramsey (and actually got put on the radio live)….but in a nutshell… I talked the hospital bill down to less than 3,000 as long as I pay at least 30 days after the baby is born! I found out from our bill that they charge $700 a day for “baby care” although I keep the baby with me at all times, change every diaper and breastfeed….heck, I want the “baby care” position at the hospitals and get paid $700 to do NOTHING!

    1. Seriously? Ball Memorial did not provide an itemized bill for the baby portion of the charges, which were about $1800 if memory serves….so glad you get to pay less though, $3000 sounds much more reasonable.

  2. Wow! I guess I am naive about hospital costs. I am in the middle of Amish country here where everything is cheap, but my midwife for Montgomery was $1200 plus some herbs and vitamins. We have health insurance, but hospitals terrify me and I’m just happy to be at home. My midwife this time was great and I was totally spoiled. She drove to my house to do my check ups and would even rush here if I was worried about lack of movement or something else silly. I’ve enjoyed reading your birth experiences. You are much braver than me, Nicola!


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