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Prometheus Unbound

November 16, 2009

This morning before the fierce winds kicked in, I was contemplating walking to the public library, thus efficiently combining exercise and work. I knew it would be a long walk, but I’m a poor judge of most measurements, so I did what anyone else would do in trying to determine how far away something is. I turned to G00gle. G00gle maps informed me that the distance is 2.4 miles, which was actually better than I thought and would be quite doable if it weren’t 40 degrees with gale force winds and the threat of rain. But it takes me along some pretty busy streets, so I zoomed in to try to figure out if there were a side street routing that might work instead. It was then that I noticed that right across the street from the library was a dot marked “Prometheus Unbound.”

I was mystified. Right across the street from the library is a residential neighborhood with a narrow track of bike trail cutting back to a small playlot. There are no businesses there, nor statues. What could it possibly mean? I love random bolts of poetry injected into my day.

* * * * *

And today I could use some poetry. Because we can no longer afford our health insurance — and because I am 42 years old — we dropped our maternity coverage this morning. It breaks my heart. I would have loved to have another child. But we just couldn’t manage it, for any number of reasons but mostly a sense of fiscal responsibility and environmental alarm. We can always add the coverage back, but with the one year waiting period, combined with my age, well, it’s just not going to happen. I don’t worry as much about AJ being an only child as I used to. I worry a lot more about not being able to send him to college. Saving $3,000 a year makes a lot more sense. But still, there was always the possibility of a baby, even if it wasn’t a choice we made. And now there really isn’t. Maybe there wasn’t anyway.

And then there is my moral outrage at the way insurance policies cover abortion but make you pay and pay for maternity coverage. This makes sense from a financial standpoint, of course. Childbirth, even when unremarkable, is a medically expensive venture, mostly thanks to malpractice insurance. But as pro choice as I am — and I was, for many years, a card-carrying member of NOW and NARAL — this state of affairs just seems wrong to me. I’ve paid nearly $20,000 for the privilege of knowing I could have a child if I wanted to, even though I didn’t think I wanted to. I don’t want to keep throwing that kind of money away. There are too many other things for which it’s needed. If I’d just put it in the bank, I might almost have been able to pay cash, had the need arisen.

But after making the call to the insurance company, I’m left here feeling bereft, face to face with the fact that my life is not going at all how I’d planned it. And I’m left feeling like my government has completely abandoned any and all of my health needs in its new proposal. It’s yet another tightening of the vise, another reminder that this is anything but the land of the free, that there is really very little choice at all left here. My life is run by bureaucrats who have never met me and I take family planning advice from my insurance agent. This is not the way it was supposed to happen. The fact is, if I were to get pregnant tomorrow, I wouldn’t have any choice at all.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2009 12:12 pm

    Oh, man. I shed a tear. I am pro-choice, but know that choice means a gamut of options, options YOU should control. Corporate monoliths and religious zealots should not have any impact on what you do with your reproductive choices.

    My gosh.

  2. lemming permalink
    November 16, 2009 12:40 pm

    Then there’s the coverage for Viagra but not for The Pill. I did once get “carded” for a wedding ring getting my prescription refilled, doubt this happens to men.

    In all seriousness, hugs.

  3. freshhell permalink
    November 16, 2009 12:46 pm

    Sigh. Yes, I planned (hard) for two kids because dammit I wanted two and it’s been a financial hardship with the fucked up way daycare works in this country, and maternity leave. If I had millions in the bank, I might have had a third. But, after Red was born, and I never slept again and felt like every daycare “choice” I made was wrong and I’d ruined my children, I knew I couldn’t do it all over again. That invisible third child was probably Beethoven. Oh well. The world’s loss. But, yes, I feel your pain in finally giving up the hope and possiblilty. So much of life is just uncontrolable. I’ve dropped dental converage because the cost will rise too high so Red’s future issues will have to be paid for through flex spending accounts. Or using the home equity line. It’s a lovely world, isn’t it?

  4. November 16, 2009 12:52 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear you grieving. Don’t you hate following your head instead of your heart? I always know I must, but I always regret knowing that I must.

    BTW, does your insurance company cover vasectomies? Might want to find out.

  5. The Lass permalink
    November 16, 2009 1:02 pm

    Sorry, Harriet.

  6. November 16, 2009 1:03 pm

    If it’s any consolation, I was born when my mother was 42, in 1961—not a common occurrence then, I’m reasonably sure. I didn’t know there was separate coverage for maternity. How bizarre.

  7. November 16, 2009 1:47 pm

    It *is* bizarre. Imagine if we had to opt in or out of all the individual things for which we are covered. Yes to tonsillectomies, no to bunionectomies! And while I’m up on my soapbox, why are mood altering drugs covered but not psychotherapy? Visits to naprapaths and chiropractors are covered, but not visits to psychiatrists, or at least, they are not covered enough for anyone who really needs them and the minimal coverage caps out at 30 visits per LIFETIME. And dental health has proven links to cardiac health, but that is not covered at all. It so clearly about money for corporations and not about health at all.

  8. crankygirl permalink
    November 16, 2009 2:22 pm

    I didn’t realize that there was separate coverage either.

    I am really sorry that the choice is out of your hands–it’s terrifying how much even one child seems to cost. When I told L that daycare would be between $350 and $450 she thought I meant per MONTH not per week. That was a bitter laugh.

  9. freshhell permalink
    November 16, 2009 2:40 pm

    When you have a job – if it’s with a large employer – you will find much better (which I know is a relative term) healthcare coverage. it will be all inclusive (minus dental) and there won’t be this cafeteria-style choosing of things. And the cost will be lower. Self-insured health care sounds like the biggest scam and it should be illegal to do this kind of thing.

  10. readersguide permalink
    November 16, 2009 3:44 pm

    Oh, Harriet, I am so sorry. It made me sad for just about the whole decade of my forties to realize that I would never have another kid. The insurance sucks. I have some kind of tax free health payment prepaid something (which means you pay a designated amount for health related items up front and they’re tax free) and it does not cover tampax, for god sake. But the sad thing is confronting the fact that you’ll never have another kid. I think it’s just hard. And if you get pregnant, we’ll take up a collection. Seriously.

  11. readersguide permalink
    November 16, 2009 3:46 pm

    For me, too, it was a sort of hard evidence that my life had not gone according to plan. Most things you figure — well, I can still do this. But some things, like children, don’t work that way. Not fun.

  12. November 16, 2009 3:51 pm

    And it is so sad. Because your next child would no doubt have been a Mozart, like Freshhell’s would have been a Beethoven.

    I have decent insurance through my husband’s job, but I still have to fight with them all the time to get the benefits they’re supposed to be providing. I have a folder of receipts that I should be working on sending in to them now, but I’ve been putting it off all summer and fall (deadline Nov. 30).

    Perhaps your area is the actual place where Prometheus was unbound? Those myth maps can overlap with Google maps, right?

  13. readersguide permalink
    November 16, 2009 5:06 pm

    In either case, it would have had little tiny toes. Sniff. (I thought it would be fun to have a boy, since we had two girls. A good proportion, I think!)

  14. November 16, 2009 5:32 pm

    I wasn’t sure I could say this and have it come out like I mean it, so take me seriously when I say that when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to have another child, I started acquiring more animals. It’s kind of dopey, I guess, but a new kitten really helps me with the “little tiny toes” kind of longing.

  15. November 16, 2009 8:48 pm

    Actually, Jeanne, the idea of pets really made me feel better. Honest! Part of what’s setting me off, too, is that I’m surrounded by babies and pregnant women all of a sudden. I loved those early months with AJ. But he’s pretty awesome now too. Life is good. It’s just not what I expected. But when is it ever?

  16. November 16, 2009 10:31 pm

    Reading your entry (and I haven’t read any of the comments) made me think of the moment I realized that it was biologically impossible for me to have more babies, even without the tubal ligation. I mean, I couldn’t have anyway, but now the cessation of ovulation made that operation redundant. I wasn’t keen on my kids when they were babies. I liked them much better as they got older, but now I have a hankering for babies again, not my own, but theirs. Crazy. You probably made the right decision. If you weren’t going to get pregnant before now, you’re not going to do it tomorrow.

  17. November 16, 2009 11:57 pm

    I’m sorry, Harriet. I’m glad life is good, but it sucks that these decisions are being made for you, based on someone else’s financial decisions. I’m really sorry about that.

  18. crankygirl permalink
    November 17, 2009 4:09 pm

    Are you gonna get a dog? Huh? I think that would be fun.

  19. lemming permalink
    November 18, 2009 10:18 am

    Have you ever read “Agnes of God” – ? Don’t see the film first, watch the play or read it first. Really – it’s germane, but I won’t tell you why.

  20. November 20, 2009 12:09 am

    So sorry you are feeling down. This is the kind of post that makes me feel bad for being typically uncommenting reader. Because here I am reading and learning and sometimes even envying your life a little bit. (It’s fun to wonder “what if?”). I’ve really thought about what life could be based on your writing.

    I read your blog to understand what it means to make the choices in life that not many make: to make less money doing what you love, to bring intellectual presence and poise to even something simple, to find joy in water aerobics, yoga, and a dissertation all at once. But the mix-in of real life problems is what makes it so valuable. It’s not just a sugar-coated version of a life.

    It’s impossible not to have any sadness for what may have been. But all your accomplishments are still unique. Heck, I even learn things from what you write about teaching AJ! If your life hasn’t become exactly what you planned, well, it is still valuable to me, for what it’s worth.

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