Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

(Originally posted May 4, 2010 on blogspot.)

There are a lot of books out there dealing with infertility. They tell one if the following stories:

1. I couldn’t get pregnant. Then I got pregnant. Yay!
2. I couldn’t get pregnant. So I adopted. Yay!
3. I couldn’t get pregnant. So I made peace with living without children. Yay!

As a woman who was struggling to conceive, I had a real problem with these books. I was ok until the “yay!” part. How can I relate to a woman who has finally conceived, or a woman who has decided to adopt, or a woman who has made peace with the situation? I didn’t know what any of those things felt like, and I didn’t identify with any of those categories. I wanted to relate to someone who was struggling. Someone who wasn’t finding her peace in the END of her story. Because I didn’t know what my ending would be.

So I started to write. We all know how my story ended. (I’m a #2. Yay!) But this book is not about that. “Hope Springs” tells the story of that first year in our Trying to Conceive journey, and how I learned to get up every morning (well, most mornings. OK some mornings) looking at the day with hope without knowing how my story would end. What follows is the prologue to this book.

Monday, May 1, 2006

TLC’s “A Baby Story” makes my uterus hurt. Who decided it was a good idea to put screaming, writhing women on daytime television? When will it end? And why can’t I look away? I’m consumed by my daily crusade- wishing it was me, grateful that it’s not- when the familiar squeak of our rusty mailbox yanks me back into a reality where I am not actually giving birth. I know I’ll return to Virtual Labor Land tomorrow, encouraging total strangers to push from the comfort of my sofa. But for now, it’s time to see who might have been thinking of me. Probably just Ed McMahon. I could already be a winner!

I retrieve the mail and commence my daily sort, pushing dirty coffee cups and discarded plates aside to make room for what soon will be three neat piles: one for the people who live in the upstairs apartment of our duplex, one that will go directly into the trash, and one that I’ll open before shredding and ultimately trashing. Thanks for the opportunity to consolidate my student loans, but no.

There is the potential for pile number four: things I will open, read, and do something about. Eventually. This pile is reserved for the few bills my husband Ryan and I get each month, and the rare invitation. Typically there’s no need for pile number four, so I haven’t bothered to make room for it today. So I’m stumped when find an envelope addressed to me from the Freelancer’s Association is staring back at me. It’s probably a welcome letter confirming my new membership. I’ll want to give it a glance, but it’s not like I intend to frame it. Though, as I shift the envelope from horizontal to perpendicular I realize it’s slightly heavier than just a letter. Oh man, I know what this is.

My insurance card.

A small piece of plastic that will redefine who I am.

It says HIP in the upper-right-hand corner, which I know it stands for Health Insurance Plan, but I much prefer to think of it as an adjective.

I’m a HIP wife. A HIP actor. Even a HIP Christian. And now, with this little card, I’m a HIP grown-up. Because at thirty-one years old, I am an insured person with a great prescription plan and a low co-payment.

I haven’t always been uninsured. Over the course of my ten-year teaching career I’ve had a variety of health-benefits-provided-type positions. But about a year ago, after graduating from New York University with a master’s degree in Music Theatre, I decided to strike out on my own, offering voice lessons to aspiring actors in New York City. This means I can audition without working in food service. Every actor’s dream.

Unfortunately, my NYU health insurance ended and every moment since graduation has felt like a gamble. Should I walk to the subway in the snow? I would ask Ryan. I might slip on the ice and break my leg. I’d agonize. Or worse, I could break my finger, and then I couldn’t play the piano for lessons. I could catch a cold from a stranger at the movies that could settle in my chest and keep me from singing. Or a beam from a construction site could fall on my head. The risks were everywhere, the worrying was exhausting, and Ryan was running out of nice ways to say you’re completely paranoid and crazy.

Then two months ago I started noticing funny ads on the subway:

“Echinacea is not an acceptable form of health insurance.”

“A Constituency of Free Spirits large enough to count.”

“A Federation of the Unaffiliated. Unity. But no hugging.”

The ads were for The Freelancer’s Association. It turns out their mission statement and benefits spoke to me as loudly as their posters did. And today, after a seriously long, ridiculously complicated application process, I hold my new insurance card in my hand.

And if this were the story of my career and how I established myself as a freelance musician, actor, and teacher in New York City, it would be my happily ever after. Work hard, stay in school, don’t do drugs.

But that’s not what this story is about.

In fact, if I’m being really honest, health insurance- in and of itself- isn’t even that important to me. Oh, sure, I pretend that I’m worried about my thyroid condition, or the depression I battle by going to therapy twice a week. But the hard truth is that I need health insurance because I’m in Mommy Mode. And mommies need prenatal care. Even silly artist mommies.

So now, as I slide this new insurance card into my wallet, I no longer have to hit the snooze button on my biological clock.

My own HIP baby story can begin.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Thirsty Thursday: Health Care | Thoroughly Modern Mommy
  2. Trackback: 13 Lessons from 2013 | Thoroughly Modern Mommy

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