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In the fall of 2001, mere days after the towers came down and our world changed forever, I became a mom. Despite serious complications, some of which were life threatening, I was wheeled out of the hospital with a tiny perfect creature in my arms and a heart full of gratitude.

Gratitude for the doctors, nurses, and support staff that had worked so hard to save my life, and not for the first time. Months earlier I had a placental abruption that could have killed both of us. I was hospitalized for a couple of weeks and only released on bedrest because we lived within 5 minutes of the hospital.


It wasn’t until later on, that I realized just how grateful I was. Throughout this whole process, I was covered. I didn’t have to think twice about my care, or pause to think about whether or not I could afford it. I only needed to think about whether or not it was necessary. I was covered because like nearly half of all pregnant women in the state, I had Medicaid. In the years that followed, when I had no coverage, the calculus about care was very different. Cost was the primary factor and I didn’t get care regardless of whether or not it was needed. I shudder to think what would have happened to me and my child, had I had to stop for even a minute to weigh the cost when I was hemorrhaging. Either during the abruption or after the birth. When you’re having a placental abruption, every second counts. I saw blood and got directly in the car and raced to the emergency room. Had I stopped for one single minute to decide whether it was enough blood to make an ER bill “worth it”, my child and I could very well have died that day. Early intervention is vital, and consistent monitoring until delivery is just as important. 


Thanks to Medicaid, I was able to stay in the hospital until my doctors felt it was safe for me to go home. For the remainder of my pregnancy I had twice weekly visits with a high risk maternal fetal medicine specialist to keep my preterm labor under control. When it could no longer be controlled and my baby was breech, they determined it was too high of a risk for me to attempt a traditional delivery, and I was whisked in for an emergency cesarean section. When I started to hemorrhage again and to suffer from uterine atony, my skilled team of surgeons focused on getting the bleeding under control. I worried about who would help my baby’s father care for him if I didn’t make it, not what it would cost us if I did.


Medicaid then paid for my postnatal hospital stay. I had those precious days to heal and bond with my child. I had a lactation consultant to help me and my baby through the tear filled first few days of learning how to latch. When I was wheeled out of those doors with my healthy child, 18 year old me was grateful that the doctors had saved me and my baby. It wasn’t until later that I would realize that as much as the doctors and the staff, Medicaid had saved my life. Medicaid had saved my child’s life. That child is a junior at MU now, and works part time as a barista.


Like so many people, we didn’t need Medicaid for long. My husband and I both work and have good jobs that helped us provide a good life for our kids. Our kids are all hard workers with jobs.  We pay our taxes, and it doesn’t bother me one bit to think that our tax money may be at this very moment saving another woman and her child. I rather like to think that it is. Medicaid gives women like me, and children like mine a healthy start and a fighting chance.