Written by: Alexandra Harrison Imaghodor
Let me hit you with the truth:
I am no better than you. You are no better than me.
We learned that Xander would be born early when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I had an incompetent cervix, constant bleeding, and a rapid developing blood clot. I went to receive confirmation of his gender, only to be taken to labor and delivery to receive steroids to help his lungs develop faster. My life changed in 45 minutes. Xander was born at 23 weeks and spent 133 days in the hospital. I became septic after I delivered him, naturally. A 104.6 degree fever spiked and I spiraled into shivers so severe, they thought I was having a seizure. Once I came to, I knew immediately– Allie, you have to get your shit together. I knew they would try to keep me to monitor me. I knew they would try to distract me from focusing on Xander’s status.. Nope, not this guy. I completed EVERY task to go home: walking, pooping, and wiping my own butt- 4 hours postpartum. You see, I was determined to be strong. Determined to pull strength from God, himself.
Yet, the system was set up for me to fail.
Xander’s medical charges were 1.2 million dollars. At the time, on company insurance, we would have been responsible for 40% of eligible charges. To a tune of $316,000. $316,000 = Debt for the Rest of Life. Wouldn’t let them get me, though…. Thanks to Obamacare (gasp) we enrolled in a plan that covered All but 10% of Xander’s bills. But you better believe we paid for it, $698 a month.
Now that we’re home, the system still wants me to fail. Ridiculous availability of specialists, the constant need for follow up visits and evaluations only during working hours, and no real affordable childcare options that weren’t worth me quitting my job. Job/ Work, that’s unheard of in preemie mama land– SIKE!
In the NICU, and still to this day, I received judgement and disrespect for my decision to work. Having a premature child wasn’t my ‘get out of work free’ card. Having my 23 weeker made me bust my ass, just a little harder. Did I go to college and obtain a 4-year degree? No, I didn’t. I’ve worked my little bi-racial behind off since I was 15 years old to provide for my family and to have something of my own. I wasn’t giving up on 11 years of struggles, just to satisfy the desires of a few ignorant folks. I learned, because I was taught. I had opportunities because people believed in my spirit, my savvy, and my intellect.
I’m judged because we have a nanny. But my nanny, our sweet nanny, is the American Dream. She’s a college student from a working family, and she’s doing her best to provide what she can for herself. She’s in school to shape and educate our children. We will gladly employ her, as long as we can. The solution isn’t for me to stop working & lean on a system to fill in the gaps. Its my responsibility to keep the dream going.
I care how my son sees me. I want him to see a woman with work ethic, who dedicates her life to service and advocacy, who takes no prisoners, and who believes in family and community. We live in a time where we only want men to see beauty. In my household, it matters not what’s on the surface. No, what matters is what song your soul sings.
We all have some sort of bias because of our circumstance. We all feel comfortable talking about who & what we can relate to. But, I get jiggy with the uncomfortable. Newsflash: Racism is alive and well. My white mother still gets shady looks and comments for having a picture of her brown children on her desk. Don’t get me started on the military comments when they see my brother in uniform.
So to the person with 1.2 million in the bank, congrats on being able to pay a $316,000 medical bill– doesn’t mean that it’s reasonable and you should have to. To the person who can afford the best schools and therapists for your child with disabilities, bravo. But, the mother in low-income housing, who works full time and checks you out at Walmart should have her kids in the same class with yours. To the person that shares a picture of a flag, but turns a blind eye to the homeless veteran on the street: I suggest you spend some time volunteering at your nearest VA.
We are all a work in progress but our progress needs to trend towards peace. Not toward the bias that divides us. We need not feed the hatred in our hearts. Let’s FEED the innocence of our children. Let’s encourage our men & women in uniform during AND after their service. Lets fight to strike the fear of UNITY among our enemies.
Love trumps hate…