The envelopes had been sitting on the kitchen counter for almost a week. Staring at me. Needing to be opened and dealt with. Yet I couldn’t. I made the mistake of opening one we had received a few weeks back without thinking, and was shocked, saddened and overcome with tears by what I saw: $15,374.55.
Yes, the hospital bills have started to come in.
Now I should start by saying that we don’t actually owe this amount, this was just a “friendly” notice of what was being sent to our insurance company for payment. And this crazy amount was *just* for the hospital stay and delivery of our twins (and yes, apparently you are charged more for a multiple birth), not the doctors’ and other specialty bills to come. But there it was in black and white. A clear reminder of what we went through, what we lost and that we have nothing but pain, suffering and sadness to show from it. I remember this happening after Baby #4. And this time, like last, I can’t help but to think, we have to pay all of this…for nothing?!?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the doctors and nurses were doing their jobs, there were materials used, drugs that were administered and space that was taken up. It’s just that I have a hard time having to pay for something—again—when we don’t have our healthy babies at home with us. Shouldn’t there be some sort of discount? Couldn’t the hospital write these instances off or use donor funding to take care of it? (Idea for donors: set up a fund that takes care of these billings for bereaved families so they don’t have to deal with these costs on top of their loss. You’re welcome.) Or, at the very least, couldn’t they provide a long grace period before sending notices and the bills that follow to the grieving parents so that it doesn’t feel like a bucket of salt to an already gaping wound?
I finally forced myself to open the other envelopes on Sunday, and found that they were actually bills from scans and check-ups when everything was “fine.” From when our twins were healthy and alive, and Double A and I were still happy and cautiously optimistic. In this stack, there was one bill which detailed a variety of visits, and then three bills that said they were going to collections. Mind you, the three bills saying they were going to collections were part of the main bill we had just received. So I had to call the hospital to find out what was going on. There’s a call I wanted and needed to make.
I was good at first. Hiding and choking back my tears to keep my voice from cracking. I systematically went through each one of the invoice numbers—which turned out to be all invoices that we had already paid. Apparently, I was late on getting them out after the loss, and things crossed in the mail. That’s when I lost it. Through my tears and a cracking voice, I told the woman on the other line of the loss of our twins and how we were trying to sort through things and figure out which way is up. Fortunately, and sadly, she was sympathetic and actually told me she was going through something similar and knew exactly how I felt. After that, I asked if there were any bills pending, to which I found out there were eight that are currently with the insurance company.
Great, that’s eight more slaps in the face to come. Nine actually. Monday when I got home, there was our actual bill due from the $15,374.55 statement. 250 bucks. And while I’m grateful that we have the insurance to take care of the majority of the charges, I now have to call the insurance company as I believe we’ve already hit our maximum out-of-pocket and therefore shouldn’t owe anything. Again, a conversation that I don’t want to have, especially because I’m sure that the outcomes are not noted in the file and that I’ll likely have to relive our story.
It pains me to think of everything we have spent on this pregnancy—something we would have happily paid if we knew we’d receive two beautiful, healthy returns on our investment. I can’t even allow myself to think of everything we’ve shelled out over the past five years for all of the pregnancies, doctors’ visits, fertility treatments, testing, therapy and more. That money, and those hopes are gone now. And Double A and I are left here trying to make sense of it all.