I don’t think I can write very well about this right now, but as I am limited to one internet session a day at the moment, I may as well just give you the highlights.
I think it’s irresponsible to universalize one’s experience; before one can make a claim one has to, I firmly assert, draw upon a wealth of voices, including scholarly ones. So I’m not drawing any conclusions. I’m telling my own tale.
Being on welfare sucks. It doesn’t just suck because of the conflicting feelings I’m having about making choices that lead me to need public assistance for my preganancy (and most days I can get past that–in order for my family to get into a good position professionally and personally, this move was necessary–but that is a longer, and too private, post) or because I have to endure comments about how irritating it is to see women pay for sugary cereal with food stamps (nevermind that it might be the kid’s birthday, or that she’s not paying for that portion of the cartful with food stamps, or that she might not have good education about nutrition, or if she has she just damn well might want it). It’s the “honey, sweetie” effect.
Most of my appointments at the clinic here have been positive. I did expect initially to be treated less well than when I had regular insurance, and I was wrong the first three times I came in. The social worker was nice and professional; the nurse was slightly maternal but I excused it because of our age difference; and the doctor I saw for my third visit was fantastic. This time, though, I felt like I had become twelve again. The first problem was that I hadn’t been informed, via writing or otherwise, that the Title 19 card I got in the mail each month wasn’t just a replacement in case I had lost mine, but pertained to that month (hubby hasn’t gotten to that stage in his training yet). So I kept the second one I got and threw the rest away. This mistake gained me a lecture from the front office lady. She straightened it out while I peed in my little cup, then returned to the exam room to explain to me, in a voice so sweet it made me want to vomit, and with her hand patronizingly on my shoulder (Iowans aren’t big on casual contact, and it made me bristle, physically) explained to me how I should do it next time. Meanwhile, I was called either “honey” or “sweetie” in a sing-songy voice at least fifteen times, and I am not exaggerating, by the nurse who took my blood pressure and weighed me. This gentle stroking and pity and poor me crap continued until I left, and just thinking about it makes me ill.
WIC and Title 19 can be mazes of complicated rules and inconvenient appointment times. You can get very easily tangled in the red tape. It doesn’t mean you are some poor little helpless kitten who needs to be stroked. If you know me well you know I don’t respond well to being treated as less than a fully adult woman. I don’t demand this privilege as a person of privilege, either. My education and upbringing didn’t earn me the right to be treated as an adult. I will admit that they have made me think that I’d always get it, subconsciously.
It bothers me to read in birthing books the nice chapters about choosing a practitioner and to know that many women can’t do that; they simply go to whatever clinic takes Title 19 or hope for a regular practitioner that is taking one more case this year. They certainly can’t hope for a doula or birthing center, or god forbid, a gentle birth at home. Choice in birth is not something they can afford. We should be offering these choices to every woman. And I guess now I’m universalizing, but now I’m talking about things that pertain to every woman on Title 19.
In a few weeks I’ll be switching over to regular insurance and I’ll have a short time to pick a doctor I feel comfortable with (not a med student who will inform me that I’ll have the opportunity to talk with a nurse at around 37 weeks about what to pack for the hospital instead of talking with a doctor about how my needs/expectations fit with his or her birthing practices). It will be because I’m lucky, not because I’m hardworking (which I am now, on assistance) or responsible.
The Snapper is good–heartbeat is strong and head is down. We’re in the 34th week, and my little man is getting ready to make his debut.