Ringing In the New Year With Coverage

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Disclosure: I’m a Florida KidCare ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I’m ready to ring in the new year, good people. Is it me or has this just been a draining year?! Zora Neale Hurston once said, “There are years that ask question and years that answer.” This was definitely a year of questions!

I feel like the question this year was: BUT, WHY?!

As I look back and reflect, I’m grateful for so much. My health for one. Surgery in June meant that my entire summer had to be remapped, plans canceled, travel postponed. But this is what has to be done, right?

The Frog Princess’s health is the other. We have made it through one more year (knock on wood) without another febrile seizure and I am hopeful that, even though we are to the right of the bell curve when it comes to the age when these things stop, that we’ve reached the end.

I still remember that first one. And the 2nd. The 3rd one, she cut her lip when she fell. We were in my mother’s house and afterward, rushed her to the hospital. The folks at the hospital are always amazing. They let our pediatrician know and took great care of us while we were there.

Related: What's Florida KidCare?

That 3rd time, baby girl was covered by Florida KidCare. I have had private insurance, employer-based insurance and Florida KidCare. I can say that the quality of care has never changed. She has seen the same doctor since she was 4 days old, we’ve seen specialists and had our trips to the E.R. without a problem. I’m going to be super duper honest with you, I think I prefer the Frog Princess on Florida KidCare. As I go through and prepare my paperwork for tax season I’m seeing that when I add up all the medical costs (deductible, co-pays, ER visits, urgent care charges, prescriptions, etc.), I was better off when I had her on Florida KidCare.

If the quality of care doesn’t change, if I can keep my same doctors (which is the case most times) and if I can pay less for health insurance, why not?!

Seriously, I’m considering running the numbers now to see what this looks like. My open enrollment period isn’t until the Spring but that’s okay because enrollment can happen all year long with Florida KidCare. And applying is easy peasy lemon squeezy. You can apply online or give them a ring at 1-888-540-KIDS (5437).

Even if Florida KidCare isn’t for you, please spread the word about this program! It’s important to get all kids insured and healthy!

Getting Sick Kids Healthy and Covered

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Disclosure: I am a Florida KidCare ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I’d been looking forward to kicking off the holiday season, as usual, with the Frog Princess’s birthday. Well, that turned into a couple of weeks of illness that I certainly couldn’t have planned for.

It never fails. You’re getting things done, have the to do lists going, arrangements made, etc and then in one fell swoop, all hell breaks loose.

A call the day after her birthday had me running to pick baby girl up from school with tummy troubles. That led to an urgent care visit and later that night, a visit to the pediatric ER.

And yet…it could’ve been worse. I could’ve not been covered by health insurance and then had to have worried about the sick kid AND the hospital bill. While that might not be the case for us, it’s the case for 257,000 kids without insurance coverage today in the state of Florida.

Related Post: Growing Up and Staying Covered

But! There’s hope! Of those kids, 147,000 are eligible for completely free or low-cost insurance with Florida KidCare. Which brings me to the reason I hopped on to talk to you about this today.

Let’s help kids get covered! Let’s help parents not stress about their kids’ medical bills! I know the peace of mind that Florida KidCare brought to my family and I when we were covered by them and I can assure you, it’s worth the couple of minutes the application is going to take you.

Here’s the thing, Florida KidCare is the umbrella brand for the four government-sponsored health insurance programs. If you’re not sure which one you qualify for, they’ll let you know. The four programs are: Medicaid, MediKids, Florida Healthy Kids and the Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan. This group of programs come together to provide children in Florida seamless coverage from birth through age 18.

Related: Grateful for Dental Care

The best part? It’s always open enrollment for the kids! You can apply online or give them a ring and start an application over the phone. I was always impressed by the great customer service I received on the phone while we were a Florida KidCare family. Here’s the number: 1-888-540-KIDS (5437). Give them a ring and see if you can ring in the New Year with a little peace of mind when it comes to the health of your kid(s).

Growing Up and Staying Covered

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Disclosure: I am a Florida KidCare ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own. The Frog Princess turns 8 this month. How did this happen?!?

Weren't we just talking about diapers and sleep training? Sheesh!

I've been planning for her birthday party, though. Freaking out on cue about where we will celebrate, time, invitations, gifts and party bags (side note: why do I have to give kids gifts when they come to the party? I'm putting a pin in this to discuss later.).

(how has it already been a year since I took this! Look ma! No teeth!)

November is always chock full of to do's. It doesn't help that her birthday is so close to Thanksgiving. I'm always planning two things at once and praying I don't drop any plates.

Although it's busy, it's also the perfect time for me to schedule her annual physical. Yup, I try to do it around her birthday. With the threat of febrile seizures, I've learned to navigate around those times when we’re scheduled to vaccinate so that she isn't feverish on her big day, but this call gets made right along with the ordering of the cake.

It's so important to get kids (and yourselves!) regular check-ups. This is where I chat with the pediatrician about any concerns I might have, where she reminds the Frog Princess that she was "this big" when she first met her.

Related: Grateful for Dental Care

It gives us an update on growth charts and lets the doctor check in on a few of those "we'll keep an eye on its".

I think I missed one of these and it was during the short window in which I was uninsured. Thankfully, I got right back to the routine with Florida KidCare.

Related: What's Florida KidCare?

There are 257,000 kids without insurance coverage today in the state of Florida. Of those kids, 147,000 could have their annual exams done by the end of the year because they are eligible for completely free or low-cost health and dental insurance with Florida KidCare.

If they don't apply by then, it's perfectly okay, though. Open enrollment is year-round!

Can you do me a favor? Can you make a note right now to call the pediatrician and make an appointment if you haven't gone in for the annual exam?

And if you are not insured, can you head on over to Florida KidCare and apply? I promise you, it's painless.

If your kids are covered and your check-up is done: 1. Yasssssss! and 2. Can you help me spread the message to your network? Nobody knew I didn't have coverage for the Frog Princess when I was unemployed, and I bet there's someone scrolling through your social media timelines that needs this information. You can click and share this tweet:

[Tweet "Your child might be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance through @FLKidCare. It’s easy to apply and you are eligible even if one or both parents work. bit.ly/flkidcare #FLKidCare"]

Or share this image on Facebook/Instagram:

Text: Getting kids covered is always in season! Let’s give them a healthy start during the holidays. Year-round enrollment. There are 147,000 kids in Florida that qualify for Florida KidCare. It’s easy to find out if you’re one of them. bit.ly/flkidcare

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go figure out what outfit goes well with indoor play place birthday madness!

Letter to My 4th Trimester Self

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Disclosure: this is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Given this time of year and its emphasis on reflection and gratitude, and the fact that this is also the month of baby girl's birth, I wanted to reflect and share my experience as a new mother, with gratitude for the support systems during this critical time. I partnered with the 4th Trimester Project, a project that brings together new mothers, health care providers, researchers and other stakeholders to build knowledge about postpartum health issues.  Learn more about the 4th Trimester Project, share your story, get involved here

I was looking for a random document this past week when I inevitably ran into all the file folder I haven’t yet refiled in a filing cabinet (I don’t know why, y’all. Why do I still have papers and why are they not yet filed?!). But, I digress.

I found old documents. My birth certificate, my mom’s naturalization certificate, old immunization records of my siblings. Also in the stash? A letter I wrote to my mom almost 21 years ago to the day. The. Feels.

I’m beyond moved that she kept this letter and wonder what it meant to her. I think I was a lot wiser back then. First of all, I had some nerve telling my mom some things. Second of all, I wish I’d given myself some of this advice!

My life was turned upside down when I had a baby. For so many reasons. So much of that time is a blur. So much of that time I wish I had back. I need a 4th trimester mulligan, folks. By the way, the 4th trimester is those 12 weeks after the baby gets here. The one we hardly talk about but need to.

I know I can’t turn back time. I think of that woman now, not knowing the major life changes that were just around the corner and I want to give her a great big hug and hand her this letter to read…

Dear Sili,

I’m SO proud of you! I know you didn’t have the birth you had planned but you have a beautiful little girl that is everything! Yes, you’ll still be in awe that you are a MAMI almost 8 years later. It doesn’t get old, this Mamihood thing.

This letter I wish to hand you the morning after her birth. When you are still hazy with tiredness and joyful from all of the hormones coursing through your system. I know you want to do it differently, want to carve your own path but, I hope you’ll keep these things in mind.

Call the lactation consultant again! No, not the pregnant one that will see the Frog Princess latch and tell you everything is okay. If you have a weird feeling like maybe an LC didn’t understand you or that you aren’t entirely satisfied with the response, ask the hospital for an outside referral. Or call the doula and ask her for a recommendation.

Why do I want you to do this? Because 2 weeks from now you will be in tears nursing your baby girl in the middle of the night and feeling like you are failing when you are not. Because you will actually making more milk than you need to (tell Mami to chill on all her lactating remedies! They’re working too well!). The baby is latching off to stop the stream of awesome and causing a bad latch that is leading to your chewed up gummy bears! Handle that shit, mama!

If at all possible, try to get out of the house to go to one of the Mami and baby classes you look online for but never go to. I know you feel like you wake up and then the entire day gets away from you. That’s okay! The new normal can be overwhelming even with a new baby! The house doesn’t have to be perfect. And neither do you.

Along the lines of getting out of the house, head on over to Mami’s a bit more. Maternity leave will fly by and you will feel as if you didn’t spend enough time with her. Things will also be rocky with her health-wise and I think it’ll be good for both of you to spend a good amount of time together now.

Don’t forget to go back and check in with your midwives. I know that you ended up with Dr. Edwards at the hospital but, your midwives have your back and letting them know how you are feeling will allow for them to help you understand why you are feeling the way you’re feeling and ensure that this 4th trimester is happy and healthy!

Which reminds me: STAY HOME FOR THE 12 WEEKS JUST LIKE YOU ORIGINALLY PLANNED. The bills will resolve themselves with the planning you did and you, Mami and the baby will be better adjusted for it.

I know you feel as if you have to do every single thing in life. You are an amazing project manager so, I am going to ask one last thing: delegate! That wonderful photoshoot you want but haven’t had time to research? Delegate it. The top to bottom cleaning of the house you secretly wish you could do when no one is looking? Delegate it.

The one thing I don’t want you to delegate? Your self-care. Those words might seem foreign but they will define your well-being and help your mental health in ways that you cannot imagine. Don’t delegate self-care. It’s okay to leave the baby for a couple of hours with her dad. Let him know that just as he takes time, you need time as well.

Along those lines, speak up! Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs to those closest to you. It will help everyone involved and ensure that the entire family have a healthy 4th trimester.

I love you,

You

The 4th Trimester Project is important to me because while I was ecstatic and happy that I’d brought a new life into this world, this was the time when the foundation of care should’ve been laid and for me, it did not. It felt like the opposite happened. I can’t go back and change it, but I can make sure that other women understand the importance of it.

What do you wish you’d known or done during those first 12 weeks after the baby was born? What do you want other Mamis to keep in mind during this time?

Share YOUR experience or write a letter to YOURSELF. The 4th Trimester Project has branded items to offer for those who want to share their new mama stories (Email SuzanneW@med.unc.edu if you want in!).

Grateful for Dental Care

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Disclosure: I am a Florida KidCare ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own. As a parent (and a person who has a chronic illness), making sure we are properly insured has always been top-of-mind. I think it’s one of the first signs that you are properly adulting.

And it’s not just about health care, it’s about dental care as well. I know, I know. It doesn’t sound fun, right?

I was recently talking to some girlfriends and we all agreed that we had less than ideal experiences with dentists as children.

I think that’s a product of our parents maybe not having as much information as they needed and definitely a sign of the times. For example, did you know that you should take your child to the dentist by age 1? ONE. I have a picture on the day of the Frog Princess’s first birthday party clearly showing me brushing her teeth. Breaking news: there was barely a tooth there.

I didn’t realize it until much later that this was a great time to begin her relationship with a pediatric dentist.

After I lost my job, there was the question of insurance. Thankfully, I was enrolled in Florida KidCare. I didn’t know it at the time but, this meant that not only was my girl covered with health insurance, she also had a great dental health plan.

What’s Florida KidCare?

Although I have harrowing experiences with the dentist in my memory banks, I refused to let that stop me from learning what I needed to learn and getting the Frog Princess the dental care that she needed. I was grateful to Florida KidCare for covering the costs associated with her care.

Because, y’all… my baby had a little baby cavity that had to be taken care of! I may or may not have been a ball of nerves but, she did well during the procedure and I could concentrate on stressing out about whether or not she was okay (because she was) and not wondering how I would pay for the visit to the pediatric dentist.

Why Dental Care is Important

As I read through resources around dental health, I found some astonishing statistics. For example, did you know that kids dealing with poor dental health are 3 times more likely to miss school? It’s hard to go to school when you have a toothache. I imagine even when you do to go school, it would be hard to perform at your peak when you’re in pain. I mean, toothaches rank right up there with labor, in my book.

Another statistic? In a Los Angeles study, dental problems were responsible for about 1/3 of elementary school absences, among children from economically vulnerable families. Kids are suffering in more ways than one by not having proper dental care.

In Florida, we have the possibility of getting the 147,000 kids that are eligible for Florida KidCare, but not yet enrolled, free or low-cost coverage! That means that we can get more kids started on a lifetime habit of good dental care and ease their parents’ minds when it comes to the stress of lacking health care coverage.

I’ll never know if my inaction early on regarding dental health is what caused my baby girl’s cavity.

But I do know that having KidCare made it easier and less costly to get her the care that she needed. For that, I’m very grateful!

Florida KidCare Facts:

  • Open enrollment is year-round (yup, you can apply today).
  • Children are eligible for Florida KidCare even if one or both parents are working.
  • With Florida KidCare, you may be able to keep your pediatrician (I was able to when I was enrolled in the program).
  • Most families pay nothing, and many pay as little as $15 or $20 a month.
  • Lawfully residing immigrant children are eligible for coverage and immigration status will never be asked.

It’s never too late to get going. If you or a family you know is currently uninsured, it’s a good time to apply for Florida KidCare. Don’t know if you’ll qualify? Head on over and start an application. Your kids (and your pockets) will thank you for it.

Protecting Our Kids with Florida KidCare

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Disclosure: I am a KidCare ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own. A few years back, I remember standing up at a meeting to talk about Florida KidCare.

One of my sorority sisters, a school administrator for many years, stood up in support of the program and told the story that many kids that were eligible for Florida KidCare, in fact, were not signed up for it.

That brought me back to the memory of my sister needing health insurance and my parents finding out about Florida KidCare after going a couple of years uninsured. I am not sure who my mom heard it from but I know she was grateful. It was such a relief to have her daughter covered.

Florida KidCare also covered the Frog Princess after I lost my job.

It is why when Florida KidCare reached out to me about partnering to spread the message, I nearly tripped over my own feet to say yes.

There are so many misconceptions around Florida KidCare. My goal during these next few months is to dispel as many as possible while at the same time providing facts, figures and anything else you might need to the end goal of enrolling kids that need insurance.

Well, how do you know they need insurance, Sili?

There are 257,000 children currently uninsured in Florida. Of that 257,000, 147,000 of them are eligible for free or low-cost coverage through Florida KidCare. That’s nearly 60%!

These are facts. I firmly believe that if parents and guardians were made aware of Florida KidCare and some of the facts, many of them would jump to enroll their children.

What kind of facts, Sili?

  • Open enrollment is year-round (yup, you can apply today).
  • Children are eligible for Florida KidCare even if one or both parents are employed.
  • With Florida KidCare, you may be able to keep your pediatrician (I was able to when I was enrolled in the program).
  • Most families pay nothing, and many pay as little as $15 or $20 a month.
  • Legally residing immigrant children are eligible for coverage and immigration status will never be asked.

With the new school year already underway here in Florida, it’s a good time to apply for Florida KidCare. Don’t know if you’ll qualify? Head on over and start an application. It won’t cost a thing to apply and you will gain the peace of mind knowing that should your child fall ill (and for routine checkups), you’ll have them covered for treatment. Also covered? Your pockets.

Have you heard of Florida KidCare? Do you know of a child that could use it?

What Do Parents Say About Alcohol?

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Disclosure: this is a sponsored post in partnership with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I learned about drinking from watching the grown ups around me and that one time I took a sip of something left on the coffee table as my parents were saying goodbye to the last of their guests after a party.

But my biggest lessons from alcohol is as the child of an alcoholic.  I don't remember anyone sitting me down to talk about what alcohol was, exactly. I remember the "don't drink that" command. If there were talks, I don't really recall them.

I wish my mom was around to ask her because now it's my job to impart and equip the Frog Princess with this knowledge. In her absence, I've been able to dig through information thanks to the #TalkEarly program to provide me with data and information that helps me be more informed and talk to my kid.

I think summer, with it's gatherings and cold beverages, provides a great space to begin conversations about alcohol. Not everyone is having them but everyone should.

In a recent survey (and of no surprise to us talkative peeps), it was found that overall, moms talk more about alcohol to kids than dads do. What are they talking about specifically, you ask?

  • Mothers reported speaking with their children about alcohol more than fathers: 86% vs. 80%.
  • Moms begin the conversation earlier. At age 5 , while dads initiate conversations at 6.
  • While parents share the responsibility of discussing alcohol and underage drinking with kids, it's usually the mom that's having more conversations with their kids about the topic. 
    • 36% of moms self-identify as the primary parent discussing alcohol while dads come in at 1% self-identifying as the primary discussing the topic.
  • Mothers rate the impact of drinking in front of their children as having a greater impact on their kids than fathers do. Yet 29% of fathers reported concerns over their own alcohol consumption vs. 17% of moms.

Oh, and here's a doozy...

This data doesn't surprise me. My mom was the talker of all things. I think in part, because  I was around her more so naturally this would fall to her. Same with the Frog Princess although we tend to do a 1-2 punch with her dad following up and giving her his perspective on subjects like this one, which I think helps reinforce it.

To be clear, this isn't a knock on dads as much as it is a reminder that we need to be talking to the kids (and each other)  about the subject of alcohol consumption: early and often.

I do feel that what you do speaks louder than what you say, though. So, while talking to my child about alcohol has been important, I try to model responsible behavior along the way and answer any questions she might have in the moment because you know those don't wait til scheduled conversations to pop out.

This is a great season to kick off discussions about alcohol with your kids. And based on the research, I think it's a great time to have discussions with other adults in your child's life. It takes a village and having everyone on the same page makes for a stronger team.

If you don't know where to begin, check out the #TalkEarly page for resources or take a look back at what I've shared here and here.

My Tales from the Bed

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I've been away for a minute, save for a couple of posts here and there. I have reasons, y'all! Come back! Lots of amazingly great things have happened. But, since my birthday, either the Frog Princess or I have been under the weather. Spring has brought lots of questionable health, and not just allergies. I don't appreciate any of it.

A few weeks ago, I woke up with pelvic pain. No big. I figured it was the endometriosis acting up leading into my period week (eeek! I said period!).

But day 3 of pain and my period wasn't about to make an early appearance. Yet the pain persisted. I'd already set an appointment to chat with my doctor because I have noticed that my pain days had been increasing.

The morning of the appointment, I woke up and couldn't stand straight. So began the journey. I saw the doc who wanted to do a sonogram as we talked about what was happening with my body and the endometriosis.

Two days  later, I got a sonogram. I love that I can get it done right in his office, easy peasy.

Turns out there's A LOT happening in my abdomen. Where do I begin? Certainly the endometriosis is a problem. A BIG problem. A problem that will need surgery.

The good news is that my uterus is good. The bad news is that the ovaries have been compromised. 

As I wait for the consult with the surgeon, the pain has not let up. It makes me tired, I get chills, have the cold sweats, you name it. I can now assure you that my pain ranges from early labor to active labor. Except with less pauses in between. Mornings are slightly cruel (yet another reason to be happy it's the end of the school year). And this past Friday, I had the un-pleasure of having a "ibuprofen ain't working here" day.

Suffice it to say, I'm having to adjust life. It's not easy. It has meant that I have backed away from all non-essential tasks. Because I am usually exhausted and/or in too much pain to sit up in the evenings, this has meant no writing (which frankly is killing me). I will say that even when I feel a bit better, I can't think of what I want to write.

I keep wanting to find a new doctor, a new medication, a new something that would help me. But also...exhausted and some days I just want to sleep with all my chills and sweats.

So here we are. I'm maxing and "relaxing" in my Snoogle again (mental note: buy a new cover). I have so much to think about, so many decisions to be made before the surgery (so much damn laundry to go through and fold so that everyone knows where everything is). I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Though I know the general information, the truth is that all decisions will have to be made while I'm under anesthesia so I have to get all my thoughts/questions/concerns out during this time. I have all the feels about all the things at the moment.

But life goes on, right? I still have some awesome campaigns at work that need to be rocked. But I'm afraid my glitter body rolls are now like swooshes instead. I'm lucky I work from home and can work from the bed (I'm totally looking for a snazzy laptop tray and a good back rest).

With 10 days before my consult, I'm afraid that I'm just on pause, waiting.

Til then, I need to figure out how to make it through the pain without too much stress. Lettuce pray this is doable because 17 days into this and I'm really wondering how much longer til things let up.

If you don't see me here, you might find me on Insta, Twitter or the Book o' Faces.