It’s almost Father’s Day. Father’s Day is special in our family for many reasons. Besides the fact that our four children adore their father, it’s also the day that my husband first held our micro preemie. She was already 1 month old and he had only previously been able to stick his freshly sanitized finger in her incubator a few times before Father’s Day.
Many of you know our story and if not, you can read it above but today I want to highlight another NICU father, Ted Yang.
He surprised his wife and wrote a book about their NICU journey and his book was published this past November. It’s a beautiful story and truly shows the difficulties of being a NICU Dad as well as the strengths that show themselves when faced with such difficulties.
I asked Ted to share some thoughts with me so that I can share them with you. I don’t often showcase others books on my website but this one is special and Father’s Day is the perfect time to share Ted’s story.
Ted Yang’s guest blogpost on his book:
My Premature Triplets Received the Best Care in the World that Others are Denied
I’ve always believed that America has the best health care in the world, but I never believed that I would need to make extensive use of it. That all changed when my wife gave birth to pound-and-a-half triplets at 24 weeks. In our years long fight to keep our children alive, we were constantly amazed both at what modern medicine made possible and at how fragile human life is. Medical science was unable to keep my son Raymond alive beyond one week. My son Daniel came home after three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). And my daughter Sofia, after enduring several surgeries, came home after eight months on a ventilator and trach, requiring round the clock nursing care for the next four years. Three major surgeries after that, she finally breathed through her mouth and her nose.
The fact that we had two survivors was a miracle. The fact that private insurance covered the almost $10 million total bill was a miracle as well. Our insurance was provided by the largest hedge fund in the world where I worked. Its lack of limits was due to the generosity of its Billionaire founder. It was not typical health insurance.
Every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely around the world. Whether they live or die depends far too much not only on where they are born but on the ability of families to access care.
In the U.S., most insurance has gaps and limits in coverage that you don’t learn about until you or a loved one are sick. We spoke to families whose insurance didn’t cover nursing and where the parents had to both be nurses and somehow work full time jobs. We spoke to families with limited choices in hospitals, who had large coinsurance or low coverage limits. Their children could not receive the best health care in the world because even with insurance, they couldn’t afford it.
Years later I was considering an opportunity in the UK. Sofia still required nursing and still had surgeries to undergo. While speaking to the head of benefits at a major bank, I tried to probe and find out the limitations in their insurance. I might as well have been speaking Greek. The concept that children could not receive the care that they needed was unthinkable due to their National Health Service and supplemental private insurance.
One in ten babies are born prematurely, so more and more Americans will need similar care to my children. They should be able to get that care without risk of ruin. As the incoming Biden administration evaluates a public option, they should pay close attention to the needs of these preemies and their families. They should go further than the ACA to provide for the needs of these smallest Americans.
Ted Yang is the author of the memoir Table for Five: A Father’s Story of Life, Love, and Loss which tells the story of his triplets born at 24 weeks.
You can visit his book website at: http://pedihelp.com/
Happy Father’s Day to all of the NICU DADS out there. May you take comfort in knowing that it will eventually get better.