Member has healthy baby, thankful to be "not just a number" with CHM

By Janelle Barradas, Yuma, Ariz.

From the April 2018 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

I had nearly lost hope of ever having a baby when my husband, Esteban, and I signed up for CHM.

Because we’d spent five long years trying to conceive, I admit I paid little attention to the ministry’s Guideline that members must join CHM at least 300 days before the expected due date in order for maternity bills to be eligible for sharing. (Editor’s note: See chministries.org/maternity for details.)

We were therefore very surprised to see a positive pregnancy result about a month after signing up for the ministry’s Gold program in November 2016.

After the initial excitement passed, I began to worry a little that I hadn’t met CHM’s rule for pregnancy bills to be shared. Thankfully, I soon learned that my due date was shortly after 300 days past my join date. (In other words, I wasn’t already pregnant when I joined.)

I was pleased, too, that the ministry offers such easy-to-follow instructions for submitting medical bills, particularly maternity needs. The Guidelines and maternity guide helped me understand I needed to set up prepayment agreements with my OB/GYN’s office and the facility where I intended to give birth.

I was fairly comfortable with CHM’s policy of seeking medical bill discounts because I’d had melanoma several years before joining the ministry. I had no health insurance at the time but many of my healthcare providers offered substantial discounts. I was also thankful that doctors discovered the cancer before it had a chance to metastasize, so I only needed a minor operation.

During my pregnancy I called the ministry office several times to verify I was doing everything correctly. Each time the staff members were friendly and patient with my many questions.

The pregnancy was progressing normally until 32 weeks gestation. We own horses and use electric wire to make sure they don’t get too close to the fence and harm themselves. One day in late July 2017 I was filling their water trough. As I leaned forward, I forgot to take into account my expanding girth and my stomach brushed up against the electric wire.

Immediately I felt a shock through my entire body.

I had no idea whether the jolt could harm the baby, but I thought surely it would at least startle him awake and I would be able to feel him move.

Attempting not to panic, I waited for a few minutes, even trying a few times to “nudge” my son awake.

Nothing.

I called my doctor, who advised going to the hospital for monitoring. The 15-minute drive seemed to take forever. I still couldn’t feel the baby move; the stubborn little guy had no interest in putting his mama’s mind at ease.

I can’t explain the relief I felt after being hooked up to the fetal monitors and hearing his strong, steady heartbeat. He started up his acrobatics shortly thereafter. It soon became a running joke that as a newborn he’d be a sound sleeper since he could snooze through an electric jolt!

The cost of my hospital visit was the last thing on my mind. A few weeks later the bill arrived and my jaw dropped. The charge was over $4,000! I tried to get a discount on the bill but was told that the hospital only negotiated with third parties.

A little nervous that the charge wouldn’t be included as part of my maternity incident, I called CHM and was immediately reassured there was nothing to worry about. All I needed to do when I submitted the bill was to include a note that the provider wouldn’t negotiate with me and to ask the CHM staff to do it on my behalf. And they did.

I went into labor Sept. 10, a few days after my due date. Over the next four days I had sessions of strong contractions but wasn’t dilated enough to be admitted to the hospital. Additionally, I was getting very little sleep and suffered from back labor. (I later learned it was because our son was in posterior position—his skull was pressing against my pelvis.)

I was finally admitted to the hospital Wednesday morning, Sept. 13. Unfortunately, however, my labor kept getting “stalled out.” After many hours of frustration, a nurse told us that the baby was asynclitic, which means his head was tilted toward his shoulder and he wasn’t in the proper position to be born. After assuring me it was best for the baby, doctors finally performed an emergency C-section.

The minute I saw the face of Jaden Samuel Barradas, I “forgave” him for all of my pain and his refusal to drop low enough to enter the birth canal. In our eyes he was perfect—and perfectly healthy.

I learned that the labor and delivery charges would have been over $30,000 if I had not set up a prepayment agreement. With the agreement, however, the hospital’s price was only $6,400 and CHM shared the cost. In all, we obtained 65 percent in medical bill discounts and ministry members helped us with the remaining $15,000 in maternity charges.

Joining CHM makes a lot of sense, both financially and spiritually. Sometimes I wish I’d heard about the ministry sooner, but I’m so grateful for God’s perfect timing. I love how every month we receive a card with our billing statement that lists a fellow member we can pray for; we also can refer to the Prayer Page in each Heartfelt issue and choose someone to bless through our prayers and donations. CHM is also a great way to be wise stewards of our money.

It was wonderful to be reassured throughout my pregnancy that I was not just a number; rather, with CHM I am a fellow sister in Christ and a recipient of other believers’ thoughts and prayers. It’s an incredible ministry and we look forward to continuing to help carry each other’s burdens.

©2019 Christian Healthcare Ministries. All rights reserved.