Undocumented and Pregnant: Survival Tips.

So you’re undocumented and have just found out that you are pregnant. Maybe you are scared and uncertain about what you should do for yourself and your unborn child. Here are 5 things my wife and I did, that will help you navigate this new chapter in your life:

  1. Don’t panic. My wife’s pregnancy was unplanned, so naturally we were both freaked out when we learned about it. At the time, we were both weeks away from being deported. The doctors’ offices and hospitals we called for help and advice were as useless as my appendix. One nurse even suggested that my wife hang tight for 9 months and then hobble into the nearest hospital after her water broke. Thank God we didn’t take her boneheaded advice!
  1. Apply for CHIP. The CHIP I mean is really not related to a computer, a potato, or a cartoon character. It’s actually a form of health insurance for children who come from low or no income families. Applying and qualifying for it (they don’t really care about your immigration status) will enable you go for checkups and deliver your child without having to pay a cent. Here is a site you can use to find the Health Insurance programs that your state has: http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/state/index.html
  1. Pick an insurance company. After you apply for CHIP and they determine you are eligible, they will send you paperwork to enroll in CHIP. They’ll also include a list of insurance companies that carry CHIP as a health plan. The insurance company you pick will determine which doctor you can get. Pick the one that suits your needs.
  1. Pick a Doctor. Once you find a doctor who takes the insurance you fancy, call them to confirm that they take that insurance and if they do, set up an appointment.
  1. Enroll in WIC. WIC stands for Women Infants and Children. It is a supplemental program. It will not take care of your entire grocery bill but it will help provide nutritious food for you and your child. This government program has been a lifesaver, especially after our child was born. With WIC’s help my wife and I are able to get free Formula and baby food for our daughter, Pookie. Our local WIC office has a staff who have offered my wife really good classes (both online and onsite), advice, and tips on how to care for herself and our child. Google WIC + your city to find your local WIC office.

Simply put, your next move now is to find a doctor, and enroll in CHIP and WIC as you await the coming of your child.

 

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WIC and Underwear.

The other day I was standing in line at the self-check out section at our local grocery store waiting for an open station. In front of me was a couple who had just scanned the items they had bought and were about to pay.

The lady, who looked so pregnant I was afraid that she’d go into labor right in front of me whipped out a peculiar looking card from her purse to pay for the items. Immediately, her man began to moonwalk away from her and look around to see who was watching. He looked somewhat apologetic and embarrassed and I knew why.

3 years ago when I had a job, the idea of people getting on government assistance repulsed me. I strongly believed that people who had two hands, two feet, and clean underwear had no business getting government assistance. Then I woke up one morning with a pregnant wife, no job, in deportation proceedings and wearing somewhat clean underwear. I had no choice but to get on government assistance because it was the only legal way I knew to survive the storm we were in.

For 15 years my wife and I religiously gave a portion of our paychecks to the bottomless pit of taxes and Social Security. Back then, we knew full well that as undocumented immigrants we’d never benefit from any of it. Now that we have a citizen child, we are eligible to use Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as Women Infants and Children (WIC) for our daughter, Pookie.

Using WIC is humbling, but you won’t find me getting all sheepish about whipping out my WIC card at a grocery store. Nor do I care that there are people who think of me as a parasitic déclassé for doing so. They do not know my story.

I paid taxes for 15 years, and I think that, in itself, gives me the license to get food for my precious wife and child. So the next time you see someone unapologetically and enthusiastically swiping his WIC card, that’s probably me getting food for the two loves of my life.