Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Way We Get Born: A Harrowing True Tale of Love, Birth, and Survival Atop Mt. Sutro


If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that The Wife and I recently spent about 9 days in the hospital and ended up with a child.  Usually it doesn't take 9 days for a baby to be born.  This is the story of why it took so long.  It sounds pretty bad at times, but I want to assure everyone it was all worth it and little Baby Beyonce is the most perfect, beautiful, platonic ideal of what a baby should be.  But getting her out was a mighty pain in the fucking ass.


The Wife called me at the office around lunchtime last Thursday (the 21st) and said she was bleeding a little and was going to the hospital. When you're 36 weeks pregnant like The Wife was, "bleeding a little" has a whole different meaning and significance from when you're not pregnant. When you're not pregnant, "bleeding a little" means "put your finger in your mouth and suck on it until it stops bleeding." When you're pregnant, it means OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING ARE WE LOSING THE BABY. She got a cab and they picked me up at work and we went home and got our car and went to the hospital. Our OB/GYN happened to be there that day so she checked out The Wife a bit and then sent in a medical student we'll call ELLIOTT. Elliott was a sweet enough kid but was nervous as hell and looked like a nerdy comic book store clerk. He asked my wife a lot of questions about her vagina. This made him, but not me or her, even more uncomfortable.  Eventually her Lady Doctor said the (very small) bleeding was NBD and we could go.  Then The Wife had a seizure.

It was amazing, actually.  I was getting our stuff to go.  The Wife was still lying on the gurney in the triage room.  She said she felt lightheaded and then BOOM her eyes rolled up and her head started shaking and she wouldn't respond.  Naturally, I was scared shitless.  I did a total movie thing and threw open the door and yelled "DOCTOR!"and the doctor came back in and tried to revive her and couldn't and yelled out a bunch of medical code words and then there were about 8 people in the tiny room in like 10 seconds all of them working on The Wife and I was starting to feel a little faint myself.  After about 90 seconds she stopped seizuring and opened her eyes and one of the nurses asked if I wanted some juice.  NOT REALLY.

Here's the thing: if you're going to have a seizure, a hospital triage room is like 1 or 2 of the Top 5 places you could pick to have one.  A few minutes later she was totally fine.  But there was no fucking way we were leaving the hospital after that, let me tell you.

WARNING: MAJOR DOWNTON ABBEY SPOILERS AHEAD.  Remember when Lady Sybil caught the eclampsia during pregnancy and died?  That's what The Wife had.  Eclampsia.  It basically means seizures during pregnancy and is caused by tiny spiders in the bloodstream.  No, not really, it's caused by recycling poachers.  No, I'm shitting you.  Here we are, 100 years after Lady Sybil died and NO ONE KNOWS what causes it.  Science!  Anyway, we know it's bad and you can die if you have it, so long story short, The Wife was not leaving the hospital.  And since she's the only one who knows how to work the remote, neither was I.  KIDDING.  About the remote, not about not leaving the hospital.

The cure for eclampsia is deceivingly simple: HAVE A BABY.  That seems to clear it right up.  If your problem is seizures during pregnancy, don't be pregnant any more, amirite?  So a decision was reached: we were going to have this baby ASAP.


Here's the problem: baby-delivering is not an On Demand process like getting an oil change or torrenting Game of Thrones.  Basically the thing comes when it wants, and Beyonce was not ready to get borned.  Like I said, the original plan was to have a C-section, but once we got checked into the hospital something curious happened: The Wife's vital signs all looked great, she was completely seizure-free, and there was nothing apparently wrong with her.  But since Medical Science has no fucking clue about eclampsia, they had to go ahead and give her the baby cure and get the thing out so The Wife wouldn't have another seizure and die and leave me as a sexy single Dad with a mysterious past and a brooding air.  We were at UCSF, and they have a strong preference for vaginal delivery as opposed to C-sections.  That's cool and all but it turned out kinda shitty for us, as you will see.  ANYWAY, the decision was made to begin INDUCTION, as in inducing labor, which the basic idea of is tricking the body into going into labor.

INDUCTION began innocently enough, with a little pill or capsule or something nestled gently next to the cervix to beckon it to open.  In this innocuous and mellow stage, the capsule was basically a friendly lamb next to the Cervix Gate, baaaaa-ing cutely as if to say "Open up, little cervix!"  This would be the end of such innocent adventures at the uterine door.

The Lamb Capsule didn't work and on Friday, Day 2, the decision was made to insert a Foley Bulb.  This is where things take a darker turn.  A Foley Bulb is some steampunk shit right out of a Civil War hospital that you can't believe medicine still resorts to.  The idea of the Foley Bulb is this: they shove a deflated rubber balloon past the cervix and into the uterus, INFLATE IT, and then periodically YANK ON IT in an attempt to coax the cervix into opening.  A very nice young female doctor (and all the doctors were female, just to be clear) stuck it up there in a harrowing hour-long procedure performed without any anesthesia, local or otherwise.  It took a long time because her cervix was closed for business and not accepting callers, rubber or otherwise.  ELLIOTT stood in the corner of the room and watched, looking stricken.  I wouldn't be surprised if ELLIOTT has since dropped out of med school.  I'm joking about this but my wife was in extreme pain during this and for the next 30 hours, so it wasn't very funny at the time.

That's right - 30 hours!  For 30 hours nurses would come in and periodically pull the other end of the Foley Bulb, trying to pull her cervix open.  This is about as fun as it sounds.  It was about Saturday morning, I think, when we settled on a New Plan: she would fake another seizure so we could GET A GODDAM C-SECTION and stop people inserting painful things into her uterus.

A note here about the Staff at UCSF: They were pretty uniformly great.  Even if we did have our differences about how to proceed, they always listened to us and took our cares into consideration before doing whatever they wanted to do after all.  And it's somewhat unnerving how young they all are.  One of the main doctors on my wife's case appeared to be somewhere between 17 and 19 and looked exactly like the girl who shows up in every club picture in the yearbook.  She was clearly the president of the Math Club, the Science Club, and the Premed Club, and now she's a doctor!  Who gets carded at R movies!


It didn't work. All that Foley Bulbing and she opened up about a centimeter and even the most ill-informed spectator should be aware that there is no way to push a human baby through an opening the size of a Bic pen shaft. So, time to finally get a C-section, right?  SAD TROMBONE, NO.  After a round of drugs that were supposed to open up that cervix like a Jello shot stand on Myrtle Beach during Spring Break but failed miserably, the Junior Docs had a totes brill idea: AN EVEN BIGGER FOLEY BULB.  Who knew?  Maybe if that one didn't work we'd just keep going up the line until we had stuffed a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Deputy Dawg balloon up into my wife's fragile reproductive system.  I forget who presented this genius idea but we kind of said we weren't psyched about it and so they sent in three Top Officers of the Science Club, including one who smacked her gum like a truck stop waitress, to try and lean on us and get us to accept their evil plan.  It was like 11:30 on Saturday night and we were both exhausted and they wore us down.  My poor wife would take another Foley Bulb, as long as Big League Chew wasn't doing the inserting.  I actually asked to make sure she wouldn't be anywhere near my wife's vagina with her massive chaw.  So they put another Foley Bulb in and inflated the fucking thing.  It popped out like an hour and a half later, which meant that it basically worked and she was like 4 centimeters dilated.  We were on the road to victory now, right?  They started some more drugs and assured us that baby would be sliding out in no time.

It didn't work.  The next morning there hadn't been much movement and now shit was generally going south. The Wife was getting a fever and the baby had an elevated heartrate, which is Baby for "Stop pushing fucking rubber balloons up in here with me, you fucking idiots."  So it's gotta be C-section now, right?  WRONG.  The Junior Class President said we'd continue with the drugs and maybe it'd only be "a few more days!"  That's when The Wife burst into tears and I almost called the principal on her.  No, no, no, no.  This Science Fair is over.  We talked about it for a while and came up with a deal: do anything you want that doesn't involve inflating shit inside my wife for the next few hours, but if she isn't over 6 cm by 9, you will cut this woman open and pull this baby out.  They finally caved and said they understood and we'd been through a lot and blah blah blah whatever.


It didn't work.  By the agreed-upon time, she wasn't at 6 c and everyone agreed let's go ahead and FINALLY get that C-section.  The OR was already booked at 8 pm so we got in there around midnight.  Amazingly enough, this is done with local anesthesia so The Wife was conscious the whole time.  There's like a blue curtain thing hung at roughly chest level so you can't see them CUTTING OPEN YOUR ABDOMEN and SHOVING YOUR INTESTINES TO THE SIDE and then PULLING A BABY OUT because that shit is even gruesomer than Napoleon McCallum's knee.  Wisely, I was on Wife's side of the curtain because I get grossed out by removing giblets from a fryer and would probably have to be institutionalized if I saw the inside of my wife.  Long story short, it only takes about 15 minutes to get the baby out and voila, there she was.  One of the docs said "Would you like to cut the cord?" and I said "NO THANK YOU!" as cheerily as I could.  Beyonce and a nurse and I all went to the nursery where they scrubbed all the birth film off of her, or mostly.

OK! So now we've got the baby on the same side of the skin as us and so that should be about a wrap, huh?  I'm not even going to get into the whole breastfeeding saga about how premature babies don't really know how to suck and they have to learn and that was a whole trial in and of itself.  Nope, there was yet one more roadblock betwixt us and GTFOing: JAUNDICE.


Jaundice sounds like one of those 18th-century things that people don't get anymore, like smallpox or consumption.  But it's surprisingly common, especially in prematures.  It has something to do with not being able to process blood or something, I'm not 100% sure.  All I'm sure about was when they said we might have to stay longer than the NINE DAYS we were already there, I may have slightly decompensated.  Anyway, there is a refreshingly bizarre cure for jaundice that doesn't involve needles or pain.  The cure for jaundice is GETTING A KILLER TAN.

Actual footage of Beyonce in the tanning bed. Do you love the goggles or do you love the goggles?
Well, not tanning, actually, but lying under bright lights of a certain frequency or something.  Amazingly, this cure for jaundice was apparently discovered when someone left a vial of jaundice blood on the windowsill in the sun!  SCIENCE AGAIN!  I am pleased to report that after 15 hours in the lightbox, Beyonce's jaundice level had fallen dramatically and we were cleared to leave.

So that's the story.  Babies get born!  It's not always this complicated, I hear.  In fact, one woman in the room next to us on Saturday had hers in about 20 minutes, sans an epidural, and believe me, if you heard the sounds that woman made, you would never ever ever want to have a baby.  ANYWAY, we're just as happy as we can be and it all turned out fine in the end.

TL;DR: It was kind of a pain in the ass, but we had a kickass baby.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap! I'm so glad that Baby Beyonce and your wife are OK. I knew your story had a happy ending, and I was still scared. I'm definitely convinced to not have a second baby now. Thanks!

Congrats again on the little one! I hope she is letting you guys get some sleep.

Tamagosan said...

There is just so much here, but it boils down to Baby Beyonce producing amazing writing. OH WAIT no, first it boils down to happiness over a healthy baby (and I assume Wife-Mom, although her role gets short shrift later in the saga; babies are such show-stealers). My friend had some scary preeclampsia and came out OK, but I bet she'll be relieved to know that there is some sort of other evil clampsia that she avoided!

I must say that I LOLed about 0.4 seconds before I read the sentence about extreme pain for 30 hours and it not being very funny at the time. It doesn't sound very funny now, but again, healthy babies and moms are the end result, so win. Welcome home, new little SF native.

sev2108 said...

Congratulations! Now that Beyonce and her mom are doing well and you all made it through, I hope you frame this post and put it on Beyonce's wall - that way she'll never doubt her parents' love.

Rachel said...

Congrats! Sounds like a real ordeal for all three of you (but your wife especially, obviously!)
Hope everyone is recovering well and welcome to the world, TK juniorette...

Civic Center said...

Why didn't they just do the C-section in the first place? Jeez, what creeps.

Congratulations on everyone surviving the ordeal.

generic said...

This was much better than the Bachelor.

KBN said...

I am preemtively agreeing with whatever Buritto Justice will be saying.

Stephen said...

Thanks to this post, I am now listening to Jet's "Get Born" in its entirety. Seriously.

TK said...

Thanks everyone! I realized after I wrote this that I failed to give my wife her proper due in this post, a grievous omission, so let me say now that I was in awe of her strength and resilience during this whole thing, and I fell in love with her all over again. Aw.

Stephen - I was actually thinking of Spoon's "The Way We Get By," but your entry is also acceptable.

GG said...

JEEBUS I'm so glad everyone is OK! When you mentioned eclampsia my first thought was "Oh god I hope they don't watch Downton Abbey!" I hope everyone is getting settled in at home and had a relaxing recovery.

GG said...

JEEBUS I'm so glad everyone is OK! When you mentioned eclampsia my first thought was "Oh god I hope they don't watch Downton Abbey!" I hope everyone is getting settled in at home and had a relaxing recovery.

Anonymous said...

I am rather jealous that your small human was born closer to Sutro Tower than my small humans.

I sent you the time and place for the daddyblogger meetup, right?

Man, I can't wait until you go through and write up your observations on the SFUSD school lottery. Now THAT will be a post to remember.

Beth Spotswood said...

WHOA! I just got all caught up. CONGRATULATIONS! That is a doozy of a story, and I hope it ends up in some form on Beyonce's senior yearbook from the future that probably will have video.

Unknown said...

hopefully that won't make you feel closer to going on 38, at least not for very long. congratulations.

also looking forward to sfusd lottery posts, and any comments on this theory of parenting/midlife:

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