May 6, 2009

Post… vivum?

Filed under: beauty,interfaces,life,lunacy,parenting,toys — mhoye @ 1:25 pm

I’m blogging this because that’s how I cope. From an anonymous friend:

@mhoye you new dads are a hoot. can’t wait to hear all about it. glad it all went well tho.

Ha ha ha, um, yeah. No. So, funny story. And by funny, I mean “awful”. It’s got a happy ending, though. I think.

I’ve got an unpublished draft of an entry here that says, in part, “I want to say that nothing there could surprise me but no, I think I will not. Whenever I say something like that the Universe hears me, and the Universe raises its game.” So, a word about that.

We went into the hospital Tuesday morning because Arlene felt very unwell and had some unusual pain in her back; I didn’t think today would be The Day, but I threw the jump bag in the trunk anyway and off we went to maternity triage. Her contractions started in earnest a little after we got there, so she was started on an antibiotic I.V., and then the pain got progressively worse. Before noon Arlene had asked for an epidural; by 12:30, after seven failed attempts by two doctors, it was in place.

Not long after that when the attending physician determined that things weren’t progressing as they should, her water was broken; as well, the baby’s pulse had been a rock-steady 150bpm all morning where some fluctuation is expected between periods of activity and inactivity, and we weren’t seeing much or any of that. And that seemed to move things along briefly, but not for very long.

The doctor was concerned about their instrumentation at that point, so it was proposed that a monitor be put on the baby’s scalp, in utero, to get a more accurate read of the pulse. That was done, and the chart showed a bit of variation following its application, but not much; it was thought that we’d still be here for some time, so the nurses handed off temporarily to get lunch.

It was about half an hour later that Arlene started shaking uncontrollably. It was just us together in the room when her blood pressure spiked and the convulsions started.

I called the nurse, the nurse called the obstetrician and the obstetrician took one look at the situation and called for the operating room to be prepped for an emergency c-section. So when I mentioned that things got complicated all of a sudden yesterday? Yeah, that’s because the topic of the room went from baby names and what we’re going to do with futurekid to phrases like “B.P. 215 over 110”, “Fetal pulse 200”, “page the anaesthesiologist” and “emergency c-sec, fetal distress.” You know those scenes on TV where the husband is holding the wife’s hand as they trundle down the hall to the O.R.? That man is a fool, he’s ballast; I told my wife that I loved her and got the hell out of everyone’s way.

The obstetrician called it like a quarterback and pretty soon then they wheeled her out the door and down the hall, and told me they’d be back for me in ten minutes once she was prepped. And just as suddenly I went from a room full of adrenaline-fueled medical commotion to being alone in an empty hospital room, surrounded by obstetrical debris and silent machines.

I wouldn’t have thought that sitting by myself in a quiet room could be the worst ten minutes of my life, but it was. By far.

They called me into the OR after ten minutes in my quiet personal hell, and I got to sit on one side of a curtain and hold my wife’s hand and smile at her while they levered her uterus open on the other. I peeked over the curtain at one point, and kind of wish I hadn’t.

Maybe twenty minutes, maybe half an hour later Maya was brought around, wrapped in a towel and very, very quiet. She didn’t start crying either, even after the pediatrician had flicked her feet a few times. Quiet and grey, so grey. Arlene saw her briefly, I saw her for a few more moments as they tried to siphon out her lungs, and off she went to pediatric intensive care.

At that point I was told that I could choose stay with Arlene or go with the baby, since there was work to do in both places. I told Arlene I loved her again, and went after the kid.

Early on, the situation there was grim. I’d rather not watch another infant have blood samples drawn, put in a plastic enclosure and wired up to at least five different machines again, if it’s all the same to any of you. Maya was put on and IV of saline and supplementary antibiotics and put in an enclosure to ramp up her oxygen intake as quickly as possible. She needed her lungs suctioned out several times, having inherited whatever it was that pushed mom into labor.

When I went back to see mom later, she was in the recovery room, feverish and shivering, swaddled in quilts. Oddly, she was the one being swaddled – Maya was lying uncovered, in her little plexiglass bubble.

We had the same conversation five times in that recovery room. She couldn’t remember it, when I came back from seeing Maya; when we moved her into her room, just across from neonatal intensive care, she was a bit more lucid, but still feverish. I spent the next few hours changing the cold compresses on her head and neck, and walking back and forth between her and Maya.

They took a spinal fluid sample from Maya around this point, also something I don’t care to be a party to again.

But then a good thing or two happened. Started to happen, at least.

Arlene’s fever broke around eight thirty last night. She went from being feverish and semicoherent to tired, understandable and a little thirsty in about half an hour, just like that. And Maya, on her saline, tube-delivered-formula and antibiotic régime, been steadily improving since then. She’d never shown a fever and by 9:00 or so was a reasonable pink color, and she’s been steadily getting pinker and noisier ever since. After a night’s fitful sleep for all of us, mom is lucid and walking and eating; Maya is eating too, off the tube-fed formula and on to breastfeeding. She’s going to be in that bubble for another few days, but we can hold her and talk to her there, even if we can’t walk any further than the length of the wires she’s still attached to.

It’s been a pretty emotional day or so.

She has the correct number of fingers and toes; she’s a tall baby and has inherited dad’s longer second toe, much to mom’s chagrin. Maya cries now, not loud or often yet but hearteningly more than not at all; I’m pretty crushingly tired, and I’m only able to type this by timing the way my hands are shaking. But she’s beautiful. They’re both beautiful, and getting well very quickly, and we’ll all be going home healthy and whole, I hope, in a few days.

Some of you (A lot of you, in fact) have sent us a lot of love, support and offers of assistance in the last day or so, and don’t think that I don’t love you for it – I’m more grateful than I can say. But right now, the three of us just need to wait out the process. We have what we need so far, and we’ll be going home soon. I’m looking forward to introducing Maya to all of you; she’s pretty cute.

But I think the next time we think about having a kid, we’ll just buy a hedgehog instead.


  1. Wow.

    That’s quite the story. I’m glad everyone is doing okay.

    This read like an episode of ER or something, can’t believe it really happened.

    Congrats, FutureKid = Maya now, love the name.

    I’m permanently scarred about having children now. I would have been a wreck too; those 10mins must have been surreal.

    Go get some rest, all three of you!

    Comment by Nino D'Aversa — May 6, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  2. Words…lacking…

    I’m glad the mom and baby appear to be okay.

    Comment by Jamie Bowden — May 6, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  3. Wow, Mike. Wow.

    Needless to say, your twitters yesterday did nothing to convey the severity of your situation. Super-glad that Arlene’s recovering and that little Maya Alexander is coming along. That’s a great name, fwiw. I hope everybody’s well-and-good and going home real soon.

    Congratulations don’t seem adequate. I also think you deserve more than the standard 100G for babies and award you an additional:


    best wishes. :)

    Comment by Rob Campbell — May 6, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

  4. > I peeked over the curtain at one point, and kind of wish I hadn’t.

    I wish someone had told me that you can’t un-see some shit. Sorry for not providing the same heads-up.

    Glad everyone is recovering. I’d say something about “whatever doesn’t kill you…” but I am am reasonably convinced that *you* would kill me if I poked the Universe with a stick at this point.

    Comment by Coop — May 6, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  5. I had to skip to the end immediately to make sure it did have a happy ending. I can’t imagine what it was like to have to live through in real time.

    I’m so glad things appear to be on the upswing, and I sincerely hope that continues to be the case.

    Congratulations and best wishes to you, Arlene, and Maya.

    Comment by Ben Ryan — May 6, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about this. I had a scare with my first child, too. And you’re right, it makes the next birth a lot scarier, especially when you have no good way of knowing if you’re at risk for it happening again. In most cases though, like in my case, it’s not a condition that is likely to repeat. In my case everything went smoothly the second time and we now have a beautiful-hat monster.

    Best of luck to you and your family. Hopefully it’s smooth sailing from here on out.

    Comment by Majken "Lucy" Connor — May 6, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  7. Hoye, I am constantly stunned by your ability to stay cool under tremendous pressure. Your rock steady demeanor must have been incredibly helpful to Arlene and Maya, even if you didn’t realize it.

    Love to all, so happy everyone’s OK.

    Comment by Mike Beltzner — May 6, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  8. I’m so glad it turned out well. Maya is a beautiful name.

    With any luck, this will be the most drama that she’ll cause you from here on out.

    Comment by Lara — May 6, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  9. I’m very glad to hear that things seem well now, though not a fraction as glad as you all must be, I’m sure, since I can visualize just enough of what you describe to want to hide under the desk and then go hold SteelyKid for about eight hours straight. Yikes.

    Best wishes to all.

    Comment by Kate Nepveu — May 6, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

  10. Wow. Just wow. What a dramatic entrance Miss Maya made! Sit up and take note, that one is going to rock the world some day.

    So glad that everyone is recovering well. Love and hugs to all of you.

    Comment by Maggie — May 6, 2009 @ 3:01 pm

  11. Oh, Mike. Just… no words.

    I am glad that Maya is recovering, I am glad Arlene is getting better, I am glad you are safe and sane after all that. Best wishes to all of you. We are looking forward to meeting Maya too.

    Comment by Zeynep — May 6, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  12. I revisited this blog three times before actually commenting, because like many others said, I couldn’t think of anything to say, let alone the right thing to say.

    However, I’m so happy to hear that you, Arlene and Maya are all recovering, physically and emotionally. So very happy. We can’t wait to meet Maya, either.

    Comment by Kaitlin — May 6, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  13. Glad to hear that everyone is well. (Will keep praying for you all!)

    Comment by Chris Tyler — May 6, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  14. In accordance with your non-jinxing stance, this is not a sigh of relief at reaching the end of your post; it is merely a long drawn-out gusty exhalation of “holy cow”.

    Good on you for not losing your shit. Keep us posted.

    Comment by Leigh Butler — May 6, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  15. What, no photos?

    (And to everyone else reading, yes, that’s just the kind of jackass I am.)

    Comment by Quotation — May 6, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

  16. Wow. That’s terrifying.

    I’m incredibly glad that everything is going better now.

    Best wishes to all of you.

    Comment by Mike Bruce — May 6, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

  17. Words escape me. “Complicated” was definitely an understatement. As you may have guessed, I was anticipating a tale much less terrifying. And that was just reading about it. Not sure I’d be as coherent as you at this point.

    Blessings to all of you.

    Comment by janice — May 6, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  18. How proud we are of you both.
    We love her, although we haven’t yet seen her.
    What a life she will lead.
    Good parents, lots of family and so many wonderful and caring friends.
    Thank you all.

    Comment by His parents — May 6, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

  19. I’m very, very glad that, in the end, Maya and Arlene and you are all doing well. I’m very sorry to hear you all had to go through that, and sincerely hope you all never have to experience anything like that again.

    And you did the absolute right thing getting the hell out of the way, up there when you made a comment about ballast and all that. You did the absolute right thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on duty in that situation when we’re trying to rush someone’s wife into the delivery room for a crash c-section and the panicked father just gets in our way, in a situation where we’re fighting for every last second. You had the sense even in the worst moment of your life not to make that mistake. And I can tell you from my own experience, being on the doctor’s end of things: it can make all the difference in the world. You did the right thing.

    Strength to you all. Strength and our love.

    Comment by Jeffrey Huo — May 6, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  20. Congrats to you and Arlene! Glad to hear that everyone is okay. I can’t wait to meet Maya and to see the two of you. Hopefully you will be up for a visit when we come this weekend.

    Good luck with these next few days.

    Comment by Julie — May 6, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  21. That’s a terrifying story, Mike. I just sent off a gift for the new little girl, before I read this — now I wish I could have included something that would somehow be comforting for you or Arlene, but I can’t imagine what in the world that would be, other than health and peace and quiet (well, actually, lots of the right kind of noises, and not a lot of peace!) for all of you. So a silly stuffed elephant will have to do. Best to you all.

    Comment by Aven — May 6, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

  22. Mike, I just want to add my thanks that the nightmare seems to be over and the hope that I’m right.

    May you never have to experience anything like that again.

    Comment by MCSwan — May 6, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

  23. Wow.


    When we delivered our first via c-section, it was after 24 hours of non-progressing labor, and was stressful enough. I can’t imagine the stress involved in your situation.

    Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for you, Arlene and Maya.

    Comment by Mike S. — May 6, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  24. I’m happy to hear your family has pulled through. Best wishes for the future.

    Comment by James Boston — May 6, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

  25. Nrgh… that was not fun to read, I’m won’t even try to imagine how not fun it was to live through. So glad to hear that everyone is doing better and should be home soon! Don’t fret too much about the lack of crying, some babies are just mellow — maybe she inherited her parents’ nerves of steel.

    Love and good thoughts to the three of you. (And when you’re all feeling a bit better, we owe you a labour-and-delivery pizza.)

    Comment by Tyla — May 7, 2009 @ 4:48 am

  26. Glad to hear everything is doing well.

    Comment by Michael I — May 7, 2009 @ 6:56 am

  27. Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch.

    I’m glad that everyone made it thus far okay. Will be praying for y’all that this is the road to recovery and things don’t suddenly crash.

    Comment by Jennifer Jones — May 7, 2009 @ 7:33 am

  28. Michael, do you remember that the girls also had fever/exposure when they were delivered. went in a few days early, c-section, not breathing well, spinal tap, etc.
    Next month off to Wellesley and U of Chicago.
    She looks adorable.
    Isn’t the female version Alexandra, not alexander?
    (P.S. Kelsey is Alexandra as well — runs in the family)
    Elin andDrew

    Comment by Elin Sigurdson — May 7, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  29. Yikes. Best wishes for speediest return home.

    Comment by Rajesh — May 7, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  30. Hey Mike. Its actually wonderful news. Everyone is fine and you have a great sotry to tell. What could be better. Congratulations to you three.

    Comment by Ricksod — May 12, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

  31. I was so moved by your story, Mike. Love to you and Arlene and Maya. Thank you for that very special treat of getting to “visit” her briefly the other day. I could almost touch her. Enjoy. Enjoy.

    Comment by Bobbi — May 23, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

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