"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Star is Born, part one: A Rupture of Membranes

(I plan to tell this story in three parts: Before, During, and After. This is Before.)

Mommy's water broke 11 weeks early. That night went something like this:

It was after ten p.m. and my wife and I had both gone to bed. I was conked, which is abnormal. I usually don't sleep well on Sunday nights before a regular school week. My mind races. But tonight, I was out cold. May, however, had gotten up three times in ten minutes, wondering how hard the baby had to kick her bladder to make her wet herself. She was leaking.

She: Brent, something's wrong. I need to call the doctor.

Me: (basically still asleep) Are you kidding? We go to the doctor every week for some new paranoia of yours. Just go to sleep, crazy woman.

But she didn't do as she was told by me. She called the doctor. Due to a variety of factors, the pregnancy was high risk, and we had enrolled in a special care clinic at the hospital just down the street. The doctor said she had better come in to make sure she wasn't losing amniotic fluid. I sleep-drove for five minutes while May kept saying she was sorry, and we'd be back home and asleep soon. I didn't say much because I was fuming at having been dragged out of bed in the middle of the night for the fifth or sixth false alarm in so many months, despite the fact that I knew very well that pregnant women should not leak.

At the hospital, all the appropriate people performed all the appropriate tests, and finally the doctor said, "It looks like your water did break. We'll get you taken care of." The doctor left without saying much more, and soon May and I were alone in the room. I leaned over her vexed visage and said, "From now on, the version of this story is going to include me saying: Aren't you glad I told you we should go to the hospital?"

It was clever of me because she laughed and whatever tension had built up because of my recalcitrance over the last two hours was gone. Then the nurse came back in and said, "Okay, lets get you admitted to the hospital." And we were like, "What? Admitted? For how long? What does this mean?" And she was like, "The doctor didn't tell you? You need to stay here until the baby's born." And we were like, "What? Admitted? For how long? What does this mean?" 

It turns out that when your water breaks, you don't leave the hospital again until after you've given birth. The baby isn't protected from infection any more. Statistics attest that you will give birth within 48 hours of prematurely rupturing your membranes. 

The next five weeks were a combination of delirious boredom and massive tension that could not be assuaged with free pudding from the nourishment room. May was fed three squares a day, but the limited hospital menu paled in comparison to a fresh Smashburger. I ended up eating way too much fast food, from Sonic breakfast croissants to Chipotle chicken burritos, and began a weight gain that has yet to subside.

Other than watching every single episode of The Office, we're not exactly sure how we passed most of that time. May was allowed to take wheelchair rides around the hospital but wasn't supposed to walk any farther than the bathroom. After taking the first two days off thinking the inevitable was sooner rather than later, I went to school every day but was at the hospital every night. Sometimes I went home to sleep, but most nights I stretched out on the couch by the big window. We had enough of a view that we watched Autumn turn the green leaves of Denver to gold and steal them away from the world.

It was a peculiar vortex in our lives where literally any minute the known universe maintained that May would go into labor and we'd have an extremely premature baby. That kind of pressure somehow doesn't leave time for much else. May can read about 350 words an hour, but she didn't even get through one book. Every day the medical professionals did their job and told us there was no sign of infection, and the baby looked great. But every time he slipped away from the monitor or wasn't moving with enough variability, May would worry, and I would wonder, "Is today the day?" And if it happened now, "Will everybody be okay?"
At first, he was crazy tiny.
I thought about ending this installation of the story with the sentence above, cliffhanger-style. But you all know everybody's okay. Four months later, Xander can now be off oxygen for an hour a day (or all night if someone accidentally forgets to turn it back on, but that didn't happen, and you didn't hear nothin'), and he's so fat that the doctor wanted to take him off his caloric supplement altogether. Anyway, stay tuned for...the rest of the story.


  1. so sweet, I teared up (at work, no less).

  2. Oh what a wonderful story and I'm glad it had a happy ending. You'll have to work on that night grumpiness as I'm sure there will be many more occasions in which a little noise shall rouse you from sleep :)

  3. It is amazing what we can endure, isn't it? As a first hand observer, I am proud of how well you all did.

  4. Wow. Our new little person came with no muss and little fuss. The delivery was a scheduled c-section, and we just showed up and became parents. Except for accidently looking over the curtain and seeing Christina's insides when I am used to looking at her outsides, there was no trauma (on my part). I am glad your little guy is doing well.

  5. love this line: pregnant women should not leak.

    So he actually arrived 6 weeks early? Trying to figure out when she delivered after getting to the hospital.

    and oh my word! someone forgot to turn his oxygen back on???

  6. @ Melissa: It was never my intention to cause you embarrassment at work; however, it was my intention to make you cry. Mission accomplished.

    @ Michael: I'm still pretty grumpy in the middle of the night. But Xander is sleeping longer an longer at night, which makes me happier and happier.

    @ Alex: And I thank you for all of your indispensable help and support.

    @ Doug: I'm glad we didn't have to go the C-section route. The actual birth was relatively easy (for me), but that story is pending, and I don't want to give too much away here...

    @ Tamara: Thanks. He was 6 weeks early, and the story of what happened due to the prematurity is pending, too, so you'll have to check back for more details.

    And, no, no one ever forgot to turn his oxygen on...yeah, that's the ticket...

  7. I've never had children so I'm not very familiar with the process of childbirth...but I've never heard of someone's water breaking five weeks before birth. That seems like it would be extremely uncomfortable.

    Were you allowed to bring your wife food from the outside world? DID you bring her the occasional milkshake? I remember from my own hospital time how much hospital food sucks.

  8. Awww, I'm so glad I started following you. Eagerly awaiting the next part of the story...and FIVE WEEKS? FIVE????? I can't imagine having to wait that long to give birth...the tension and anticipation must've been unbearable.

  9. @ Chanel: I don't think we broke any records, but it is pretty rare that the baby isn't born soon after the water breaks.

    I wouldn't know exactly how uncomfortable it was. I was just a bystander. But I was able to bring in anything she wanted. We were even able to go to the hospital cafeteria, which was slightly above the standards of the room service food.

    @ Nicki: Thanks for following. It was a loooong five weeks. "Anticipation" is a good word here.

  10. Wow! This post brought back memories of my pregnancies. All VERY different experiences. Pregnancy can be one of the most exhausting, emotionally charged times of a woman's life--and her husband's life for that matter.

    I can't imagine going through what you and your wife did. However, I am VERY glad that everyone is alright and that little Xander is doing so well. That is all very good news, and I am looking forward to the next installment of this story. :)

  11. Thanks Candice. I also have two older daughters and those births were radically different from each other, too. Hopefully, I'll get to the rest of the story soon.