A Son!

Hello hypothetical readers; sorry for my absence, but I've spent the last weeks pretty well busy – as I foreshadowed in May, I have a son now!

baby isaac

It's been quite an adjustment. Isaac was born on August 7, 2020 after a very long1 labor, but he's happy and healthy now. I got 3 weeks off of work, which I spent with my wife doing intensive child care. Let me tell you, I have a whole new respect for single parents. Caring for an infant with just the two of us (since none of our families or friends can visit or help out due to COVID-19) is hard work. He needs to be fed every 2 – 3 hours, changed every 0.1 – 3 hours, and while he does sleep a lot, it's not really the kind of deep sleep where you can just put him in a crib and do other work. As of a couple of days ago, I'm back at work2, but my wife still has six or so more weeks of parental leave. We're still trying to do our best to spread the load, which means I'm spending most nights up all night3. Again, much props to all the single parents out there. Also: much props to grocery delivery. Things would be a lot harder if I had to gird myself against the pandemic and spend an hour getting groceries every time we ran out of something.

I guess you should prepare yourself for lots more baby pictures in the future.

My son's delivery was at the nearby hospital, which is owned by Sutter Health Group. Sutter Health also owns every other hospital in the area except the Kaiser in Oakland, which is only accessible to people on Kaiser insurance. I'm noting this first because, like most people in America, we didn't have any realistic choice about what hospital to go to, unless we were willing to drive to a different county (potentially an hour or more drive with traffic to get to UCSF).

Keeping in mind that Sutter Health has a monopoly on delivery centers in the area, you can imagine my surprise when we received the first bill for the delivery, in the amount of $103,736. No, that's not a typo. Nope, it's not missing a decimal point. One hundred and three thousand dollars. More than the average Californian makes in a year before tax. Yes, I have pretty good insurance and they're covering most of that4, but Jesus Fucking Christ, we were in the hospital for less than a week, in a labor & delivery ward (no ICU, etc) and had no unusual procedures performed. We weren't even in a very good hospital; there was a concerning level of dirt and grime, the cafeteria wasn't open on weekends, and a scary amount of the medical equipment was broken and had to be replaced during our stay. The doctors and nurses (especially the nurses) were good, but we spent maybe a total of four hours over the entire stay interacting with a doctor, and until the very end over the delivery5 we only saw a nurse once every two or three hours6. This isn't exactly concierge care!

I was always in favor of socialized medicine, but after seeing how (a) awful the care is, and (b) how incredibly, comically, expensive it is for a hospital stay that basically every human being goes through, I just want to take a moment to offer an emphatic middle finger to every Roger-Ailes-brainwashed voter and politician who's kept us in this nightmare system of private medicine while the rest of the world moved on to treating medical care as a right instead of a privilege.


  1. 49 hour 

  2. with "flexible hours", whatever that means, and still working from home (due to COVID-19) 

  3. I mean, not technically all night, but he tends to only sleep for 30-90 minute stretches during the night then want to eat and be burped and whatnot. 

  4. How much of that? Who knows! Some parts of the bill are "out-of-network" even though everything was done at an "in-network" hospital and it's not like anyone gave us choices over which doctors or nurses would perform specific procedures. A bunch of stuff is also missing, and presumably will be on some subsequent bill. I expect to end up paying somewhere between $2,000 and $20,000 out of pocket for the entire thing. 

  5. They give you a dedicated nurse once you pass the 36 hour mark, I guess? 

  6. In the L&D room, my wife was hooked up to a bunch of monitors because she was on pitocin and they require continuous monitoring of pulse, fetal pulse, blood oxygenation, and blood pressure when someone's on pitocin. Those monitors were connected to an old-school continuous feed printer and just generated a constant stream of paper containing her stats. That printer ran out of paper every 3 hours or so, at which point it would emit a piercing beep and flash bright red. Every time this happened, we would have to page the nurse to have someone come change the damn paper because apparently it's not a high priority that we're having a very loud alarm go off right next to my wife's head while she's in labor, and they have a policy of not pre-emptively replacing the paper before the alarm goes off. Separately, the pitocin or ringers bag would run out every few hours and need to be replaced. For the first day or so, the only times we saw any medical staff would be to introduce themselves at shift change 3x a day, and to come in after we paged them when these damned alarms were going off every few hours. 


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