Pierre has really gone crazy with blogging. He’s quite up to date, en vogue, tres currant w/ the stories! So, after a 3 month hiatus in the high Alps of Pregnancy, I too finally have a second to tell my own tale of how it all went down, and how Max and Manu finally made it through the portal of life.

The Power of One
The Power of One

But like Superman, when he became so angry at some personal injustice that he flew at supersonic speed against the earth’s rotation — causing it to reverse it’s spin, and thus reverse time, we have to go back a few months, when I was tipping the scale at 160 lbs and still had 2 fish swimming around in my basket.

My entire pregnancy had been fluent, effortless, and I assumed it was going to continue as Pierre and I made our way to Parinatal, a clinic specializing in high-risk pregnancy. 2 weeks prior the doctors had instructed me to take it easy and rest. I had found it impossible to stay put, as though bed rest would be the death knell of my independence.

Pierre began to worry, asking, “How much will it take to get you to go lay down?”
“I dont know.” I said. I waited, looking at him. How much would it take?
He offers, “$20 bucks … How about $20 bucks, will that get you down? Go lay down for an hour and I’ll give you $20 bucks”

That worked a few days…

Max, not quite ready for the world.
Max, not quite ready for the world.

At Parinatal, the doctor took one look at the ultrasound and he says to me, “Your cervix is only 7cc, I need you to check into ER today. Don’t waste time, quit your job (like I have one), stop everything. Go to ER”.
As soon as I can throw everything in a bag, I arrive at the ER, they take my vitals, shoot me up with steroids (to help the lungs and brain of Max and Manu develop quickly in case of pre-term delivery), and put me on strict bed rest. I am only at 27 weeks.

Planet Saturn
Planet Saturn

I am hooked up to 3 monitors around my belly. 2 are for the heartbeats of the kiddos and the other is to measure my contractions. It records all this on a trail of paper (see pic below) which streams out 24 hours per day killing 100s of trees in it’s wake.

Meanwhile, the twins are alive under my skin. They kick hard enough now that they’ve bruised my organs and a rib. Best of all is when their fists and elbows push up through my stomach and swim under the skin, a bit like Freddie Kruger #3 when all the souls he’d captured were trying to escape his body. I watch intently — their captivated audience.

Bed Rest ain’t for the meek.
Bed Rest ain’t for the meek.

After 3 days here I, without solicitation, have an OBY, a high risk specialist, a lactation specialist, a creative arts organizer, a chaplain, a manicurist, an adviser for preterm delivery, a social worker, and countless nurses all stop by my bedside to insure my well-being while on bed rest. The hospital wants to insure that patients don’t grow depressed (which is very common). For me, bed rest is a holiday. My room even has a better view and address than our apartment!

Bed rest ain’t cheap though. It’s so not cheap, that Pierre and I set up a poll for our readers to guess just how cheap it isn’t. Unfortunately, Pierre was too excited and he spilled the beans, so you know by now….

$5000+ per day. Had I known, I would have been demanding Henna tinctures and monkeys to pick lint from my hair.

So, I am on bed rest for the next several weeks, if not months. I must say, I have not slept this well in years. Is it worth $5000 per night? … It depends on who’s paying.

Best Rest Homies - 27 weeks and counting
Best Rest Homies
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Last weekend, we went to Babies’R'us. I captured for the posterity this picture that, I know, a certain Mommy Grooms and a bunch of giggling friends would have never believed to see one day. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and left past 10pm, by far the last customers, and $950 lighter.

For those of you who don’t live in the US, Babies’R'us is the supermarket where you can find absolutely everything you need for a baby, except the baby itself. For the baby, it’s simple: just follow Brad and Angelina who started the trend and go help yourself in Vietnam. They’ve got literally tons of them over there at $25,000 each (approximately $4,000/pound or 5,500 euros/kilo: it’s a very profitable business). It might seem a bit steep at first but at least you are guaranteed to get the model you want, healthy and all, unlike IVF at $15,000 a pop with dubious success rates.

But let’s not let these little preoccupations spoil our pleasure: we came back with the car packed full of delights and we can’t wait to have our two little wonders at home with us.

An Authentic Mother Hen
An Authentic Mother Hen
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Two weeks in bed: $75,000
Two weeks in bed: $75,000

Million Dollar Babies. Nope, it has nothing to do with Clint Eastwood’s movie. It’s just the tale of a normal middle-class American family with a pair of kids who were born a bit too early.

We received Merritt’s bill for her first two weeks of bed rest at the hospital: $75,000. That’s more than $5,300 per day — $5,100 for the bed and $200 for miscellaneous stuff (like the $15 vitamin pill or the cheerful Nursing Consultant who stops by the room, introduces herself as “Hi, my name is Sally and I’ll explain you how to nurse your baby”, then stays 10 minutes and bills $85 for the service).

But Merritt stayed 3 1/2 weeks, so the total for the bed rest should be $130,000.
Add the costs of a C-section, $30,000, and her total is $160,000.

Now if the room where Merritt was vaguely monitored already costs 5 grands a day, how much can it be for the kiddos? We took a bet, then asked a nurse and, lo and behold, the result came in at $10,000 a day. Each, of course.

Max & Manu were born at 29 1/2 weeks and a good guess is that they’ll stay 6 weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Total: 6 weeks * 7 days per week * $10,000 per day * 2 babies = $840,000.

So the Grand Total to bring our two precious little people on an already crowded planet is $160,000 + $840,000. And that’s….

Merritt and I got the Million Dollar Babies!!!
and we can assure you that we already love them so much more than that…
- - - - - - - -


Fortunately, all that will be taken care of by Merritt’s insurance (fair deal, these babies are her idea anyhow - you know, women…), a public insurance which comes from the State of California and allows her to choose her doctor.

Now imagine if a programmer like me, covered by Kaiser (a private insurance that’s rated as average in terms of actual care but the best in California in terms of coverage), decided to extend his coverage to his wife and his kids… How much would that cost him? Between $800 and $1,000 per month of premiums, plus $7,000 dollars a year of out-of-pocket expenses. Total: up to $19,000 dollars a year. And he would not even be free to go see the best doctors in town, he’d be stuck with the doctors who are employed by the same company that insures his health (a bit as if your car insurance company was employing an army of auto-mechanics to maximize their profits). Yuck!

And what does happen if the programmer can’t fork out 20 grands annually for health care? Easy: he gets the bill for one million. Why Americans don’t want a health system that’s organized by physicians and ran by the public rather than exploited by the corporate boards of private companies, it’s beyond me…

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That will get you started
That will get you started

$10,475 for the basic procedure…
$3,500 for the meds…
$250 for a test here…
$400 for a test there…
and on… and on… and on…

At the end of the day, we still don’t know how much exactly we spent on these kids. But one thing is sure, they’ll pay for it one day. I kept the bills, right there in a box with a fake Christmas tree we found on the sidewalk.

The day they start bitching, the day they start calling me an old jerk, I’ll be there with my bills to show them I loved them once - and I’ll ask for my payback.

And good thing they’re two: at least they can split the bills.

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On my visits to the clinic, most of the women looked in their mid to late 30s, though I saw 20 year olds to 45 year olds. They seemed very normal, upper middle class, and definitely white. Everyone was always white except for one Asian woman. Pierre made a joke once in the waiting room but the woman just stared at him. Fertility clinic is no place for joking.

During one visit, the clinic staff said to me that I was unusually calm and that most women are extremely nervous to the point of anxiety. They want the baby so bad that it leads to that much stress. I am guessing many women are on their 2nd or 3rd attempt, dealing with 6 figure credit card debt and possibly a lot of relationship/marriage tension… in which case I would be full-on stress-disorder as well.

Pierre and I were fascinated with IVF data. Maybe you will be too:

“The average, median cost per IVF cycle in 2002 in the US was about $12,000 plus $1,000-3,500K for medication, and the cost per actual live birth was $65,000+.

“However, if you take into account all the failures and repeat attempts at IVF, the average, overall cost per IVF resulting in a live birth in the United States is over $100,000!

In France, all of this would have been free. We couldn’t go, though, because of Pierre’s job. But if it doesn’t work on the first attempt, we’ll probably have no choice but to fly over to a nation that cares a bit more about its people (and helps them give birth to future tax-payers, which isn’t a bad investment if you ask me).

Chances of a live birth resulting from IVF based on age:

40 to 42 years old: 14%

We were very very lucky.

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