Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#52 Birth Story

Blitz is No Longer Blitz

Danae’s Version:

‘Oh that hurts.’

‘What do you mean it’s too late for an epidural?!?!?!’

‘You’re going to sleep? Don’t you love our son?’

‘Seriously? Social work? But we had prenatal care. I checked my blood pressure in Africa. And I saw a doctor in Massachusetts on Monday.’

‘Seriously? Do you think we’re stupid? You think we don’t know that he needs to be in a car seat?’

Olen’s Version:

‘That was water.’

I’d heard it several times before over the last several weeks, so I really thought nothing of it. Heard both the sentence and the sound of water hitting the toilet.

‘Well, do you want to start amoxicillin?’ We had some along. The stool ova and parasites test and the stool culture had both been negative. Mebendazole and metronidazole hadn’t helped. My wife was still pooping water. I figured amoxicillin might treat the stuff mebendazole and Flagyl hadn’t cured and wouldn’t show up on normal stool studies.

‘No, it’s in my hand.’

‘Um... you should probably wash your hands then. Do you need me to change the sheets?’ If you live in Africa long enough, you know that sometimes it comes too fast to make it to the bathroom.

‘No, it’s not poop. It’s water.’

‘Yeah, I got that. You’ve been pooping water for ages now.’

‘No, it’s not poop.’

‘Pee? That’s new.’


‘Oh! Oh! Oh, hey! You mean, you broke your water? Well that’s great!!! Isn’t it?’ Mark time. 11:40PM, June 24. Danae’s obstetrics and gynecology boards are 56 hours away. ‘Um, we can deliver and get you to boards in time, right? Hey, do you wanna drive to Baystate?’

Our last four years in America were spent at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, roughly seven hours away. Six without traffic. Five if there are no officers of the law and I’m driving like my wife’s about to have a baby and we don’t need to stop.

As it would turn out, we needed to stop.

‘Ok, the next one.’

We had spent the last several exits on the New Jersey Turnpike contemplating the wisdom of 3-4 more hours in the car. The GPS said that the closest hospital was almost half an hour away. Danae had been moaning pretty severely for an hour or more already. Moans seemed to be about every ten minutes. Sounded pretty painful.

We pulled into the ambulance bay at Lourdes Medical Center in Burlington, New Jersey. I ask two paramedics if they have obstetrics and anesthesia at this hospital. They said yes and whisked Danae into the ER.

I found a parking spot across the street and collected all our luggage for the next couple days. I walked in and finally found Danae. Turns out, they didn’t have obstetrics and were transferring her, having already called the ambulance. They wouldn’t let us drive ourselves to the other hospital. ‘You didn’t have any prenatal care?!?!?!’ They put on EKG leads and took vital signs and drew labs and started an IV and did an ultrasound. After determining (which is another story in itself, ask Danae) that she was two centimeters and that she wasn’t crowning (as opposed to two centimeters and crowning???) and that her ultrasound was normal, they put her on a stretcher and wheeled her into the ambulance.

The ambulance staff asked where we had our prenatal care. ‘Africa.’ They stopped asking questions.

An hour after arriving at Lourdes Medical Center, we arrived at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Danae was put into a birthing room and determined to be 9.5 cm. ‘You didn’t have any prenatal care?!?!?!’ They got the rest of the story. The ambulance overheard. Then they realized that we weren’t kidding when we said our prenatal care was in Africa.

I was sent to the desk to fill out paperwork. A minute later, I heard, ‘Where’s the father?’ Game on.

I walk into the room and she’s ready to push. No time for an epidural. Fifteen minutes after arriving at the hospital, at 3:25AM, June 25, Blitz was born, all 7lb 2oz and 20 inches of him. Danae finally had vindication for all those people who told her that it’s not healthy to only gain 13 pounds during your pregnancy.

I cut the cord and took photos of the next several hours of excitement. Then they took him off for his official first bath and first physical. Because the nursery was full, he had to go to the special unit, where I wouldn’t be allowed to follow him.

Despite my wife’s pleading for me to go find him immediately after he left the room, I fell asleep about 9AM, some six hours after he was born. I hadn’t slept the last two nights.

Sabbath, June 25 was a whirlwind. That afternoon/evening, we had visitors and celebrations until the last well-wishers left around 10PM. We were amazed at the people willing to drive to New Jersey to see us.

‘When was the last time you breastfed?’ ‘Why isn’t it written in here?’ ‘Was it both breasts?’ ‘How long did you breastfeed for?’ ‘Well which was it? 30 or 35 minutes?’ Sunday, June 26 we got a new nurse. She wasn’t quite as personable. Whereas all our previous nurses had been interested in Africa and asked for our story, this nurse just heard that we hadn’t had prenatal care.

When we were ready to go, about 5PM, the nurse walked into the room and handed a phone to Danae. She had called for a social work consult for us. She told us, ‘It’s required when a woman doesn’t care enough to get prenatal care for her infant.’

Um, seriously? Danae lifts the phone to her ear. ‘Yes?’ ‘One.’ ‘He’s not here.’ ‘He’s in Washington, DC.’ ‘With his grandparents.’ ‘Because we thought it would be better to have him with his grandparents than try to keep him out of trouble in a hospital.’

If they only knew. Our house in Africa would probably be condemned in the US. Spotty electricity, no water heater, bugs galore, mice, cats, dogs, goats, sheep, chickens, guinea fowl, horses. Lyol rides on the motorcycle, sometimes between me and the handlebars. Lyol’s never been in a car seat in Africa, since we rarely have functioning seat belts. He’s exposed to who knows how many parasites. He’s had malaria three times in six months. He’s naked 95% of the time. And we still consider ourselves pretty good parents, believe it or not.

Anyway, after passing the social work consult, which also involved bringing the car seat up to the room, proving that we both know how to put him in it, proving that we both know how to change his outfit and proving that we both know how to change a diaper, we walk out with Zane Oliver Netteburg, one-day-old extraordinaire.

Blitz’s Version:

Okay, so first of all, you can start calling me ‘Zane Oliver,’ but more on that later.

I’ll pick up the story where it began.

I was conceived in a girl’s dormitory in France. You know how that goes. If I had a nickel for every time a kid told me, ‘Oh yeah? Me too!’

Well, this is kinda boring. Skipping along, I moved to Tchad, Africa when I was roughly negative six months old. Boy this just gets more and more boring.

Let’s try this for the third time: Mom and Dad tried to fly to the US from Tchad. Unfortunately, at the airport, the airline lady said that Mom didn’t have the right paperwork signed in order to get on the airplane 38 weeks pregnant, despite that the forms were printed off of the airline’s own website!

We had to trek across N’Djamena to find the only gynecologist in Tchad approved to sign the proper papers. He didn’t have the papers, so we went back across N’Djamena to the ticketing office to get the proper papers. Then at the doctor’s office, we had to wait four hours to see the doctor. That cost over $40.

The next morning, we had to see another doctor to get another signature. That cost over $60. Over $100 to get the forms signed. Mommy usually charges pregnant ladies 50 cents to have a prenatal appointment. We paid for 200 prenatal appointments!!!

At the airport, they had no record of us being on the flight. They told us to wait and that the tickets would be right over. Daddy called the director of the airline in Tchad. He had taken our flight information the day before and said he would change our tickets. Turned out, he hadn’t. Daddy had to catch a taxi across town to the ticketing office, pay $600 cash to change the tickets, then come back to the airport to fly standby. The flight the next day was full too, so it was either fly standby or wait two more days!

Al-hamdulli-lah, we got on that flight. We got three separate tickets. Daddy was going to sit by himself, I was going to hang in with Mommy and kick box her bladder and big bro Lyol was given a seat far away by himself. Mommy and Daddy tried to leave Lyol with the strangers, but they were pretty quick to volunteer to switch seats, so we all ended up flying back to America together.

We landed in Washington, DC.

Sunday, June 19 we drove all night to Massachusetts in time for Mommy’s first and only prenatal appointment. We were at Baystate Medical Center where Mommy had worked for four years. She knew all the staff and thought it would be neat if I was born there. Whatev, Moms.

Thursday, June 23 we drove all night back to Maryland to celebrate Gampa’s birthday, arriving after 4AM. Mommy fed me digested cake. I like cake. I want more cake. Where do I get more cake? I’m informed that cake is on the outside.

I’ve heard about life on the outside. I’ve heard that it’s not so dark out there. I’ve heard that the sounds are less muffled. I’ve heard that you don’t need to drink your own pee. I’ve heard that you don’t need to breathe your own pee. I’ve heard you can breastfeed. And now I hear that there’s cake. Bring it. I’m blowin’ this joint.

I’ve spent months plotting my escape and now I’m ready. I’ve been sharpening my fingernails just for this. I start clawing. I want cake.

Suddenly, there’s a current flowing by my head. This must be the beginning. Everything’s sloshing.

Now we’re in the car again. Seriously? Haven’t we already done this? Like a million times already?

I hear Mommy moaning about every ten minutes.

Anyway, somehow or another we end up at Virtua Memorial Hospital. I google it real fast and find out that it’s in New Jersey. You’re kidding, right? I’ve been to France, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, Greece and Tchad. We’ve driven through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. And I’m going to be born in New Jersey? Nuh uh. I’m stayin’ put.

Christiana isn’t too far away back in Delaware. If we could just make it across the George Washington Bridge I could be born at Columbia. Manhattan, baby!!! At least get me over to Philly. We’re so close I could spit amniotic fluid that far. New Jersey?

My brilliant parents apparently thought they could drive five or six hours to Massachusetts after I scratched the snot out of my amniotic sac. Although, they knew just as many obstetricians in New Jersey as they did in Washington, DC.

Against my wishes, Mommy quickly popped me out.

Anyway, I’m here now just trying to make the best of it. It took Mommy and Daddy over a day to name me, but they did alright. Zane Oliver. I’ll take it over... well... actually... I suppose that might be your name, so I better just keep my mouth shut.

I tried to point out to social work that Mommy and Daddy might not be super-fit to have children, but every time I tried to explain myself it just came out, ‘klajhgfhjguiaywhe,’ but with an Irish accent. It’s just really hard to control your tongue when you’re not used to talking much.

Can you believe they let Mommy and Daddy take me home without ever even checking ID? True story. Paternity/Maternity tests pending. You know, can’t be too safe. A boy’s gotta take care of himself.


  1. All I can say is only in AMERICA do they call in social services! Love you all and love the name!

  2. Even from birth, they already look alike. Very sweet.