Dark Days Often Come with a Bill

My wife was due to have our son on May 23. Instead, she went into early labor on April Fool’s Day. You don’t need to be a math whiz to know that’s quite a head start. The average baby needs 38 to 40 weeks in the womb to properly gestate. Ours was 32 weeks. (I was later told by a nurse in the NICU that they have tended to babies as young as 23 weeks. Any babies born before that aren’t resuscitated, he explained, because they are ensured of “unfavorable outcomes,” which is the greatest catchall euphemism ever for death, mental retardation, and/or permanent physical disability.) That meant at least six weeks of hospital bedrest. Like every other man on Earth, my first thought was, “Well, how much is THAT gonna cost?” Oh, and the baby was in grave danger. But still … FULL INSURANCE COPAYMENT. I knew the health of everyone was top priority, but all I could think about was being condemned forever to the goddamn poor house. Bedrest is the worst.

Drew Magary writes some of the best longreads on Deadspin, and this story about the premature birth of his son ranks among my favorites. But what I especially love about this particular story is Magary’s honesty when it comes to money. There are certain times in our lives when we are forced to face the mortality of everyone we love, and knowing that there is money around to foot whatever bills that arrive in the mail helps a whole lot. As Magary says: “It seems unimaginably cruel to spend weeks in a hospital and pay untold sums of money just to come home with a dead child.” Welcome to Monday.

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