Baby Alastair, Paternity Leave, and Vita

We had a baby.

We Had a Baby

So back on August 3rd, we had a baby.  Technically I shouldn't be writing anything until November as I promised Chloe I'd take 3 months of paternity leave - but if I'm writing about baby Alastair, the lines are a bit blurred, no?

It has been, basically, insane.  Before you have a baby, everyone deluges you with warnings about how hard it will be to feed and change diapers every three hours, etc.  But since both my wife and I are home all day, that isn't really a big issue.  The thing nobody prepared us for was a little thing called juandice, which common wisdom says isn't a big deal, but in actuality can kill your child or leave it with lifelong disabilities.

The fluorescent blue lights break down bilirubin.

They measure jaundice by the amount of bilirubin a newborn's bloodstream.  A level of 5 or more makes the baby turn yellowish.  A level of 20-25 or higher causes brain damage or even death, so when it gets to 12 or so, they treat it with special blue lights that break it down.    This was the case for Alastair, so they put him under lights for about 2 days until his level went down to 9.  They had us watch a special precautionary video about Kernicterus, where children with high bilirubin amounts are left with cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and other maladies.  Since he was still in the yellow range, they warned us to take him to a pediatrician at the earliest possible time - this was a Friday, so that meant Monday at 8 am - then discharged us.

Having a baby at home for two days was awesome.  Unfortunately his bilirubin rise over the weekend, unbeknownst to us.   The pediatrician, noticing that he was still yellow, took another bilirubin test.  It had risen to 42.

You can't see every wire but there are at least 5 of them.

So the next two weeks were spent in the ER and the ICU.  A bilirubin of 42 was  higher than they'd ever seen, so they retested to make sure - and it came out 41.7.  We were told to his brain was being damaged as we waited and to expect severe neurological problems; he might never again be able to move, eat, hear, or talk.  They ordered a full exchange transfusion to cleanse out as much of the bilirubin as possible.  He needed to be transferred to another hospital with more advanced facilities, transfused, then transferred back as it wasn't covered by Health Plan of Nevada.  He went under the blue bili-lights. They tested his kidneys and did an ultrasound on his liver.  He was treated with antibiotics, since infection was the only way they could explain such high bilirubin values.  He had an EEG showing non-clinical seizures.  He failed the hearing ABR - where they test whether the brain can still receive signals from the ears.   He had cords coming out of every limb for monitoring, IV, transfusion, etc.  By the end his veins were so damaged from continued testing that they had to switch to oral medications.  

All he wants now is a Vita.

We were surprised, then, when his MRI came out clean - a bilirubin this high is supposed to cause visible lesions to the parts of the brain responsible for hearing and motor control, but nothing was apparent.

Even more interesting, he appears able to eat, control his limbs, respond to our voices, and basically do normal baby stuff.  We've taken him to a hematologist, a GI specialist, a neurologist, an ear/nose/throat doctor, a urologist, and a physical therapist, and all seem to think he's basically normal.  He's still taking a small amount of anti-seizure medication as a precaution, but the neurologist says he should be weaned off of it soon.

The Deal With Vita

In the absence of any updates to the contrary, many people have said that the Vita version is canned.  Not true!  Honestly, though, it's kinda hairy how it all unfolded - the original plan was that Mono would come out for Vita and I would just port over the same code I used for PS4, but I think something happened with Xamarin, and the Mono port never materialized (perhaps they wanted more money from Sony than the Vita games could reasonably return?  I don't know the details, this is just a guess).  But then a small miracle happened and the folks at Sickhead (who also develop Monogame) started developing a C# to C++ cross compiler, and Sony asked them to do the Vita ports for both AV and Towerfall.

The really great thing about a C#/C++ cross-compiler is it makes it possible to port XNA/FNA/Monogame stuff to all kinds of platforms without having to involve Xamarin in the picture.  So when PS5 and XBox Two or whatever come out, I won't have to switch over to a whole other engine just to support them.  And bypassing the virtual machine should also yield some performance benefits.

The downside is that this work is really, really hard.  Originally they were thinking the tech would be ready in June, but it's obviously slipped.  C# does a great job of shielding users from complex native underpinnings, and this is what Tom Spilman and folks need to replicate in full. From what I gather they have Towerfall running to some degree but AV is a more difficult beast in terms of things like executable size, memory usage, graphical complexity, etc.  My personal prediction would be it'll be ready late this year, but it's hard to know for sure.

But it is coming.