Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas!
Jen, Ainsley, Olivia, and Mark

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh, hey! It is December 22...

And some lazy whores haven't posted a single time this fine month of December.

Things are good. Busy but no more than usual. At the end of November Ainsley hit a weird rough patch and had to go back on the hospital vent. I don't know if we are clear on what the issue was but maaaaybe her pulmonary hypertension was getting worse?

So she's on Viagra now and who knows if it is helping but she is just being so adorable and generally awesome.

Oivia is generally awesome too. Monday she took a dump in the tub and then blamed it on Sadie. Sadie is my mom's dog. Tuesday morning she alerted me to her awake status by screaming, "I PEWPED IN DA TUHUUUB!!!"

But seriously, she has been super adorable lately.

This other baby is drama free and thus in the running for Being My Favorite. The big ultrasound should be in about three weeks and I can't wrap my mind around the idea that it is anything but a girl.

Also not helping my blog brain block is this new nook tablet that I very frivolously purchased. I read a book in two days because once I start a book I can not stop not even to floss or groom in general.

Christmas is this weekend and Ainsley's birthday is next week. So...I am sure I will just be posting nonstop... Happy Whatever You Celebrate!!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

We can't be the only ones that see the resemblance.

Olivia has been carrying around this Fisher Price toy booklet that we got in the mail and pointing out all of the things that Santa is going to bring to her.

(Actually, she was chatting Santa up about the tree behind them and totally forgot to ask for Minnie.  After she came back to us, she yelled over, "I NEED MINNIE!")

There is a picture in that book that she doesn't like.  In fact, she keeps pointing at it and saying, "Dis one scare me."  This is da one dat scare her:

Minnie Sing a Ma Jig?
Or Magical BJ Minnie?
I can't say that I blame her.  That thing screams Lonely Night At Home With A Dirty Minded Man.  You cannot sit there with a straight face and tell me that these Sing a Ma Jigs don't look a lot like this:

GAH!  Disney has to be in on everything!
Nothing is sacred!
I keep asking her if she wants that Minnie for Christmas and she is all horrified and is like, "NOOOO!"  hahahahahahahaha!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In which I become a cautionary tale...

At my last OB appointment after I had the twins, my doctor said to me, "and remember, little accidents make little people."

And I had a smug little belly laugh over that because really, if anyone is going to get pregnant without stone cold science? Well, it isn't me, silly doctor!

I prefer the word "surprise" over "accident."  There is about to be a New Knepper, around June 5. 

Please see the following FAQ:

Whaaaa????: I know, right?!

Did you do fertility treatments?  Are you fucking crazy?  I barely have time to bathe and pluck my chin whisker. 

Did you do this on purpose?  Yes.  I figured, "eh.  Nothing else going on..." and also, all that infertility stuff?  I WAS FAKING IT. 

(No, I wasn't.  There are crazy people out there who fake stuff like that and I swearz I am legit with the infertility and woe, etc.)

Are you excited?  Of course we are!  Why wouldn't we be excited?

Will you murder anyone who suggests that relaxing made this baby?  Murder or at least beat severely.  Depends on my mood.

Back in September, I was up sick two nights in a row. My texts with Mark are as follows:

Gross, right?  I promise that I do not shove buns in my vagina.  The only place I shove buns is in my face, with copious amounts of butter. 
Then I went about spreading warmth and cheer in my office (I'm very warm and cheery) for the next half hour until I was all Wait A Tick...

*counts on fingers*


**counts on fingers again, masters degree in accounting be damned**


So a quick trip to target and a pee break during work revealed...a line?  I wasn't sure.  I made my two coworkers come in my office and handle my urine-soaked stick to see if they saw it too.  Everyone was all, yes?  It's light but yes?  OMG HILARITY.

So the next day I tested and BAM!  LINE!  Which you can't see in this picture but it's there.  Awkward conversation continues...

As it turns out, they are very reliable.  Meet the Newest Knepper - 12 weeks, 1 day of nonstop nausea.  So far looking as perfect as can be.  Hopefully Ainsley comes home before this baby...

You know what the only bad part about all of this is?  The very worst?  Now everyone knows I'm not a virgin.  So.embarrassing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Financial Peace University

Tomorrow is a big day for us.  We will officially have two, paid-off cars.  As in, no car payments.

I can't remember exactly when I listened to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  Last summer, maybe?  In 2010?  A friend of mine went to the class and spoke so highly of the program, that when she offered to let me borrow her FPU CDs I took her up on it.

I've always been good with money.  So has Mark.  Or we were what we considered to be good with money.  We paid every bill on time.  We used credit cards but usually paid them off, or paid them off within a couple of months.  We saved money every month, and contributed to our retirement plans, and we have college savings accounts.

But we were guilty of spending more as we made more.  Mark got a raise and so we bought a new SUV to celebrate.  One that would take us six years to pay off but hey.  We could afford the payment!  We could afford it! 

Seriously?  Listening to this Financial Peace University totally changed the way that I think about money and debt in particular.  This is the set that I borrowed from a friend.

I don't know if you've ever read or tried to read the books, but I found them to be boring.  Like any other book about finances.  But the CDs were totally different.  I actually enjoyed listening to them during my morning and afternoon commutes.  Dave is very funny and every lesson is no-nonsense and entertaining.

Since listening to FPU in the summer of 2010 (I think?  I seriously can't remember!) we have paid off both of our cars.  We paid off a total of just over $36,000.  In a year and a half.  No car payments frees up an extra $840 per month. 

Nothing makes you feel like you are good with money like paying of $36,000 worth of debt, eh?

And once you get started it is almost like an obsession.  The next target is my student loan, which, after grad school topped out at around $30,000.  And then our house.  And then we will be debt free. 

I should admit that we don't follow his plan exactly as we should.  We don't live on a "beans and rice" budget.  His plan is that you should live very lean until every debt is paid off.  "Live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later."  Be the crazy cheap ass budget person now so that you can be the independently wealthy and debt-free person later.  We do not do that.

We also don't do his cash/envelope system, but I plan to try that when life settles down.  Right now I just can't get past the ease of using my debit card.  Really the only part of the plan that we followed was the Debt Snowball.  Pay off one debt - put the monthly payment from that debt onto the next debt until it is paid off, and so on.  It builds up faster than you'd realize. 

Since I'm sure it will show up in the comments, I should mention that there are lots of Dave Ramsey critics out there.  But hey!  There are lots of Jen Knepper critics out there, too.  And do they make some valid points sometimes?  Sure!  Sure they do.  But overall, I think this is an easy to follow plan.  And I'm not getting anything at all for saying it.  I'm actually just using today to attention whore my budgeting abilities.  You're welcome!

I say, give them a listen.  And then research on your own and make your own decisions.  But it is a great jumping off point for sure and a great way to get motivated to pay off all of your debts.

So anyway.  Tomorrow is a big day for us. The real challenge will be NOT spending our free $840 per month at GAP or on Etsy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Three is two with intent.

Last night, I had a 30 minute fight with Olivia, about chips.

And by fight I mean, she was yelling "CHIPS!" and I was trying to calmly explain that she had to "eat regular dinner before she has a treat like chips" and she waited until the exact second I stopped talking to again yell, "CHIPS!"

Everyone knows the whole terrible twos thing, but I don't know why that's so popular because everyone I know detests age 3.  And as we are quickly approaching age 3 I can see why.

I recently read this funny blog post laying out the top ten reasons why age 3 is worse than age 2.  All that keeps repeating in my mind is #1: Three is two with intent.  She knows what she wants, and she knows how to communicate it, and she knows how to protest if not given whatever ridiculous thing she wants.

I believe that, given a more sophisticated vocabulary, Olivia would have replied to my sensible dinner option with a very direct, "fuck that shit, give me chips or give me death."  Lucky for us, she has not yet learned the deep pleasure that comes from dropping an F-Bomb but I'm sure it will come soon and publicly because isn't that really how those things usually go?

She requires two Disney Pwincess Band-Aids per day.
No boo-boos.  Just for generally looking fabulous.
As we approach three, Olivia's diet also approaches three.  Items.  That she will eat.  Without gagging.  Do you think I'm exaggerating?  Well, I am.  You got me.  She will eat like six things but mostly she wants  BIRTHDAY CAKE! CHIPS! GWANOLA BAW!  FRIES (WILL CUT YOU IF YOU OFFER ANYTHING BUT MCDONALDS)! (SPEAKING OF MCDONALDS) HAPPY MEAL!  BACON! 

(Also?  She would suck on the toothpaste container if I would let her.  But spaghetti?  Mom, have you lost your mind?)

Last night, I told her she had to eat one grape.  One.  I figured she would taste it and want more because you guys, these were the sweetest most delicious grapes.  I'm an idiot. 

After a refusal of epic proportions (she called me mean, which, hahahahaha) she took one bite and then turned her head toward me and gagged from the pit of her chip-craving stomach so hard that I grabbed a throw pillow and put it under her face.  Which was the perfect place for her to spit the half-chewed grape.

And then?  After that?  She put her hands up and casually said, "chips?"
She never did get chips.  She got 3 time-outs and a bedtime with no books.  And I freaking HATE IT.  because she really is such a good, sweet girl.  Really.  She's just an asshole sometimes.  More than half the time, she is totally fun and hilarious and just smart, ya know? 
I think I shall ask for a lollipop for dinner for at least the next
forty consecutive days.

Speaking of asshole kids: every one's kid is an asshole sometimes.  Don't make excuses or blame other kids or whatever.  Own it.  If you don't think your kid is an asshole sometimes?  Chances are good that everyone else thinks your kid is the biggest asshole.

Speaking of delusional parents: stop taking credit for things you did nothing to create.  Your kid slept through the night from day one?  You're lucky, not brilliant at fostering good sleep habits.  Your kid eats a variety of foods?  Good for you.  You are lucky, not some brilliant pediatric dietitian. Braggy parents are the ones whose kids are being the assholes while they are ignoring them to brag about how not-assholey they are because of their brilliant parenting skills. 

Chips?  Birthday cake?  Cheetos?
Happy meal?  Fries?
Playground?  Then happy meal?
 Anyway.  The point is that things are getting real argue-y up in here.  And my sweet little Olivia is spending about 25% of her time acting like a disgruntled teen, and 75% of her time being adorable and making me feel awful for all the time outs and no books at bed times.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The "How Do You Do It?" Post.

Variations of these two questions pop up in my comments or in my email a lot.

1. To get really nosey, I'd like to know how you're handling your job and your marriage with all the stress that you've had. With one healthy two-year-old I can barely hold it together most days.

2. I'm wondering how you are doing about Evelyn - have you been able to process everything; how Olivia is doing and feels about Ainsley; and whether you and your husband can ever rest mentally (i.e., have you reached a level of acceptance or "new normal" state)? Otherwise, I just can't imagine the stress hormones surging in your body all the time.

Here is the answer to every variation of the question: I don't know.

What we do is this:

We work full time, Monday through Friday. 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday nights, I go to the NICU until Ainsley goes to bed.  I generally get home around 8:30 or 9, and sometimes get to tuck Olivia in.  Mark comes home from work and stays with Olivia.

Tuesday and Thursday nights, Mark goes to the NICU until Ainsley goes to bed, and I stay with Olivia.

Saturday and Sunday, we each spend 4-6 hours with each kid, switching mid-day.

Every night after Olivia goes to bed, we try to watch some TV and chat.  But usually we just watch TV and look at our iPhones.
How am I handling my job and my marriage and my two year old?  I don't know.  (See?  That's the answer every time.)  Most days we just go along with the hustle of it all and it all just works out.  Some days, we are bitchy and tired and over it.  Olivia helps because she is just generally well-behaved and independent.  She entertains herself.

I don't feel like I'm giving 100% to any part of my life.  But I'm doing the best I can and that's just got to be good enough.  I don't have time to exercise and I definitely eat like crap (and am carrying an extra 30 pounds to prove it) and a lot of times I just lay around instead of doing things around the house because, as previously discussed?  Am exhausted.

How are we handling what happened to Evelyn?  I don't know.  I think we are really in survival mode.  We had a lot of hard days right after she was born.  We don't really have the luxury of dwelling on things because we beez bizzy nonstop.  Evelyn died quickly and it appears that, even if she had been born earlier, she would have been a very sick little girl and probably would not have lived long. The focus is Olivia, and the focus is Ainsley. 

How does Olivia feel about Ainsley?  She freaking loves her.  She asks to go visit her all the time, is always worried that she is crying or "is stinky" and she talks about Ainsley coming to our house.  She isn't put off at all by the tubes and wires.  She may change her tune once Ainsley is big enough to steal her toys.

Do we ever rest mentally and have we reached a new normal?  No and yes...?  I don't really ever feel relaxed.  I do feel like we are at a new normal - this has been our lives for almost a year.  It is routine.  BIG CHANGES ARE COMING to our routine and it is all very stressful to think about.  Especially since we can't really plan for it.  It all depends on when Ainsley is ready to come home - we will have to rearrange work, and babysitters, and get nursing care set up, and find places for all the medical equipment, and you know, just generally be responsible for our Drama Queen and her big sister.

So, whatever.  I don't really like to write about this stuff because I don't want it to seem like we are looking for pity.  I hate when someone tells a story and tries to make it sound as awful as possible.  Things are good!  I mean, really.  Things are good.  We still have fun and laugh and occasionally go out and the State of the (Knepper) Union is Strong.

We are making the best of a situation that gets better every day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn

I'm going to see Breaking Dawn tonight and I am freaking excited about it. I'm probably going to eat an entire box of candy without a beverage so that I don't miss any sparkly vampire goodness going to the restroom.

(I'm trying out the word restroom. I always say bathroom, but that only makes sense if you can take a bath in the room, and since I'm not homeless I don't bathe in public restrooms. I'm on the fence. May switch back to bathroom...will keep you updated.)

I won't be home until late so this is it for today. Talk amongst yourselves in the comments about how much you love or hate sparkly vampires or the use of restroom vs. bathroom. Or whatever.

Better yet, ask me some questions I can answer because a post a day is hard!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The CDC Prepares Us for the Zombie Apocalypse

I'm sure you'd all be very surprised to hear that it is 8:45 p.m. and I still don't have a mind-blowing topic to write about today.

I'm sitting here streaming Walking Dead on Netflix and just generally vegging out with my computer open to Blogger.  So then I'm all, "maybe I'll Google zombie apocalypse" because that seems like a really fantastic way to come up with blogging ideas.

Turns out, some bored clever person at the CDC turned an article about emergency preparation into an article on preparing for a zombie apocalypse.  It's probably the most hilarious CDC article that you'll ever read.

"Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast."

This is not a zombie.
This is me before my morning coffee.
I will start my Zombie Apocalypse Official Preparedness List tomorrow, but I know right off the bat that I need to stock up on a shit ton of Nutella. 

I'd tell you that I'll have something better to write about tomorrow but meh?  I'll probably post my Zombie Apocalypse Official Preparedness List.  Or a picture.  Or a recipe.  Always just a barrell of fun over here at Chez Knepper.


One Year Ago:  The Rotund and the Nauseated
Two Years Ago: Not The Kind of Baby Weight I Wanted to Lose
Three Years Ago:  Our Daughter is a Total Kick Tease
Four Years Ago: Me?  I'm PUPO

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lemon Cinnamon Chicken

I am too busy to write today. It is crisis critical that I reread Breaking Dawn before I go see the movie Friday night. Priorities, ya know?

I made a dinner tonight that was so good I was tempted to eat it all myself and feed Mark leftover pizza. I set my coolness level back at least 10 years by texting Mark, "this dinner I made is BOMB!"

So here is a delicious recipe courtesy of my friend Becky, in lieu of a post. I took a picture and everything.

Lemon Cinnamon Chicken

10 Pieces Chicken (Legs and Quarters work best)
1/2 C Olive Oil
1/2 C Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
2-3 tsp Oregano
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Put all ingredients except chicken into a large baking dish and mix well, making a marinade. Once mixed completely, begin adding the chicken one piece at a time, coating each piece completely in the marinade.

Bake, uncovered at 425 for approx 1 hr or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Several times during baking, baste the chicken with the marinade in the pan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Google Search Terms!

It's been too long since I've done a Google Search Terms post.  If you're not familiar, these are phrases that people searched which resulted in a visit to mah blog.  It's always fun.  If it's a question I usually try to answer.  Like this:

Does the size of a girl's lips determine the size of her vagina lips?

No, but when she puts on lipstick?  Her vagina lips turn the exact.same.color.  It's crazy.

Did the baby Jesus spit up?

Yes, they do talk about spit up in the bible.  It's in the book of Matthew.  You may have missed it when  you were skipping all that business about who begat who.   Or whom?  I don't know but there was a lot of begatting.

Unfortunately, there weren't many questions this round.  Just a lot of really strange phrases.  Like this:

Harvey Karp is full of shit.

Well, I respectfully disagree, asshole.  I love Harvey Karp!  His Five S's saved our sleep-deprived lives!! 

I fart in ur general direkshun



Just like that: Porn, but with 5 o's.   Multiple o's, I mean.


That's all.  Just plain old "whore."  Four visits to this very blog came from the word whore.


OH MY GOD.  I admittedly had to google this but was afraid to click on any of the links.  BUT, under Google Images appears this picture of me:

My face after my first steroid shot, and my second steroid shot.
Apparently = Fupatoe.
(More about all my swelling here)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Big Fat NICU Experience

There was a lady walking around the NICU telling people that there was a March of Dimes free dinner upstairs for NICU parents.  I got the impression that there wasn't anyone there, and Ainsley was asleep, and I love eating.  WIN!

So I went.  And then I remembered why I don't go to March of Dimes things.

You know how it's so nice to talk with people who get what is going on with you?  Like, I made some seriously good friends while I was doing IVF who were doing IVF too and just got it in a way that needed no explanation.  Or, when you have a newborn and you aren't sleeping and your nipples feel like razors and you feel like you'll probably just die?  And then your friend is there to be like, "YES newborns are assholes and nobody tells you that and eventually the cute will outpace the asshole and it will all be OK."

I can't just walk into a group of NICU people and feel like they can understand what this 10 months has been like.  I'm not the first or only person with a super sick baby in the hospital, but it just seems like, at some point you lose that sort of common thread.  All three families that we bothered talking with regularly came and went months ago.  Everyone at this dinner talked about their super long stays of 4 weeks and 10 weeks and you know, maybe even a few more weeks to get the hang of the bottle...and whatever.  45 weeks and counting.  I'd be willing to bet that we won't even be home in 10 weeks.

Someone left me a blog comment once sticking up for me when I was complaining about being sick with the twins.  People who were trying to get pregnant and couldn't were annoyed with my complaints because I should just be ecstatic while puking in my garbage can at work.  And her argument was, "Your cancer doesn't heal my broken back."  And it's so true - my long hospital stay and sick baby don't make it suck less for them but holy hot damn, I just do not want to hear it. 

So I did what any antisocial weirdo would do: I scarfed down my free pasta and I smuggled two cookies into my purse and headed straight back to Ainsley's room to watch a marathon of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

Because this makes me feel normal.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Popcorn and Discharge

Mature NICU Parent: Oh! What a great reason to gather together and watch the videos we must watch prior to going home.

Me: EW! I do not want to watch a video about popcorn and discharge.

And I swear, there is a Popcorn and Discharge Video Watch Party like every 3 weeks.  I have about 4 pictures of this sign with various backgrounds and dates.  This patriotic Popcorn and Discharge sign is my favorite.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Redbook Magazine: The Truth About Trying

The second I sent the email in which I agreed to tape a video of myself talking about sperm, I immediately wanted to punch myself in the face.  Not because I'm embarrassed to talk about sperm or my reproductive debacles or whatever, but because the sound of my own voice is simply horrifying. 

Redbook Magazine has  a whole Truth About Trying campaign on their website now, and there are all kinds of videos up there.  Including mine

I'm not begging for compliments when I say that I hope you don't hate me after watching it.  I broke up with a few blogs after watching "vlogs" of the author. 

I was going to try to link up to the blogs I wrote for Infertility Diaries but I can't because there are no longer any tags that lead to them. But hey!  Go there and read anyway, because there's good stuff over there from some seriously good bloggers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheating tonight.

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today so I'm going to cheat and picture post tonight.

Ainsley is on day 3 of a portable vent. Maybe I'll talk more about it later, but the point is: YAYSKEEEE!

Olivia is almost three and has figured out that she can earn things she wants. Namely, candy or chocolate dipped granola bars. Last night she was doing the dishes so I would give her candy.

Also, I keep slippers at the hospital because I like to make myself obnoxiously comfortable.

I'm going to put on loose pants and crash with my blanket and some juice. For your viewing pleasure...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's wrong with Ainsley?

Someone, who apologized for being nosy, asked me to talk about what is actually wrong with Ainsley.  Which, LOLsies!  I talk about my vagina on the Internet and so talking about what is wrong with my kid is like singing the alphabet or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Why yes!  It would be my pleasure to impress you with the magnitude of my attention whoring!

In short: Ainsley's lungs are fucked.    They should get better someday but right now?  Fucked.  So if you'd like to skip the rest of this post so that you can avoid reading information from a business-y person trying to talk medical-y, you can stop now. 

Ad nauseam: I will do my best to explain it all and make Ainsley's respiratory therapists proud.

Ainsley was an identical twin.  Unfortunately, her sister Evelyn was stillborn and Ainsley was a tiny 2 pounds 3 ounces when born at 32 weeks.  Ainsley was a constant worry for us for most of my pregnancy because she wasn't growing well at all. 

Ainsley's main issue is Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD).  It is caused by ongoing mechanical ventilation.  The breathing assistance she needed/needs to keep her alive is also causing inflammation and scarring in her lungs, which make it impossible to breathe on her own.  I read somewhere that BPD is a new disease that has developed from the technologies that keep these premature babies with underdeveloped lungs alive.  Not too along ago, Ainsley would have died.

So Ainsley's first five months of life were spent trying to get her off of mechanical ventilation.  She would be on vapotherm (which is like CPAP, kind of), she would get off that and do fine for a few days, then she would struggle and go back on vapotherm, and then she would really struggle and have to be intubated so that she could be on a ventilator. 

Miserable, much?

In May, the recommendation was a tracheostomy, so that she could be on the ventilator full-time without being intubated.  This was a big life changer for Ainsley!!!  With a tube constantly in her mouth, she was not able to move around or really develop normally.  The trach would allow her to use her hands and move around and not constantly gag on the tube in her throat. 

This trach is bananas.

Ainsley has pretty bad BPD, from what I gather.  The good thing about kids is that they grow new lung tissue until age 7 or 8...or something.  A while.  So Ainsley is getting the best nutrition possible through her g-tube so that she can grow enough new and healthy lung tissue to make up for all of the damaged lung tissue caused by the machine that she needs to keep her tiny ass alive.

See how fun this is?

Ainsley has a g-tube because, when she was smaller, she had to use all of her energy just to breathe.  Sucking on a bottle for a BPD baby can just be too much work, and Ainsley has the added issue of a cleft (soft) palate.  That made it even harder for her to try to suck on a bottle.  She is 10 (!!!!!) months old and has taken virtually nothing by mouth.  All of her food is run through the g-tube which goes directly to her stomach.  Another thing for her to overcome - an oral aversion!

Hello, kitty!
Found cute g-tube covers.
Critical illness is not an excuse to be unfabulous.

But really, when my kid can't breathe?  Eating by mouth falls kind of low on my List of Worries.  We will figure that out for her someday.  And, also, Ainsley's trach goes into her trachea.  Not her esophagus.  She could eat if she was so inclined.  However, she wants none of that  bullshit.

Ainsley also has Pulmonary Hypertension.  Which I don't understand as well as the BPD.  It's high blood pressure in her lungs, and it makes it harder for her lungs to move oxygen, and if it got out of control would cause damage to her heart because of the added work of pumping blood through her body.  That's the extent of my understanding.  (Not true: it's bad news.  I understand that, too.)  The hope is that, as her lungs get better, this will improve, too. 

Other weird things have happened - Ainsley had a stroke at some point, which was discovered by accident on an unrelated follow-up.  Right now, she seems to be developing normally and hopefully that will continue.  She had some seizures a while back, and she is on medication to keep it from happening again.  So there will be lots of neurology visits in her future. 

So, that's pretty much it.  That is "what's wrong" with Ainsley.  I'd like to say that I think the things that are right with Ainsley greatly outweigh the things that are wrong, and without sounding like a cheeseball: we are so happy every day that she is doing as well as she is after everything she has gone through.


One Year Ago:  Shocking new information about twin pregnancies!
Two Years Ago: Jennepper's must have baybee gifts for 2009
Three Years Ago:  Another reason to marry Target
Four Years Ago: Jabba's still in da hawse

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tired doesn't describe it.

I'm exhausted.

Not like, tired but should feel better after a good night's rest, tired. Like, so tired that I can't imagine staying awake for the next half hour, tired.

My brain is running slow and my eyes are squinty. Part of the squint eye is caused by my staggering 40 pound weight gain in the past year and a glad, but a solid 25 percent can be blamed on The Tired.

Coffee doesn't help which sucks because coffee always helps and if I can't rely on coffee then what can I rely on in this world? What, I ask you?

I was just sitting here thinking about how I should write something about something but I couldn't think of anything. And I am too tired to walk downstairs to get my computer so I'm writing this on my phone, which is usually annoying but I'm too tired to be annoyed and plus I don't really have to move any part of my body except my sausage-like index finger.

The good news is that I'm watching Dexter and there are no commercials that require me to lift a sausagey finger to fast forward. The bad news is that my feet are cold and I'm too tired to get socks.

At the very least, I need to convince Mark to give me a piggy back ride up to bed because I definitely don't have the energy to walk up the stairs. And even if I do I still have to adjust my pillows and pull up my covers and OH MY GOD it just all sounds like so much work.

Anyway, I'm exhausted.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Perspective

Ainsley, A couple days old.   One of her leads takes up the entire left side of her chest.

And Ainsley, back in September at about 9 months old.  One lead can't even contain a portion of her side-boob. 
Ainsley, yesterday.  And for the record: No, you may not nibble on this baby.  Because I am a baby nibble hog and am not willing to share the NOMs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Filling Cavities on the Reg.

At the beginning of October, we had an audit at work. Which was awesome and fun and at the end of the week we all went out to lunch to celebrate its end.  The restaurant was across the street from a Famous-Around-Akron sign that caused the following conversation to happen:

Auditor: Wow, that dentist is torturing that patient!

Me: No, he's totally doin' her!

Your teeth will be clean,
But everything else will be dirty.

There are just so many possibilities here involving tools in mouths and filling of cavities and opening is enough to drive an immature person insane.  Plus it is just so pretentious of that doctor to leave his coat on?  Prick (novocaine?). 
I had to have my wisdom teeth removed when I was in high school. Since I'm a huge giant baby I had general anesthetic. My mom was with me in the recovery room where I was apparently letting giant loud farts while still asleep.  I don't really know what that has to do with this sign but it's my most important dentist story to date.  Don't you love that we can share things like this?  I do.

I went to a new dentist who calls himself Matt (oh, aren't we casual!) and who basically told me that my teeth are totally jacked.  Jacked up jaw, I call it.  I have severe grinding damage and I had to get a $300 night guard.  Which is fine, except I wake up gagging on it in the middle of the night like some kind of freak.  And I know that Mark is not excited for me to add another odd behavior to me sleep repertoire which also includes odd conversations, full body movement, and sometimes hitting. 

I have this really amazing bug radar - if there is a spider within a 10 mile radius?  I will find it and promptly freak the fuck out.  The last time I went to see Dr. Matt (I called him that and he said, no, Just Matt.  OK, Just Matt) I immediately spotted a bug on the equipment at the end of the chair and asked him to kill the motherfucker.  He was all, sure!  Let me just fit this dorky mouth guard for you and then I will kill that little bug.  And then he proceeded to shove this thing in my mouth while my legs hung off of the side of the chair because HI, I'M AFRAID OF WEETLE TEENY BUGS, DR. JUST MATT! 

He found it to be funny.  Most people usually laugh at me when I try to be serious probably because I'm an idiot.

So anyway, I can't decide if I'd rather see Dr. Just Matt the spider enthusiast, or Dr. Do You While I Drill You at Valley Dental.  I'm guessing that my history of farting would hurt my chances for leaving with clean teeth and dirty everything else.

Just a sample of the difficult choices I am facing every day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I just signed up for the November National Blog Posting Month - to write a blog post every day for the month of November.  This is hilarious, as I wrote one post in October.  Unless you count a picture post with a caption as a post, in which case I posted twice.

I'm under a lot of stress (captain obvious reporting for duty, sans cape) but it's really kind of covert stress.  Like, I'm OK if all I have to do is get Liv with a sitter, go to work, go to the NICU (or come home and be with Olivia), make dinner, sleep, and repeat.  I appear to be totally normal but in my mind I am totally crazypants.

8 p.m. on my way home from the NICU after working all day, via text:

Mark: We will need milk for tomorrow morning.

Jen: OK


Usually I try to handle my stress by shoving obsene amounts of food into my face.  Or, diarrhea, if I am just super lucky.  Or even avoidance (hello Pinterest!).  And then all of a sudden out of nowhere comes the Incredible Hulk-like Crazypants response to something totally insignificant.


In reality:  Sits with blank stare on face; contemplates the next carb to shove in mouth; continues to watch commercials due to pure laziness. 

So anyway, I'm thinking that a commitment to a daily blog post is a really fantastic idea.  I'm glad you agree.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When you say you mean the "of luck" kind?

So much time has passed since I gave an actual, real update.  Ainsley is so great right now.  She's doing so many impressive things developmentally that it's hard to believe that at some point she suffered a stroke. 

Strokes are funny.

A few weeks/months/years (who knows, I have no concept of time) ago, Ainsley was being put on a home vent portable vent.*  The doctor decided that all loose ends should be tied up  in case this was the time that she tolerated the vent change.  When Ainsley was very tiny and new, she had a brain bleed that needed follow-up at some point in the distant future.  (Hello distant future!  All 9.5 months of you!**)  It was just a routine thing and we really expected things to look fine in that little ball of brain.

It's always hilarious when we think something will not be a big deal, because then it always ends up being a big deal.  Turns out that at some point, Ainsley suffered a stroke and nobody knows when or why and it's kind of a mystery because she seems fine.

She's delayed for sure.  I think the "official" delay is 3 months, which isn't bad considering all she's been through, and that her age is adjusted 2 months anyway.  I can list the things she doesn't do but that seems unfair.  She smiles and laughs (silently, considering the giant hole in her throat and the airway device that's shoved down through it), she plays with toys, she tracks people, she makes eye contact, she knows her mommy and daddy and regular nurses and acts like a snob to people she doesn't know.  She can sit up for up to a minute and then she usually gets excited over something and then flings herself backward.  She rolls side to side to reach for toys and look at things, she sticks out her tongue and even though I told her she would be grounded for life if she got big enough to get a tooth in the NICU?  I think she is working on a tooth.  She is a TV junkie and will fit in the Knepper house perfectly***.  Plus she's cute.

Over fifteen pounds now.
Everyone denies putting fudge through her g-tube
but I'm still suspicious.

The hope is that the stroke was a one-time thing and that the surrounding parts of her brain will take over and it will all be just goddamned fine.   Only time will tell - so just add that to our list of waiting.  

But yeah, the portable vent was a failure anyway.  She did well the first day, OK the second day, and on the third day she refused to move or look at anyone because she was using all her energy to breathe.  Mark and I do not get excited about the portable vent trials because we've been there before a million times since December - she appears to do well and maaaaaybe she will come home soon and then BOOM!  Pending doom/drama/despair!  Yet the disappointment is soul-crushing anyway, so we may as well jump around and get excited like idiots because what's the difference, really?

Here we are now, with this baby who appears to be thriving but can't breathe unless it's on a hospital vent.  And all we can do is be happy that she's OK, ya know?  Things have been relatively drama free with the exception of a little pneumonia (for mommy and for Ainsley) which cleared up quickly with antibiotics (for Ainsley, not mommy.  Mommy is still freaking sick with no time to go to the doctor). 

People keep asking us how we do it.  How does one answer that?  I mean, you can do anything if you have no choice.  We could sit around feeling sorry for ourselves all the time, but that won't change anything.  Except that it would ruin all the good stuff that's happening, like this:

Ainsley's first trip outside!
It was a playdate with another trach-vent baby, but
I'm not going to post another baby on my blog.
Not everyone is an attention whore like me.
Just in case you were fooled by the apparent ease of  that last picture,
look at this whole ordeal!
These are just a couple of our favorite people who love our baby
and keep her drama at bay while we live a glamorous lifestyle and
make millions of dollars at our super important jobs****.

But still.  Things are moving along.  We've had home inspections and appointments with people from the state and lots of practice doing all of the things that trained medical professionals do that will be our responsibility when Ainsley comes home OH MY GOD YOU GUYS.  Every scenario ends in, "and if that doesn't work, call 911."

I won't make any empty promises for blog posts because I'm super busy and super tired and super uninteresting and every time I try to use my computer Olivia is all LETS WATCH A MOTHERFUCKING MOVIE MAHM!  Plus I'm using all my free computer time on Pinterest.

*At some point, there was a change in reference when discussing the vent change.  For a while, everyone was calling it a home vent.  And one day I was asking, "Do we know when she will try the home vent again?"  And they were all, "try not to think of it as a home vent - try to think of it as a portable vent," and I was all, "really?  Whatever, when?."  And now I make it a point to correct anyone who calls it a home vent.  It's not a home vent it's a portable vent, ya know.

**Oh yes, we've reached the "other whores are having dirty dirty sex (or dirty dirty IVF?) and getting pregnant and bringing home babies all before Ainsley comes home from the hospital" point.  Good times.

***Unless she doesn't like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dora, or Tangled.  Then she'll have to live at Akron Children's forever.

****Some statements made on this blog may be slightly exaggerated.

One Year Ago:  Let Me Clear A Few Things Up
Two Years Ago: Eight Months.  And by eight I mean Ate.
Three Years Ago: Please nominate me for What Not to Wear.

HEY!  My blog is old enough for a "Four Years Ago" holy crap!!! 

Four Years Ago:  Trying to Conceive: A month by month guide

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Daily Chaos

Our friend Felicia came to take photos of us in the NICU to put on display at the Just Relax benefit.  Hard to believe this was already over 2 months ago!

We decided right away to not really change anything in the room. Because why try to pretend we are somewhere else? This is our life right now, and it won't be this way forever. It's hard sometimes but that doesn't mean I don't want to remember.

2 year Old + iPhone + NICU + Netflix Streaming = Winning.

Hello, I refuse to stand still so I think I'll carry around my illegal snacks, kthxbai.
I love how we are all trying to convince Olivia to chill out.
Even Ainsley.
Love this one.
They had just started rounds and Ainsley was being totally nosy about it.
Olivia finds the NICU to be exhausting, dahling.
As does her mother.
The estrogen that will rule Mark for the rest of his life.
Start getting comfortable with tampon purchasing, Mark!
Ainsley, getting a taste of what she's in for when she comes home.
I think instead of smiling for these pictures,
Ainsley was going for "fat and intrigued."
Nailed it!
I love daddy because he lets me lay down and be lazy.
Could I interest you in a raspberry?  Or a nibble of wrist chub?
We have a giant canvas of this one.