Friday, February 24, 2012

One, Adjusted.

It's one year since Ainsley's due date.

We knew we'd never make it to her due date. It was a scary pregnancy to begin with - Identical Twins. I remember my first visit with the high risk doctor. I was just about 21 weeks and was in the beginning of All The Drama. He looked me in the eye, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "Identical Twins...scary."

And I already knew because I have my official Google MD.

Ainsley was always small. Around the halfway point of my pregnancy the disparity in growth between Ainsley and Evelyn started. It was as much as 30% by 26 weeks. We saw a specialist who said it was not twin-to-twin transfusion but I still have my doubts.

At 26 weeks we started talking Delivery and Survival. It was a delicate balance between saving Ainsley by delivering Evelyn before she was ready.
That's a 26 Week Twin Belly, right there.

Somehow Ainsley held on until 31 weeks...almost 32. And somehow Evelyn held on too. She looked perfect but sadly she was very ill and nobody knew. My blood pressure was dangerously high and I was spilling tons of protein - preeclampsia was working against the girls along with everything else. This pregnancy was getting dangerous for all of us.

The night before my scheduled c-section is when Evelyn died. She was there and then poof! She was gone. Fetomaternal hemorrhage. Slow for a long time, apparent because of her severe anemia. And then very fast that night. Cardiac arrest, officially.

This is Evelyn Cecille.
She was tiny and perfect.

Ainsley was so small and she cried but did not make noise. Grimace, pissed, but alive. Later we would learn that her tongue was stuck in her cleft palate keeping her from making noise. She was 2 pounds 3 ounces...measuring more like a 27 week baby than an almost 32 week baby.

Ainsley, not on any sort of respiratory support.
Weird to see her without a trach, actually!

The rest is history, isn't it? We are creeping up on 14 months in the NICU. Ainsley's lungs continue to be generally assholey.

Functional lungs are overrated!!

It is busy and stressful. But we are adjusted.

What I want everyone to know about Ainsley is that you cannot spend time with her without smiling. One peek at that gap-tooth smile and you're a goner.
If this doesn't make you laugh then something is seriously wrong with you.

Most everyone we know has not met Ainsley or spent much time with her. But I know many, many nurses and therapists and doctors who pay a purely social visit to Ainsley daily just to get a peek of her ridiculously adorable smile. People will stop us in the hallway and tell us, "Ainsley smiled at me today!" Other parents even stop by to say hello.

Waiting to go outside.
 I've seen for myself the constant stream of visitors. Ainsley is a huge attention whore and eats it right up. It is a huge comfort to me because I am at work all day during the week. Turns out? NICU stays are expensive. And I have good insurance. We are raising a multimillion dollar baby and my job is what is keeping us from being bankrupt with medical bills.

Oscars Outfit.

I added our claims up for a six week period once. Out of curiosity. It was a boring six weeks with no surgeries or any special procedures. It was $322,000. We've been there...60 weeks? So ten times that, roughly? Millions.
She loves her mommy.

My point is not to make people feel bad about money. My point is that we have been so lucky to have a big group of people fall in love with our Ainsley and keep her company during our long, necessary workdays.

She loves her daddy, too.
Ainsley does so many things that surprise me. She rolls and grasps and plays and claps. This kid? Belly laughs. She throws temper tantrums. She has stranger danger and she has clear preferences in caregivers. She throws her toys and she pulls on her pulse oximiter while watching the monitor because she knows it will go off. She can sit up for hours. She loves her stander.

She can't talk because of her trach, but I do believe she is saying,

 Ainsley is not the typical one year old. She is better. She has had multiple surgeries and infections and challenges, but she laughs and smiles and plays and is one of the happiest babies I know.
Oh, hai.

Everyone loves Ainsley, but we love her the most.  I don't know how much longer we will be doing this hospital craziness but...meh.  We're adjusted to this now.


psst...Don't forget to enter the eHarmony Sweepstakes for a chance to win $100!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hi, how are you? Oh, wait. I do not care.

Dear Every Fast Food Place,

Please stop forcing your employees to ask me how I am doing.

1. I'm hungry and lazy and therefore, buying your shitty food.

2. They don't care how I'm doing and make it painfully obvious.

3. I don't care at all how they are doing but feel like I have to ask and then pretend to care and OMG I HATE AWKWARD SOCIAL INTERACTION.

4. (for Chick-fil-a only) You can only say, "My Pleasure" so many times before it starts to sound dirty.

Let's just all mutually agree to barely tolerate each other for the sake of unhealthy food, clogged arteries, and obesity.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

eHarmony Sweepstakes!!

I am sooo excited that I get to be a part of this sweepstakes! One of my readers will win a $100 Visa gift card! More about that later...
First I want to tell you about two people who never fail to make me laugh: Lynn and Dan. You may remember them, even though I never mentioned them by name, from the time when Olivia SHAT ON THEIR FLOOR. And yes, they are still friends with me after that. The only thing I don't like about Lynn and Dan is they live too far away from me!

Possibly a little-known fact about Lynn and Dan is they met on eHarmony. It seems like there is a sort of stigma attached to online dating, and seriously, I don't know why. I know so many people who met and are happily married thanks to online dating sites. (Myself included!) I asked Lynn and Dan to talk about their experience. Enjoy!

How did you choose eHarmony over other dating sites?

Lynn: I was 25, living in a city far away from all my friends and family and working in a sales job (read I did not go to an office everyday). I mention these things because I was DESPERATE to meet people and didn’t feel that I was going to be able to without some online assistance. It’s not considered widely acceptable for a girl to go pick up a dude at the bar. For guys this is ok but not so much for girls. I liked that eHarmony didn’t post pictures. I was convinced I didn’t want creepers just creeping on me because they liked my photo.

Tell us about your first date!

Lynn: Our first date was to the very romantic spot of Ruby Tuesday in Austintown, OH. Dan was living in Cuyahoga Falls at the time, and I was in Pittsburgh on business. We picked it out of convenience, really, halfway for both of us.

We sat in the bar area and ordered something really exciting like chicken fingers. I ran to the restroom, and Dan ran out! He realized he’d forgotten his cigarettes, SO HE LEFT while I was in the bathroom to run to the Sheetz next door to get them. He was convinced he would be able to make it back before I returned.
Anyway, he didn’t make it back before I made it out of the restroom (shocking, I know), but he left his jacket. I guess that was the love note to me letting me know he was coming back. Either that or it was a Dear John letter. Well, we’re married now so I guess you know it wasn’t a Dear John.
We sat and talked and drank for hours and generally had a great time. At one point he reached across the table, grabbed my hands and said, “Some day we’ll tell our kids about this.” That should have been creepy. It wasn’t. I guess that’s when I knew.

Dan: Obviously it went well. I did, in fact, tell a girl I had known for an hour that we would tell our kids about this night. We only have one kid, but I fully intend to tell him the story as soon as I can get him to settle down and listen.

Did you meet anyone else on eHarmony before you met each other?

Lynn: I did not. Dan was my first. I was an eHarmony virgin, I suppose.

Dan: I had been using eHarmony for a while to meet girls. I never had any intention of meeting “the one”. Rather, I found eHarmony a good way to meet girls who were easy to talk to based on our similar likes, etc.

How and when did you know that Lynn/Dan was "the one?"

Lynn: Almost immediately, really. We both told the truth in our answers we gave. It’s amazing how you find someone just like you if you tell the truth.

Dan: Seriously, within about an hour or so I was planning the rest of my life with this person across the table from me. This should have been slightly creepy or should have at least given one of us pause. However, it felt right, and we both went with it.

Do you feel like there is a stigma attached to meeting on an online dating site? Did you tell people, or did you have an alternate story you told people?

Lynn: At the time there definitely was. We were pioneers in 2005. We did this before it was cool…or accepted. We actually tried to concoct a story on that first date. We didn’t want to HAVE TO TELL anyone that we met…O N L I N E!!

Dan: Back then, only people seeking to have sex and people offering up anonymous sex at a rest area used the internet to hook up. At least that’s what people thought. It’s strange because if you were going on a date with someone you met in a bar no one would freak out. That said, if you were going on a date with someone that you met on the INTERNET, you needed to tell someone where you would be lest you be murdered. The fact that I like to keep a tarp, 10 gallons of lye, and a hatchet on my front seat may be unintentionally reinforcing that particular fallacy.

What is your life like now? Married? Kids? Crapping Rainbows?

Lynn: We just celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. It’s crazy really. We’re in our second home, and I think we both feel like someone's mom is going to come down the stairs and ask us why we are here. We are really lucky to have all that we do.

Humbly, I think we both get that we are luckier than we deserve to be. The real fairy tale part of all of this is we never would have met if it weren’t for that job, which moved me from my family and friends. We never would have met if I wouldn’t have been SO lonely I resorted to the internets bringing me a man. I’m not a big believer in the “everything happens for a reason” thing; I feel like stupid people say that to make themselves feel better when they make a mistake or something, but I can’t think of a better way to put it. So there ya have it.

We have one smart, beautiful, funny little monster. His name is Jason, and I think we both agree that he has changed our lives for the better. I don’t remember my life before that Tuesday, but I know it couldn’t possibly have been this cool. We’re amazed, daily, about how well Jason is turning out (given that neither of us can be trusted to keep a house plant alive).

Would you recommend online dating/eHaromony to other people? Why or why not?

Lynn: I would… IF (and this is a big one)…you tell the truth. I don’t go to church. I drink too much. I can’t hide those things…they're part of my charm. So I didn’t lie. I told the truth, and so did he. It’s amazing how well matched the internets can make a couple if you just tell the truth

Dan: I would. As Lynn stated, because we both told the truth we were PERFECTLY matched. I know several people who have used eHarmony and were incredibly dishonest in building their profile. Not surprisingly, they did not find what they were looking for.

Additionally, we do not have an officially recognized marriage in the eyes of eHarmony. We met so quickly Lynn was able to cancel her membership and get her money back. Therefore, eHarmony did not send us a wedding present.

When the eHarmony commercials first came out everyone who knows us inquired as to why we weren’t in a commercial. I had to explain that due to Lynn’s desperate financial condition at the time she was forced to game the system. Now that I think about it, perhaps we should be the ones to send the eHarmony people a gift.

SO!!!! As I mentioned, this post is part of a pretty sweet sweepstakes through BlogHer and eHarmony! One reader will win a $100 Visa gift card.

How to Win...The Rules!:

All you have to do is answer a simple question: What is the most important character trait your partner must have and why?

No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 2/14/2012 - 3/15/2012.

Visit the eHarmony page to check out more blogger success stories and for more chances to win!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sock Monkey Hat, Winner!

The winner of the Sock Monkey Hat giveaway is...Parker and Lauren's Mom!!  Parker and Lauren's've got mail!!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and to Krystal for offering up one of her hats for my readers.

(I don't know if I am supposed to explain how I got the winner.  But.  I counted up all the comments, deleted duplicates/people who forgot to leave their email on their first comment, and used to come up with comment 70.)

January Recipe #2 - Mayo & Parmesan Crusted Chicken

If you ask Mark, he would call this recipe #2 like poo.

I, however, loved it.  There haven't been very many things we've tried that we've been split on.  We both usually love it or don't, unless it's something that we knew Mark wouldn't like because he has the palate of a 7 year old.

Me: The chicken I made for dinner tonight is bahhhhhhhmmmm!

Him: what's in it?

Me: I don't wanna tell you.

Him: (takes two bites and gives me the thumbs down on his way to scrape the rest into the garbage.)

I reheated it the next day for lunch and loved it as much the second time. My theories are that Mark is stupid, or that Mark doesn't like mayo and that's why he hated it.

Most likely? It's a combination of both.

So anyway, I'm going to post the recipe even though nobody cares what I'm cooking because quite honestly I am an idiot in and out of the kitchen. Someone left a comment on my first recipe that said, "what is going on?!"

Haha! What is going on, indeed. I imagine my blogging hubris has taken a turn toward out of control?  And I just think that I can take a dump all over my blog and you will love it anyway?*

Whatever. Here is the recipe. I'm on track with my two recipe a month goal because I made this on 1/31 proving that I thoroughly rule at life. (Life hubris?)

Mayo & Parmesan Crusted Chicken
serves 4

As always, my food looks disgusting compared to the source.
Whatever, it was good.
Click "source" above to see a delicious looking pic.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

1/2 Cup Real Mayonnaise**
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 tsp. Italian Seasoned Dry Bread crumbs  (I used Panko crumbs and oregano, because I had them.  And I used a lot more than 4 tsp!!)

Mix mayo and parmesan cheese in a small bowl.

Place thawed chicken breasts on a baking sheet.  Spread mayo/cheese mix evenly on top of each breast.

Spread bread crumbs on top of each breast.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are brown and juices run clear.

I served with green beans because that's what it was pictured with and I am unoriginal, and I made mashed potatoes, too. 

*You know, part of the reason that I rarely blog is that I worry that people won't enjoy what I post.  I mean, it only takes a couple of people telling you how funny your blog used to be and how they still stick with you anyway to instill that kind of paranoia.  BUT, I am going to try to let go of that and post whatever I want and you can read it and enjoy it or read it and not enjoy it, right?

**can we talk about mayo for a minute? I grew up eating miracle whip** and thinking it was just another brand of mayo and meh. It was fine. I rarely ate it. And then as a grown up, I learned the true joys of real mayonnaise. I can't decide if my childhood was ruined because I never learned the true joys of real mayonnaise until my mid-20's (damn you mom!) or if my childhood was better off because I never learned the true joys of real mayonnaise (damn you childhood obesity!). 



Don't forget to enter the Sock Monkey Hats & More Giveaway!  Comments will close tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.  Only around 160 entries so far so chances at winning are good!


One Year Ago: This NICU Business is Exhausting
Two Years Ago: Complex, but Fine.
Three Years Ago:  35 Weeks, How Should My Tombstone Read?
Four Years Ago: Dreading the Conversation

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Giveaway: Sock Monkey Hats

My friend Krystal has been selling handmade hats for a while now. After commenting "LOVE!!" on no less than 7,420 of her pictures on Facebook, I decided that maybe I should ask Krystal if she would like to do a giveaway to you guys.

She said yes!

Her Facebook fan page is full of adorable pictures of hats that threaten to break my wallet into tiny sad little pieces.

You guys, I own four of her hats and love them all. Olivia has a Hello Kitty hat that she won't take off, and Ainsley has a pink sock monkey hat that we won't let her take off. Both are perfectly made and completely adorable.

"You can take my picture, but I refuse to stop talking and don't even think for a second that I will smile."

"I'll smile for ya, ma!"

Even the New Knepper has a hat - I could do something cheesy like, post a picture of the hat on my belly but I'm too lazy to even do that. Here is New Knepper's hat from Krystal's site:

New Knepper can't talk yet. Stupid fetus.
I'm about 90% sure that I am done gestating tiny humans after this pregnancy, so I will never have a little boy. BUT, if I did I would totally buy him this hat:

So anyway. Krystal is giving away to one person, one hat of any value. Winner's choice. YAY!

Here is what you have to do to win:

1. You MUST "Like" Krystal's business page on Facebook, Sock Monkey Hats and More.

2. Go to her page, and come back here to comment and tell me which hat is your favorite. Leave me your email address, or make sure I can find it through your comment. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

That's it! No big complicated thing. Feel free to post on The Twitter, but I don't get Twitter so no extra entries for that.

Contest will close Sunday, February 5 at 7 p.m. (Eastern Time). I will pick and announce the random winner on Monday...whenever I feel like it. HA!

If I don't hear from the first winner within 3 days, I will pick a new winner. If the original winner has not "liked" the Sock Monkey Hats and More Facebook page, I will pick a new winner. Giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada only.

***giveaway has ended! Winner TBA tomorrow***