Dear Jack: We Need Sleep

My sweet darling innocent angelic baby boy Jack… Holy shit, why is bedtime such a power struggle, and why did you stop sleeping through the night? Remember those times when we’d put you to bed, and you’d go to sleep right away without a fuss? And then you’d sleep like a log until 6 am? THAT WAS AWESOME. Why did that have to end?

I tell you what, Jack. If you sleep through the night tonight, we can watch all the Elmo you want. If you sleep through the night for a week, I’ll dress up as Elmo and sing a “Sleep” song. If you sleep through the night for a month, I’ll find the real Elmo and arrange a meet and greet. If you sleep through the night until you go away to college, I’ll buy you a sportscar, and give it to you while dressed as Elmo and eating a disgusting, smelly, wet pickle.

If you don’t sleep through the night, you’re gonna have to get a job to pay for all this extra coffee and Tylenol.

3:59 am update: DAMNIT!!!

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I’m coughing up colors!!

Last year during Jack’s first cold and flu season, I did a pretty good job of avoiding most of the sniffles and coughs that Jack caught. Not this year – he’s in traditional day care this year, so he’s basically sitting in a brightly-colored Petrie dish all day. Today, I coughed up green blobs and then green blobs with red streaks. I can’t wait to see what color it is tomorrow – taste the rainbow!!!

I went to urgent care to make sure my lungs weren’t going to explode. The lab tech lady took some blood to check my white blood cells. Now, I have had my blood taken hundreds of times – that number is NOT an exaggeration. One time, a lab tech actually let me try to take my own blood because I knew the procedure better than she did.

So when this lady starts wiggling the needle to catch my rolling vein and I began getting shooting pains down my arm past the tourniquet, I mentioned it to her. And she said, “it’s just a tourniquet. Geez, is this your first time around needles?!?”

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. Lady. My medical record weighs more than your fat head. Take your shitty phlebotomy skills and shove them up your ass.

Yeah, I coughed on her.

Grandpa Frank: My Confession of Sexual Abuse

I’ve been reading a lot about the scandal at Penn State lately. Actually, scandal isn’t the right word – this isn’t a celebrity divorce we’re talking about. This is a horrible tragedy that has occurred, and I am horrified there were adults in a position to stop the suffering and humiliation these children have suffered but instead stayed silent or performed the smallest required amount of action… just enough to cover their ass. These children’s lives have been broken by these events, past and present. I know because it has taken me years to see the ripples made by a single act from my step-grandfather.

I call him a step-grandfather because he was my grandma’s second husband, and because I refuse to let anyone think I shared a drop of blood with him. Grandpa Frank married my grandma before I was born. He wasn’t always in a wheelchair, but he is in all my memories. My mother and I would visit every month or so, and he would ask me about school, and my hobbies, and give me $10 to go “have fun with”. When he woke up from his afternoon nap, I would make him a gin and tonic just the way he taught me. I liked Grandpa Frank.

Twenty years ago, I was 13. My mother finally let me get contact lenses to replace my thick glasses, and some boys were starting to notice me. My mom and I planned to visit Grandma and Grandpa Frank one weekend. I remember that my mom and grandma went out to run an errand. Grandpa Frank was taking a nap, so I sat in the kitchen and watched TV. I heard the soft, rhythmic sound of the wheelchair moving across the carpet – this meant that he was awake, and moving to the living room to watch golf. I knew he would want his gin and tonic, so I got up and followed his chair to the living room.

I made his drink as he moved to the sofa, and he asked me to sit down next to him. I sat to his right, and he put his arm around me. This had never happened before, but I did not think anything of it. He asked how school was going (“fine”) and if I had a boyfriend (“no”). Then he told me I was very pretty, and before I could say anything, he slipped his left hand down my shirt and grabbed my breast. I said, “Grandpa Frank, what are you doing?! Stop!” And he just said, “Shh.”

I shoved his hands off of me, and ran into the kitchen. That’s where I stayed for the next hour waiting for my mom to get home and hoping I did not hear his wheelchair move. I just wanted them to come home, so that I would be safe – it’s not like he was going to chase after me, but I no longer felt safe in my grandma’s home. I wanted my grandma and mom to come and save me. When my mom and grandma got home, it took me a while to have the courage to tell them what happened. And when I did, I was told “Oh, he’s old. He doesn’t know any better.”

Years later, my mom would sincerely apologize to me for not doing something, and I have forgiven her. I never forgave my grandma – in fact, after that day, I did not tell her “I love you” until the day before she died. I truly regret this. As for Grandpa Frank, I refused to ever be alone with him again. I would not make his drink, I would not meet his gaze, I would not talk to him. When he died a couple of years later, my first thought was “Good.”

Hindsight and life experience has shown me how this affected me. A few months after this happened, a boy I really liked sat with me on my living room couch one day after school. He tried to grab my breast in that awkward way that 13-year-old boys do, and I freaked out so much I ran outside and didn’t stop running until I was almost a mile away. He spread a rumor that I was a freak, and a lesbian. A couple of months after that, I was at a party with some kids who were a little older than me, in high school. We got into a hot tub, while our parents and dozens of other adults were around. One of them asked me if the rumors were true, and before I could answer, he grabbed my waist and sexually assaulted me under the water, in front of everyone. I cried myself to sleep for months after that.

I’m not sharing this so that anyone feels bad for me. I also don’t want anyone to think I am totally over it – I still have more issues than I can count. It’s a part of my past, and I have moved on from it and given it as much closure as I can. I’m sharing it because I wanted to finally be able to step up and say, This happened to me. It was not my fault. I am not the one who should feel ashamed by this, because I did nothing wrong. I can’t control what happened to me, but I can control how much of an effect it has on me.

My experience positively pales in comparison to what happened to those boys who trusted Coach Sandusky. Did they tell anyone about what happened? Were their complaints taken seriously, or was their abuse interpreted as “horseplay” by those in a position to protect these children? This situation is only going to get worse as more survivors come forward, and as more people look for others to blame. Please remember that at the center of this story, and so many other stories of sexual abuse, is a child who is hiding from their abuser, and waiting for someone to come save them.

My crush on Justin Timberlake remains true

NaBloPoMo is hard. A post every day? GEEZ.

Erik: “Are you writing about your hatred of Tom Brady?”

Me: “I could fill a book about that. And it would say ‘Tom Brady sucks’, 5000 times. (awkward pause upon realizing that this joke is going nowhere) The book would not sell well.”

Erik: “Then why would you write it?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

I was brainstorming about what this blog post should be about, when BAM here’s an article about Justin Timberlake being awesome and classy. It seems that a few months ago, a marine named Cpl. Kelsey De Santis posted a video on YouTube asking Justin to attend the Marine Corp ball with her. And he accepted! Last night, he attended and then posted this on his website about it.

To all my family, friends and fans –
I’m writing this out to all of you after attending an event that turned out to be one of the most moving evenings I’ve ever had…

I had the honor and privilege last night of attending The Basic School Instructor Battalion 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Greater Richmond Convention Center with Corporal Kelsey DeSantis…

I knew I would have an evening that I wouldn’t forget… Something I could tell my friends about. What I didn’t know was how moved I would be by the whole experience.

I’ve always been very vocal about my support of our Armed Forces. I’ve always felt like they offered us the opportunity to live our lives freely without the fear that so many other nations have to endure still to this day. And, they do it without asking for anything in return. I had this very feeling walking into this dinner. So, to say I was stoked to be there would be more than accurate.

As the evening got started, I met Kelsey and we made our way to the ballroom where the Marine Ball was going to be held. I stopped in an area designated as a kind of VIP for some of the officers, I think. I took some photos and shook hands with some of the men and women who take such great care of our freedom. It was nice to be there already.

Then, we moved to the ballroom where the dinner was set up… For a short while, I had the opportunity to sit with Kelsey, get to know her and get a tiny glimpse into what her life as a Marine was like. She talked about her training in mixed martial arts with a passion, a discipline, and a respect. It reminded me of how I hear my favorite athletes talk about their sport or, how I hear my favorites among my peers in music and film talk about their craft.

We sat in this huge ballroom and were the only ones there as, we had beaten the rest of the soldiers who were on their way in. So, we got a decent amount of time to chat before the ceremony started.

She seemed to me to be so humble and honest… Very cool. She also simultaneously seemed like she was nervous about the whole evening and if I was going to enjoy myself. “Are you ok?” she asked 2 or 3 times. “I hope you are having fun. I know you will once my crew of friends get here to the table.” I have to tell you, it’s not every day that I meet a 23 year old girl and she’s more worried about if I’m having fun or if I’m comfortable! It hit me all of a sudden that these were the type of people that look after us and our freedom… Humble, concerned for others before themselves… This was the type of person our Marine Corps was building. I was really blown away.

It seemed like all of a sudden I was surrounded by her great friends and fellow Marines as the closest ones to her made their way to our table. She again assured me that I was going to love all of her friends–that they were a “kick-ass” group of people.

She couldn’t have been more right. I laughed and laughed with all of them almost immediately and felt very close to them… They reminded me of my friends (the ones I like, at least). Cool, un-affected, and real. This was going to be a fun night.

What happened then took me by such surprise that I was almost brought to tears. In fact, our whole table was…

They started the ceremony. And, the next thing I knew I was watching a video about Pearl Harbor/WW2 and the September 11 terrorist attacks… It was a video with some first-hand accounts from some Marines who were there… Telling their stories of the sights and sounds of war and rescue. So vivid and real. So honest but, so filled with a sense of compassion and adoration for this wonderful country. They spoke with a pride that only they could have acquired through their experience as a US Marine. There was a common theme that I began to notice as well… No matter what the situation. No matter how dire…

They were there FIRST.

There on the front lines.

No questions… Just reaction.

While this tribute was playing, you could hear a pin drop. It was a surreal moment to be in that room with so many of our great Marines who have such a different type of connection to those stories. One that we who don’t serve will NEVER understand. It was familial. It was like they were listening to their own blood brothers. I glanced around the room at young men and women, spouses and soldiers… At kids way beyond their years, really… All so deeply entwined. Not just by battle, even though we who have never endured anything remotely close to those experiences and have NO position to comment on… But, by having such life changing experiences through them and to not ever waver in their love and respect for our homeland. That’s what I saw. A faith in us that has been tested time and time again. And, through it all, NEVER a drop of doubt.

I was truly moved.

The evening went on and we ate and took photos and drank and made jokes.

There were some speeches that prompted many “huahs” and applause. There was laughs. We even danced a little.

I felt so proud to be there. I felt like I was getting a chance to be among my heroes. It’s funny too because a lot of them are SO younger than me.

The evening wound down for me as, I had to catch a plane. But, I have to say that I had so much fun with Kelsey and her crew of friends. They were just really nice people… Classy Marines but, not without a great sense of humor. Real individuals but, not without a sense of community.

I said my goodbyes to them but, not before I got a chance to tell them how much the evening had meant to me. They made me feel so welcome to be there and I’ll never forget it.

We all have our own individual views on war… But, doesn’t that speak to just another thing that makes this country so special?? The fact that we can all wake up every morning and BE individual with a pure sense of freedom..? But, one thing that can’t be argued is that it’s because of the people who VOLUNTEER their lives to make sure that it’s protected at all times. And, like I said before, doing so while asking for nothing in return…

To all of you that serve every day for us… Ensuring our freedom, I say: My deepest gratitude to you. I’ve met so many of my heroes… From Michael Jordan to Michael Jackson. And, nothing makes me feel more honor and pride than when I get to meet one of you. Last night changed my life and I will never forget it.

To people like me who get to benefit from this type of person… One with character and courage. With strength and bravery. With humility and honor… I say: Send your thanks. Do it however you can. Write a letter, type an email… Hell, buy ’em a beer next time you run into someone from our Armed Forces in a bar. When they say thank you for that drink that cost you 3 bucks, they’ll mean it. They won’t take it for granted and, they won’t forget it.

Thank you Corporal Kelsey DeSantis. Thank you for inviting me. And, thank you for being my hero.
– Justin Timberlake

Justin, you’re a classy guy. Now please put out another album. I’m sick of Adam Levine being all over the radio. Also, thanks for continuing to be super hot. You’ve earned a place on my top 5… keep in mind, my top 5 only has 4 spaces filled.
Timberlake at a concert in St. Paul, Minnesota...

Too tired to keep my eyes open

I’m so tired that my eyes are stinging. That might be slightly somewhat possibly a little bit related to the fact that we just watched Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and, just like in the theater, I cried my eyes out. There are a lot of problems I have with that movie, even though I know it could never live up to my expectations for it, but it still makes me cry and OMG BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH NERD NERD NERD NERD. Shut up, Karen.

I’m too tired to do a proper post, especially one about Jack’s birth story. So let’s see, what did I do today…. my friend Wuori, who has the world’s worst pick up lines and jokes, had some cleaning women scrubbing up his place today. He was on Twitter about it, so I dared him to give them a pick up line. He tried translating them in Spanish, especially the one about Sean Connery playing at Wimbledon. I told him that I’d give him the phone number of one of my brilliant younger sisters if he did… one of the HOT ASIAN TWINS. But I would need video proof. Sarah and Chrissy, your phone numbers are safe – I have still not received the video.

I don’t have a recent picture of these hot Asian twin sisters of mine, so an old photo will have to suffice. PS check out the cool-ass chick in the middle with the Dorothy Hamill haircut.

PS I put “HOT ASIAN TWINS” in the tags for this post, so I can’t wait to see what kind of spam I get.

A Christmas Picture Tradition

What’s a 33-year-old woman and her baby supposed to do at the mall at 4 pm on an early November Friday?

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I had not planned to do this, but we had been walking around and passed a bored-looking Santa with no line whatsoever. Jack had on clean clothes that matched and had no barf or snot stains, and I knew I would never get an easier opportunity than this. The photo elf and I braced for his meltdown when he was handed to Santa, and… Nothing. He giggled at Santa’s beard.

Then, we went into Tiffany’s and he screamed his head off. IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING.

When Jack was born: Birth Story, Part 2

Part 1 here.

Hey folks,

I talked to most of you last night, but I wanted to send along an update on Karen with all the details as I know it. She was admitted to CMC Pineville last evening and diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia. They are treating her for that with Magnesium (muscle relaxer) in addition to IV fluids and blood pressure meds. Following the diagnosis, and because she is 29 weeks, she was transferred to CMC Main, which has a more advanced pre-term NICU.

They have administered one dose of steroids so far, to beef the baby up in addition to boosting his lungs. He could be delivered today, or 10 days. They are playing a balancing act on what is best for Karen (delivery) vs. what is best for the baby (staying in as long as possible). Karen will be hospitalized and on bed rest until delivery.

So far, she has responded very well to the Magnesium, as her blood pressure has been in the 120’s/80’s most of the night and this morning. She’s getting some rest when she can, but they are closely monitoring and come in at least once an hour.

I’ll pass on more info as I know it.- Erik

After a couple of close calls and late night hospital visits, Erik and I go to the local hospital and fully expect to be there for a while. I remember that we were packing, and saying, “What if he’s born early? We have to go ahead and buy all of his stuff. How long do you think he will be in there? Maybe two weeks?” It’s really funny to me in hindsight.

We go to CMC Pineville, which he had selected as the hospital where Jack would be born. My friend Kat got the news and brought in a goody bag of things to make a long hospital visit more bearable. But my blood pressure was up to 188/90 by then, so she left and the resident ob came in to talk to us.

“Here’s what we know. You have severe pre-eclampsia. If we don’t treat you right away, you’re in danger of having a seizure, or even a stroke. The only way to fix pre-eclampsia is for you to deliver the baby. The problem is, he’s only 29 weeks old. So, we have to balance your health and his, and we are going to treat your symptoms and try to keep you stable for as long as we can. First, you’re going to have to go on restricted bed rest. This means you’ll be on a catheter, and you won’t be able to leave the bed at all. Also, we’re going to start an IV drip of magnesium which is going to help keep you from having a seizure, but it will also make you feel like you have the flu. We’re going to start you on steroids to help Jack’s lungs develop faster. Because, you’re not going to make it to 40 weeks. In fact, you’ll probably deliver in about a week. Also, you’re going to have to transfer to a different hospital. We have a NICU here, but we’re only able to take infants born at 30 weeks or later. And we can’t guarantee you’ll stay pregnant that long. If things get worse, we may have to induce you tonight.”

He left the room so that Erik and I could talk. But we just sat there for a moment, silent and in shock. Everything we had planned was changing. I was about to be moved to a strange hospital with strange doctors and be confined until I delivered, which could even be done that night. Suddenly, there was a whirlwind of action. I remember being annoyed that I had to take my contacts out – if I had to get a C-section right away, they did not want me wearing my contacts. I really regretted lapsing on my eyeglasses prescription then. The nurse weighed me… how had I suddenly gained 7 pounds since this morning? Then, the nurses came in to give me a catheter and set me up with the magnesium, just as the ambulance came to take me to the other hospital. All I could think about was getting my FMLA paperwork signed, so I wouldn’t be fired for having to take time off of work. I remember nurses holding my hands as I tried not to cry, and Erik standing in the corner watching this flurry of activity happen to me and being unable to get close to me when the IV and catheter was put in.

I was put in the ambulance to go to CMC Main, and I had no idea what to expect. All of the reading pregnancy books and researching on baby websites and planning what to do in every instance… well, we never planned for this. And we were scared.