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.


Elizabeth said...

just curious- and you don't have to answer this- but what was wrong with Evelyn? What consequence might this have for Ainsley? (since they do share DNA, after all)

My twin son died of SIDS this past April so I have a glimpse of what this is like, unfortunately. (my twin daughter is fine).

Stace said...

You are amazing. I know that's not what you were looking for, but you're still standing & you're amazing.

andasbackpack said...

I rarely, comment but I feel compelled tonight for some reason. I love this blog because you always seem so honest about things, from "newborns are assholes" (I wouldn't know personally - hope I do someday) to "The Best Thing That's Ever Been Mine" it all just seems honest in a way that I really can relate to. I kind of hate a lot of bloggers because I guess I was an asshole as a newborn and never grew out of it?? But anyway, love this blog and sending good thoughts your way.

Stacie said...

How do you do it questions are always hard for me to answer. It's not as if there is a choice, right? I mean you just DO it...because you have to, because there are little people who need you, because you love them, because you love your husband...the list goes on and on. You just do. People don't really understand that much of the time.

My kids were in the NICU for 15 weeks. That is nothing to the time you've been there. I am hoping that Ainsley is able to come home soon.

Simona said...

I know you're not looking for it, but you deserve a statue and some recognition for these words right here... I am totally and utterly impressed, really. You should be everybody's role model (okay, maybe except the eating habits, LOL) but honestly, we should all try to see life as you do. Please, keep being who you are, you and your family are amazing!

Rosie said...

I think you are amazing. Keep doing what you are doing. You're doing the best you can and I think that is pretty damn great. I love your blog and I think about you and your family all the time. Best to you!

HereWeGoAJen said...

I kind of hate questions like that. Because you just DO IT. There is no other real choice. I have yelled at someone in person for saying that to someone else in front of me. (And then, funny story, my own baby died the next day. For irony and all.)

Jenn and Casey said...

I hope you all make it out of survival mode in the near future, and get to enjoy your kiddos together in the same home (even though I know that will bring its own stressors). Thinking of you!

Just the Tip said...

You are so strong. And you are a great mother to three little girls.


Anne said...

I guess I understand people's curiosity but I feel like you can answer all the questions by saying "How can I NOT do it."

venter said...

I really appreciate your honesty, I really do. I don't know you personally but I've been following your blog for at least 2 years...I feel like I know you to some degree (I know, weirdo).
I love that you said "things are good!"...even though those of us reading can't even fathom what you have on your plate.
Thanks for the truthful update...these were questions i've wondered as well.


Courtney said...

No pity - just admiration! You've kept everything together so well over the last year - I don't think there's a person alive who wouldn't admire you for that. You are tremendously strong. I know that you have to do these things because there's no choice involved, but HOW you handle them is up to you. You've handled everything so incredibly well!

Sunny said...

I got similar comments about "How do you do it?" when I was on bedrest during my twin pregnancy, a total of three months of not even being allowed to sit up unless I had to pee or go to the OB/MFM, and I had a 1.5 year old. But what pissed me off were the "I could never do that!" comments. Like, really, you couldn't stay in bed all day for the health and possibly the very lives of your unborn twins? But of course they would do it. Who wouldn't? You just DO.

Not that my situation in ANY way compared to the magnitude of yours!!

You may be doing the same things that most of us would do in your situation, but the fact is you are still the one DOING them. And for that fact, you are a hero to me, and I really hope that God is keeping track of this so the next few years are smooth sailing for you!

clearness said...

I frequently get the whole 'how do you do it' question too. It inspired me to write a post.

The link contains my answer.

AND~~~ I find it inspirational that my word verification for this post is bless

Laura Diniwilk said...

I didn't feel pity when I read this, it was more like "wow. just wow." I have always been really impressed by how open and honest and brilliant and funny you are, but this post makes me realize just how strong you are. I couldn't imagine doing what you have done every day for almost a year. I mean, obviously I WOULD if I HAD TO, but our family has been extremely lucky. I am so sorry that your family seems to be hoarding all of the bad luck in Ohio and for all of the craziness you have had to deal with. Your girls have a truly amazing mom and I'm so glad that you all seem to be hanging in there, in spite of everything.

Jen said...

I think you are amazing and obviously have a lot of strength. I have also wondered if you had learned exactly what was not right with Evelyn. More nosy questions, sorry.

clburright said...

A friend once sent me a quote that I think fits for you. It said "You never know how STRONG you are until STRONG is your only option". You're awesome and a great mother, and are one of the funniest bitches I know. Well, one of the funniest bitches I stalk on the internet.

jill said...

If you get out of this with your sanity intact and a few extra pounds, I would call it a success. Prayers continuing for you and your family.

Emily said...

I've been following your blog for a couple of years, and you are freaking amazing. What you're doing is more than I can ever imagine being able to handle. Maybe I could, if thrown into the situation, but I don't know. You're amazing, seriously.

Kahla said...

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I'm always amazed at how ya'll have handled it all. Seriously. It's pretty impressive that you're not in a nutso ward wrapped in a warm white jacket. I guess in the end you do what you have to do but I don't think it could ever be understood how you do it unless you were in that situation. As for the pity party, I would never think that about you. Never once have I got that feeling about something you posted.

PS Just noticed your member count is 1234... just sayin. ;o)

Katie said...

You are kinda awesome!

eggsinarow said...

You are amazing and beautiful and give me hope that I can get through what's happening in my life with some semblance of grace. I'm proud of you.

Becky said...

I have been following your blog for awhile now but just recently, finally, went back and read through everything about your twins and Ainsley. My son died just after having fetal surgery back in January and I get asked all the time "How do I do it?" I have to tell people all the time that really I have only 2 options; keep living or more less die, and I choose to keep living. It has been hard to get passed what happened and it amazes me how strong you can become when something tragic like this happens.
Anyway I am rambling on here but I find you to be so strong, its very inspiring. Your girls are so lucky to have such a great mom.

Chris and Annalisa said...

Wow. You are amazing and strong and your girlies are so lucky to have you!

Michele said...

I had a really rough year after my first was born. I found a lot of resonance in music that year. If it would be helpful, I thought I might share.

For you and Mark:
Shawn Colvin, One Small Year
Shawn Colvin, Anywhere You Go
Skye, What's Wrong with Me

For Evelyn,
Tracy Chapman, The Only One

For Ainsley,
Shawn Colvin, Diamond in the Rough
Elizabeth Mitchell, Who's My Pretty Baby

For Olivia,
Elizabeth Mitchell, Peace Like A River
Trout Fishing in America, My Best Day (for her birthday :) ).

Michele said...

I should mention, the song for Evelyn will absolutely make you cry - don't listen to it unless you're in that space.

Amy said...

I continue to be impressed at your perspective and the general awesomeness of your family. I love the last line, that the situation is getting better every day. I am very, very glad to hear that :)

Also, yours is basically the best blog ever.

Also, I will stop kissing up now, to a stranger on the internet. :)

Wiz said...

I have never commented before partly because unlike you, I am awful with words and usually end up sounding either sappy or lamer than I intended, but I will give it a shot. Your attitude = amazing. You seem like a person I would want to be friends with (see...sappy.) You have had some awful stuff happen and are still freaking halarious. I love that you are posting more and have really enjoyed your blog (see...lame.) I tried :)

Hilary said...

I wanted to leave a comment that was all awesome and sweet but I am blown away by all the other comments from your admirers (stalkers) that are already awesome and sweet and I didn't want to say something cheesy like "You go girl!" so I guess I will just say that you and your family are in my thoughts all the time and I can't wait until I read a post that says you are bringing sweet Ainsley home. I think that was one big run on sentence but oh well! I too have wondered about Evelyn and I hope that you will be able to share her story with us one day.

kadiera said...

Your post sounds like my life. Preemie #1 (fertility drug baby) just got rid of his trach in August & spent 9.5 months in NICU. Preemie #2 (surprise) was in the NICU 5 months, home 5 days, and got a trach today after 5 weeks in the PICU.

I'd write more, but it's my turn to put little miss to bed at the hospital.