April 28, 2011

Final, final stretch?

There's talk of Zoey coming home this weekend. That's excellent news, of course, but it means home life right now is more chaotic than a black hole's event horizon.

Hence, the cricket chirping lack of blogging as of late. It's hard to blog when you're chasing a 19-month-old around the house, telling him not to spit Ritz Bits bolus on the rugs and/or couch.

So, while I'll continue to blog for as long as Mu.Nu allows, for now the preemie chapter of the last four months is coming to a close.

As Monk would say: "It's a blessing. . . and a curse."

Posted by Ryan at 06:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 24, 2011

Egg on Squirrel Face

Last night, my wife returned from the hospital around 3 a.m., and she went outside to hide plastic Easter eggs around the house. Thankfully, today was Easter, otherwise such behavior would have warranted a call to the guys in the white coats.

Anyway, this morning as my boy was eating breakfast, I glanced outside and could have sworn I saw a yellow plastic Easter egg darting across the lawn. I did a double-take and realized the egg was being carried by a squirrel. This struck me as odd behavior, until my wife told me she had placed crackers and other snacks in the eggs.


Apparently, squirrels have teeth perfectly adapted to gnawing through plastic Easter eggs, which is a point in favor of the intelligent design argument, if you ask me. Evolution just isn't plausible enough to cover mandibles capable of shredding plastic Easter eggs. And, yes, for you nattering couch fainters who think I'm being serious. . . that was a JOKE. A funny. Relax.

All told, squirrels made off with six or seven plastic eggs, retreating to the safety of the trees to saw through the plastic and retrieve their prize. They then dropped the empty plastic shells on the ground with all the ceremonious dignity of a walnut husk.

Thankfully, our boy was still delighted to find even the hollowed out shells, so at least there was no lasting psychological damage.

That I'm aware of, anyway.

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April 23, 2011

The Sound of Silence

Yes, we're still going through the preemie NICU hospital vigil, but it's entered a phase that involves my wife being at the hospital all day long trying to breastfeed Zoey, and me staying at home trying to remain sane taking care of our 19-month-old son. Hence, not a lot of time to post lengthy missives about our ongoing experience.

Apologies for the blog silence as of late, in other words. Not sure who I'm apologizing to, now that I think about it. Myself, mostly.

Today would have been my wife's actual due date for the twins, although the hospital would have gone in for a C-section two to three weeks prior to the due date to alleviate any possible complications.

Possible complications. . .

What I wouldn't give for "possible complications" over the reality of the last four months. My God, man. Who would have thought "possible complications" would have been a best case scenario? It's like being given a choice between having ebola or a cold.

Zoey is now five-and-a-half pounds, and by all accounts she's extraordinarily healthy, all things considered. She sleeps like her life depends on it--and I suppose it probably does--but that seriously hinders her breastfeeding efforts, because you can't suck on a boob if you're asleep. That's a scientific fact I just made up entirely in my own mind, but it rings true.

We drove past my jiu-jitsu gym tonight on our way home from grocery shopping, and I was struck by how much I miss training, which I haven't had an opportunity to do since December. You wouldn't think that would be high on my list of whining nostalgia, but jiu-jitsu training was one of those things that was uniquely my pursuit outside of family life before the hospital vigil started. Plus, it sucks to think all the other students are getting better than me by the day. Oh well, I'll get back into it once things start to settle down.

They HAVE to settle down, or I'll be dead before I'm 45.

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April 22, 2011


I tell you what: I just put a new 32" television in the basement where one never existed previously, and the 19-month-old boy just accepts it not as if it's a novelty, but as if it's been there all his life, and belongs there. It's frustrating and cute at the same time.

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April 20, 2011


Yesterday marked Zoey's 110th day in the NICU.

I must say, this shit is getting old.

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April 17, 2011


While shaving this morning, I had surprisingly vivid memories of Finn's death. Not sure what triggered them but, jeez, I hope they don't hit randomly at unfortunate times. Remembering is important, of course, but I sure wouldn't want to zone out and be reduced to a blubbering mess during a freelance interview, for example.

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April 14, 2011

Chairman Zoey

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April 12, 2011

The Final Push

It has now been nearly three and-a-half months since this particularly bleak chapter in our lives first started. That we've made it this far is rather remarkable all by itself. I mean, holy crap.

As of last night, Zoey is now a five pound baby girl, and by all accounts she's doing just terrific. She hasn't had a significant apnea spell in a long time and, if she'd just pick up the whole breastfeeding concept, she'd be going home pretty soon. I seems, however, just as she's making progress, some doctor comes in to do an eye exam, or some nurse comes in to administer a shot, and the slight trauma of it all sets her back.

It's nice to come to the hospital and be able to simply pick Zoey up and hold her. Back during the early Kangaroo Care sessions, when she was wired like a bomb, the process of placing her on my chest required a lengthy logistical dance akin to passing a grenade from one person to another using only the butt cheeks.

I look out the hospital windows now in the early evening hours and it's still sunny, and gradually getting greener each day. I think back to those early January nights, looking out into the darkness of a winter-locked city, and the difference couldn't be more stark. I still can't believe we're here some days.

That's not to say we haven't had our share of hiccups along the way.

Speaking of which, a previous post mentioned my father-in-law had smashed my car into some wooden landscaping ties. I really didn't think, at the time, the damage could honestly be that bad. I mean, they're wooden landscaping ties, for crying out loud. How much damage could they do?

Quite a bit, it turns out.

Wooden landscaping ties can--if the driver hits them just right, at the correct angle--put a substantial dent in the passenger door, while simultaneously tearing the side panel below the passenger door completely off and destroy the side panel so entirely, its only conceivable use now would be as some sort of contemporary abstract art.

Of course, my father-in-law felt terrible, but it's not like my car was going to win any automotive beauty pageants anyway. The added damage, however, does seriously cast doubt on any chance I had of enticing an interested buyer. I'm looking at, maybe, $1,000 - $2,000 in trade-in at this point. It's low on my list of worries, to be perfectly honest.

Once Zoey is home, things will be different. Things will still be difficult and uncertain, of course, but home is where the hope is.

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April 11, 2011

Eunuch Boy

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April 09, 2011

You Must be Kidding Me

It seems backwards, but the healthier and stronger Zoey becomes, the bigger the strain becomes on the domestic front.

As Zoey continues her transition to breastfeeding, my wife has to spend more and more time at the hospital so she's there when Zoey is most amenable to the breastfeeding challenge. So, I'm at home most of the day with our 18-month-old. This obviously leads to guilt for my wife and myself: she feels bad for not seeing much of our boy, and I feel bad for not seeing much of our girl. Unfortunately, there's really no way around this current reality, so we just have to push through.

But, also, there just isn't enough time in the day to get things done that need to be done.

We need to get out grocery shopping, or we'll find ourselves in the position of actually envying Old Mother Hubbard's situation. Alternatively, I suppose we can try to figure out some way to make soup using kitty litter.

We also have to prepare Zoey's nursery, lest we finally get her home and have to house her in the kitchen, which will be the only room in our home with adequate empty storage space for her diapers, wipes and clothes. People would come to see Zoey and marvel at all the Huggies in the cupboard where we used to store cereal.

On the plus side, my wife managed to sell her VW Jetta and, yesterday, she bought a Chrysler Town and Country mini-van as a replacement vehicle, and it looks like it will be an excellent way to transport our family.

On the negative side, I just now received a call from my wife informing me her dad just smashed my car into some wooden landscaping ties in our yard. My wife wouldn't elaborate on the damage; she just told me not to overreact when I see it.

So. . . yeah.

Posted by Ryan at 04:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 06, 2011

Love, Honor and Obey

The toughest thing about the last month (hopefully) of the NICU experience, is the strain on the concept of marriage.

"For better and for worse" and all that but, during the wedding, you're likely banking on the "for better," with no idea how "for worse" can be, and then "the worse" happens, way earlier than you expected and you're like "Seriously? WTF?"

The last three months have so far been awful, then terrible, then REALLY awful, then gradually better, then slightly better, then bad, then even more bad, then morbid, then better, then well. . . you get the idea. Hell, that was only the first two weeks.

And, as the "for worse" continually plays out in jarring and subtle ways, it exhausts you, and angers you and, if you're serious about what you agreed to on that day you were thinking "for better," it challenges you to meet "the worse" even though it punctures your heart repeatedly.

At this point in the NICU experience, I'm basically a single father with our son at home, and my wife is basically a single mother with our daughter in the hospital--it would be different if I could somehow breastfeed, but that's not really possible. *checking* Nope, not possible.

In between, my wife and I are practically strangers with tenuous tendrils keeping us together. But, we have reminders, here and there, in unexpected situations, reminding us what brought us together.

Love is tenacious that way.

Meanwhile, we're running on fumes, both mental and physical. Once Zoey is finally home, it will be a new set of challenges, but for right now those future challenges don't seem as daunting, somehow.

Posted by Ryan at 10:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2011

Adventures in Self-Publishing

In other news, I pulled together a bunch of my newspaper columns from 2004 - 2006 (and some other writings that never would have made it into a newspaper) and uploaded them to Amazon.com. It's available here for less than a buck, for you Kindle people who may be interested.

I'm my own worst critic, particularly when it comes to stuff I wrote years ago, but most of the entries still make me smile, mainly because I lived through the stories (barely).

I don't imagine I'll become financially independent off this or anything, but it seemed like a waste to have so many columns and other writings gathering digital moss when they could at least possibly find new life on Amazon.

Time will tell, I guess.

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April 04, 2011

My Highness

Today, as I worked fleetingly on a freelance article, I noticed the tell-tale flickering lights in my peripheral vision that foretold of an impending migraine.

I went upstairs to scrounge around for Tylenol but, finding none, I opted for two Motrin. Motrin is not my first choice, because for some reason I always equate it with menstrual cramp relief, which obviously doesn't sound like something you'd use to do battle against a migraine.

I then retired to the basement, where it's darker and conducive to a migraine nap. When I awoke three hours later, the flickering vision had dissipated, leaving in its wake a pounding headache. Again, we didn't have any Tylenol, and I didn't want to go the Motrin route again, so I opted for the next best thing: whining.

"Can't you take one of those Oxycodones from when my C-section ruptured?" asked my wife.

This struck me as a peculiar solution. On the one hand, I know I'm not supposed to take any medication that's not prescribed for me, and particularly not any medication that's left over from a different medical condition entirely. Still, on the other hand, if Oxycodone could numb the pain of a C-section incision the length of my forearm, it had to do SOMETHING for a migraine. Besides, it was a teeny tiny pill that didn't seem capable of anything too serious. So, I took one, and then I forgot I even took it as the toddler woke up from his nap and immediately started wailing.

Eventually, it was decided I should go out and get take out food from somewhere, and we opted for Indian food, so I hopped in the car and headed for the "India Garden" restaurant. I ordered, and was told it would be a 15 to 20 minute wait, so I went to peruse the offerings at a sporting goods store across from the restaurant.

As I looked at an interesting selection of old firearms, I found I was strangely unable to concentrate, and I noted with a dumb smile that I felt my cheeks tingling, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.

Then I remembered taking the Oxycodone and realized "Holy crap, I'm buzzing on prescription meds, for crying out loud."

As jarring as the realization was, I have to admit I didn't have much of a headache any longer. So, medical professionals, take note: Oxycodone can knock out a migraine, or at least make you forget you had one in the first place.

Posted by Ryan at 07:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 03, 2011

Your Zoey Vid 'O The Day

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April 02, 2011


A few months ago, my wife decided she wanted to try to sell her car online. While I love the Internet as a communications tool, and even for legitimate online transactions, I personally tend to shy away from the kind of Internet-based interactions that can lead to actually meeting someone for the purposes of completing a sale. My reasoning is simple: there are a lot of crazy people online. Like, seriously crazy people.

Nevertheless, my wife got it in her head that advertising her VW Jetta was the way to realize the most money, so she posted her vehicle's pictures and stats on various online car selling venues. And then she waited. And she waited some more.

I will say this: selling the car wasn't a terrible experience. Granted, it took three months, and she had several interested people come sniffing around, and none of them seemed all that crazy. Even the family that eventually bought it this week seemed like good folk.

It's the flip side of the online vehicle selling/buying process where the crazy people started popping up. Once my wife sold her car, after all, she had to start the unpleasant task of finding a suitable replacement vehicle.

As she began making calls, she encountered people who insisted a three foot hole in the car's floor was a unique and desirable feature, or that a rebuilt engine is better than a factory original. Whereas used car salesmen have developed a universal reputation tending toward the sleazy side of the personality spectrum, it turns out online car salesmen are actually far worse. Imagine an anonymous Internet comment troll trying to sell a car, and you get some idea of what you can end up dealing with.

Finally, my wife came across a Volvo station wagon that immediately caught her eye.

Me? I hate Volvos. Aesthetically, they look like garbage cans on wheels. But, my wife has always, ALWAYS wanted a Volvo. I mean, she has dreamed of owning a Volvo the way Ralphie dreamed of getting a Red Ryder B.B. gun. So, today, she called the number and set up a time to see the vehicle.

"He was hard to understand," she told me afterward. "He had a thick accent. Like Russian or Arabic or something.

This immediately set off warning bells in my mind, because Russians and Arabs made up the brunt of villains in most of the action movies I watched in the 80s and 90s. Right then and there, I knew I had to go with my wife, if for no other reason because I had to be present for a Russian-Arab Volvo deal; that's the kind of thing I just can't imagine happens every day.

So, we were off to the Twin Cities, a metropolitan area I've been to countless times but still can't navigate to save my soul. Usually, my wife acts as a trusted direction provider (she lived there five years), but she was distracted by having to pump breast milk along the way, and we had an 18-month-old in tow who, it turns out, was harboring a fever all day, so the stage was set for a good old travel tale.

For the most part, the trip was uneventful, right up until we had to snake our way into the underbelly of the Cities' seedier side. As we followed our MapQuest directions further towards our destination--which winded us past dilapidated buildings with hand-scrawled signs that (paraphrased) read "Bail Bonds. . . Sort Of" and "Checks Cashed While You're Beaten"--I started to realize things were about to get sort of interesting.

We finally arrived at our destination, which we recognized because the Volvo we sought was parked alongside two other Volvos outside a ramshackle auto-body shop. We pulled up tentatively, but were waved in by a very tall man who introduced himself as "Alex," although from the accent I imagine that was short for "Alexei." He had to be Russian all the way--or at least a former satellite state guy. No chance he was Arabic. I confess, I was disappointed.

The Volvo looked good from the outside--as good as a garbage can on wheels can look, I mean--but then, those things just don't rust that quickly, if at all.

Then, I opened the driver's side door and I immediately knew I was looking at the vehicle the singer Jewel probably lived in. I mean, it looked worse than Jewel's teeth. Alex hadn't taken the time to even attempt to clean it up. Online, it was claimed to be in "Excellent Condition," which I'm sure would be true in Russia. The dashboard was peeling, which is the only way to describe it. You wouldn't think leather could peel, but it was in this case. And, the whole car smelled like dog farts mixed with cigarette smoke, which is in no way an indictment on dog farts, which can be heavenly depending on what you feed the dog.

Even our 18-month-old started crying uncontrollably when we looked inside, so I had to take him for a walk around "Little Russia" to calm him down while my wife took Oscar the Grouch's Volvo for a test drive.

Obviously, I wasn't there to see it, but my wife told me the dashboard warning lights came to life like a Christmas tree, to the point she had to pull over a few blocks away to consult the owner's manual, which informed her the engine light, the ABS light, the battery light and the "don't buy this car if you value your life" light were all screaming "get the hell out of here!" As if we needed further encouragement.

When my wife returned from her test drive (I was with our son across the street from the auto-body), I could discern from her scrunched up nose and the way she mouthed "LET'S GO!" we wouldn't be going home with a Volvo. So when "Alex" approached and greeted us with a "You buy Volvo, yes?" I found myself wrestling with an answer that wouldn't end up with my family in some dark back room where an illegal game of "Texas Hold 'Em" was taking place with Matt Damon and John Malkovich.

My wife actually came up with the escape phrase "We have two other cars we want to look at before we make a decision," which I only heard sort of muffled as I hurried to put our son back in his car seat.

As we pulled away, I saw "Alex" screaming at another person far shorter than he was. I can only assume he was dressing him down for not yanking out the fuses that controlled the dashboard warning lights.

Posted by Ryan at 06:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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