There is a very important even coming up that I hope you can attend (Ohio moms) or support in some small way for a much deserving family.
I first met Jen in the virtual sense. She is a fellow infertility blogger and was a Cycle Sista with me and I became hooked on her hilarious posts over at Maybe If I Just Relax. We were cycle sisters once again in May of 2008 – the IVF cycle when we both conceived our first child! I had Aellyn on February 11 and she had Olivia on February 14th.
A few months later I started Aellyn in Kindermusik and our instructor, Miss Dana (another wonderful blogger), introduced me to a fellow mama who she thought I’d like since she was a blogger too. I don’t know how I missed it but the blog I had been reading was being written by a local mom! And we used the same infertility clinic! Our daughters were literally in the same embryology lab at the same time. I’ll always think of Olivia and Aellyn as Lab Sisters.
Better yet I got to count Jen as a “Real Life” friend. She is funny and sweet and a wonderful person. I was so happy when we both decided to do our Frozen Embryo Transfers this year. (Our embryos had been in their Ice Age at the same lab as well). She did hers in May and got pregnant with identical twins! And then me in July with twins as well. It seemed like kismet.
Jen’s pregnancy was bumpy from the start. Being identical, her twins shared a placenta and her babies were not growing evenly. One (Hog baby) was growing too big while the other was not growing fast enough. Jen was put on hospital bedrest for pre-eclampsia at 32 weeks. I remember thinking “Hooray! You made it to 32 weeks!” since that’s such a milestone. She was scheduled for a c-section and was waiting on the dreaded magnesium sulfate for the two shots of steroids that would prepare the babies’ lungs for premature birth.
And then everything went horribly wrong. On December 29, 2010, the night before the scheduled delivery her beautiful daughters were born. Ainsley was born very tiny but fighting and was whisked to the NICU. Her twin, Evelyn, was larger but born still. It is even hard to type. Please read her story here.
Now it is nearly the end of May and Ainsley is coming up on 5 months in the NICU. She’s had surgery on her heart, spine, and for the insertion of a g-tube. She has to struggle to breathe and was recently given a tracheotomy to let the ventilator do the work so she can grow.
Jen and her husband have long since gone back to work and admirably balance work, a toddler, and the 45 minute drive to visit Ainsley every day. I’ve never seen anyone stronger than Jen. She is so strong and resilient in the face of such adversity. She remains a good friend. During my own NICU journey she answered my questions and offered support.
But it isn’t over. Babies with a tracheotomy have to be at least 12 lbs before they can come home on the ventilator. That means several more months in the NICU for Ainsley and then ongoing medical needs once she comes home.
So we are doing what mothers do best – come together for comfort and support and you can help! We are holding a fundraising dinner and reverse raffle called Maybe If You Just Relax: Coming Together For A Lifetime of HOPE! The event will be Saturday, July 23. If you live in Northeast Ohio and can attend or donate an item to be raffled please fill out the participation form.
Even if you live far away you can help the Knepper family by donating via Pay Pal (choose “personal gift” so you avoid Pay Pal fees). There is no donation too small to help a family in need.
You can also show your support by leaving a message on Jen’s blog. Share your love, thoughts, and prayers so she knows that Ainsley is covered in hope from all over the globe.
There is nothing we can do to ever mend the pain of Evelyn’s loss or the distress of Ainsley’s NICU journey but in some small way perhaps we can lift Jen’s spirits with our gesture of support. Please help us spread the word! Facebook, Twitter, blog about it.