An award?

Thanks to Maria at Mummyhoodmadness for passing on a “Liebster Award”.

It is given to blogs with less than 300 followers as a way of making them more well-known to other bloggers. So what the heck, I’ll play along.

The rules for the acceptance are (man I didn’t know there would be homework!):

1) Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you (done and done)
2) Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back (also done)
3) Answer the 10 questions posed by the blogger who nominated you (ok… will do that below)
4 ) Select 3 – 5 bloggers for the award (all right let me think about that)
5) Pose 10 new questions to the new nominees (wait – is this a chain letter?)
6) Post the award on your blog (easy enough – let’s do this right now)

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Ok – answer time (and I’m answering just for me here):

1) What made you start blogging?
When Benjamin was first born we wanted to keep our family and friends up to date but all those phone calls are rough – especially when things were scary. (And we hated the caringbridge interface… so , here we are). Then it became more of a way to vent, then it became a place to share Ben’s progress, and it looks like it will be shifting to be more about raising a super kids who is visually impaired

2) Best childhood memory?
Staying up late with my friend Chris, mixing up awful blue concoctions to drink and watching bad movies

3) Favourite place in the world?
That one is easy – our friend’s family place up on Lake George. Early in the morning, sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee.

4) Summer sun or Winter wonderland?
I’m more of an Autumn…

5) First thought that came into your head when you woke up this morning?
No way that’s my alarm – no, there has been a terrible mistake sir. I am going back to sleep until this is straightened out

6) Popcorn, sweet or salty?
Why not both?

7) Predictable or spontaneous?
Predictable – I am boring and risk averse

8) Worst subject at school?
German (Good thing I took Italian)

9) First thing you would buy or do if you won the lottery?
Candy

10) Personal ambition you have?
I really just want to make it through the week is all

So who gets nominated from me?

Thomas Marshall Does it All – A very very helpful blog for Amy and I with great tips for raising a visually impaired child. Thomas is an amazing kid and we love this blog.

The McGloin Family – Mia writes about raising her two boys on her blog she started when her first son was born prematurely. We love all the really cute photos of her kids.

Amber and Max – Amber does a great job sharing her thoughts on raising a blind child and is always on the look out for interesting books and information.

And for questions if you would like to play along too – a little old, a little new

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What is the most important thing you have gotten out of your blog?
  3. Favorite memory
  4. Favorite book
  5. Favorite place
  6. What movie have you seen the most times?
  7. New years resolutions?
  8. What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?
  9.  First thing you would buy or do if you won the lottery?
  10. Seriously, though – how cute is(are) your kid(s)?
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Awareness

As many of you know, and some of you don’t, the reason that Joe and I had to find the wonderful Carol to be a gestational surrogate for us is because at the age of 27 I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Before they radiated the heck out of me (and determined that putting shields in to lift my ovaries wouldn’t work), I went through a whirlwind egg-retrieval and embryo-making.

I am outrageously lucky and blessed that my treatments worked and today I am very healthy, give or take the missing section of my insides which makes eating french fries a rare luxury. In 2010 I celebrated being 5 years cancer-free by learning how to run (run being very broadly interpreted) and completing my first 4 mile race- the Get Your Rear in Gear run/walk. Last year’s run was put on hold for The Semicolons (get it?) due to the arrival of Mr. Ben, but this year we picked up our running shoes again.



~The 2010 team

This year’s Semicolon’s were quite distinguished. Due to Joe’s t-shirt design skills, we won “Most Creative Team”, and our very own Bill came in 5th overall, which gave him time to run home and freshen up while the rest of us straggled behind (though Cristina came in a respectable 21st for Women). My time was 54min, due mainly to my technique of only running during downhill grades. I didn’t really keep up with my training, and downhill running is way more fun. Even Ben participated, waking the 4 miles in style (his stroller) with his Grandma.

Team Semicolons during the 2012 race
~This year’s “most creative” team

I have to thank everyone who put up with my incessant begging on Facebook, and extra thanks to those who donated, and extra-extra thanks to those brave folks who met us at Prospect Park insanely early on a Sunday morning to support colon cancer awareness and early detection, and of course those that showed up a little later to cheer us at the finish line. To get on my soapbox for a moment, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, OR are over 50, please get a colonoscopy and catch anything potentially cancerous before it turns into cancer. Trust me. Chemo, radiation and surgery are way less fun than the brief discomfort of a colonoscopy. Colon cancer is the number 2 most fatal cancer, but it is also one of the easiest to detect. And it is not, much to my surprise, an old man’s disease.

PPROM memories

One year ago this week began a seriously scary time. It was then that Carol’s water broke – PPROM – at 19 weeks. I don’t know how much you know about PPROM – but it happening at 19 weeks is bad – like almost no hope bad – like assuming that infection or bleeding will end the pregnancy within hours bad.

We talk a lot about Benjamin’s prematurity and the challenges involved but that month before he was born changed everything. PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes) is scary. But if you read the support sites or the facebook groups for the women going through this – you will be amazed by the hope they share and the strength they give each other. Carol had that hope and that strength times ten and she never gave up on our baby. No one would have ever blamed her if she did. I think part of each of us imagined we were just prolonging the heartache – the odds were so slim.

Carol (for those of you joining us mid-story) was our gestational surrogate – she carried our embryo (later fetus, later Benjamin). To a lot of people the idea of a surrogate is strange. Some imagine it is some sort of business relationship or a situation we would later hide from our child and pretend never happened. But let me tell you this – I cannot imagine another person, who we only knew for a few months, who would have done everything she did for our son. When we started, Carol might have been our surrogate, but by the time we got through it all, Carol was family. And Carol’s family was family. She was amazing throughout the hospital stays, the never-ending bedrest, the time away from her husband and children and doing everything she could to last one more day to let Benjamin cook.

The month between the PPROM and when Benjamin was born was rough. I don’t think any of us slept much, we were scared of the phone ringing, Amy and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves. But every time the doctors did another ultrasound (which was pretty much constantly) they seemed surprised Carol kept going. And go she did – just over the border of viability. 23 weeks, 3 days.

So, though we have said it many many times- Thank you Carol, thank you Carol’s family, thank you Carol’s friends and everyone who supported her and us and Benjamin.

And if you have stumbled upon Benjamin’s blog because you or someone you love are dealing with PPROM – please stay hopeful. While Amy and I would never have gotten to be parents without doctors and science – they only get you so far. That last stretch was all faith.

Carol and Amy

Carol and Amy - after the very first ultrasound (before things got scary)

Fungus Puns

Do not worry – Ben does not have a fungal infection again. That is not why I’m talking about Fungus Puns today. You see, everyday I check the dashboard of the blog, that, among other things, shows what people have searched for that brought them here. One of the top terms that people search for and click through to get here is, strangely, “Fungus Puns.” I suppose it’s because of the post titled “All Out of Fungus Puns” but it’s funny that so many people are looking for puns about fungi.

As a guy who works in marketing, I know an untapped market when I see one. So, I know this blog _is_ called “All About the Benjamin Baby“, I beg your forgiveness while I give the people what they want – Fungus Puns.  (For the record, I believe puns are the lowest form of humor).

  • A mushroom walks into a bar, sits down and orders a drink. The bartender says “We don’t serve mushrooms here.” The mushroom says, “Why not? I’m a fun guy!”
  • Why did the fungus send flowers to his mom? It was the yeast he could do!
  • What sort of dessert does a fungus bring to a party? A jello mold!
  • What do fungi enjoy around a campfire? S’pores!
  • Why did the algae and the fungus get married? They took a lichen to each other.
  • And a bonus for the hardcore fungus dorks: What does a fungus get with his burger? Elias Magnus Fries (founding father of the modern taxonomy of mushrooms)
I deeply deeply apologize for this post. I couldn’t help myself…

Attempting to put our money where our mouths are

The other day we asked everyone to try to give blood and when we searched for nearby blood drives ourselves we found out the Mets were hosting a blood drive at Citifield, which is a short distance from our home. So bright and early this morning, before going to the hospital, Amy and I headed over there to do our part.

Citifield

Meet the Mets, give some blood

Now, to be honest, I really hate giving blood. The phlebotomists always need to poke me and then dig around with the needle under my skin until they hit gold — not a pleasant experience. But I was doing this to give back after all the blood that Benjamin received, so I was willing to put up with a little pain.

The set up at the ballpark was impressive – it seemed like a triage center and was already busy after only being open for 15 minutes. Amy and I separated and answered the questions to make sure we hadn’t traded money or drugs for sex, caught malaria or ate a lot of British beef in the early 90’s.

Red Cross at the Caesars Club

I warned the Red Cross staff member taking my blood that I was going to be a tough case. She seemed up for it and after some semi-painful poking got some blood flowing into the bag.

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Grit your teeth and think of Benjamin

But then after a bit, more and more nurses kept looking at my hook-up and bag and started poking me again. Eventually I learned I actually have no blood – that I’m a robot or something. Either that or I just have very small veins, veins that got smaller after they made me bruise up. The nurse actually told me “You probably shouldn’t give blood.” The half a unit they got out of me was not usable, unfortunately.

Luckily Amy was able to donate, so the trip wasn’t wasted – although it wasn’t all fun for her either. She didn’t feel so great half-way through and then they didn’t want her to leave “until her color improved.” Amy then had to explain that she is always that color.

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Hooray for Amy!

The Mets gave out goodies that helped to soothe my disappointment – we each got a pair of tickets to an upcoming game, t-shirts and we were entered into a few raffles (even those of us who failed).

Any way – two things: 1. I need someone to give blood as my proxy, pretty much for the rest of my life 2. Everyone else at the blood drive seemed to get through it pretty smoothly, so I think we’re the exception.

So, please go and donate blood!

Ok – one last confession… the real reason we went was to meet Mr Met, because come on, this is exactly the sort of thing he would be at, miming things and getting photos taken with people. No luck though… I bet he probably can’t give blood either, on account of looking so pale all the time.