Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

The Pregnant Woman’s Burden

Men and women experience pregnancy completely differently. This may seem like an obvious statement but ask any woman who has ever tried to explain “being tired” whilst pregnant to their partner and you’ll see what I mean… They don’t get it. I’m not sure they can get it. To them “tired” means a bad nights sleep; to the mama it means a profound form of exhaustion that’s equivalent to the 59th gate of hell. When they hear “hungry” they think of the hunger that comes with skipping lunch; meanwhile their wife just went from completely content to “need a 5 course meal or I will die” in 6.4 seconds. When they hear “I’m afraid something will go wrong” they think, “Everything is fine” and say as much. But I don’t think a person who has never carried a child could understand the fear, the obsession, the outright terror, and the painstaking attention spent on every minute bodily change that a pregnant woman goes through. What I’m about to write is just MY experience. But I know many women who’ve thought and felt the same as me. Maybe not all, but for those of you that can relate, you’ll get it. I need to write this here, because if I don’t put it somewhere, I may not make it to tomorrow without losing my mind.

I’ve wanted children for as long as I can remember. When I was 11 years old I told my mom that I was “put here to be a mom”. You can’t imagine the devastation I felt when at 17 I was told that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the leading cause of infertility in America. I spent the next 7-8 years getting a period every 9-18 months. I cringed when other women acted as if the absence of a period was a luxury to be had. My ex and I spent 2 years trying to conceive with no luck. I started to resent my body, hate it in fact. I wanted to will it to work. I wanted to curse it for failing to do “what all women should be able to do”. I felt like a failure; as a partner, as a woman, as a human being. I felt it to the core of my being with absolutely no compassion for myself. I openly admitted that if I was ever told I could not conceive that I would eat a bullet, because that would be a lesser pain than living in that reality. I also felt like a selfish bitch for being so disheartened when other women had spent their entire lives trying to get pregnant, had been told they were sterile, or had lost multiple babies. I knew if I ever did become pregnant that I would be at a much higher risk of miscarriage because of the PCOS and I knew I would obsess about it neurotically. I envied women who had kids without trying, I resented women who took their children for granted, and I wouldn’t walk anywhere near the baby section of any store for five fucking years. I cried, I prayed, I cursed the Gods. I thought it was impossible, tried to tell myself I could adopt, tried to make it something I could live with. All of this by 24 fucking years old. God forbid I had cut myself a break, right?

Then something crazy happened. My cycle went back to normal. I know that’s a lot of information, but this post isn’t for the faint of heart. For 10 months it was completely normal and the hope that I could be a mother someday, the same hope that had refused to die but instead remained hidden in the very bottom corner of my heart, started to blossom again. Every month I was the slightest bit late became a game of “You’re pregnant”, “No I’m not” between my partner and I. I just wasn’t willing to believe it was possible; at least not out loud. If it happened that was fine, a miracle really; but getting my hopes up all to have them dashed on the rocks of a negative pregnancy test? That was a pain I was unwilling to walk face first into. So I just assumed that month would come whenever it felt like, and it did. Then May 17th of 2016 happened. I was late and had all the usual symptoms of Aunt Flo being on her way; meaning my boobs hurt, I was bloated, I was eating way more, and was moody. My love was convinced I was pregnant, but he always was. Then all of the sudden my friends were too. Eventually I started to wonder myself. One day I noticed my ankles were swollen, on top of the rest of my symptoms, and I chose to buy the tests. Spending that money was immediately followed by constantly refusing to take them because “I didn’t have to pee” or “It wasn’t first thing in the morning”. Needless to say, my partner cracked and begged me to take one and said he would buy more if it was negative and my period still didn’t come. So I do the usual routine of peeing on the stick, saw that it said it had a “negative” symbol, and set it on the toilet bowl behind me. I got myself situated and turned around to grab it so I could show him and it wasn’t fucking negative anymore!

I always thought I would cry, or maybe scream, or possibly just pass out where I stood. I did none of the above. I just stared at it, squinting at the little plus sign like it would disappear if I blinked. And my jaw dropped. I walked into the living room with my hand over my mouth. My love is a decent sized man, more bulk muscle than lean. I have never seen a big man jump up and run over to me as fast as he did. The light in his eyes when he saw my face and said “WELL?!?!” was a sight I’ll never forget. I showed him the test, he smiled this enormous smile, and proceeded to just hold me for a few minutes. The first thing I remember saying was “Is that thing real?! That says pregnant!” And that’s how it started. 1,047 words later and I am finally at what I really want to write about. Are you one of those people who ignores a post that says it will take more than 4-5 minutes to read? Because I am some days. So if you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you. Thank you for reading this. You’ll be one of the few to know what it’s really like to be pregnant, in my head. This is my life today…

Being pregnant is feeling like I can’t do one more thing in the day, like I will absolutely crumble if I have to go on… this generally occurs around 11am. That’s slowly getting better but I seriously doubt I will ever go back to “normal” again. Being pregnant is despising the fact that I work at an onsite office with only 1 porta potty, that I share with 10 other men, when I have to pee 15 times a day. I drive to Wawa Monday through Wednesday. Being pregnant is being gut level terrified that something will go wrong. It’s being worried that I don’t eat enough dark green vegetables, that I ate too much cheesecake last month, or don’t consume enough protein. I’ve never obsessed about every single thing I put in my mouth so much. “Is shellfish okay? Can I survive without caffeine? Is two cups of coffee too much? Will it really hurt if I eat Ramen just this once because I’m too tired to function?” This is my life now. If I forget my prenantals for two days in a row (which has happened all of once) then I feel like I’ve irreparably damaged my baby. I have found myself absolutely hysterical while driving down the road, in the middle of my workday, because I am so afraid that when I go to this doctor’s appointment tomorrow this baby won’t have a heartbeat. I cycle between having faith and believing everything is okay, and being convinced that something is wrong. I then have to talk myself out of believing that because I’m worried that the stress of believing that will hurt the baby. I’m a fucking lunatic. I am terrified of losing this child. It is my greatest fear every single day.

I have these nightmarish daydreams of waking up covered in blood because I’ve lost my baby. Every single time I pee I check it for that same blood and then think about what a mess I would be if I was a woman who spotted throughout my pregnancy. I fall asleep every night praying to every God there is and to every dead relative I have to keep this baby safe. I lie there and try to will the Gods to make this baby move. I swear I felt “him” at 13 weeks; which is possible, but also unlikely. I wish I could just feel that again though. It gave me peace. My friend Lauren says I’ll feel better once I can feel him move but I’m afraid I’ll never make it there. I’m 16 weeks and 7 days pregnant. Women without PCOS are at a 15-25% risk of miscarriage; with PCOS, it’s closer to 45-50%. At 17 weeks, without PCOS, a woman is at a 3% risk of miscarriage. Since I have Type 2 PCOS, meaning no insulin resistance and no obesity, I shouldn’t have quite as high of a risk of miscarriage as some women, especially since I’ve gotten past the first trimester. But you know what? My mind doesn’t give a single flying fuck. I am still plagued with this gut wrenching, hysteria inducing, uncontrollable fear that the world’s greatest gift to be given will be taken from me. I pray to reach the day where my baby is in my arms, where he is “real” and tangible, where these fears transform into a world of other fears about actually raising and protecting him. I constantly struggle with feeling like this pregnancy “isn’t real yet”, despite my ever growing belly and boobs. I’ve only had one ultrasound and that was 8 weeks ago to confirm the pregnancy. Now I have another appointment tomorrow. I have been counting down the days for the last month, becoming more insane by the day. I want nothing more than to hear his heartbeat, to see him move, to know he is real; to hear and see that he IS there and he’s alive. I want that more than I have ever wanted anything.

But I’m not there yet. I’m here, typing to you in an attempt to not lose my fucking mind in the next 16 hours and 21 minutes until I am at the hospital, ready to be called in to find out the fate of this baby that I’ve done everything I could to protect. I am a breathing ball of fear and nerves and palpable insanity. I am a mother, for today at least…

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

2016 Liebster Blog Award

So I am actually a few days behind on writing this here post because work and life have been so completely insane but, here goes nothing! So, the lovely Jessica nominated me for the 2016 Liebster Blog Award; so from me to you Jessica, THANK YOU! Naturally I was like “Awesome!….. what the fuck is that?” I followed the link back to her page and quickly learned what it is. Liebster is German for the word “beloved” and the award is given to newer bloggers with under 200 followers who have awesome blogs that are…you guessed it, beloved! So, that’s pretty damn cool 🙂

Now this award here has a couple of rules so I will post them below…

leibster.png

Now, I’ve thanked Jessica for nominating me. I’m also going to take a hint from her and go to the people’s blogs I want to nominate and let them know personally because let’s be honest, that is so much easier than trying to tag 11 people in this post. Plus, I have to do some reading and deciding on the topic of who I want to nominate… I’m coming for you my fellow bloggers 😉 Moving forward…

 ~THE QUESTIONS JESSICA ASKED OF ME~

   1. What is your go-to comfort food?

Okay this is a hard one for me. I was raised Southern, therefore I have quite a few comfort foods. But for this question I’m going to have to go with tacos, Lupi’s cheesesteaks, and Rosemary bread with seasoned olive oil. I have a bipolar palate.

2. Is there a favorite plant or flower that makes you stop and appreciate its beauty? What is it? If not, what does spark that reaction in you?

I am absolutely obsessed with Willow Trees. Every time I pass a decent sized one with it’s beautiful, low hanging branches swaying in the wind it always makes me pause, even if it’s just for a moment. One day I would love to get married underneath one.

weeping_willow.jpg

  3. What makes you feel connected with the world when you feel out-of-place?

My family has a tradition of telling each other to “just walk outside and put your bare feet in the grass/sand/dirt”. We believe that grounding ourselves with nature is the easiest way to become grounded within ourselves. Oftentimes though I can’t stop long enough to do this so when that isn’t an option I drive and listen to music. That’s like church for me, it makes it easier to slow down and breathe most days.

   4. If you have children, what have you learned about yourself through raising them? If you don’t have children, have you been personally affected by a child and how?

I raised my little brother and sister along with a few other children who had absent parents over the years. They taught me to be mature, responsible, caring, tolerant, patient, and forgiving. They taught me what happens when a parent doesn’t put their own child first; the pain and lifelong damage that can cause is very hard to watch. They taught me how to be a mother. Something that will come in handy now that I’m 10 weeks pregnant with a child of my own. Words can’t describe how long I’ve waited to have a child and how much fear I had about my ability to conceive (I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). But now that my one greatest wish has come true all I can do is pray that I make it to full term and that my child is healthy. All of the lessons these other children taught me, in combination with the many things having my own child will teach me, are what I will use to be the best parent I possibly can be.

   5. Do you think you could handle being a special needs parent? Why?

I think it would be naïve to pretend that I can completely answer this question without having been in the situation myself. I have friends who are parents to special needs children and while it is incredibly rewarding and their children are amazing, it is also challenging and exhausting. I know that I have enough love in my heart, strength in my spirit, and openness in my mind to treat and raise a special needs child the way they deserve to be. One of my favorite little boys in the entire world has ASD and I absolutely adore him. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I already know how much his parents and many other parents struggle with the ups and downs of raising a SN child. So yes, I do think I could do it but I won’t pretend to know all of the hurdles that would be thrown at me. I won’t pretend that I would do it perfectly because NO PARENT of ANY child “does it perfectly. They just do it to the best of their ability and that is something I can say I would do.

   6. Who is someone in your life that you’ve lost that resulted in a total change in you? How did you change? Note: The loss can be due to death but doesn’t have to be.

I’ve lost so many people, in so many different ways, that this is a difficult question to answer. I could go with my grandfather, my first love, my last love, my best friends throughout the years, the 30 some odd people I’ve known personally who’ve died because of addiction in the last 10 years. So many options and each one played their part is shaping different pieces of me. So I’m not going to pick one. I’ll pick pieces of each. Losing my grandfather was my first real loss. He was the first one that hurt so bad I was sure I had broken in half. I went off the deep end and did a lot of drugs for awhile. I had already been taught in life that no one stays but he was a big hurt piece. We never saw it coming. Next was my first love. I absolutely adored him. He fucked my best friend in the entire world in my house, in my bed, where I gave them permission to hang out and party with a bunch of our other friends while I went to Vermont for 4 days. Why was I away? Because my mom and step dad had gotten locked up on the same day and left me with a house that was $3,000 in debt when I was 14 years old. Needless to say, I needed a break. What I got was heartbreak. I never really let anyone in after him for about 6 years until my ex and I got together. We had known each other since we were 15 and 17 and he was the only person who bothered to tell me that my first love had cheated on me as soon as he found out. All of my other friends knew because they were at the party when it happened and no one told me. But Gunner did. Gunner and I got together and stayed together for 4 years or so; through his PTSD, my active addiction, and so many struggles. We survived it all and when we finally reached the place of peace that we had aimed for the entire time… well, there was so much damage that we didn’t have the ability to maintain a healthy relationship anymore. We wanted to save the friendship above everything else, including the relationship, so we cut off the arm to save the body. We are still friends to this day, but that was an earth shattering, life altering pain like I had never known. It took me a great deal of time to heal and on some days it still stings like it’s fresh. I imagine it’s like that whenever you’ve truly loved someone. None the less, he taught me how much a relationship can survive and what things will break it in the end, no matter how much you love someone. That relationship forever changed me in more ways than I could ever write here. Last, but most certainly not least, all those I’ve lost to the disease of addiction. Each one was too soon, each one broke my heart, and each one is another reason that I stay clean. I will live the life they never got to see. I will stay clean to honor the lives they lost.

   7. If Earth was due to explode in 1 week would you seek out a new planet or hang out and explode with Earth? Why?

I would seek out another planet simply because finally, for once in my life, I have too much to lose to give it up so easily.

   8. Name a special memory you have that’s tied to the weather or a season.

Being with my ex and friends so many times, all around a bonfire, in the heart of fall. The smell of fire, leaves, and burning wood all around us. The dark night, bright stars, and their flame lit faces, all laughing and screaming so happily. I miss having bonfires. I would love to do it with the people in my life today.

campfire

   9. Do you verbally communicate as well as you write? Why or why not?

Hahahaha no. I do speak pretty well these days but I’ll always express myself more honestly in my writing. Honesty=better. I tend to be shut off when speaking to people in person. I’m a bit defensive and careful about who I tell my stuff to because I have ridiculous trust issues.

   10. What is your favorite animal and why?

Snakes. I just love them. They’re pure instinct and I respect that. They’re fast, powerful, and unable to be manipulated. They just are what they are. They grow to know their owner’s scent and won’t bite if trained and cared for properly. That is as long as we’re talking about snakes that are normally owned like Pythons and Boas. If you decide to raise Cobras or Vipers then getting bit will always be a very likely possibility as they’re more aggressive and less tamable by nature. I love all snakes though and at one point owned quite a few. Now however, my significant other absolutely HATES them so I don’t get to have them anymore 😦

   11. What would need to change in your life in order for you to truly live out your dreams?

So many of my dreams have already come true. As far as the ones that haven’t, most of them require money I haven’t made yet. It’s a fucking shame how many things come back to money.

Whoo! That was a lot more than it seemed like when I started this post and now I still have to give you 11 random facts about myself (as if I haven’t spent forever writing about myself already) and then ask 11 questions of the people I will nominate. I guess we’ll do the 11 facts first. Here goes nothing…

11 FACTS ABOUT MYSELF

  1. I was born in Florida but have lived all over the East Coast and Kansas.
  2. I have 22 piercings and 19 tattoos.
  3. I have 4 sisters and 5 brothers.
  4. I switched schools more than 19 times between grades 1 and 10.
  5. I am a tattoo artist and a body piercer. I absolutely LOVE it.
  6. Writing has literally saved my life and my sanity on more than 1 occasion.
  7. I drive stick shift and get massively bored while driving automatic cars.
  8. I graduated from an online charter school because I couldn’t stop moving long enough to get established in any one school.
  9. I’m a survivor, of so many things and that’s an essential part of who I am.
  10. I fucking despise sauerkraut. The smell alone will make me projectile vomit.
  11. I didn’t see The Goonies until I was 22 years old.

What questions to ask the people I nominate? Hmmm… there’s so many things I could ask! I think I’m just going to wing it.

THE NOMINEE’S 11 QUESTIONS!!

  1. What do you think is the most important quality/spiritual principle to live your life with? For example, honesty, humor, forgiveness, etc.
  2. What really pisses you off? Makes your skin crawl, ears steam, head explode?
  3. Why do you think we (humans) are put on this earth? Are we here by accident or to achieve some greater purpose?
  4. Why do you write? What motivates you, inspires, you, or keeps you going?
  5. Describe one memory from your life that to this day you think of and replaying in your head often. It can be anything and can reoccur for any reason, it just has to be honest.
  6. What makes you feel at peace?
  7. What is one of the greatest struggles you’ve ever overcome? Describe.
  8. What’s your poison? (Everyone has one.)
  9. What kind of person are you really? No sugarcoating, no fluff, who are you really when no one is watching?
  10. What kind of person do you want to be?
  11. Write a song lyric that really resonates with you and tell us why 🙂

I’m excited to go nominate everyone for this award and I hope ya’ll enjoyed this post. A huge kudos goes out to anyone who made it through allll of that and actually survived to the end. I know she’s a long one! I can’t wait to read all your responses (a lovely pasttime for my vacation at the beach). Thank you all for reading and for participating! Support your fellow bloggers!!

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Garlic Shrimp Pasta with A Kick!

I didn’t particularly plan to post recipes on this blog but I am secretly a bit of a foodie and I love finding/developing really good food that’s easy to make. This is a recipe I developed when I was on a HUGE garlic and pasta kick. I’m always on a garlic kick honestly, but that month I was allll about the pasta too. 

So, Garlic Shrimp Pasta with A Kick! Fuck yes! Seriously, it’s bloody delicious, pretty inexpensive, and makes you seem like a master chef with a minimal amount of work. How could this get better? That’s right! It couldn’t. Oh wait! For those of you who have a gluten allergy/intolerance you can easily trade out the wheat pasta for a gluten free version such as Barilla (which tastes more like regular pasta than any other brand). Now it can’t get better. Mostly because I’m awesome. Moving forward… You will need:

•3/4 box of any pasta. I recommend a spaghetti (thin, thick, rigati, doesn’t matter), farfalle, or rotini. Penne and ziti are a little too much for the aglio e oilo sauce. ~Aglia e olio is just a fancy pants way of saying garlic, olive oil, and parsley. 

•3T of salted butter (unsalted is okay but you’ll have to compensate with more salt). 

•3T of olive oil (any kind is okay, I use extra virgin). 

•5-6 cloves of fresh garlic

•Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (you really should use this kind of Parmesan for its subtle nutty flavor. Shitty shaker Parmesan will not taste the same and Pecorino Romano is too pungent in my humble opinion). 

•1tsp. of salt

•1/4tsp. of black pepper (I use normal table pepper but freshly cracked would be fantastic). 

•1/16tsp. of ground (cayenne) red pepper. I highly recommend ground over flakes as you don’t end up chewing on chunks. This is optional and adds just the smallest kick that really rounds out the flavor. You can taste the flavor without needing to guzzle water like a triathlon participant. 

•1/4tsp. of garlic powder (We’re double garlicking motha fuckas!!!)

•1/4tsp. of dried parsley. 

•16-20 medium shrimp (Mine were a bit small so I used a few more)

•A dash of fucking awesome 

Alright first things first put a large pot of salted water on to boil…


Then you need to peel, crush, and mince your garlic into fine little bits. I can’t speak for all my fellow garlic lovers but I am not a fan of biting into a giant chunk of garlic. So, we mince. Crushing the garlic beforehand helps the mincing process along…


Then we put our 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a nonstick pan and turn it to medium heat.

You only want to heat it until the butter is melted and bubbling a little bit. Then we add our garlic and all the seasonings except the parsley…

Stir all of those delicious spices in, put the paste in the water, and add your shrimpies :)🍤


You want them in one even layer. You’re only going to flip them once. You want to cook them until you can see the pink coming up around the sides from underneath like the photo below. When you see this, flip those little fuckers over!

Finish cooking the shrimp until they’re pink on all sides with no grey or translucent parts. But be careful not to overcook them or you’ll have rubbery shrimp 🤐 Grate some of that Parmigiano Reggiano on top and stir it in…
Look at that delicious shit all cooked down in its buttery, garlicky, sexpotness!! (You can never have too many photos of shrimp. It’s just a life fact.)

At this point your pasta should be done. If it’s not, turn the shrimp to the lowest heat setting to prevent overcooking. Once your pasta is done (al dente of course) drain it and add your shrimp with all of its saucey goodness. Should look a little something like this…

Mix it up, grate more of that amazing cheese into it (just enough to coat the top like so)…


Now… TASTE TEST! Different pastas seem to suck up the salt differently. So taste it and see if you need to add a little more salt. If you don’t want to add too much, use the cheese. It has a natural saltiness. Then add the parsley, serve it up, and garnish with more cheese (obviously). 

Trust me, you won’t regret this. When I first came up with it I ate it 4-5 times a week for a few weeks. Played with it, fine tuned, etc. Now it is incredible and easy enough for you to make at home for your wife, husband, friends, or just yourself. It takes about 20 minutes. Enjoy!!

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016