Cord blood and baby cakes (but not together, thankfully)

I’ve been the WORST blogger lately. Sorry. I’ve been lousy at both posting and commenting, and the reasons for this will hardly elicit any sympathy. They include such winners as, “Really busy with work,” “We’re away every weekend at the cottage,” and others I won’t even bother with. And because there’s nothing worse than following up a blogging absence with a disorganized series of bullet points, I am totally going to give you a thoughtful, Pulitzer Prize winning essay on — oh wait, nope, gonna hit you with bullets.

– BABY CAKES. I’m not having a baby shower (at least, not a shower in advance of the baby arriving — we’ll have a party once he’s here), and this really merits a whole separate post about how Judaic superstition and infertility PTSD totally go hand-in-hand, at least when it comes to not wanting to jinx things by celebrating too early. Anyway, one of things I may have to consider whenever we do choose to celebrate will be what food to consume, and for many folks, that food is cake. For some folks, that cake is shaped like a baby. Often, it looks like a baby is trying to escape through a hole, much like this:

But other times, it’s just a cake shaped like a full baby, which starts to get kind of creepy, especially when it looks like this:

But what I never really considered, until the geniuses behind Cake Wrecks called it to my attention, was that eventually someone at the baby shower will be expected to CUT such a cake, so people can eat it. And how, exactly, do you cut a baby? Let’s just say it gets really disturbing (like, REALLY):

Seriously, if any of you are ever considering getting a cake in the shape of a baby, this is your official warning. You cannot un-see a sliced baby face.

– CORD BLOOD. Don’t worry, this bullet won’t be as gross. Basically, I’m just curious how many of you chose to bank your baby’s cord blood versus toss it into the biohazard bin. Thoughts? I ask because we’ve decided to not bank it privately (too expensive, and the pediatricians and OBs I’ve spoken with say we shouldn’t bother), but I also didn’t want to waste potentially precious stem cells. So I started to look into donating it and turns out Canadian blood banks haven’t quite got their act together, so while some collection of donor cord blood is happening, it ain’t happening in Toronto. I got a tip-off that the Albertans were super on top of this — sure enough, they are, but they’re super snobby about which cities they’ll accept cord blood from, and surprise surprise, they really stick it to Toronto. So THEN, I found a small organization just north of the city that apparently will take it, but this requires a ton of paperwork and I have to somehow figure out how to ship it to them ASAP once the cord has been cut. “Um, hi, FedEx? Is there a protocol for shipping human blood? Can I get same-day delivery if I pay extra?” (Actually, it seems like maybe this isn’t so crazy, considering what happens if you Google “FedEx” and “Blood”):

– PINS AND NEEDLES. Last bullet, I promise. Have any of you PAIL-ers ever suffered from pins and needles in your hands? Is this a pregnancy thing? Because I’ve started to experience it in my left hand and it seems to be a sign of heart attack stroke early-onset Parkinsons either carpal tunnel syndrome or perhaps the result of an awkward sleeping position. I had a chiropractor friend of mine do some arm and shoulder adjustments, and she mentioned something called “thoracic outlet syndrome“, but the treatment seems to be a lot of stretching (bo-ring). Am I on my own here? Anyone? Bueller?

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The apocalypse is here, and it’s in my basement…

My fellow Toronto bloggers will already be WELL aware of this, but for those who don’t follow weather news, the latest is that my city just received more rain in two hours than it normally does in all of July. We’re talking 90 mm all at once, which led to insane flooding. And where do I happen to live? Oh, just near the lake and next to a buried creek, meaning my neighbourhood suffered some of the worst water damage. Basically EVERY house on my street now has a rolled-up wet carpet on their front lawn, waiting to be picked up by the city. “How bad was it?” you ask? Well, here are some photos to demonstrate:

carpush

GoTrain

And right across the street from our house, an enormous tree toppled over, landing right on the women’s shelter — not because of wind, or lightning, but because the root structure got soaked to the point of being unstable:

treefall

Anyway, the result of this insanity is that our basement was one of the many that flooded, both with rainwater (our downspout hasn’t been disconnected yet, so all the rain falling onto our roof goes through the eavestroughs and down into the pipe below our house) and sewage, because the city’s drains couldn’t keep up with the pace, meaning everything back-flowed into residential pipes. There was poop-flecked water basically erupting out of our bathtub, toilet and sink, and my hubby could not bail it out fast enough. We were using huge garbage bins and buckets to bail, towels, the shower curtain and even a leftover bag of grout to try and build a dam, to at least contain it in the bathroom, and then hubs went outside to literally rip off the downspout with his hands and plug the hole with a pop bottle. In short, we tried EVERYTHING — and it still wound up pouring over into the main basement area, soaking the carpet.

It was a total shit show.

“Why didn’t you get a wet vac to suck up all the water?” you ask? Oh, we did. I bolted out the door to Walmart and spent $50 on the last one they had; got home, and then the power went out, so we couldn’t plug it in. It stayed out for the next few hours.

Did I mention that my husband also had to pack and leave for the airport about two hours after this whole ordeal began? Yep.

So anyway, he attempted to semi-clean the mess downstairs, but because the water was contaminated, he was adamant that I not go down there. Long story short: The entire house stinks, and we’ve now got a plumbing company digging up our front yard and our entire basement floor in order to install brand new pipes and a back-flow valve (to prevent sewage water from going in the reverse direction, even during heavy rain), all to the tune of almost $10,000. Because we really had that money kicking around, doing nothing (read: thank the lord for credit cards). Plus I’m more or less trapped in my house because the stairs leading up to our front door have been removed and there’s no access to the street from our backyard unless I want to scale a tall fence. Woohoo!

Want photographic evidence? This is where our front steps should be; in their place is currently a very sunburnt man in an 8-foot hole (I have offered sunscreen; he declined):

frontyard

—— DEEP BREATH / EXHALE ——

In other news, I’m around 25 weeks now (about 6 months); I’ve posted another photo to my Bump Pics page, but to be honest, it’s really no different than the previous one — the main difference is actually my bathroom, if you feel like checking that out awesomeness again. I also decided that my coping strategy in the midst of all this plumbing insanity would be retail therapy, so ended up stroller shopping with my mom (I think we’re going to try and source a good-as-new-but-a-lot-cheaper Bugaboo Cameleon from Craigslist or Kijiji), and she also bought me a baby carrier (decided to go with the Beco Gemini because it was the most comfy to wear and very simple and streamlined; the Ergo ones seem really bulky and I think you can’t wear them on your back or something, and the Baby Bjorn ones in the store had a lot of straps and fussy accessories, and the saleswoman said something about more susceptibility to back aches with those. And slings? I’m a hippie in a lot of ways, but I just don’t think I’m a sling girl… we’ll see). Then my friend and I escaped to IKEA, where I succumbed to a Poang rocking chair. My hubby wasn’t initially on board because, in his words, “A Poang is so obviously a Poang,” but they really are the cheapest and most comfy rocking chairs EVER. Aaaaand, they now make BABY POANGS FOR YOUR BABY SO YOU CAN HAVE MATCHING CHAIRS!!!

The one we got is this guy:

poang

It’s a bit crazy looking, I know, but understand that we’re trying to create a nursery from an office that’s already been decorated as an ironic 1960s cabin, complete with starburst clock, paint-by-numbers on the wall and deer wallpaper. It’s kind of kitschy on purpose — and we’re frankly too broke to do a complete overhaul with pastel colour scheme or whatever. So baby gets a “vintage woodland” theme, as I like to call it.

Giving advice, or bossing people around?

A funny thing has happened since I went from two years in the infertility trenches to suddenly being pregnant with an IVF baby that appears to be sticking around (what what, viability!). Some women I know in real life have either started walking down the path of Femara and IUIs and all that jazz or are considering doing so after months of trying naturally has failed, and have asked my advice on what to do. My instinct is to strap on my Superinfertilitysurvivorwoman cape and leap into action, blabbering on about everything we endured, what was scary, what was awesome, what was bizarre, and then telling them what they should and shouldn’t do in their journey toward babymaking with lab coats.

In a way, it’s not that different from the “commenter mode” I slip into when visiting all of your lovely blogs; inevitably, we all end up needing support or guidance or X-ray vision to interpret potential second lines on pee sticks or just reassuring anecdotes, and we look to fellow bloggers to help a girl out. And this is a good thing… I think.

But part of me has started to feel like I sometimes veer from offering helpful advice into just bossing people around. My own experience with infertility is just ONE experience, and yet it’s led to me having fairly strong opinions on, for instance, how many IUIs a couple should do before moving on to IVF, what drugs are worth taking, which ones have side effects, whether acupuncture or Chinese medicine really work, and so forth. And every now and then, I’m reminded that, actually, I have no idea what the eff I’m talking about. OK fine, maybe I have 2% credibility, but still. So I’m trying to figure out how to best help both IRL friends and fellow bloggers without coming across as a smug “success story” or a bossypants. I suppose I could just preface everything with, “Well, in my own experience…” but then it just looks like I’m bringing everything back to ME, which is not so hot either. Hence… maybe it’s best to just keep my mouth shut completely, or be more generically supportive, à la Hallmark cards with messages like, “Keep up the great work! (insert picture of kitten wearing glasses and holding a pencil)”

On the other hand, I look back to the state of mind I was in when I first sought medical help for all this, and how fortunate I felt to get some advice from a friend who’d been through fertility treatments (and had given birth to a healthy baby boy). I think what made her advice so helpful was the fact that she always asked how WE were doing first, and then gave me plenty of opportunity to vent my frustrations, and then made me feel better by sharing the more frustrating moments of her journey — which made for a nice reminder that I wasn’t alone and that, hopefully, I too would have a happy ending. What she didn’t do was say “You should take this” or “You shouldn’t do this” or whatever.

So maybe that’s the key. Any of you guys have advice on how to give advice?