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:

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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:

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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):

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—— 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:

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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.

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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?

Happy happy dance time!

What’s that you say? Someone got her Cystic Fibrosis test results back and they were negatory? And someone also had another scan that showed “no trace” of echogenic bowel? I think we all know what this calls for… that’s right… some of this:

And a bit of this:

And just for good measure, perhaps a little pinch of this:

Of course, because my ultrasound peeps just LOVE to find stuff wrong with fetuses, they mentioned that my amniotic fluid was “on the low side of normal”, so that’ll be checked again in 4 weeks. But for whatever reason, I’m just not that concerned about this — my plan is to drink obscene amounts of water for the next month and cut back on the (already minor) doses of caffeine each morning. If you have hot tips on encouraging fluid retention, do share! And if not, then join me in deleting the Cystic Fibrosis bookmark from my Internet browser and doing plenty of happy dances today. :)

Terrified of the Big Test

I had my second pregnancy-themed nightmare last night (OK, I know, DREAMS ARE NOT INTERESTING TO OTHER PEOPLE, but just bear with me for a moment). I dreamed that I was in a hospital and was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the doctors couldn’t do anything about it. They cut my head open and tried to perform surgery but it didn’t work. And then they said I only had a few days left to live, and because the baby hadn’t yet reached viability, it would have to simply die with me.

Gee, THANKS SUBCONSCIOUS! Way to come up with the most insanely depressing situation anyone could possibly suffer. Typing this out, I realize it’s so ludicrous that such a thing would happen — not just to me, to anyone — but waking up from that in the middle of the night was so damn terrifying, it took me hours to get back to sleep.

I think this is a reflection of a) the fact that I’ve become way more emotionally attached to this fetus than I like to admit, either to myself or others; and b) the fact that I just listened to an hour-long Radiolab podcast called “23 weeks 6 days” about a woman who delivered a baby one day shy of viability and the horrors she endured waiting to see if it would survive; and c) the fact that, despite odds being in our favour, I am completely petrified that our baby has Cystic Fibrosis. I’ve actually researched this disease extensively now — that’s how sure I am that our tests are going to come back positive. But weirdly, I kind of woke up from this nightmare thinking, “I would GLADLY take a child with Cystic Fibrosis over a terminal illness that kills both of us right now.”

The other reason I’m so convinced we’ll get bad news is that I feel like I’ve been too lucky in life — yes, I’ve dealt with a couple years of infertility and the stress of IVF and an ectopic; yes, I’ve also dealt with my mother battling cancer twice and nearly succumbing to it. But fortune has almost always been on my side, and I’m due for it to run out. I look at all these people around me who’ve had major tests in life, whether it’s a close family member dying or abusive/estranged relatives or late-term baby loss or whatever, and I keep wondering: When is my Big Test going to happen? Everyone has to endure at least one Big Test in life that really pushes them to the edge, and I’m sure mine is coming. So is it going to be a problem with my child? I just wish I knew already…

——— OK, end major downer of a post ———

On a lighter note, can we talk about the fact that we haven’t signed up for daycare, or found a pediatrician, or drafted a will, don’t yet have a crib, baby carrier, stroller or any other “essentials”, but I am *thisclose* to purchasing a teenie tiny coffee maker:

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HOW ADORBS IS THIS? And such great training for when the kid finally learns that he will never get what he wants unless mummy is caffeinated first.

Our new restroom…

Our bathroom reno was so successful, I think it’s best if we all start referring to this beauty as a restroom from now on. Sadly, I don’t have any decent “before” photos, but here’s a description of what it was like just a few weeks ago: Blue walls, shallow tub, blah shower fixtures, an uneven floor comprised of beige square tiles with gross blackish grout, a window with three different components to it wherein only the bottom right-hand square slid open, a flimsy storage cupboard with horizontal slats… Oh, screw it. Let’s make up some before photos, shall we? OK, try picturing something as fugly as this:

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Or maybe even this:

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Now, are you ready? Like, ready for the heavens to open up? And a chorus of bathroom angels to start singing? Here it comes…

ET VOILA!
This, dear friends, is The Restroom:

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Some of my fave details: The rainwater showerhead, the deep-as-all-heck tub made for 6-foot-tall people like us, the little alcove for our shampoo bottles (yes, I’ve poured all our shampoo into fancy Gluckstein dispensers), the vintage-esque floor, the little knobs on the cupboard from Anthropologie that are shaped like old clock faces, and of course Krummi — the hanging raven, which I got in Iceland. Every single house we stayed at while in Iceland had at least one Krummi, so it’s a nice reminder of our babymoon.

Best of all, when we have a shower, it will no longer leak down into our living room (which was really why we did this reno in the first place).

Um, that’s all I got. No fertility-related news today… just hoping I won’t receive a phone call from the OB’s office saying my baby has Cystic Fibrosis… so, you know, the usual. :)

New bathroom, old bump…

OK, so here’s the latest bump pic (AND YOUR WARNING IF YOU HATE BUMP PICS THAT ONE IS COMING YOUR WAY), which now that I look at it is pretty damn huge, in comparison to the 16-week shot. You will also notice that my bathroom looks completely different (it’s not 100% done, but mostly) and my bangs have vanished (worst growing-out phase ever) and the photo itself is actually pretty grainy/blurry because I didn’t realize my mirror was all dusty. Anyway, this is where we’re at:

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I can most definitely feel the dude kicking and swirling around, which is a weird sensation — it feels like my stomach is one of those spinning ball cages you see at bingo games, with the occasional ball really making its presence known. Like, “WHOA, calm down B6!”

As I may have mentioned, our hospital is a huge research centre and so every pregnant woman who walks in the door gets bombarded with various requests to participate in studies. I’ve already agreed to one study on bacterial vaginosis (didn’t end up happening because I tested negative), another study on whether online resources can improve one’s knowledge/perception of C-sections, and a third study on placenta health, where you agree to one extra scan at Week 20 and hand the thing over post-delivery in exchange for a bajillion ultrasound photos of your babe. So this is what I just did on Monday and, I have to say, the 3D images kind of creeped me out. They’re super lumpy and make the baby look like a jaundiced old man with lots of raised liver spots or something. The tech kept saying, “Look how cute he is!” and I kept replying, “Can we go back to the 2D version now??” Anyway, here’s the latest 2D image:

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My mom said he looks like a Simpsons character, and I kind of have to agree… there’s some major overbite action there. But I’m also pretty sure it’s a weird angle and, as my friends have already scolded me, he’s only halfway through growing… you can’t criticize a painting when the artist isn’t finished yet (well, actually, I totally can — and also, I’m allowed to poke fun at my kid, especially when he can’t hear me yet.)

OK, but the craziest part is, the tech filled a USB key with images as well as video footage, in 3D with the corresponding 2D image in split-screen. Totally makes up for the $15 we had to pay for one lousy JPG during our 12-week ultrasound. Sadly, I can’t upload the video, but I swear it’s some crazy CCTV spy-cam action. Here’s a screen grab:

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Nuts, eh? If this is what ultrasound technology is like now, I can’t imagine how much more sophisticated it’ll be 20, 50 years down the road. Full colour? High-res? Director commentary? The possibilities are endless…

Back from the land of ice and… more ice

Jeez, I go away for one measly week and suddenly everyone in this community has had embryos shoved in them, gotten BFPs, had their uteruses scraped, discovered who their real father is… OK, not that last one, but I wouldn’t be surprised at this point. What I’m saying is: Many apologies for my lack of commenting — honest to god, I really do care who your real father is, but the Internets have only semi-immigrated to Iceland and this made checking up on y’all these past 10 days not the easiest of tasks.

To answer your first question: I did not see fluffy ponies with beards while in Iceland, but I did see a lot of very pretty ponies. I also did not encounter any puffins because that required spending 1.5 hours on a boat, which I didn’t think was worth it, so my only puffin sighting was on my husband’s plate for dinner one night (and it was disgusting). HOWEVER, despite not achieving these goals, I had an amazing time in this weird, weird country. Our first stop was the obvious first stop, the Blue Lagoon:

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It was the perfect way to de-jetlag ourselves. The water is warm without being dangerously hot, there’s a swim-up bar offering blue drinks and face masks made with volcanic ash and silica, and the surroundings are, as you can see, pretty darn stunning. So as not to bore you with a virtual slide show of our vacation, here are a few more quick pics:

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This was the first house we rented, about an hour or so north of Reykjavik. Found it on Air BnB and highly recommend it.

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This was our back patio, and what you see here is about as dark as it ever got in Iceland. The sun stayed way up in the sky right through the night, which you’d think would be kinda neat but was in fact mildly torturous.

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This was our second place, about 2 hours south-east of Reykjavik, not far from the active volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Also an Air BnB find.

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One of our hikes — those little white specks are sheep with a death wish.

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And this is me, perched on a volcanic glacier (the black stuff is ash), NOT wearing the recommended crampons and therefore getting visions of my OB asking, post-tragedy, “And remind me, what made you think it was a good idea to go hiking on a glacier in a foreign country with inappropriate footwear while you were five months pregnant?”

As a so-called babymoon, it was a resounding success — there were a couple times when I started feeling hungry to the point of wanting to devour whichever sheep next crossed my path, or insanely fatigued to the point of asking my husband to “go on without me”, mostly on account of all the hiking we did, so I took it a bit slower near the end, but the little creature inside me kept moving around, which was immensely reassuring.

To answer your second question: Yes, I have calmed down a bit since our anatomy scan and minor scare about isolated echogenic bowel and it being a marker for reams of scary diseases. All my tests have come back negative — except we’re still waiting another couple weeks for the Cystic Fibrosis one — and I’m just trying to cling to the fact that my baby looks and seems healthy otherwise. Also, while we were in Iceland, we stopped in at a local farm and arrived just in time to see a lamb being born! I’d never witnessed anything like this before and it was amazing, and I took it as a sign that everything would turn out OK. Yes, fine, we also ate lamb that night for dinner, but the sign is still valid, dammit!

Lastly: I am finally starting to show (well, at least after three meals and lots of fizzy beverages), so I will post a 20-week bump pic at some point soon. However, my plan to document my growing abdomen as it coincides with my changing bathroom isn’t quite going to work because… OUR BATHROOM IS DONE! Miraculously, our contractor whipped the entire thing off during the time we were away, so we just have to paint the walls and it’s finito. I know you’re all DYING to look at pictures of floor tiles (no, really, they’re beautiful), so that will be in my next post.

Now, onto you ladies — dust off those welcome mats because I’ll be popping by yer blogs unannounced in the very near future!