House. Work.

The good news is that we're back to working on the house.  The bad news is that it's because of a plumbing leak...

On Wednesday night last week, Shayne dumped some sulfuric acid drain cleaner down the sink and toilet drains.  5 minutes later, when he started flushing the drain with water, he realized the tub drain was leaking.  Into the kitchen.  In case you didn't know, sulfuric acid is some nasty stuff.  When it came out our pipe and into the kitchen, it ate the finish off of the countertop as well as the nice, shiny fronts of our (new) stainless steel dishwasher and refrigerator.

We (meaning Shayne) pulled down the soggy ceiling tiles and neutralized the acid with baking soda.  The sink drain was now stopped up completely, so I dumped backing soda down the drain and plunged until it stopped fizzing.  I used an entire box.  But I was afraid if I let the acid sit in the pipe, it would eat the pipe like it had the shower drain.

We called out a plumber that my mom has used, and he came out on Thursday.  He took down some lath and plaster in the corner of the kitchen ceiling and completely replaced the old galvanized drain with PVC.  Thanks to the PPOs, the tub drain went uphill in a loop before connecting to the original galvanized and running to the main stack.  There was also a clean-out fitting crammed in there, which was totally useless because the only plumbing access was reached by ripping out the kitchen ceiling.  Sigh.  I should have gotten a picture, but it was yet another completely jacked-up repair courtesy of our "handy" PPO.  Thanks K!

But anyways, that's long gone.  Today the plumber is back removing the bathroom drain pipe.  There was only a leak in a corroded fitting, but we told him to get rid of everything.  I'm SO done with water leaks, especially the kind that start upstairs and end in the kitchen or basement.

Yesterday was spent tearing out the ceiling tiles and removing the lath and plaster where the sink drain runs.  Our kitchen ceiling is a wreck.  The plaster is covered with THICK, shiny, yellow paint (mmm, lead!) that is falling off in most places.  Observe Exhibit A (this is after I knocked off a lot of the loose chips with a broom):

Please note the duct-taped wires protruding from the ceiling to the left of the fan.  That's bad.

Also note the insulation visible where the lath has already been removed.  It's pulped newspaper blown into the sidewalls by the PO.  It "leaked" into the first four joist cavities.  I prefer it to fiberglass, since it's not itchy, but it still made a HUGE mess when we tore out the lath.  We had a pile about 3 feet high in the corner of the kitchen and filled a contractor-size trash bag.

As of this morning, our poor kitchen looked like this:

Hopefully soon we'll have a new PVC drain line installed for the sink.


More bad news

I took Kitty to the vet yesterday because a thought-to-be benign lump on her torso had gotten much larger.  We're still waiting for confirmation, but it is looking like Kitty has cancer.  She's 17, so she's lived a good, long life.  But it still sucks.  We'll probably have to have her put to sleep, since the vet found another tumor.  To remove them both would cost approximately $1100, and we just can't spend that kind of money on my poor cat.

I'm so tired of bad news, and sad news, and things going wrong...


House of cards?

I keep wondering whether the healthy attitude I have about the loss of our babies is real or a defense mechanism.  I'm sad.  I'm so incredibly sad, and disappointed too.  But after my first miscarriage, I was sad in a different way.  I felt like God was punishing me, like if I'd done things differently, made different choices in my life, then maybe He wouldn't have taken my baby from me.  It felt like He was retaliating, or trying to prove a point, or something. I was angry, and guilt-ridden, and miserable, on top of the "normal" feelings of loss and sadness.

This time it's different, even though the loss is several orders of magnitude larger.  These were babies, not just a ball of cells that never developed into a baby.  But this time I feel like loss is just a part of life.  It seems that with everything modern medicine can do for people, we've lost sight of the fact that it is not God.  There are so many things medicine can't fix.  This seems especially true when it comes to reproduction.  Before 24 weeks, and often not even then, there's really nothing that can be done when things go wrong with babies.  Sometimes they can help the mother, like in the case of incompetent cervix or some premature labors.  But the baby itself...  It's all in God's hands.  

I no longer see God as a angry and vengeful being, meting out punishments.  I don't think He points His finger and says, "You will have cancer," or, "You will suffer from AIDS."  Granted, I do believe that He could make all disease, sickness, and suffering stop.  But it's part of our life experience, and how we live our life and the sometimes painful experiences in it, determines our character.  I could choose to become bitter.  But instead, I'm choosing to look ahead and remain hopeful that we will be blessed with another healthy, full-term child in the future.


Nickle and dimed (with some extra zeroes)

I woke up today feeling awful.  I overdid it a bit yesterday and ended up bleeding again.  Oops.  And even though I got about 8 hours of sleep, I don't really feel rested at all.  Oh well.  It's not like I had big plans today or anything.

I should have taken a few pics of the huge tree limb before they cleaned it up.  The tree trimmers came on Wednesday.  Since our septic is between the back of the yard and the driveway, they couldn't take their big truck back there.  So they took a Bobcat.  Our yard is totally trashed.  I can only imagine what the European countryside looked like during WWII if one little Bobcat could tear up our yard so much.  On top of it all, it cost $400.  At least we still have a bit in savings to get us through the rest of the time I'm off work, but that will about wipe us out.  And that's not even counting the medical bills that I know are coming...  Thank God I have a job to go back to, even if it's just riding a desk for a while.  Shayne has also picked up some overtime in another small town, so we'll have some extra money coming in from that as well.

I didn't post about it yet, but we had another plumbing incident in between the loss of the babies.  The main drain clogged (again) and backed up into the kitchen sink.  The kitchen drain plumbing chose that time to give out and started leaking from every joint.  We got a bucket under it fairly quickly, but some water still got into the cabinet, went through the floor, and into the basement.  We had the drain snaked so the water would go down, and the guy was planning on coming back in two days to install a clean-out in the basement so that he could really clean out the line between the septic and the house (They poured the driveway over the tank and installed a riser so that there would be access from outside.  But there's no way to clean the line from outside now.  Thanks Previous-Previous Owner...We'll just add that to the list of reasons I love you.).  Unfortunately, the first cleaning didn't "take", so when Shayne went up to take a shower, it all came up the kitchen sink, out the leaky drain, overflowed the bucket, and into the basement.  All over our pantry.

Suffice it to say that it's all better now.  Shayne re-plumbed the drain, Drain Guy installed the clean-out, and $900 later, we have a functional wastewater disposal system.

Seriously, if we make it through this year without going into debt, it will be a miracle.


Two weeks

My tiny baby boy has been dead for two weeks.

Sometimes I feel okay.  I don't sit around and cry all day, or anything.  I'm not exactly back to normal physically, so I'm pretty limited in what I'm able to do.  But I've had visits and phone calls from friends and family, I work on small tasks I can accomplish while sitting, and I've been reading a lot.  Most of the time, I feel almost normal.  And then I'll think of something, and it somehow leads back to the fact that I was expecting two babies, and now I'm not going to have any.  Or rather, I had them, but I'll never nurse them, they'll never make cute baby noises, and they'll never grow up.  It sucks.

I want something to look forward to.  My future right now seems like a blank canvas, but in a bad way.  I don't know where I'm going with work, with family, with anything.  I was officially offered the K9 position at work after we learned I'd only be having one baby.  I agreed to it, since that had been the original plan.  But now that we're not having any babies, I feel a little conflicted.  I really think I want to try again.  I don't want to give up on the idea of having another child.  That puts a big crimp in my career plans... But I don't think it matters.  If the job stuff is supposed to work out, it will eventually.

I never thought I'd say this, but I actually miss being pregnant.  I just don't know if we're going to be able to emotionally handle trying to conceive another baby.  I knew with our first miscarriage that something was wrong.  I mentioned to Shayne several times that I thought something was wrong with our baby.  It was more a "what if" kind of feeling, but it was there nonetheless.  With Ethan, I never had that.  I worried a bit, but in a more normal, non-specific way.  With the twins, I was worried at 7 weeks that something wasn't right, which is what led to the ultrasound that found both babies.  And after that, I was sort of fixated on Vanishing Twin Syndrome and NICU babies.  After Owen was born, I told numerous people that I didn't feel like anything was wrong with Baby B, and that I didn't think I was going to lose her.  And there wasn't anything wrong with her.  If the placentas hadn't been fused, she almost certainly would have been fine.

But now I feel like I'll be paranoid no matter what.  Hearing a heartbeat is no guarantee of safety.  Feeling a baby move doesn't mean she'll be okay.  I think I'd be a wreck the entire time, regardless of gut feelings.  I would so love to have one of those "Zen" pregnancies where the mama-to-be is totally calm, positive, and at one with the Universe throughout.  But I'm such a control freak that I don't know if I could even come close.  Maybe if I could be cloistered with a bunch of nuns or something...


Carrying on...

Grief seems to come in waves.  The first day, I felt terribly guilty.  Then just sad.  I'm also a little angry.  I feel like I got cheated; I was supposed to have two babies, and now I'm not going to have any.  It's rough.  I'm waiting for my really bad day to come along, like it did after Owen's birth and before Sophia's.  I know there will be (at least) one day where I'll be an absolute emotional wreck the entire day, but it's kind of nice to get it all out at once.  

I'm pretty sure my milk is coming in.  I was going to pump and donate it to our milk bank, but they don't accept donations after a transfusion until 4 months have gone by.  It seemed like it would be a nice thing to do in the month or so before I go back to work (and probably for a while afterwards), but I can't pump and dump for 4 months.  I don't think I could handle it emotionally.  I'm trying to decide whether to pump and give it to Ethan, but there is a little part of me that worries.  If my milk isn't safe enough to donate, is it safe enough for him?  He's getting organic, grass-fed milk from a local farm, so I'm not sure my milk would be any healthier/more beneficial at this point.

Shayne and I had talked before we even started trying to conceive this year, and we'd decided that if we ever had another loss, we'd just stop and be happy with our little family.  I realize I can't make any truly rational decisions right now, but I'm fairly certain that when I'm able, I want to try just one more time.  The idea of another loss like this terrifies me, and I know I'd spend my pregnancy even more anxious than I was this time.  There are a lot of logical reasons against it: I have my dream job waiting for me back at work (K9 officer), it would be a financial setback to have me off work again, and it means continuing to postpone fixing up and selling our home.  But I want so badly for Ethan to have a sibling.  I want to have another newborn nurse, watch him/her learn to coo, to smile, to crawl.  I want a rainbow after all of our tears...  And in the grand scheme of things, it seems silly to put work, money, and the like ahead of family.  I may regret not pursuing my dream job, but I think I'd regret even more not allowing another child into our hearts and lives.  But I don't have to decide right now.

My physical recovery seems to be coming along well.  I actually feel halfway normal today, which is good.  If I can DO something, then it keeps my mind busy enough so that I don't feel so miserable.  I also really miss physical activity.  I don't want to go jogging or anything, but it'll be nice when I feel up to taking short walks.  Right now, just walking across the house leaves me winded.  I can't imagine how awful I'd feel if I hadn't gotten a transfusion...

In other happy news, we had part of our huge box elder tree come crashing down on our chicken coop.  Thankfully Shayne over-engineers everything (especially good if he builds our house!), and the chickens and coop itself are fine.  The tree... Not so much.  We're going to need to have the tree trimmers back out to clean it up; the biggest part of the branch that fell is at least 16" in diameter.  And then it forks into two gigantic branches.  What a mess.  I can't wait to see how much this costs...