Crying and Cursing while Rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy
There are a good number of you who were in the midst of undergoing fertility treatments or in the process of finalizing your adoptions. Given the lengthy power outages, road closings and transit shut-downs, sadly those procedures and plans were either put on hold or, worse, cancelled due to the upheaval.
In 2007, my basement flooded for the 2nd time while my husband and I were undergoing our first IVF cycle. Until hearing all of the sad stories and seeing the unbelievable destruction, I hadn’t given our experience a whole lot of recent thought. Many of those terrible memories have faded since the births of our sons.
On the night of our 2nd flood, my husband and I had just moved the contents of our basement back into their respectful places from the 1st flood that occurred 4 weeks prior. We never thought we’d ever encounter such an event ever again—at least not in that particular house. What were the odds? (Although, if you have been reading my blog, you have probably come to realize that my husband, Brian, and I should seriously start playing the lottery given our ability to beat crazy odds!)
During the 1st flood, I was running a board meeting that I chaired for Children’s Memorial Hospital. When I got to my car I saw that I had 25 messages on my mobile phone. As I was looking at the screen, my phone rang and it was my husband. Here is what I heard, “D’LO, our basement is flooded and we have lost everything. I am dealing with it and I don’t want you to come downstairs when you get home!” Our basement was fully finished with a family room, full bath with a steam shower, a fireplace and a fabulous laundry room. I don’t recall my response but I remember leaving the parking garage. As I pulled onto the street, I thought to myself, “Well, I’m just not going to go home. I’ll just drive tonight.” We had suffered a miscarriage about 6 weeks prior to the 1st flood and I was still very emotional. I came to my senses after I drove around hopelessly for a while. When I got home, I changed and started helping my husband rip out carpeting and drywall.
When the 2nd flood occurred, my husband and I were present. I was dressed in a pink sundress and was barefoot. Another deluge had begun and we both began to worry about our lovely new basement’s fate. We started to frantically move as many items as we could to the upper floors. Many of my husband’s vintage guitars had been lost in the previous flood along with furniture, photos, our washer & dryer, and a refrigerator. We learned a day after the 1st flood that we didn’t have what is called a sewage backup rider on our insurance policy and therefore were responsible for all of the remediation, repair, construction and replacement expenses. At least this time we wouldn’t have to pay everything out of our own pockets, or so we thought!
As we braced for the 2nd food, I stood in the bathroom with towels stuffed into the toilet and scattered on the floor around our steam shower. What we were dealing with was hydrostatic pressure which means that once the sewers and pipes fill up underground, there is nowhere for the remaining water to go and therefore it just pushes its way up into any opening it can find. In our case, it was any/all drains, the toilet and sinks. We heard a distinctive glunk, glunk, glunk, and with that my husband shouted, “GET READY!” Shortly after his proclamation, the towel in the toilet flew up to the ceiling and a geyser began to erupt out of that toilet. The steam shower was filling up and I was pushing against the glass door with all of my might only to see the filthy water rise above my waist. My husband came in and said, “Let it go, there is nothing we can do.” I started to scream as the putrid water began to run over my bare feet and quickly came up to my shins.
Immediately, I thought, “The IVF drugs are in the laundry room fridge!” I ran through the murk, mud and God-knows-what-else and opened the door to the fridge. I started grabbing as many boxes as I could and then ran upstairs to put them in our kitchen fridge. I can honestly say that I think that I had an actual break-down that night. (My mother, sister, several friends and especially Brian can certainly attest to that fact.) I couldn’t stop screaming and crying. I just couldn’t. Our dear friend, who my husband called to come over to calm me down, took the drugs home with her to store in their refrigerator.
My strength was gone and I allowed myself to completely give into my grief, anger and hatred that accompanied the crazy event. The hatred was directed at the home we had purchased in 2006; I felt that it was rebelling against us by not providing a safe haven while we were trying to heal from our miscarriages and get through our IVF process. We had so many unattained dreams that we believed would be fulfilled when we bought the home. None of that had come to fruition and the damn house was kicking us while we were down. I wanted to leave the keys on the front porch and allow any willing and able party the opportunity to tame whatever demons lived within it.
The next day I went to Home Depot to pick up more cleaning supplies. As I pushed the cart full of bleach, buckets, and fans, I cried openly. Many construction workers gave me questioning and fearful glances. It's not often you go to your local Home Depot to find a seemingly crazy lady without any makeup on, in torn up shorts, a gnarly t-shirt, salmon colored gardening shoes (which come to think of it, actually matched the gnarly t-shirt) crying her way through the aisles.
Upon leaving, I got into my car and listened to my voicemail. The nurse from my doctor’s office had called with more details about our IVF cycle. I begrudgingly returned her call and told her that we had decided to put our IVF cycle on hold. When she heard the reason, she tried to convince me otherwise. At that point, my head was ready to explode and she clearly didn’t understand how devastating all of this was for me. I wasn’t willing to go through an IVF cycle while I was trying to put my home back together. I also felt the stress would be detrimental to the outcome.
When I arrived home, I got right back to work on the clean-up that needed to be accomplished. I was beyond livid because we learned that even though we were covered under the newly added sewage back-up rider, we couldn’t use the coverage. Our agent advised us that this disaster would be considered the 3rd strike on our policy. “What was the first strike?” you ask. Well, six months after we bought the home, our neighbor’s tree was struck by lightning, cracked and collapsed on top of our home. Ironically, the 2nd strike was related to the 1st flood even though we weren’t covered under the policy. The reason we were given was that the 1st flood had been recorded by the insurance agent, who we ultimately fired, and still counted against us. If we chose to put the claim in for the 2nd flood, we would probably be dropped by our current insurance company and not likely eligible for any other home owner’s insurance. (At the time this seemed ludicrous to me. Now that I have some perspective, 3 major catastrophic events to a single home within 2 year period does seem like a humongous liability!) We had put a big portion of our savings into the first basement reconstruction and we were in the midst of an expensive IVF cycle; I was left wondering, “How are we going to afford to fix all of this?” As I cleaned, I did a lot of crying and cursing at that damn house.
My experiences pale in comparison to what you have been through. I know that many of you didn’t have the opportunity to run into your basements and save your fertility drugs. To add insult to injury, you / your donor / your surrogate were trapped with no way to get to your doctor’s office for whatever next steps were planned. For those of you who were having babies through adoption, getting to your baby was next to impossible. Oh, I am so very sorry that Hurricane Sandy got in the way of your hopes and dreams!
I am saying a prayer for all of you while you are in the process of rebuilding your lives and trying to grow your families simultaneously. The only thing I feel may be important for you to hear is that when I was crying and cursing, I didn’t see any goodness down the road for me/us. Those were some of the darkest moments for me, my husband and our marriage. Now that I have my 3 boys, I can tell you that I seldom think of those very bleak days. I was able to move on and find happiness as a mother. In fact, had we gone through that IVF cycle during our 2nd flood, I may have never had the opportunity to be the mother to my guys.
My prayer is that your horrific days will soon pass and you will find your ultimate happiness as a loving parent and all of this horribleness will be nearly forgotten.