So I realize that the five of you who read this blog who aren’t related to me may have suspected that I died a few months ago. I did not. I did write a novel, which, if you’ve never written one, pretty much saps all available writing time and energy. I also had a son, which similarly also drains you of all your time and energy faster than a vampire bat at an overturned bloodmobile.
I started timing Sarah’s contractions around 10:50pm on November 4th. By 12:15 I tiptoed downstairs to the guest room where Sarah’s mom was sleeping, nearly giving her a heart attack. Luckily, she didn’t go into cardiac arrest, but still, we could have carpooled to the ER. The hospital is two minutes away, driving 25 miles per hour. I tried to crack a few jokes to lighten the mood, but Sarah’s sense of humor was way off.
Something to know about Sarah: she is the toughest woman I know. When she delivered Josie, over the course of 19 hours, nurses who would come on shift would have to be told that there was a woman in labor one door away from their desk. Still, I insisted on getting her a wheelchair this time, instead of listening to her assurances that she could make it to the elevator, only to have her slump to the floor half way there. Once in our room – the same one we delivered Josie in (small towns) – the contractions came like waves. Of course, Sarah barely made a sound, and the two nurses calmly went about their buisness fiddling with the computer, slowly strapping on the fetal heart monitor. Shouldn’t they be checking her?! I thought. But no, they’re professionals, they know what their doing.
Then four things happened simultaneously: the nurse checked Sarah and said, “You’re fully dilated!” then her water broke, then she said, “Are you pushing?!” and “Call Molly.” Molly was the on call doctor the night, and I had talked to her earlier in the evening. Luckily she’s a neighbor and a friend, so I knew that she also lived two minutes away. A few minutes later, she jogged into the room strapping on her gown, and relieving me of my thoughts that maybe I would be the one to deliver the baby (in which case I was already crafting my case for a BIG discount on our hospital bill).
Fifty minutes after being admitted to the hospital little Grant was born. We didn’t know the gender though, but even before I saw his ginormous swollen ballsack, I could tell it was a boy…or at least I was hoping there’d be a wiener, because that face on a girl would be really unfortunate. Our mom’s were in the waiting room, where I announced it was a boy to their surprise. Many photos later, I kicked them out around 4 am so we could all get some sleep.
The next day was full of visitors. Grant slept most of the day, which was the total opposite of Josie’s first few days (and months). By the end of the day, we got to sleep at a somewhat decent hour. At 7:30am my father woke me up. “Not to alarm you, but this morning the toilet overflowed.” He described a gurgling in the bar sink, which I’d known about for years, but by ignoring it, it always resolved itself after a week or two. Not this time.
I came home when my dad said there was a plumber, Jeff, in my basement attacking my sewage line with a sawzall. After snaking it, he couldn’t reach the blockage, so he needed to access my sewer line further down. Unfortunately I don’t have a clean-out in my yard. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I do have an angle grinder. So I grabbed a shovel and began digging a hole along my foundation, underneath my deck. About two feet down I found my cast iron sewer line. I grabbed my angle grinder, attached a cut-off wheel and began sawing into the sewer line. In retrospect, I don’t know why Jeff wasn’t doing this – I guess I just wanted to get this done ASAP and I must have figured I had more incentive to get it done fast, but either way it was me who narrowly escaped taking a geyser of poop water to the mouth when I finally did cut through it. So after burning that shirt and thanking my cat-like reflexes, he set to snaking the line from that point.
He snaked it, which took about an hour (translation: $80) and after he didn’t make any headway, he went to retrieve “the good one” from his truck. Why he didn’t start with the good snake, well, I have a guess. After it failed to clear the blockage (and bringing up dirt and roots) Jeff suggested using a “water wienie.”
“What’s a water wienie?”
“It’s this plug you can stick in your sewer with a garden hose attachment that you can use to pressurize your sewer line. Sometime it’ll blow out whatever is blocking your line.”
This, it turns out, was a terrible idea, because about 60 seconds after we attached a garden hose and turned the water on, my mother came running out of the house screaming that there was “water” coming out from behind the washer/dryer.
It wasn’t water.
Now, I don’t mean to trivialize what happened to Japan during the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that happened in 2011, but when I opened the door, the wave of sewage coursing across my kitchen floor looked eerily familiar.
Turns out, there was a Y downstream in the side sewer line we didn’t know about that came back into the house, so, yeah, that was awesome. After mopping up raw sewage from my floor we called it quits for the day. He said he’d come back in the morning and locate where the blockage was. Then I’d dig.
After showering at the hospital (before touching my newborn son) I spent the night there. Bless their hearts, the nurses at the hospital let us stay at the hospital an additional day. So I got up in the morning and returned to the house. Jeff showed up and tried to locate the line, but couldn’t, until he tried again with “the good one” which worked fine. Lucky for me, the blockage was just inside my property line (and not under the road) and was only four feet down.
I began digging. It wasn’t easy. In my short-lived construction career I encountered softer concrete. I casually borrowed a pick from my neighbor. After an hour I hit something that began filling my hole with black death. I donned boots, and unable to do anything else, I began bailing sewage with a bucket into my rhubarb bed. Eventually the line cleared, but not before I had emptied gallons of human sewage on my garden bed. Who wants Strawberry-Rhubarb-Hepatitis pie?! Anyone? Anyone?
A tree root had completely clogged my line. I cut it out and replaced a 7 foot section of the sewer line with some PVC sewer line I had in the garage. I added a clean-out and after flushing the toilet and jubilantly watching the water race toward the city’s gurgling trunk line, I returned to the hospital victorious, tired, and $900 poorer.
I also showered again. But of course, being calf-deep in sewage is appropriate foreshadowing to bringing a newborn home from the hospital.
Welcome home Grant. All that, and still, you insist on pooping in your pants.