Until last Thursday evening, we had hovered around 168 hrs without power, water, or heat. While not a super comfortable situation for anyone, it was truly quite unpleasant for a 37-1/2 week Very Pregnant Lady on the brink of quite possibly the biggest life change she’ll ever encounter.
We treated the first few nights of the first October power outage (probably foolishly) as “romantic.” “It’s like glamping!”, my husband exclaimed somewhat convincingly. He forced me to learn how to light the gas stove with a lighter, and we chuckled as we warmed lentil soup and ate by (fake) candle light. We found it old-fashioned-ly adorable to read infant care books aloud to each other, and waxed on about how nice life was without the constant dim of computers and buzzing of phones. On modified bed rest since 32 weeks, I (slowly) attempted to put things away in the nursery before the sun went down each day. However, after three days of asking my husband to flush my morning situation (I couldn’t lift the bucket), our romantic outlook on our quaint life without power and water began to fade.
Our next outage event, two weeks later, was not only unromantic, but downright miserable. Power went out on a Wednesday, and didn’t come back until the next Thursday (with a day of respite in between). It was also a much more worrisome outage as the winds were maniacally howling, our poor dogs cowering in panic from the noise outside, the Kincade wildfire raging 35 miles away and rapidly approaching Santa Rosa. There was little chance of sleep between each NIXLE ding ringing out evacuations and warnings.
Baby Girl is already a tough cookie: she’s been through three power outages, two fire threats (one during our “Babymoon” in Maui) and a bathroom renovation which kept us out of our cottage for multiple weeks. “Nesting” is a REAL PRIMAL THING, people, and our inability to do so during much of the third trimester definitely presented this mama-to-be a wee bit of anxiety. A lack of power and water is not exactly the way one would like to spend her last weeks (days? hours? we weren’t sure!) before giving birth. And if we did go into labor, where would we even give birth? Our hospital had been evacuated.
Still, it could have been so much worse. We are incredibly grateful fire did not sweep into our area this time around. We are devastated for those who have lost homes and property. It hurt our hearts to see the same areas that burned in 2017 evacuated and/or burned once again. We are in awe of the firefighters and first responders all around this state, and those from out of state, who are working tirelessly to fight these flames.
We have had it terribly easy compared to so many. We were able to charge up and shower at friend’s homes, and even stay at a couple places toward the end when temps dropped into the 30s. We didn’t go into labor (my biggest concern) nor did we have a freezing cold newborn at home to tend to. (Thank you, Baby Girl, for not making a dramatic entrance during a power outage, even when they said you might make an early debut. Good girl, we told you it’s nice, warm, and comfy in there! STAY PUT!)
In sum, if this Very Pregnant Lady could do it all over again, she would have some tips and tricks to make this situation slightly more…palatable. One fabulous solution would be to consume a great deal of wine. Alas, there’s that pregnancy thing, so, sadly, that’s out of the question. So here are my Pre-Baby Blackout Survival Tips (sans wine):
What we learned the hard way: *Disclaimer: many of these things can be accomplished ONLY if you have advance notice of an outage:
*If you get your water from a well, it will be shut off during the outage. Fill your bathtub with water before the outage so you have water to flush the toilet with (and so your husband doesn’t have to fill 5 gallon buckets from a neighboring pool and carry them down a hill).
*Purchase a small generator to keep your fridge working every so often and to charge your devices. Yeah, they are expensive. So is the loss of two weeks of food. And your sanity.
*Don’t try to fit in that “last load of laundry” before the announced shutoff time of 3:00. (The power went off promptly at 2:30.)
*Purchase lanterns for the house (fake Pottery Barn candles are pretty but only effective as a romantic night light).
*Purchase a solar charger for your electronics (even powerful back up batteries only last so long…)
*Don’t waste precious phone battery listening to classical music on the first “romantic” night (Husband).
*Don’t waste precious phone battery playing your white noise app overnight AS MUCH AS YOU CANNOT SLEEP WITHOUT IT (Wife).
Things we did WELL this time around:
*Water your plants with extra water prior to shut off. Even if they wilt, you tried your best. (Admit it: they were kind of on the brink of death anyway…)
*Fill EVERY vessel you have with water (even if your partner looks at you like you are crazy). You will use it.
*Find a partner who will flush your poop for you.
*Make sure your partner has an abundance of wine so that he is continually willing to flush your poop for you.
*Fill a large bucket with water to put dirty dishes in.
*Fill your gas tanks.
*Wash your hair in advance of the shut off, and arm yourself with dry shampoo. Learn how to perfect a “messy bun.”
*Have a solar radio accessible to listen to (but don’t forget to charge it in the sun before nighttime.)
*Take pictures and videos of the house (including each drawer and closet!) for insurance purposes, just in case.
*Collect important information and have it ready to take with you at a moments notice.
*Know where your flashlights are located.
*Buy a high capacity charging device (and have it charged up).
*Have back up (compostable!) cups, bowls, plates on hand.
*Have your dog carrier, leashes, collars, and dog food prepped and ready to go.
*If you are a Very Pregnant Lady on the verge of giving birth, have your hospital bags packed and in the car.
*Figure out where to give birth since your hospital is evacuated.
*Locate a sense of humor.
*Have your emergency kit (thank you NPR) packed and ready to go by the door. Additional items to include: back up battery to charge in car, solar radio, extra contacts and glasses, medications, change of clothing and underwear, safe drinking water, emergency blanket, additional first aid.
*Include back up food stuffs. (Believe it or not, I actually bought a bin that that provides 84 servings of meals that is GLUTEN FREE and lasts 25 YEARS! If it doesn’t get used by then (hopefully!) I marked our calendar to have a Gluten-Free Emergency-food Dinner Party on Oct 23, 2042. Challenge: what kinds of wine pairings can we come up with with rehydrated food!?!
*What’s in my bag? Photo below…just like in US Weekly!