Day Drinking In the Rubble

Living through a major renovation teaches you all sorts of things about yourself.

For example, spending day after day, working and planning, eating and drinking, talking and resting in the same shadowy 450 square foot space, unable to invite anyone over for dinner or even a drink, has taught me that I would make the world’s most crashingly awful hermit. If I tried really, really hard, I might last three days—three dreary, miserable days that would inevitably end with me being kicked out of the hermit club, and all the other hermits cheering with glee since I’d spent those three days repeatedly breaking out of my hermitage and sneaking into theirs because I wanted a chat…and variety…and space.

Self-knowledge: I am a women who needs lebensraum. The lack of it makes me a little tick-tick.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for someone to keep you company in a bombed out, post-apocalyptic shell of a building, I am your girl.

Despite my love for beauty, order, and floors that don’t have 4’ x 8’ holes in them, I have discovered that I have a surprisingly high tolerance level for filth…and rubble…and 4’ x 8’ holes.

(Note the rotted joist in the left-hand corner. Cha-ching!)

I know these things are there. I don’t like them. But there’s nothing I can do about the situation, so c’est la vie!

Why God has not made me the mother of 12, I will never understand.

In all seriousness, when people ask me these days how the house is coming along, I tell them, “You know Stalingrad? After the Germans attacked? That’s how. Only warmer.”

Of course, despite all appearances, no actual bombs have been dropped on the house. Which is a plus. On the other hand, when bombs have been dropped on your house, people feel sympathy for you. When you whine and complain about your ceilings caving in, people nod their heads understandingly. Because it’s Not Your Fault. You didn’t sign up for the Germans to bomb your house. You didn’t choose to step over piles of rubble every time you go to the bathroom. You didn’t ask to cook or do laundry in the dark, with only one LED work lamp to help you chop your vegetables and not your fingers.

But we did. We chose this particular form of purgatory for ourselves. This. Is. On. Us. So, whining and complaining simply aren’t allowed. Which is why, rather than whine or complain, I’ve moved on to the day drinking portion of the renovation.

As for the actual renovation, progress ground to a painful and abrupt halt in early February due to some lovely, but also demanding nuns. My contractor is currently doing double duty at my place and theirs, and there is no way I can compete with the nuns. He must go when they call, and they called. I understand this. I agreed to this. But they’re the ones who undertook a vowed life of penance, so I’m not entirely sure they’re holding up their end of the bargain.

While the workers were gone, though, a few things did get done around here.

We opened up the dining room fireplace for starters. Yay! More rubble!

We also discovered that underneath layers and layers of paint, we had some lovely glass subway tile in the upstairs fireplace surrounds.

(No, Concerned Citizens of the Internet, it wasn’t lead paint. Yes, I wore a heavy-duty respirator. And no, I am still not pregnant.)

The best thing about the delay in construction was that for three whole weeks, the budget didn’t change. I didn’t fall asleep at night thinking of what organs we could sell to complete the renovation, or break out in a cold sweat every time my husband suggested getting take-out. That was nice.

Now, however, the contractors have returned, and our budget is once more being blasted into tiny smithereens. But I’ve made my peace with this. I now understand that money spent means work done, and work done means being one day closer to having light in the kitchen. At this point, I’m willing to stuff fistfuls of cash into the hands of anyone who can make that happen.

And stuff is happening.

The pocket doors are in!

The kitchen is almost completely ready for floors and cabinets!

And our sweet newel post is getting installed today!

(My contractor made that for me. It is awesome. He is awesome. I just wish the nuns didn’t know this.)

We’re still several weeks away from the floor refinishing (because the nuns need him back soon), but we have high hopes of painting the upstairs rooms by the end of March. On the day we open our first can of paint, I have no doubts I will weep like a baby.

Speaking of babies, I have a prayer request for those of you kind enough to read this far in the post.

The whole “not pregnant” thing is weighing very, very heavy on us right now. We’re at 8 months of trying and failing, which isn’t much compared to how long others have tried, but we don’t have 10 more years of fertility ahead of us. My doctor says everything looks great and I’m nowhere near peri-menopause, but the end is still out there, looming like an impenetrable, insurmountable wall. Regardless of how healthy all systems seem, I am 41, and that number is never going to get smaller.

At this point, every month that goes by feels like a little death. Bit by bit, our hopes of conceiving get slimmer and slimmer, and although I totally trust God’s will for us and the goodness of his plan, that doesn’t make those negative pregnancy tests any easier. Mary trusted God’s will too, and she still cried on Calvary. So, I’m pretty sure God understands me crying on Cycle Day One.

(For those who are wondering, adoption is definitely something we’re hoping to do regardless, and if there weren’t piles of rubble in the someday nursery, I’d be on the phone right now ringing up adoption agencies.

But there are. So I’m not.)

In short, friends, we could use some prayers. This house is sucking so much emotional energy out of me, and I just don’t have it in me at this point to wrestle a baby out of God. So, if any of you are inclined to do some wrestling for me, I would be really, really grateful.

On the upside, though, I am married to an amazing man, who couldn’t be more wise, kind, funny, patient, and caring, not to mention sanguine about our life amidst the rubble. So, that is a very good thing. A great thing actually. Marriage—despite the hurricane our life has become—is unfailingly awesome, and I would rather be living in a pile of rubble with Chris than living in my picture perfect Steubenville home alone.

I think I’ll focus on that today.

Happy Lent, y’all!

31 thoughts on “Day Drinking In the Rubble

  1. timandkatied says:

    Love seeing the progress! I may have squealed when I saw the subway glass tiled fireplace.

    Finally, consider this stranger “tagged in” to the wrestling match. Praying for all homes in need of babies and all babies in need of homes.

  2. Sheris Catton says:

    I will be adding you to my daily prayer list. And remember, negative pregnancy tests do not equal personal failure!

  3. Jessica says:

    Prayers for you. The fertility journey is not for the faint of heart, and while God’s timing is not our own, the clock continues to tick. I know this too well.

    On a positive note, the house is coming along. Love the fireplace.

  4. jmjtotustuus says:

    Praying to St. Gerard

    Prayer to St. Gerard

    O good St. Gerard,
    powerful intercessor before God
    and Wonder-worker of our day,
    I call on you and seek your help.
    You who on earth did always fulfill God’s design,
    help me to do the Holy Will of God.
    Beseech the Master of Life,
    from whom all paternity proceeded,
    to make me fruitful in offspring,
    that I may raise up children to God in this life
    and heirs to the Kingdom of His glory
    in the world to come. Amen.

  5. Taney Shondel says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles and know that negative test result all too well. Here’s one for you.

    “It will all be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

    Also, as I’m quite sure you know, stress doesn’t help. Wine sometimes does ; )


    • Emily says:

      Thanks, Taney! And yes, I asked our doctor what he thought about giving up wine entirely while we were trying. He said that would likely hurt more than help…causes too much stress!

  6. christiancatholicnotes says:

    Yep, will be praying for you guys also 🙂 living in australia means i will probably be praying at different times of the day to you guys so the Good Lord might find Himseld getting harrassed around the clock 😉

    (But there is arguably Biblical precedent for that if 40% of Psalms are lamentations and they get offered up to Heaven on a 24 hour basis by Religious :))

    Don’t give up 🙂 xxx

  7. Theresa says:

    CD 1 is always always the most horrible of days. On CD1 (and 2…and sometimes 3) I give myself a guilt free pass for all the sweets, wine, and creature comforts I need to work through it. The cross of infertility is so heavy and oft unseen. I am so sorry to hear you are suffering through this great trial. There is a St. Gerard – IF facebook group ( that provides incredible support for couples struggling with this; please don’t be shy about joining. There are many amazing prayer warriors in there.

  8. amg says:

    I’m sure you’re getting lots of unsolicited fertility advice. I sincerely apologize for adding to that ( feel entirely free to delete this comment and not respond!). However I would feel amiss in not telling you Acupuncture, acupuncture, Acupuncture! My aunt conceived a child at 41 and another at 43 thanks to Acupuncture. My sister conceived her first after three years of infertility thanks to acupuncture and Chinese herbs. My sisters friend conceived after 6 years (and surgery) after her first acupuncture appointment. I think the only thing that can make this renovation better is adding morning sickness, no? 😉 but in all seriousness, Acupuncture! And if you don’t delete my comment, feel free to email me privately and I’m happy to share more. Prayers for you!

    • Emily says:

      Thanks! We’ve looked into this, and maybe once the house renovations wind down we’ll be able to give it a try. Right now the supplements are eating up all the extra in the budget. Just another reason to want this renovation finished!

    • Maria says:

      Regarding acupuncture… you can get some decent deals on Groupon. I had just one acupuncture treatment during the 2WW when Joseph was conceived. It apparently can help implantation. There is also a fertility yoga DVD (Restoring Fertility) that uses some of the same points via acupressure.

  9. Cecelia says:

    At 41, seeing my year older sister pregnant and married months before, my fiancé, lovely Catholic man, left the relationship two and a half weeks before the wedding. Now at 43, I am not panicking, but deciding to ‘make sure’ while dating another lovely catholic man, who although we have discussed it, is having occupational deficits, not his fault, economy… but I will not rush the process in anyway, as you should not rush the pregnancy process either. My sister now 44 years old, is pregnant with #2, so all you need to know is, He knows, and He knows. Although, I know it is a bit of a long shot for me, as I am older than you is that He knows….

  10. Cally says:

    I’ve been following your blog since I heard you on the Popcak show about a year ago. Since then my little son Gerard (2) was diagnosed with cancer. He is currently on treatment and after some scary times is currently doing fairly well… he still has 2.5 years ofchemo. I have many opportunities to pray and join our sufferings to the cross. Be assured that our next hospital day will be offered up for you and your husband! count on me being another Simon for
    you! And thank you for all your ‘home’ posts, they lifted my spirits when I was dreaming of home and making beauty in our home during long weeks in the hospital. Prayers sister! Can’t wait for your posts when you start the decorating phase!!

    • Emily says:

      Oh, I can’t even imagine! What a cross you’re bearing! Chris and I will keep you son in our prayers. Over the past few months, I’ve been writing a study for Endow on Salvifici Doloris (JPII’s letter on suffering). It’s been my saving grace. The continual reminder of what a powerful help our suffering can be for others has brought me so much consolation. And because I’m such a choleric, I love being able to “do” something with my suffering. I promise to put it to use in these next few weeks for your son, too! It seems like our cross is such a little cross compared to so many others, but it’s what we’ve got! And glad you liked the home posts! Believe me, there is no one more excited than me for getting to move on to the decorating portion of this undertaking!

  11. says:

    Prayers: you are on my list!

    Oooh the fireplaces . . . And the pocket doors . . . And what beautiful light you get in the kitchen!! : )

  12. Kathleen Ready says:

    Emily, offering prayers to our good Father Who loves to give good gifts to His children. I’m including a link to a very recent sermon my pastor preached about motherhood as a glorious calling. Sounds exactly like something you want to hear right now, right? It was incredibly encouraging to me, because he shows from Scripture that being a mother is more than having biological children. We are all mothers because we are all women. I hope his sermon is a blessing to you.

  13. Jaime says:

    I can’t wait to see what this place looks like when it is all finished. It will be a masterpiece. Will keep you in my prayers as I know the pain of infertility, waiting, and loss all too well. If nothing else I have seen that Gods timing is perfect yet often painful. I am a better version of myself because of it. Of that I’m sure.

  14. Karen Moran says:

    Hi Emily, How would I contact you to have you as a guest on The Kristine Franklin Show on Immaculate Heart Radio? (Maybe I’m just not seeing it on your website…)

  15. Lauran says:

    Try to eat sweet potatos, avocados, wheat germ and take B6 1,000 mg. I think lean beef is really good for you too. B6 helps to improve good mucus.

    I married in my late 30s. Took nine months to conceive first baby. After first baby took 10-14 months to get pregnant again with three more children.

    The reality of pregnancy in your 40s is very real. Ask any doctor. Society (including the medical community) really presses us 40-somethings to get our tubes tied because before they had birth control married women generally had two or three kids in their 40s!

Leave a Reply to timandkatiedCancel reply