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  • Writer's pictureSandy J. Green


A little under a year ago, in one of my earliest posts, I wrote about the night our power went out. he outage itself wasn’t that big of a deal because we were planning to go away the next day anyway, so the lack of heat wasn’t going to be an issue. The real problem had been my breast milk. Over 1,000oz of frozen milk were at risk and our wonderful community had come to the rescue. The milk had been saved, but it had been a stressful few days.

Several times since that incident, Jared and I have discussed getting a generator for the house. We go back and forth, analyzing the costs and benefits and still have not had one installed. But after this last weekend, I think my mind has been made up and I’m ready for a generator.

Despite the weather channel’s reports of a major snow-storm looming, Jared had to make a last minute visit to his hometown of Fayetteville, NC on Saturday. Avi and I stayed home to brave the storm. Luckily, it ended up being a non-starter with very little accumulation. Avi and I spent a fun afternoon around town on Sunday and then home for dinner, bathtime and bed.

So you’ll imagine my surprise when, in the middle of bathtime, the power went out. There I was, in a pitch black bathroom with my baby shrieking in the bathtub. I went into immediate mama bear mode and nothing mattered except keeping Avi calm. I turned on the flashlight on my iPhone and told Avi that we were going to have an adventure. I quickly got him out of the tub and put on his diaper and pajamas by flashlight. I sat him on his bedroom floor to play with his toys while I started to text my neighbors, Jared and PG&E. The temperature was going to reach 8 degrees that night and without any heat, I needed to figure out if I should stay home or go to a hotel. At first, the predictions were saying 10:30pm. If I could figure out how to keep Avi warm, I could make it that long. We have a gas fireplace in our bedroom but the pilot light is controlled by electricity, so I weren’t sure what would happen. I was so grateful when, as I flipped the switch, the fire went on. I set up the pack n’ play in our bedroom and continued getting Avi ready for bed. I propped my phone up on my shoulder to read him a book and we sang our goodnight songs in the dark. As I put him down to sleep, I realized I didn’t have a monitor, but the house was so quiet, I knew I would hear him if he needed me.

With Avi safely and calmly in bed, it was time to take care of myself. I laughed at Jared when he bought the emergency lanterns last year, but I was so grateful to have them. Sitting on the couch by lantern light may have even felt a little romantic...if I hadn’t been alone in an eerily quiet, pitch black house. Afraid to open the refrigerator and let out any of the cold, I made myself a pitiful dinner of chickpeas, olive oil, salt and pepper and got out my laptop. My chromebook was fully charged, which meant it would last for 6-7 hours. I turned my phone into a hotspot, plugged it into the computer to keep it charged, and got online to see what was going on. The whole neighborhood seemed to be out of power and now people were saying that the 10:30 estimate was unrealistic. I had to reevaluate. I didn’t feel comfortable going to sleep with the fire going, but we would get too cold without it. And just as I was weighing my options and trying to figure out how I could get Avi into the car and to a hotel...the power came back on.

As I write this, I’m realizing that it’s not exactly the most thrilling story. The power was out for only a few hours. I had a lantern to see, a charged computer and an internet connection. I even had heat from the fireplace. And despite Jared being away, I wasn’t alone. I had friends and neighbors asking if we needed anything and offering a warm place to stay. But despite all that, it was a frightening experience. Being in a dark, silent home in the middle of the night was scary. Being the only adult in an emergency situation was scary. And knowing that the only way to keep Avi calm was to remain calm myself was scary. And when I think back on the evening, even though it ended up being not a big deal, I feel really proud of myself. I took care of myself and I took care of my baby. At the end of the day, that’s really the best we can do.

That...and get a generator.

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