As promised, I will be filling everyone in on what has happened since we sold the old house. This will be a shorter series that I will post through Sunday.
If you would like to read the back story, I have posted all of those entries into one (long) page HERE.
We left the wedding on Sunday morning and started our drive back to St. Louis. We were not sure if the County would be passing the wall or not by closing day, so we held off on signing a lease anywhere. Chris had lined up a summer school job that would be starting the following week, so he was tasked with finding us a place to live.
In the meantime, my Aunt Denise let us stay with her. She lives in a rural part of St. Louis, on the Illinois side. No cable, no internet, but the best tasting food a pregnant woman can handle. Her house was about a 40 minute drive to and from my work. With one car, things were taking a toll sooner than we had imagined.
It was still difficult to find something affordable that would allow us to keep Chauncey. We even had come close to leasing a villa, where we thought we would just sneak him, until Chris remembered that we would need to buy our own fridge.
After about a week and a half of going through one place after another, it came down to two choices. They would both allow us to have our dog and were about the same in price. Both of the walk-throughs were on the same night. The first house that we stopped to see was a lot smaller than pictures perceived. It was listed as a two bedroom, with one of the bedrooms being off the dining room behind a set of french glass doors.
I knew our second baby would be born in the next six months, although at this time, we didn't know if it would be a boy or a girl. There was another bedroom downstairs, but I was so crabby from them listing the house as a two bedroom, that I told Chris I didn't want to go down there.
The couple that owned the house was our age and the woman was a teacher. They were clearly upside down on the house from the work that was put into it. In order for them to buy a bigger house, they were packing up their belongings into a pod and staying with her parents. Chris and I thanked them for letting us see the house and we left. As we were pulling on the highway to go see the next house, I told him to turn around. I wanted to find a place to live that day. And I had to remind myself that this would only be for a year.
As Chris turned the car around, he called the couple who were happy to hear that we wanted the house. The payment would be $400 more a month than our last house and about a third of the space. The only selling points were that they would allow us to keep Chauncey without an additional fee and it included yard service.
The week that Chris started teaching summer school, we were able to move in. We had the pod delivered and friends came over to help us unpack. This was also the week that said-best friend returned from her honeymoon. We hadn't spoken since the night of her reception, when I left after giving my speech.
After the wedding, I was told from a family member of the groom, that said-best friend was worried about me not showing up. Supposedly, she had told her family that we had a fall out in Chicago during her bachelorette party because I wanted to go out and party while she felt sick. This couldn't be farther from the truth. That's when I informed this person from the Groom's family that I was actually pregnant and was also pregnant in Chicago. It was not place to say what happened or what was said.
When said-best friend returned from her honeymoon, she sent me one text message. I don't even remember exactly what it said, but the context was something along the lines of why aren't we friends on facebook? I never responded. It was easier to move forward than what I'd thought. This had been a long time coming with the wedding planning taking over a year and her morphing into someone else in the process. No communication between us has happened since and I expect things to stay that way.
Summer school started for Chris, which was his first teaching job since subbing. It wasn't the idea place to be teaching, but it paid OK considering the circumstances-- inner city summer school for alternative school students. On the first day of class, he called my cell phone was his home room. One of the kids had swiped his iPhone off his desk and had left school to sell it at a gas station.
When he picked me up from work that night, there was more bad news waiting for us. A few months prior, during Haven's birthday, Chris went to the ER because of an aggressive migraine. He told me over and over that he felt like he was going to die, so my sister to him to the hospital while I got the house ready for the birthday guests. Turns out, he had a sinus infection.
After coming home without a phone, we opened the mail to two bills. One from the hospital for $500 from his sinus infection that day. He had gone to the only hospital in St. Louis that is considered out of network to our insurance. The second bill was from Joe's company for $400 for building that hand rail.
It kind of felt like our old bad luck was following us again.
But after that day, things started to become quieter, easier. The house, although quite small, brought us more peace than we had expected. There was nothing to fix or to remodel. The neighborhood felt safe. And for the first time, in a long time, we were able to catch our breath.
I ended up buying my step dads Subaru Outback. It was humbling moment to my ego after I had always driven a nicer car. The car was green, smelled like cigarettes, and looked like I should have been wearing a fishing vest with hiking cleats. It was cheap and served its purpose while we got caught up again.
The fall didn't bring Chris a full time teaching job, instead he was subbing again. This time he had built relationships with a lot of teachers, so he was given a better pool of jobs. With a Master's and Highest Honors at that, we thought finding a full time teaching job would have been easier. Once a week, he would have an interview somewhere, even go for a second or third interview, before not getting the job.
It was kind of discouraging, but we were looking forward to Christmas break where we would be home together as a family of four. Olive was due at the beginning of December and Chris, because of holiday break, would be able to spend a lot of that time at home with me.
Little did we know that our lives were about to get another shake. Right around Thanksgiving, Betty went into the hospital. After arriving, things had started to take a turn for the worst. On December 1st, Chris's dad gave him a call and said they were taking Owen over to her to say goodbye. We were both crying in the kitchen, when our neighbor Veronica, knocked on the door. She had brought over a big brother gift for Haven. We told her what was happening and she backed herself out of the house.
A few hours later, Chris spoke with his dad and Betty had stabilized. Chris took off work the next day and drove up there. A part of Chris didn't want to leave me here alone. I was already dilated and having contractions, but I told him I would stay put until he got home.
When he got to the hospital, I told him to tell her that we would name Olive, Olive Betty. Knowing Betty, she would have loved nothing more than to call Chris's other perfect grandmother, LeAnn, and tell her the news. But Betty was out of it. At this point, she was calling out for her mother.
Two days later, Betty passed. 36 hours later, Olive Betty was born. The most blonde hair the Hospital Director had ever seen. Betty's button nose and LeAnn's dimples. She was perfect.
While I was in labor, Chris's family was sitting in the room planning the visitation. It was the happiest and saddest time all at once. The hospital discharged me the next day. We missed the visitation but made it for the funeral.
Three weeks later, on Christmas Day, Chris's dad passed out Christmas cards from Betty. He saw them at her house when she was in the hospital. Inside Chris's card, in frail handwriting, she wrote, "Chris, This is a very hard card to write. No matter what I say it isn't enough. You are the best husband, Dad, son, and Grandson and we love you so much. You make us so proud and we will never forget. Love you, Grandma and Grandpa Stanfield."
It was almost as if she knew she wouldn't be here at Christmas.
(to be continued...)