Friday, February 13, 2009

Being young sucks


There are times when I really envy my husband. I’m twenty-two, and he’s twenty-seven. We’ve been together since I was sixteen; in fact he was my first boyfriend. We met while we both worked for a movie theater. We clicked immediately, but didn’t do anything about it for awhile because we weren’t sure we both felt the same way, and it’s not like it was something we could even talk about without potential legal consequences, since I wasn’t legal, and he was my superior at work.
We had mutual friends; he had graduated from the same high school I attended the year before I started going there. I had several friends who were seniors and juniors, who knew him fairly well. After eight weeks, I finally got up the nerve to ask my mom’s permission to ask him out. She said no. I was devastated. The next day on my way to school I got a flat tire. My mom came and picked me up from the side of the road, but neither one of us knew what to do about the car, so she suggested I call one of my guy friends to fix it. Given how I knew no other guys that weren’t in school, I called him. He came and replaced the tire under my mom’s watchful eye; my only request before calling him not to embarrass me. She spent the entire time he changed the tire telling me “don’t worry Kitty, I won’t embarrass you. You’re right… he is a nice boy,” and once he was finished, gave me forty bucks, and told me to take that nice boy out to lunch, with a very conspicuous wink. He pretended not to notice.
We did grab lunch and watched a movie, but it wasn’t a date. I asked him out that Saturday (August 22, 2003), on the roof of the movie theater. He kissed me yes, and we’ve been together ever since. We’ve had lots of ups and downs, but it’s been wonderful. However, with the age difference, and our different family backgrounds, I have noticed that he has things a lot easier than I do.
I graduated high school in 2005 a college sophomore, thanks to a great joint enrollment program at my school. He realized he’d better get his but in gear, and began to really work on his pharmacy school prerequisites, and get his pharmacy technicians certification before I beat him to graduation. A side note here, he had done his core, but took time off when his dad died. He’d been attending school since he met me, but very part time, due to his demanding job managing the theater, and a car accident that kept him out of school for a semester. The classes he had left were all sequential, so it was going to take awhile.
I spent the summer in England attending classes at Oxford on a study abroad program from my school, when I got home, he proposed on our anniversary. His family was thrilled. They were happy he was finally getting married, and happy that he was making such great progress in school. My family kept wondering if I was pregnant, and telling me that eighteen was way too young to be engaged.
I moved out of my mom’s house and into an apartment, and spent the next year working to save for the wedding, and going to school overtime to finish my program at my hometowns university. He spent the year working, and getting his pharmacy technicians certification to give him a competitive edge in applying for pharmacy school. Summer of 2006, he completed his associates degree in pharmacy tech, and I finished my English BFA at my school. We got married July 15th, and despite the fact that we had been engaged a year, my extended family still treated it like a shot gun wedding.
Our wedding was paid for solely by the two of us. It was $4,000, counting the ceremony, reception, and honeymoon, dress, suit, and rings (although not my engagement ring, I have no idea how much that cost). We were married on the beach, and went on a cruise. It was great. When we got home, we moved to our states capitol, and he got a job as a pharmacy technician, and continued attending his pre-pharmacy classes, and I got a job as a preschool teacher, and an art instructor at a little pottery shop. I held off on graduating because thanks to all my joint enrollment hours, I still had tons of grant and scholarship money available, and wanted to get a dual degree in art education and English creative writing. So I attend class very part time, inching my way towards that second degree, (it has to be undergrad, once you graduate in my scholarship/grant program the money can’t be used towards a masters degree).
My paternal grandparents died, which was devastating, but also strange. They lived twelve hours away, and to this day I find myself thinking I need to go visit them. It doesn’t feel real unless I’m in their state visiting other family. I received an inheritance from their estate around the same time the shop went up for sale, so my husband and I decided to buy it.
And now here we were, two and a half years later, sitting on a couch discussing closing that very shop, and getting ready to call our respective families to tell them that we were having a baby. He was excited, and called his mother to tell her. I stalled, downloading a few pregnancy applications to calculate my due date (October 18th) and track my pregnancy (I recommend ipregnancy btw). Finally I got up the nerve to call my mom.
She was happy for me, but hesitant. She asked a lot about our plans for the future, and I filled her in on our possibilities, she asked about our insurance, and all sorts of practical questions, which I answered, while listening to my husband laughing and telling his overjoyed mother. To his family, this was something that finally happened, and they couldn’t be happier. Mine cautioned that I was very young, and worried about money. I wish I was older. Not because I would be anymore prepared for marriage and children than I already am, but because it would be more acceptable for me to be where I’m at. My family is proud of me, but they wonder why I rushed so much to finish college (I didn’t, I just got to a point where I could get a job), or get married, (there wasn’t a point in waiting any longer), or have children, (had I waited for a more acceptable time, it may have never happened, chances were so slim it could anyway). I’m happy. I’m successful, and I’m stable. Well… ok, I was a lot more stable before the economy circled the drain, but I’m capable.
My husband proceeded to call every individual member of his extended family and get congratulated. I sent out a mass text message to all of friends and my brother, let my mother call the rest of the family, and posted the news on facebook, myspace, and twitter. The friends my husbands age all instantly sent messages of congratulations, the friends my age paused to ask “is that good?” and then get excited for me.
Yeah, there are times I envy my husband

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Aftermath


Now in my last post I may have given the impression that my husband either really doesn’t take me seriously, or really doesn’t want to have kids. This is not the case. I was not kidding when I said I have spent about 4 days of every… single… month of the last three years thinking I was pregnant, so you really can’t blame the guy for being a little skeptical.

I knew this month was different though. Partially because of the lovely invention that is the iphone. I could live without my iphone, but it would be a miserable and sad life. I don’t know how I went without it before. Anyhow, thanks to the iphone’s period tracker application (I found petals to be the best one, although period tracker works well as well) I was finally able to track my period and fertile days. See, for the last three years I spent every month convinced my period was late. You would think after three months let alone three years, some part of me would go “huh… if my period is a week late every month, maybe, just maybe I’m not doing the math right.” But then I’m not always the brightest crayon in the box.

This was month six of using my petals application to track my periods and my fertile days, and each month the application had been extremely accurate. So now instead of spending a few days before my period thinking I was pregnant, and a few days after it should have started convinced I was pregnant, I only spent the time before wondering. This month I’d been so stressed, and so sick, and so busy, I really only wondered if I was pregnant the day my period was supposed to start.

So I yet again, bought a pregnancy test, and dutifully peed on a stick. Only this time the stick said positive. My husband was still sitting on the couch looking stunned, and I’m sure still wondering if I could be mistaken. “Maybe you should take another one.” He suggested.
I am all for taking another one, and on our way to Zaxby’s we dropped by Walgreen’s and purchased another pregnancy test. We debated eating in Zaxby’s, or going home, and decided to go home so I could take the test again, and we could figure out who/when to tell, and discuss everything.

After a yummy dinner, I took the test. I think it clicked for my husband when he saw the pink lines. I smiled and said I told you so, and started to toss the test into the trash.

“You’re throwing it away?” My husband asked in a voice that made me check to make sure the pregnancy test hadn’t been replaced by a large diamond while I wasn’t looking.

“You want to keep it?” I asked skeptically.

He thought about it for a second, then reached the same conclusion I had earlier that day, “No, that’s ok.”

Again we sat on the couch at a loss for words. We discussed whether we should tell everyone now, or wait until I hit the three month marker. We both agreed that the likelihood of me keeping my mouth shut for three months was slim, so it was best to announce it now, rather than having my mother find out on face book or something. I looked up my insurance company’s coverage information for maternity costs, and we were both happy to find that it was covered 100%. Not surprising really, since I had specifically chosen that insurance company because it covered pregnancy fully, but for some reason that didn’t stop me from that one second of heart pounding “oh my gosh, what about insurance” moment.

Then we had the not as fun conversation, money. I may have made it sound like I was really trying hard to have children with all my period tracking, and fertility tracking, but the truth was our philosophy on kids was “Que Surah Surah.” We weren’t trying not to, and we weren’t trying to. We knew we could handle it financially if we had children, and both of us were happy with the idea of children, but we weren’t going to force it to happen. We had been told, by our doctors, that children weren’t a likely outcome for us, and when they started discussing fertility treatments, we both opted for letting things happen, or not happen naturally. I didn’t plan sex on my fertile days, and I didn’t take birth control. My one conceit was to take prenatal vitamins all the time, because my doctor said if we got pregnant, it was very important in the early weeks. So, on a financial/lifestyle level (beyond choosing a health insurance that covered maternity and taking special vitamins) we weren’t expecting kids, because honestly in the last three years we’d stopped really believing it would happen.

Now, with my husband in pharmacy school an hour away every day, and working at the shop on weekends, and me working a million hours a week between the shop, and the preschool, and going to classes, and our shop just barely getting by, we suddenly needed to reevaluate everything. Fortunately, this was a great time to do that! Our apartment and shop lease renewal was right around the corner, and the semester was coming to a close. We took a look at the shops finances, a real look, not the fingers crossed look we’d been giving it the last few months, and saw the sad truth. It wasn’t paying us, and it wasn’t paying for itself. In a few months, we’d be out of the shops savings, and we’d have to start working to support it.

There was no where we could cut back, we weren’t selling enough for inventory to be an issue, ditto with paints and utilities were very low thanks to almost never having people present, and having very little to fire in the kiln. Rent was possibly going up, and we were no longer bringing home a paycheck. The art teacher brought in way more income than she cost; she made commission on classes, special order pieces, camps, and parties. I had to have my other employee there on Tuesdays for at least the rest of the semester, if things didn’t improve soon, we’d have to close. Our lease was up at the end of May, we needed to give a sixty day notice if we weren’t going to renew, and it was looking very likely we would have to close.
We talked about what to do for my job. My pay at the preschool was nearly being cancelled out by having someone cover the shop while I worked. I needed to work the hours I had been hired for, and nothing else. That fun conversation would have to take place tomorrow. I didn’t need to quit though, I needed to work, just not full time.

We discussed what to do about our town house. Our lease was up at the same time as the shops. He looked into married housing, which looked gross, but his scholarship/grant/loan money would cover. It would cut back on his commute, and pretty much eliminate rent, power, water, gas, cable, and internet from our monthly bills. That was nothing to scoff at. We had a plan, it wasn’t an ideal plan, but it was a plan, and it was stable. Stability was suddenly important to us. We’d have to stay with his mom until school started, but that would give us three months of no living expenses to save for the future. We were both feeling a little depressed, so we started talking about baby names, and thinking of nursery themes, and all of that, and once we were sufficiently happy enough we decided to call our families.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Telling the husband






I left the pottery shop still trying to find a cute a memorable way to tell my husband the good news. After all, this would have to go in a baby book wouldn’t it? Suddenly I realized that I would need to buy a baby book! Maybe I could swing by the bookstore, buy a baby book, and use that to tell my husband. How cute would that be? With this adorable idea half formed in my mind I ran by the bookshop in our shopping center.



It was closed… for good. I sat outside the door blinking in surprise. I had seen the woman who owned it yesterday at the tenants meeting; she hadn’t said anything about closing. I stared through the dark windows and saw the bare bookshelves. Boxes of books sat on the floor, and a note to customers explained they would be closed, permanently, on the door. The now familiar stress and anger inside me bubbled to the surface. Why wouldn’t the landlord understand that if they didn’t bend during this horrific economic time, there would not be a shopping center left! We had already lost the child-friendly pizza place and the children’s fitness center within the last two months. The client base for the whole center was dwindling. We were all mostly small businesses and we exchanged customers frequently. The pizza place had provided pizza for our painting parties, and we had often exchanged campers and shared campers and students with the children’s fitness center, now it looked as if our “paint me a story program” would be circling the pipes.



My phone buzzed, my husband was home from school early, and starving. He wanted to know if I had already gone to lunch. I sent a text message informing him I would be home in a minute, and snapped out of my angry/sad/stressed mood. I couldn’t be upset right now! I had good news darn-it! I’d have to go by the grocery store and pick up a cute daddy card. I had briefly considered some article of baby clothing, but I didn’t know if the baby was a boy or a girl yet, and if I went to the baby clothing store in this center I’d be letting the cat out of the bag before I had a chance to tell my husband.



Still I didn’t care for the card idea. How weird would it be waiting for him to open a card, read it, understand what it meant, and then tell him the news anyway? It was the sort of thing I would appreciate, but he didn’t even like getting cards on his birthday. The cuteness would be lost on him.



Why did I have to tell him in a cute and memorable way anyway? I had to find out by peeing on a stick, why should he get special treatment? I’d just tell him. Difficult decision made, I went by the doggy daycare to pick up my puppy. She was not happy to be picked up early; apparently I interrupted some dogs’ birthday party. After making small talk with the overenthusiastic pet parents, and thanking them for Meggie’s treat bag, I packed the puppy up in the car and headed home, still trying to figure out what to say to my husband.



My townhouse was five minutes from work. Not nearly enough time to plan a speech. When I got home I stood outside for a moment while Meggie visited her favorite bush. My husband came outside, surprised to see I had brought the dog home. I explained that I was off for the day, and wasn’t going to class. “What’s that?” He asked, pointing to the gift bag in my hand.



I had forgotten all about that, “One of Meggie’s friends had a birthday party today.” Meggie, hearing her name, returned from her business in the bush, and looked expectantly at the gift bag. I brought her in, and set the bag on the counter as my husband lamented on the insanity that was doggy birthday parties.



I love doggy daycare, don’t get me wrong. A shopkeepers discount is nothing to sniff at either. Meggie plays with other dogs and exercises, and often gets a bath for very little a month while I’m off at work. It’s a good trade-off. The owner of the doggy daycare has a few dogs that are always there for the full paying customers to play with, and I don’t have to worry about Meggie sitting in the house or shop all day, but I am amused and disturbed by the doggy birthday parties.



Why was I rambling on about doggy birthday parties? I had way more important things to talk about.



“What do you want to eat?” My husband asked, “I think we’ll have to pick something up, there’s nothing here.”



“We should go somewhere nice.” I said, trying to discern what my stomach was in the mood for.



“We can’t afford to go someplace nice.” He reminded me, “We’ve got that Valentines thing later this week.”



“Someplace medium then, I don’t want fast food.”



“We could grab something from the grocery store.”



“Then we’d have to cook it.”



Silence as we considered this.



“What about Zaxby’s?” My husband suggested.



Zaxby’s would work; I nodded my agreement, mind still trying to find the words I needed to tell him about the baby.



“Are you ok?”



“We need to talk.” I told him, “I need to tell you something.” Noting the look on his face I rushed to add “It’s nothing bad.”



“Well… what is it?”



“I’ll tell you when we get home.”



“Can you tell me now?”



“No, I want us to be able to talk about it.”



He looked worried, “Well we can talk about it in the car.”



“No.”



“Why don’t you tell me now, we can get the food afterwards.”



“Um… ok.” I stared at him for a moment; sure my face was turning bright red.



“What is it?” He asked alarmed.



I giggled, smiling so wide my face hurt. I am such a dork! Give me the best news ever to tell my husband, and I stand in the kitchen, grinning and giggling like a fool, completely unable to get a word out of my mouth.



“You should sit down.” I managed finally.



He walked to the living room and sat on the couch, eying me cautiously. “What?”



I perched next to him, “Well...,” nervous gasp, “Um…” giggle, “I –uh” oh my gosh this was painful!



“What?



I stared at him for what felt like a solid minute, mouth working, trying to spit out those two words.



“Alright… let’s go grab something to eat.” He said after an endless silence.



“I’m pregnant!” I blurted. Nice job, I told myself exasperated, that only took ten minutes.



“No you’re not.” He said instantly.



“Yes, I am.” I said grinning maniacally.



“You always think you’re pregnant.” He reminded me.



This is true actually; poor guy has had to listen to me talk about how I think I may actually be pregnant this time for the last three years. You would not believe the money I have spent on pregnancy tests. Funny thing is this was the first month in a long time I didn’t actually think I was pregnant, because for the last week I’ve had the flue. No increased sense of smell, nausea was a given, and everything was sore, the flue masked every single pregnancy symptom. I even figured my period was late because of the stress the flue had put on my body.



“I took a test.”



“So? You’ve gotten a positive before. You’re not pregnant.”



Yes, the year we got married I got a false positive on my pregnancy test. We bought another, and got a negative, then went to the doctor and got a real negative. Since then, I’ve stayed away from the digital tests. Pink lines work clearly. All it takes is for one word to short on a digital test and you have a false positive.



I smiled “I’m pregnant.”



“Really?”



“I’ve taken more than one test, I’m late, I’ve been sick, and false positives are a statistical anomaly.”



Really?” He asked again.



I nodded. “I’m pregnant.”



He sank into the couch, looking shocked, and then he gave me a grin, “No way.”



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pink Lines



For a moment, I forgot to breath. I leaned my head back against the cool stone wall, took a deep breath, and looked again. Yup, still two pink lines, one fainter than the other, but it was there. I resisted the urge to rip open the second test right then and there. My hands were shaking as I put the test down on the back of the toilet. I felt sick.

Of course I felt sick! I was pregnant! I could feel myself grinning like a fool. I checked the mirror, and sure enough I had a big stupid grin plastered across my bright red face. I couldn't wait to tell my husband!

My smile faded, I couldn't tell my husband right now, he was sitting in a classroom an hour away. This wasn't news that I could text. I'd have to do something special. My mind raced over the cheesy possibilities. I could buy a baby outfit or a baby anything really. I could get him a card, and we could go out to dinner, I could blurt it out the moment I saw him...

Why did I take the pregnancy test today. My husband was in school, I had to get back to work in... I checked my watch, 45 minutes, then I had to do payroll, then I needed to go to my class. I wouldn't be home until close to ten tonight, and my husband had school tomorrow, so it wasn't as if we could stay up late to celebrate.

I considered what to do with the pregnancy test. An irrationally sentimental part of me wanted to keep it. I could put it in a plastic baggy, stick it in my purse, and leave it in the car until I got off work... gross. Instead I wrapped it in a paper towel and tossed it in the trash. I needed to eat something, and figure out how to give my husband the good news.

The bathroom I had just spent the last fifteen minutes in, was the small bathroom of the paint your own pottery shop my husband and I had purchased last year. Business was not going well, so I had picked up a second job and changed the store hours. Instead of opening at 11:00 am, we now opened at 1:00 during the week. Tuesdays were my only day off because of school, but like most small business owners, I still found myself in the shop at odd hours finishing paperwork, or trying to figure out bills.

I eyed the lunch I had packed that morning disdainfully. My plan had been to eat while doing payroll, but that was not a good way to celebrate. I would come back and do payroll between work and class. I locked the store, and went to the dinner next store for a good brunch. I waved at the manager, and sat at the bar. One thing I loved about this shopping center was the fact that I knew everyone here. All the tenants were having landlord issues, so we had taken to meeting at my shop once a month to try to fix things before we all went out of business. This dinner was part of a larger chain, so the manager had been told by his superiors not to participate in the meetings. He still liked to keep up though, so I gave him all the details on last nights meeting between bites of my breakfast quesadilla. His sister-in-law/ assistant manager, worked at my store on Tuesday's after the dinner closed, so she was also interested in how the meeting went.

I wanted to tell her so badly, but I kept my mouth shut because my husband had to be the first to know. I finished brunch, paid, and left, mind still numbly processing the fact that I was pregnant. Pregnant!

How was I going to tell my husband? We had reservations at a fondue restaurant on the thirteenth, since we were both needed at the shop on the fourteenth. I could tell him then. That would be romantic! Fondue, candles, valentines, we would be exchanging gifts... It could work. Wait... wass I even allowed to eat fondue? I pondered this question as I walked into the preschool I had begun working at two weeks ago.

Calling it a preschool was generous. Last year, I had taught at a great preschool three days a week for two years before business picked up at the shop enough to warrant quitting preschool teaching and working at the shop full time. Of course that decision had been made last year, when business was booming. I was stretched so many different ways last year. I taught Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, went to school Tuesday, and Thursday mornings, ran the shop each afternoon, and weekends. Towards the end of the year I had felt like I wasn't giving my kids my all, so when the chance to sign up for another year approached, I said no thank you.

Then over the summer the stock market crashed, and the city ran out of gasoline. All my customers who hadn't lost their jobs weren't going to drive any distance just to paint pottery. We still hadn't recovered from the loss of income over the summer, and with a rent increase and lease renewal around the corner, we weren't sure what to do.

So I got another job, if the business could sustain itself we would be fine. Only this preschool was really a daycare, marketed as a preschool. The kids in my class each day weren't consistent, my three’s class had older fours and a five year old, and the kids arrived before I did in the morning, and often stayed after I left.

I’d have to quit if things didn’t improve here soon, especially now. When I took the job I was told I’d be teaching the three’s curriculum from 8:00-12:00 every day. During their nap time the daycare teacher would come in, and they would spend the rest of the day playing and doing daycare stuff. Instead, the daycare teacher quit, and I was stuck teaching from 8:00-6:00 each day, until the night teacher arrived (24 hour preschool). Paying someone else to work at the shop from 1:00-6:00 sort of defeated the point of taking a second job in the first place. Plus, with the baby on the way (oh my gosh! I’m pregnant!) I couldn’t be working million hour weeks.

Before I clocked in, I checked my roll to see if anyone other kids had shown during my break. All but three of my kids were absent with the flue. One of them would be picked up after nap-time, and the two kids left were the boss’s grandkids, and therefore not considered income. I decided to check with my boss.

I walked to her office holding my time card. "You're late." She told me without looking up from her desk. And you lied about my hours. I considered snapping back. I didn't, I knew how it was to be at the mercy of your employees schedules. Only difference was when my employees saved my but by working outside their availability, I said thank you.

"I was here on time." I answered instead, "I was just wondering if you wanted me to clock back in today. When Micah’s mom comes to pick up, I'll only have two kids."

She sighed, "That damn flue."

I felt a pang of sympathy, this really was a daycare, the kids paid per day they were present instead of paying a monthly tuition.

"Yeah... I didn't know if you wanted to waste payroll on two kids. Did you want me to put them in the fives class?"

The five year olds were actually all four, I had 3 three year olds, 1 five year old, (my boss's granddaughter, apparently she wants her grandchildren to be in the same class. Poor kid wasn't learning much, but she made a great teaching assistant) and 6 four year olds. The fives teacher had 10 four year olds; we had to keep the students and teachers at a certain ratio, which is why it was divided like that.

"How many kids are in the fives today?"

I checked the roll. "Five."

She winced again and told me to go home.

Instead I headed right back to the shop to finish payroll. The shop was dead. My employee (from the dinner) was working diligently on the cleaning checklist, and we chatted for while I printed paychecks. I had two people working for me at this point, the employee who was here now and an art teacher who taught painting classes on the weekend. We’re all about the same age (23-25) and we get along really well. They're more than just employees, they're friends. I couldn't wait to tell them the good news!

I couldn't wait three days to tell my husband! I sent a quick email to my teacher to let him know I wouldn't be coming to class today, and sent him my assignments. So I would tell him tonight! I just had to figure out a cute and memorable way to tell him the good news.

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