Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Don’t Panic!

Deep, cleansing breaths.

Don’t panic!

I said, “DON’T PANIC!”

*slaps self*

Oh, how I love it! After all my blathering yesterday about “working without a net,” God decided to call my bluff.

After work, I headed to my OB for my bi-weekly, non-stress test. As the nurse hooked me up to the monitor, she asked if I was having any pain the doctor should address. I told her the only pain I have felt is the ever-increasing pressure on my pelvic bones.

When the doctor came in, he asked, “I see you are having increased pelvic pressure.” He paused for a minute and then asked, “Did you drive yourself today?”

Startled at the sudden change in topic, I said, “Yes. Why?”

He just smiled and slipped back out of the room, as I was left there somewhere between confusion and hyperventilation. A few minutes later, he was back informing me that he would perform an exam just to see “if that increased pressure means anything.”

I patted my stomach and said, “I’ve been telling him to stay in there until the 27th!”

My OB said, “Or he could be born on Thursday.”

I laughed. He didn’t. I guess only one of us thought he was joking.

As he cruised out of the room again, I looked stoically at my belly. “Listen kid, you’d better stay in there until the 27th, or you’re in big trouble.”

Sam kicked just then, and I chose to take it as a kick of acquiescence, not his first act of willful disobedience.

A long wait and a VERY uncomfortable exam later, I learned I was only dilated 1.5 centimeters. Which is the equivalent of bupkis in terms of labor and delivery. Thank you, Sam!

They let me go home, after extracting a promise that I’d be back on Wednesday for another non-stress test, and back again on Friday, for my final ultrasound.

When I arrived home, I found Brett sitting glumly on the couch. All my funny comments and thoughts about my semi-scary OB visit vanished.

“What is it?” I asked, concerned.

He told me he had taken the foreclosure paperwork down to our lawyer’s office. The lawyer was unavailable, but his secretary made a copy of the paper. Then, she told Brett that, in her understanding, after July 22, the property would be sold. We most likely would NOT get 30 days. We would be lucky to get a couple of days.

“I would recommend you try to be completely moved out by the 22nd,” she advised. “Because if they foreclose on you, anything left in the house becomes their property.”

I thought of all our precious baby supplies scattered around the living room and literally gasped out loud.

Stunned, I dropped to the couch beside Brett. Our minds reeling together.

We had thought – we had assumed (and you know what that means) – that at the VERY least, we had 30 days to find a new place and get moved out and moved in again. Now, we had 15 days from that very moment. I had been operating on that 30 days – thinking that no matter when Sam was born, at least I’d have a couple of weeks to pull a move together.

I thought back to my post yesterday and realized I’d been using the unconfirmed promise of “30 days” as my (albeit short) safety net.

God called my bluff.

“Trust me NOW, girl.” He seemed to be challenging.

I am a woman mobilized by crisis. Immediately, I pulled out the apartment listing I had located earlier in the day. I called the property manager; a very nice woman named Michelle, and asked if we could see the apartment immediately. She was more than accommodating, and I made an appointment for 7:30 p.m.

I drove, and as I turned down the street to the apartment, Brett pointed out the first building. “Condemned,” he said, as if he were the one being condemned, not the building in front of us.

“Oh relax, Eeyore,” I said, with a sigh. “Those aren’t the apartments we’re looking at.”

The fact that the apartments we WERE looking at were only three buildings down from the condemned one did nothing for my depressed husband.

I am Pollyanna-istic,b y nature, so I bounded out of the car to meet Michelle while Brett unfolded himself from the car and looked around in clear distaste of the surroundings.

Michelle, who was as nice in person as she was on the phone, greeted us warmly. She told us she lives in the building and acts as the property manager. I liked her instantly.

She took us inside the tiny, tiny apartment. The “living room” was (I’m not kidding) half the size of our walk-in closet. If more than two people stand in there together, they'd be living in sin.

The kitchen was very nice. Small, but big enough to fit our kitchen table. Also, it boasted all new appliances and a back door that opened out into a nice, wooded area with a grassy landing. There was also a cement area for backyard grilling.

Michelle led us down very narrow stairs (with a rickety banister straight out of the Bates motel) to the miniscule basement which boasted its own washer/dryer hookups and some storage space. Since, I desperately want to have my own laundry room with a newborn on the way, I was happy with this feature.

Brett looked around cautiously as if hockey-masked Jason from Friday the 13th was about to burst out his chainsaw in the darkened, spooky space.

Michelle cheerfully led us back up the stairs of death, past the “main floor” (it’s so small, calling it the main floor is really laughably ridiculous), up another treacherous stairway with yet another breakaway banister.

The top floor included two bedrooms. The first bedroom (would be the baby’s room) had a large closet (currently sans doors), no light fixtures, and was (as the rest of the house) teensy-weensy. The second bedroom was slightly larger (maybe by a foot?), but had a smallish closet (and I mean “smallish” on a molecular level).


The bathroom was actually a decent size with baby blue porcelain – everywhere. Appropriate for people expecting a baby boy?

As we descended down to the main floor, I peppered Michelle with questions about the neighbors, the neighborhood, apartment expectations, etc. Trying to distract her from Brett’s face, in which the disgusted sentiment clearly read, “What have I done to deserve this?”

I eagerly took the application and asked our hostess if there were any stipulations that would automatically disqualify us from renting. I was thinking about our bankruptcy and dismal credit rating.

She assured me the only disqualification would be if we were felons - which I was glad to assure her, we are not. She also said her opinion holds great sway with the owners of the building. She told us that the buildings and the neighborhood was in bad shape ten years ago, and the owners have been steadily trying to improve it with “quality” tenants.

Michelle told us she liked us very much, and she would recommend us for the rental. I was flattered and honored with her kind words. She reiterated that she and her family live in the building, and so it MATTERS to her who ELSE lives in the apartments.

She also told me there are several families with new babies and quite a few with kids, so it is a family-friendly place. I saw this for myself as several families traipsed in and out of the parking lot while we were there. I took comfort in the fact that at least if I was up with a crying baby – I wouldn’t be alone.

We waved goodbye to the likable Michelle and headed back home. Brett was completely silent on the way home, as I listed the pros and cons.

Cons – the death-trap stairs, cramped rooms (and if I, at 5’4,” felt squeezed, you can imagine how claustrophobic my 6’4” husband felt), limited privacy (the unit we’d be renting is smack in the middle of the building), one parking space (no garage),fixing up that would have to be done – closet doors, main bedroom, etc., small everything…

Pros – affordable (even on unemployment), washer/dryer hook-ups, on-site manager, two bedrooms, new kitchen appliances, family-friendly, across the street from a grocery store, between two main drags (Alpine, 251)…

“It’s not like we have to live there forever,” I pointed out. “It’s just a stop-gap measure until things settle down.”

Brett chose the old, “If you have nothing nice to say…” mantra and was pretty much silent the drive home. When I pestered him - as I am wont to do - he said he was just “thinking.”

“About how much you hate it.” I said to myself.

To appease him, as well as cover as many bases as possible, we rode around Roscoe for a while. We drove by several For Rent apartments, so I wrote those numbers down and made appointments for showings on Wednesday.

One of the apartment managers I had spoken to earlier in my apartment search did tell me that “Credit matters,” so my guess is that we would be automatically disqualified for those apartments. But, just to be sure, Brett is checking on our credit, so we know whether to put in the effort to go see the units or not.

It was past 8:30 p.m. when we got home, but with the July 22 deadline looming in my head, I threw myself into packing baby stuff. Up until then, I’d been opening one gift at a time, writing a thank you note, and then putting the gift away. Now, I haphazardly slapped cards in an I’ll-do-it-later envelope and sorted the baby gifts by category until a good majority were packed away.

I called Mom and Gary and arranged for more packing help on Thursday and Friday. Combining that with an already full day on Wednesday – pregnancy massage, 2 apartment showings, non-stress test, and more packing – should make for a very busy week.

After all my phone calls, I did laundry and finished packing my hospital bag. I dove into bed and waited for sleep to overtake my exhausted pregnant body. But my mind was still going a million miles a minute.

As the thoughts of the gotta-do-it-now circled my head, I prayed.

I wanted to say, “C’mon, God! Seriously? Like I wasn’t stressed ENOUGH, now you throw THIS at me? Seriously?”

Instead, I had to admit that if this was God’s perfect timing, then, well, it was. Maybe I didn’t understand it. Maybe I was overwhelmed. Maybe I was an untrusting, faithless idiot. But, that didn’t make God any less right, any less perfect, any less all-knowing.

And at this point, I had to face the fact that clearly He knows something I don’t.

Maybe this level of stress through my pregnancy will make Sam a genius? We can only hope. It’s not like he’ll come by it naturally.

Last night, I prayed myself to sleep. This morning I read my devotions and prayed again for guidance, stamina, energy, and wisdom.

When I was eating breakfast, the phone rang. It was the lawyer’s secretary again. The lawyer had looked at the papers Brett had left.

The secretary informed us she had been incorrect. The mortgage company would be obtaining permission to sell the house on July 22. From that date on, we had 90-100 days, called a “redemption period,” in which we could still legally be in the house.

Relief rushed through me as the deadline had inched back enough to allow me some room. As breath rushed back in my lungs, and I felt the lessening weight, I realized God had put a challenge in front of me to see how I’d react. Then, He’d mercifully extended His hand to offer help just when I needed it.

So, I’d panicked, sure. But I’d also prayed.

I felt a little burst of the Refiner’s fire brush past me. All of this – and really it seems like a quite a lot to me – is truly making me depend on God, not myself. I keep realizing (over and over again) that my lesson needs to be full dependence, not this piecemeal where I think I have some sort of magical power over my situations.

So, while I may be married to Eeyore, I can’t help but find my inner Pollyanna and play the glad game when I reflect on this -

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” - James 1:2-4

Now, there’s something to be glad about!

8 comments:

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

I love this post. Love it. First, you have an absolutely amazing way of storytelling!! I know it's not a story; it's your real life, but you sure pull me right in there with you. I laugh, I cry, I feel your pain.

So, before I comment on what you actually wrote, I'm going to suggest that you stay home with the baby and do some freelance work. Pray for God to put you in the right place with the right connections. If this door is opened to you, I'm sure you could be a huge success!!

Apartments need only be a stepping stone. The first one we lived in was very much like you described sans the washer and dryer or new kitchen appliances!! It was a second floor teensy little thing with two minuscule bedrooms and a bathroom that rivaled airplane latrines! Then we were in an income-based duplex, while Fred became established at a decent company. We were married over 6 years before we got our first home. And, boy, do we ever appreciate it now. Good things come to those who wait.

Look at Dave Ramsey! He was a millionaire who lost everything and had to start from the bottom up. The second time around, he had learned his lesson and made the right steps...and he never takes it for granted now.

Praying still...

Alice said...

Great post. Really great. I can't add much more than that verse itself...so true.

(Though I will say--that internal exam near the end is AWFUL. My doctor actually stopped because the pain was so bad. I feel for you, girl! Whew. At least it's over...)

a joyful nusiance said...

Great post! God is good!!

CAROL ASHMORE said...

Inthralled by your story. Praying that all will be well and you'll be settled in your own place. Look forward to Sam's birth announcement. Aunt Carol

October said...

I can second Wendy. We lived in a one bedroom apartment with a small living room and kitchen but no living room or kitchen furniture. In fact, we slept on a twin mattress on the floor in the bedroom. The bathroom did house a tiny washer and dryer. Still, it was home for one almost two years. Not much to clean! You're going to be just fine and perhaps all the wiser for for it!
I like the freelance idea. You're an excellent writer!

October said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennittia said...

All I can say is "well, amen and amen!!!" God is good-- ALL the time!

The said...

Ann-Marie;

We don't know eachother but we know several of the same people. I can elaborate on this if you choose to take me up on my offer. :)

I know a bit about credit repair post-bankruptcy and you have some time to clean up your reports before you move given the 90-100 day window. I'd be happy to share the knowledge I have from first-hand experience with this and I could also direct you to some terrific website that may help.

Email me if you're interested: jnc1994@mchsi.com