Figuring out where I should live after giving birth to my 18+-year roommate was becoming a drag. I was a fan of my one-bedroom apartment and saw no reason why it would not work after the precious infant arrived. It was small, sure. But wasn’t a baby girl or baby boy small too?
My parents and brother’s family came to visit about two months before the baby girl was due. They stayed in a nearby condo because squeezing them all into my apartment for a week was laughable. I spruced up the place though, and was proud to have them come over and see it. My mom had helped me pick it out, when I was still dating my college sweetheart and she was adamantly against me quitting my job, moving to Orlando with no job lined up and living with him with no wedding plans in sight. Come to think of it, my mom could really be a drag too.
Though she was morally and vehemently opposed, she made the 20-hour drive down with me to pick out an apartment, sans boyfriend, and had really liked the community we ended up picking. She praised its gated existence and the tucked-back location of our particular unit. The people all looked friendly enough and the apartment itself was clean, sturdy and quiet.
Having a Baby Girl
Now that I was pregnant, and living alone, my mom acted like I lived in a totally different place. The neighborhood was bad. Anyone could find my front door and beat it down to get inside. The apartment needed new carpeting. She was sure the neighbor below sold drugs. She hated the flight of outdoor stairs I had to climb to get to my front door.
“Mom, I’m having a baby. Not having my legs removed.”
She just shook her head. “You’ll see. You’ll see.”
I agreed that my apartment may not be the smartest fit for me anymore, but my reasons were a little more logical. Since signing my lease, I had broken up with my roommate and was stuck with the whole amount of rent. I was waiting tables, in addition to working full time at the newspaper, and making the payments pretty easily but I knew my restaurant days were numbered once my little girl arrived. I also knew I would need to pay for daycare somehow and was unsure where that money was going to show up. My job was nowhere near my apartment and it was not uncommon for it to take me an hour in traffic to get there.
Plus my life with my baby girl was about a new beginning, a new chapter in my life. I really did not want to start building it on top of a pile of past shortcomings. But I had no idea what to actually do about it. Moving closer to my day job would mean quitting my night job earlier than I wanted. Finding another apartment in the same area would cost money I really did not have to spend. Breaking a lease would just add to the financial upheaval. So my due date approached and yet another part of my impending journey into motherhood was unknown.
Everyone at the restaurant knew all the dirty details of my descent into single motherhood. I still worked alongside my baby’s father a few shifts each week and he could not even look at me. I assumed it was because I looked especially whale-esque in my blue collared carpenter shirt but more likely it was because he had not yet accepted the reality of what was happening. My presence and growing belly was proof that he could not deny. My co-workers were supportive of me and most had stopped trying to get me riled up about the actions of the dad. I had not the energy, or desire to find the energy, to be angry.
One co-worker and I had become especially close because she too was pregnant, but about two months behind me. She was in nursing school and waiting tables to pay the bills until she could land a “real” job. She was not married to the father of her unborn son but he was very much involved. I liked her because she never dignified my own baby’s father with questions about him; she just spoke to me like we were both two pregnant gals in the same boat.
We were discussing work and living situations following the births of our babies on an especially slow night at the restaurant and I opened up to her about my apartment dilemma. She listened as I mentioned all the pros, cons and in-betweens of my living options and then answered simply:
“Well, you should just live with me.”
I blinked in confusion. What was that supposed to mean? I must have looked really flabbergasted because she added in:
“I live in a four bedroom house by myself. There would be a room for you and a room for the baby girl.”
After a few minutes I got a few more of the details figured out. She had recently broken up with the father of her baby after finding him in some compromising situations on online dating sites, and I use the term “dating sites” loosely because the way she explained them did not sound like the happy, perky ones that buy television advertising time. She lived in the house and her mother owned it. Not long after her mom had bought the house, she had met a man and was planning a wedding and living with him about half an hour away. She had told my friend that she could live in the house rent-free until she finished nursing school. My friend said she would talk to her mom and get back to me.
Well, I didn’t hold my breath. I barely knew my co-worker, let alone her mother. I couldn’t fathom two complete strangers would invite me and a soon-to-be newborn into their home to live. I had a dog too.
I got a text from my friend the next day asking if I wanted to come see the house. It wasn’t too far from my apartment so I stopped by with my dog to check it out. Our dogs immediately got into a fight (mainly my dog) but she did not seem fazed. The home was big — part of a manufactured home community that was only a few years old. I saw the two bedrooms that would be mine if it worked out and they were lovely. The nursery, she said, would be right across the hall from my room. I checked out the backyard (fenced) and the rest of the house (really incredible). Again she said she would talk to her mom.
I got in my car. I didn’t hold my breath.
A few days later she called to let me know that she had spoken to her mother and both wanted to extend the offer for me to live there. Her mother wanted no rent from me; she simply asked that I split the utility bills with her daughter. My friend estimated it would cost me about $200 at the highest. The deal seemed so good that my immediate inclination was to reject it.
“I appreciate the offer, but really, I will be fine. I will find something,” I said. My friend was undeterred.
“My mom just wants to know what color you want the nursery. She would like to paint it for you before you move in,” she said.
I could feel my pride trying to wedge itself between my own well-being, and that of my baby girl, and the blessing in front of me. The new and improved responsible, humble me managed to push that pride backward enough so I could respond simply:
“Pink. I think a baby girl ‘s nursery should be pink.”
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Tags: first pregnancy