When I found out I was pregnant, I was house-sitting for a friend of mine with my boyfriend. I was going through a falling out with my living situation and everything was up in the air. I will never forget that day. I went outside to have a cigarette, and it nearly made me throw up. I knew at once I had to be pregnant.
Anyway, I went and picked up a pregnancy test that day and it came back positive. I sat in my friend’s apartment and freaked out for a few hours. My boyfriend had gone to work at the bar, and I decided that I would tell him that night but wait until his shift was over. He and I had only recently reconciled after breaking up for a few weeks over the summer. I had no idea how he would react.
To his credit, he took it pretty well. I decided to tell him at the bar after he got off work so he could drink if he needed to. I’m pretty sure he did.
It was like the first week of December and everything was gearing up for the holidays. It’s a long story for another post, but I had recently met my father for the first time and found out that he lived in Austin. I had been missing Texas, and after I went to Planned Parenthood and verified that I was really-actually-omg-for-real pregnant, I decided that I really wanted to move back there and have my baby.
I figured it would give me an opportunity to bond with him, and reconnect with old friends and family that lived there. The problem was that my boyfriend, Neil, really didn’t want to leave his job at the bar. He finally had gotten some bartending shifts going, and it had taken him a long time to get them. In my mind, we were going to Austin, which has lots of bars and music venues and I thought he would be able to find another job there pretty easily with his experience.
After talking about it quite a bit, it was decided. We were going to Texas. I wanted to leave at the first of the year. It had only been a few weeks since finding out I was pregnant, which had happened only a few weeks into my pregnancy. Things were just getting started.
I had some good friends from my old job that were in Austin, and they kindly offered to let us use their spare bedroom until we got settled. So we purged most of our belongings and loaded everything else up in the truck, and we split for Texas.
I was so excited about the food. I immediately dragged Neil to Rudy’s for brisket, where I threw everything up in the bathroom immediately upon finishing. I spent most of the next two months throwing up or sleeping. At least I could keep kolaches down, and I craved them for breakfast almost every day that we were there.
Joel and Leah were so awesome hosting us. Neil went out looking for jobs, and returned with zero luck. I went out to look for jobs and landed a few massage jobs, but nothing spectacular. We were also having an incredibly hard time finding an apartment. In San Diego, we could have just doubled the deposit and moved in somewhere. But in Austin, everywhere wanted like 4x the rent verifiable income, and we were striking out left and right. We tried to talk Neil’s mother into co-signing on an apartment for us so we could get into a place, but she refused because she wanted us to come back to California.
One day in January, when we had only been in Texas for a few weeks, we decided to elope. We tried to get married the same day, but it was MLK weekend, so we had to wait a couple days. It was so hard to keep this big secret for more than a day, but somehow I managed. We went down to the courthouse in downtown Austin, me in my black club skirt and purple top, Neil in his usual Dickies. We didn’t tell or take anyone with us at all. Our judge had a kind smile as she married us, and it was over.
We were so broke, we decided to have a mini-honeymoon in San Antonio and got the cheapest motel we could find. I got to show Neil the Riverwalk and the Alamo. He went out on a quest to find me chocolate-covered strawberries. It was a sweet time. It was slightly marred by how terribly things were going with my father. I was at a loss as to what to do.
Back in Austin, we finally told everyone that we were pregnant and married and TA-DAA!!
I had my first appointment with a Texas ob-gyn. There, for some reason, they required me to have a vaginal ultrasound. It was basically like being raped with a huge dildo. I hated the guy immediately, and we left. My friend Angela had been encouraging me to look into natural childbirth, so we watched the Ricki Lake movie and went fully down that rabbit hole. I wanted a midwife, not a doctor, and as long as it was safe that was what I was going to do.
But things were still not working out in Austin. After something like two months, we were definitely starting to wear out our welcome and we had gotten down to just enough money to either get an apartment, or return to San Diego. It was a hard decision, but Neil was terribly homesick, so we decided to leave and go home.
When we got back to San Diego, we STILL didn’t have anywhere to live, so Neil’s friend Amy offered us a spot in one of her bedrooms in Hillcrest. She basically saved us completely. Our friend Andy lived in the garage, Amy and Brian in one bedroom, me and Neil in the other, and a shit ton of dogs. It was cozy, and fun. Neil started working at the bar again, although he never did get all his shifts back.
I even had my baby shower at the bar. They offered us the space during the day, and I invited everyone I knew. I had no idea what I was doing and had no one to help me plan it except Neil, but it was a fun day.
I finally landed a great job in Kensington, and things were starting to look up. A few weeks later, we found the apartment in Normal Heights, where we would all wind up living for years. We moved into the apartment in like May, and I was due in August. I could finally nest!
We were so lucky to find the Best Start Birth Center. The midwives there supported me so well through the second half of my pregnancy, and I had a beautiful natural childbirth there with Neil and my mom present.
Most of my pregnancy was rough, though. It is hard to explain what a scary feeling it was to go through a lot of my pregnancy with no idea where we would sleep next, how things would work out, where we would wind up living. I am so grateful that I have so many good friends, that were so helpful to me. If it hadn’t been for my network of super-helpful friends, I definitely would have spent more than one night in my car or on the street. But whenever one house-sitting gig would end, another would open up. Then there were the spare rooms we were offered. People were so kind to me.
There were a lot of not-so-great times during that period, but I will never forget the magical friends and experience of having my daughter. In the end, we found a place, and we have friends, and that’s all that matters.