Note: I’ve put off writing this part because much of it will be difficult and some bits are things only a few people know. As usual, there is a lot of humor in my pain, so at least there’s that.
I was 23.
We returned to Shreveport on July 11th, rented a U-haul to move my things, and said goodbye to my family and friends. It was hard. Our honeymoon was wonderful except for the sunburn I got on my back while snorkeling. Guess what? When you apply sunscreen on the boat while wearing your swimsuit cover-up, you shouldn’t forget your back if you’re snorkeling. We drove to Macon, Georgia to Scott’s apartment. We would live there for one month while waiting for KBR to send him to the next project. The apartment was what I would call “not purposely minimalist.” Scott had exactly one half-broken recliner, a computer desk, a hexagonal kitchen table with the most uncomfortable chairs you can imagine, two twin beds – pushed together, and one small dresser. I added my antique dresser and vanity to the mix. When you plugged in and turned on any appliance in the kitchen (toaster, microwave), it would blow out all the power in the kitchen. We were newlyweds and it was okay. We were about to move to Pensacola when Scott got a job offer in Atlanta, so we got ready to move to Hotlanta. I got very sick and found out I had asthma. Turns out I was allergic to Georgia.
We had a cute apartment in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta. This would be where my job search began. While we were engaged Scott told me that we would not start out in debt and he paid off my credit cards and AT&T bills. When I got bills in college I just put them in a drawer and didn’t look at them again. He bought me my first car, a green Corolla, and told me I needed to find a job. I began my search. This would prove to be an adventure.
I interviewed at a major department store that rhymes with lizards for a position as a “beauty advisor” at the Estee Lauder counter. Turns out I wasn’t experienced enough to sell people makeup, but I was qualified to dress mannequins and work as a sales associate in the Ralph Lauren department. I was informed that if my commission wasn’t high enough I would be fired. Guess what? I was fired.
From there, I applied to a fancy preschool where a few members of the Falcons children attended. Why I thought this would be a good idea, I don’t know. I was a pre-K teacher and really loved my munchkins, especially a little nut named Catherine. She was 4 and a half and her mother constantly told me she had to be able to spell her name before she would be considered for the fancy Kindergarten she had her heart set on. My co-teacher was relieved to not be the newest teacher anymore and gave me a hard time and asked too many personal questions. It was an uncomfortable workplace. I was written up for not accurately describing how a child got a broken arm when a football player’s son fell on him on the playground. Kid slid down the slide and fell on the other kid – how is that a wrong description? That was the first odd thing about the place. The younger kids were constantly shoving pea gravel up their noses and I felt bad for those teachers. My co-teacher asked me what kind of birth control I was on and if I took it at the same time everyday. I told her I took it in the morning or at night, depending on the time I had getting ready in the morning. She told me that was how she got pregnant and miscarried when she was a newlywed. I told myself I wasn’t like this idiot who managed to get pregnant on birth control. One day we had a field trip to the pumpkin farm and the only kid who was allergic to bees was stung by a bee. One day we were informed not to release one child to anyone but the mom because of separation and restraining order. One day Catherine came up to me and pulled down her leggings to show me where her dad had hit her with “a strap.” I teared up. I knew I had to report it because it was part of my job. The next day the father screamed at me. I quit.
It was early November. I applied with what was then the largest correspondence school in the country and got a job as an Education Specialist in their high school diploma program. People would get textbooks, do work, take tests, send them in, and would get their diploma. It was a good way for working people to get diplomas to get jobs that required more than a GED. I enjoyed this job. Students would call in for help and I would advise them. I had a student named Filay Mignon. I made friends with a coworker named Crystal who would marry a man with the last name Ball later that year. Things were going great. Scott and I were members of First Baptist Atlanta and I was happy. In late November I would miss my period and find out what kind of idiot gets pregnant on the pill. I was ecstatic. A baby! We had just gotten married and were having a baby. Scott was excited but reserved. We decided to tell family when we visited for Christmas. We talked about names. Scott wanted to name the baby “Andromeda” if it was a girl because that’s totally normal. I made my first doctor appointment for the week after Christmas. I would not need that appointment. It was December 20th. Crampy feelings started. There was a drop of blood in my underwear when I went to the bathroom during church. When I got home I felt like I was going to wet my pants if I didn’t get to the bathroom. There was a “plop.” I screamed. I looked at it and looked at it. I couldn’t stop looking at it. A tiny little transparent embryo. Scott looked at it. This would be my first miscarriage. I called my mom and told her. It was a shock because we hadn’t told anyone yet. Scott had previously told me to not leave kleenex everywhere from my allergies. I cried and he said to throw kleenex wherever I wanted. We went to the doctor the next day or the day after, I don’t remember. The nurse asked if we brought “the specimen.” The specimen. It. The doctor concluded I was most likely nine weeks along. We named it Andi. We told our families. No one knew what to say, except for one of Scott’s grandmothers who had lost a baby. She assured me I would be a mother one day. I believed her.
I went back to work. I wasn’t engaging anymore. I wasn’t the same. I didn’t go to lunch with coworkers. Kim came for New Year’s Eve and we rode the (S)Marta to watch the peach drop for the new year. We went to see Titanic. Kim helped me to feel better about the future. The new year would be better. The new year wouldn’t have a dead baby. We did all the things one does when they first move to a new city. We went to all the fun places, my favorite being The Varsity for hot dogs. We went to Braves games. One night I got very upset about not having living room furniture and prayed that we would soon be able to afford furniture. The next day we went to Delonagha where gold was first discovered in Georgia. We got fudge and came home in late afternoon. There was a gray sofa and loveseat on the lawn of our apartment complex. People were evicted and the furniture was free to whomever came first. Scott wasted no time getting some neighbor to help put the furniture into his truck. I had furniture. It smelled like smoke, but it was ours. One day I would come home from work and Scott was sitting on the steps of our apartment. He had been laid off and would start a new job search. He went back to KBR and they moved us back to Macon. My great-grandmother, Katie, passed away. I went in for the funeral.
We moved to an apartment on the 7th hole of a golf course. It was another fresh start. We decided that we would start trying to have a baby later that year. I started a round of crazy jobs. I worked as the receptionist for a concrete plant. It was great – I didn’t have to work if it rained! I was fired because they decided they didn’t really need a receptionist. I was the receptionist/whatever they needed me to do for the local MDA. My boss was extremely pregnant and moody. I knew I had an ear infection and I was coughing like crazy. Scott made me go to the doctor when I started keeping him awake coughing at night. He took me to the doctor and I had a really bad case of walking pneumonia and started breathing treatments, antibiotics, and had to take off work for a few days. The MDA fired me for taking off work. I found this to be hilarious, being that I was working to raise money for sick kids. I worked for a collection agency as the receptionist/data entry person who would also run credit reports on people when requested. I was fired a few days before my birthday. They had already asked what kind of cake I wanted. I filled in at a temp service for the rest of the year. Kim came in for New Year’s Eve. 1999 would be better. It had to be.
I found a good job at the Methodist Children’s Home. I was an executive assistant. It was an office job and I rarely ever saw the kids. After a couple of months they laid off a few people. Things were still good. We were trying for a baby. I took a pregnancy test in the bathroom of a K-mart. That’s how badly I wanted a baby. I had never been this baby-wanting woman, but after I miscarried it was practically all I thought about. I needed a baby to love and to love me back unconditionally. It wasn’t that Scott didn’t love me, he absolutely did – but after the miscarriage I needed a baby. Everyone in our Sunday school class had a baby or was expecting. The pregnancy test from K-mart was positive. I was cautiously excited.
We decided not to tell anyone until 12 weeks, when the chance of miscarriage was drastically reduced. I was at work one day and slipped and told a coworker. She gave me the name of “the best” OB/GYN in town and I made an appointment. At seven weeks I started bleeding. There was no “it,” no “specimen.” I went to my appointment and was examined. Another miscarriage. The best doctor in town patted me on the shoulder and gave me a pamphlet on Recurrent Miscarriage. A pamphlet and a shoulder pat. Technically, Recurrent Miscarriage isn’t until there are 3 miscarriages, the pamphlet said. I hated this doctor.
Scott and I told family about the miscarriage. Again, no know knew what to say. I heard “it just wasn’t God’s timing” or “it just wasn’t meant to be” at least 30 times from family and Sunday school friends. I didn’t want God’s timing. I wanted my timing and my timing was now. I went back to work. Early miscarriage doesn’t feel much different from a period and I had been through it before, so I felt like I could go back to work. I was laid off two days later. I got a job working in the clubhouse of the country club where we lived. It was ok. I didn’t care about anything anymore. I had lost two babies and half a dozen jobs. I hated Macon. The clubhouse was ok. I booked tee times and sold overpriced golf balls and country club shirts. I watched the Golf Channel from a stool all day. I was working on the day in 1999 when Payne Stewart’s plane went down and everyone came off the course to watch the Golf Channel’s coverage. I sat on my stool. Shortly after that, KBR moved us to Brunswick, GA. We lived in a cute duplex. It was a new start. I was going to get a cat while I waited to have a baby.
I was pregnant again. I miscarried again. Now it was officially Recurrent Miscarriage. I started looking at adoption websites. I was convinced I wouldn’t have a baby. God didn’t want me to have a baby. For some reason God saved me from killing myself when I was 19 only to have me lose three babies in two years. There had to be a reason. We talked about seeing a fertility specialist. We said we could always adopt if we couldn’t have a baby. I was completely open to that. I read lots of articles on infertility. I would read the passage in the Bible over and over again where God tells Abraham his wife, Sarah, would have a baby after years of not being able to. Sarah and Isaac were 100 years old. Sarah laughed when Abraham told her she would have a baby. They named the baby Isaac, which means “he laughed.” Our landlady wouldn’t let us have a cat, even after she told me she would allow cats. I was angry and jaded and depressed.
Scott’s mom told us the pastor Jesse Duplantis from Louisiana was coming to Savannah and we should go listen to him preach. We went to the convention center to hear him. Duplantis was a Cajun and very enjoyable to listen to – lively and fun, but clearly loved God. At the end, he asked people to come forward for prayer and there would be local church members there to pray with. Scott suggested we go forward. I doubted it would help me (and I believed it was me, than it was I being punished for my suicide attempt, for leaving college, for being fired 42 times, for whatever I could think of), but we went up for prayer. A couple in their 50s asked us what we were coming to pray about. I broke down and cried, telling them our story of wanting a baby and our miscarriages. They were the only people I ever told the whole story to. Strangers. Strangers who would pray for us that night and would continue to pray for us. They told us to get a picture frame and find a picture of a baby to be our stand-in baby of the baby we would have in the future – to keep as a reminder that we were being prayed over and that God answers prayer. Scott bought a frame that said “I love Mommy.” The frame sat next to our computer in one of our guest bedrooms. I wrote a novel. I prayed and I wrote. The novel exists on a large format floppy disk somewhere either in a box from our many moves or was thrown out during a move. There would be ten moves in the first ten years of our marriage.
Kim came for Y2K. Remember Y2K? Ha. Kim, Scott, and I went to see the “Shrimp Drop” on the water in Brunswick. There was a long fishing line or string running at a slight angle from a tree or something leading to what looked like a giant satellite dish of “cocktail sauce.” People, I can’t make this stuff up. Here’s a link to the following year’s Shrimp Drop in the Jacksonville newspaper. There was a countdown, someone had to shake the shrimp loose and it crept along the line, finally landing at the dish of cocktail sauce, where it would keep jiggling, looking like a giant shrimp humping a satellite dish. Happy year 2000! Here’s your humping shrimp! It was a great time in a time when I was extremely depressed.
I worked for another correspondence school, this one Christian-based and very small. I had my doubts. Scott and I started looking for a house to buy. Our realtor’s name was Rusty Bolt. Again, you can’t make that up. We found a house on Easy Street. Seriously. And then it happened.
I was pregnant again.
We started packing to move into the new house. I was convinced this is where we would have a nursery. On Easy Street.
I was 25.