Thursday, October 6, 2011

Homeless & pregnant

My husband and I moved out of our apartment at the end of June 2011. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. Having to move came at a really inconvenient time. I had miscarried my last two pregnancies in the first trimester, so with this pregnancy I wanted to be very careful and rest as much as I could until I passed the 3 month mark. Moving apartments was so not conducive to taking it easy. Not only that, but the day before our move, we decided not to move into the apartment we had chosen, which really turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the landlord was a wack job! So all of our furniture and household items were packed away and moved to storage, Doggie was placed in a kennel and we temporarily moved into my brother's recently vacated apartment he had rented while in Israel. We could only stay in the apartment a few weeks since new tenants were moving in. We thought we'd totally find a place within a few weeks. We ended up homeless till the beginning of September.

Searching for the appropriate apartment became a lot more difficult now that I was pregnant. I needed to think of how I could get around the apartment and surrounding area as easily as possible with a baby, let alone on my own. My criteria for an apartment was a stand in shower, not a bath for several reasons: with a growing belly, I knew lifting my leg to get into a bath would be difficult. Also, having balance issues, separate from the pregnancy, a bath which has limited standing room would affect my balance and I'd be more likely to fall. Add the water to the equation and we have a problem. The other issue were stairs leading to, from or inside the apartment. On my own, I can handle stairs as long as there is a railing, but with a baby, there is no way that I can maneuver the stairs with a baby or a stroller and it is very important for me to maintain my sense of independence once I become a mother. I wanted to have the option of taking my baby out for a walk in the stroller on my own. I don't want to have to depend on my fully able bodied husband for EVERYTHING to do with baby care. If I couldn't get out of the apartment, or get around the apartment on my own, I'd feel like I was in a prison, which would make me miserable and depressed and I'm sure it would negatively impact my marriage. Additionally, if the apartment was above the ground floor, an elevator was a must.

Finding all the components I needed in an apartment was a lot more difficult than we anticipated. The majority of apartments we saw, or were shown by an agent, had a bath instead of a shower. There were also stairs and/or no elevator. We drove to so many different cities and kept coming up empty handed. Not only that, but it seemed as if none of the real estate agents were listening to our needs. We were consistently shown apartments which weren't good for me. At one point, I almost blew up at the agent who showed us a place with a high, narrow bath and a lot of stairs leading to the apartment. We had driven 30 minutes to see this place and I had told the agent numerous times on the phone if any apartment had stairs and a bath, not to waste our time, so after driving 30 minutes, I wasn't impressed that we were shown an apartment which clearly wasn't suitable. What's more, the agent was standing in the apartment smiling from ear to ear, so proud that he had found us this place. The only reason I didn't start yelling at him or storm out was because my husband gripped my arm and shushed me, but man was I pissed! Why couldn't any of the agents understand what my needs were?! We desperately needed our home already because we were living out of a suitcase and a few boxes. We were both also unemployed, so all the driving to different cities to see apartments, and all the eating out since we had nowhere to cook was quickly adding up. Not to mention having to pay for our stuff in storage and the dog kennel.

In the meantime, we had to move to a friend's house temporarily once we left my brother's apartment. In between the apartment searching and house hopping, we made two visits to the ER from falls I had taken and I don't have to tell you that a visit to the ER is never short. I knew getting stressed wasn't good for the baby, but I had a very hard time keeping my stress level down. None of this was easy on my husband either and I could see how worried and upset he'd get when I'd fall. I knew he was worried about me and the baby as I was whenever I'd fall. Sometimes I felt guilty for being disabled and pregnant at a time when we were already under so much stress. I felt I was putting my husband under more stress whenever I wanted to go to the ER or to a clinic to check on the baby after a bad fall but my husband being the amazing man he is took everything in stride.

As everyone knows, families love putting their two cents into your life and my family was no different. I knew that my family only wanted the best for me, especially now that I was having a baby, but I felt like they were controlling my life instead of just offering advice. My family and my mom in particular thought that just because I have a disability, my pregnancy is high risk and it's a miracle that I'm pregnant. I got several emails a day asking if I was resting. I stopped responding after awhile=)

My mom also thought that I needed to be near my doctor, the hospital and a pediatrician at all times. No matter how many times I explained to my mom that in Israel, a midwife delivers babies instead of the OBGYN, and I could go to any pediatrician in my health fund at any of the clinics in Israel, she insisted we stay in Jerusalem where my OBGYN is and most likely where I will have the baby.

My mom was helping us financially since we were in such a bad situation, so she kinda did have a say on the location and type of apartment, but she was driving us nuts! The way she saw our situation was find a temporary apartment in Jerusalem for a year, have the baby, let it grow and then make a decision on where we wanted to move and possibly even buy. The way I saw our situation was that moving is such a headache and such an expense, why would I want to move again in a year and this time with a baby?? We wanted to find a place we could stay in for a few years if we were happy. Eventually my mom sort of gave in and stopped asking, but the one time I think she went way overboard with her concerns really sent me over the edge. We found an apartment outside of Jerusalem we loved and although the apartment was two floors, there was a bedroom and toilet on the ground floor so we thought it was perfect because we could live on the ground floor so I wouldn't have to use the stairs if I didnt want to. My mom was adamant we not take the place because of the stairs. I was so upset. Why couldn't she have a little bit of faith in me and my abilities? My whole life I overcame challenges no one thought I could and now I was married to a fully able bodied man which surprised everyone. Why now after all these years couldn't she see that I could make my own decision when it came to my abilities?? We argued and I was in tears for awhile.

I just couldn't handle all the stress anymore. We were now staying at my aunt's place and we were sleeping on a pullout couch. No mattress, just the couch. I was barely sleeping because I was so uncomfortable. I just wanted our own place already. I even had horrible thoughts against my baby. I thought it'd just be easier on everyone if there was no baby because we would've probably found an apartment already and get everyone off my back. I also thought that if there was no baby, my husband could find a woman without a physical disability and all this stress. Having those thoughts about my husband only made me cry more, but as it happened, he felt the baby's kick for the first time that night. Sharing that moment with my husband was so wonderful that I couldn't believe I was thinking of letting him go.

In the end, we didn't end up taking the apartment with inside stairs for various reasons. Also, I realized my mom had a good point about the stairs. Nearly a month later we found the apartment we are living in now. It is also a duplex, and isn't in Jerusalem, the way my mom would've preferred, but there are 3 rooms and a full bathroom on the ground floor. Upstairs is a bedroom with a stand in shower. We chose one of the downstairs rooms as our bedroom so I wouldn't have to maneuver the stairs. Unfortunately, the stand in shower is also upstairs, but luckily, the bathtub that is downstairs is a large jacuzzi style bath with plenty of standing room so I don't need to worry about losing my balance and it's totally baby accessible. The one downside is with my belly, I have trouble getting in and out of the bath because of the bath's height, so my husband sometimes has to help me in and out of the bath which has led to some instances that has had us doubled over with laughter, but sometimes life's difficulties can and do bring a couple closer=)