It goes without saying that 2020 has been a wild year full of unexpected, unprecedented events. We've seen COVID-19, the US presidental election, killer bees, earthquakes, wildfires, police brutality...the list could go on and on. Amid the chaos, my family and I have also been immensely fortunate and blessed. I think that as we look ahead to a new year and brighter future, it's important to reflect on both the good and bad experiences that we've had. All kinds of experiences shape who we are, how we think, and how we look at the world and if we don't take the time to examine ourselves, we'll never understand how we ended up the way we did.
Earlier this year, my husband was finishing up his last semester of grad school at BYU. After being rejected after the final round of interviews with several big tech companies, Peter finally got an offer! And what made it even better was that the company, MX, would let him start working in February, even though he wouldn't graduate until April. It was a hard couple of months as Peter started working 30+ hours a week while still doing his school work. I was also doing my bootcamp classes in the evenings, so we didn't get to spend much time together.
Since Peter now had a job, we started looking for post-graduation housing options! We thought we had found the perfect apartment and coincidentally there was a unit opening up at a really convenient time for us to move. We thought it was too good to be true and went to check it out. But of course after the walkthrough, the agent then told us about all of these extra fees that we hadn't seen on the complex's website, which quickly put the apartment out of our budget. Disappointed, we entertained the idea of buying a condo or townhome. If the apartment we looked at was that pricey, we could just buy a home and have lower monthly payments than renting an apartment. After touring a few options and weighing all of the pros and cons, we signed a contract with a builder that was in the middle of building a townhome community. It would only be a few minutes walk to the train station, and since Peter's company is also right next to the train station one stop over, he wouldn't have to drive to work! We felt really good about being a little more environmentally friendly and we'd also be able to put off buying a second car. Woohoo! We knew where we were going to live! I never would've imagined we would be "one of those people" who buy a house right out of college. Admittedly, I used to judge those people 😅 But with our current financial situation and the housing market, it was the most reasonable choice for our family.
When the US shut down in March due to COVID-19, our family was (thankfully) minimally impacted. Peter's classes moved online and his company let everyone work remotely. I was thrilled because I got to see him more often! We got to at least eat lunch together every day, which gave me some much needed "grown up talk" as a break from playing with a toddler all day. However, I could tell that having to do school and work in our small apartment was hard on my husband. We didn't have a separate space he could work at, so he would sit on our bed with his laptop so that our daughter could still be free to run around the rest of the apartment with minimal interruptions. At this point, we were just holding out until we moved after graduation. We had a moving date, so we used that to give us hope, if you will, that things will get a little better.
After Peter's virtual graduation in April, we had a couple of monthes before moving out of our student housing apartment in July. Those last few warm months were difficult for our daughter, Kora. She was old enough then that she could walk and really play at the playground one building over. But to be cautious with COVID-19, we didn't let her to play there when other kids were around (so basically never). We admittedly weren't perfect in our efforts to let Kora play outside while social distancing, but we did our best. It broke my heart because she couldn't understand why she couldn't go play and it made me angry to see so many people ignoring safety precautions from our government and health officials.
In June, we found out I was pregnant! We were so excited that Kora would be getting a sibling 🤗 Kora would be turning 2 in August, so they would be a pretty good age distance apart!
Living with grandma
In July, we finally moved out of our apartment, our home for the past 4 years. However, our townhome wasn't going to be finished until late August. Thankfully my grandma was kind enough to let us stay with her for those 6 weeks. A lot happened during those 6 weeks. I started a new job as a Team Lead at my bootcamp, Lambda School, that lasted the entire time we were living with my grandma. It kinda stunk because I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with her as I would've liked. But it was a great learning experience working with and helping teach other students. Peter and I would trade off which one of us played with Kora when we had Zoom meetings, so we made it work. In the evenings, the three of us would take turns who made dinner. If my grandma cooked, then Peter and I would do the dishes afterwards. If one of us cooked, my grandma would wash the dishes. It was a nice system, plus I got some delicious recipes from it 🤤
One day, I woke up early in the morning with some severe, sharp stomach pains. After trying to tough it out for an hour with no signs of improvement, my doctor's office recommended going to the ER as a precaution since I was pregnant. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Peter wasn't allowed to go in with me. They did an ultrasound and then I just waited for the doctor to come back the results. I just sat in a hospital room by myself for over 6 hours. Probably the most boring and expensive 6 hours of my life. When the doctor finally came back, she let me call Peter so he could at least be on speaker phone and be included in the conversation. Then came the bad news: my pregnancy wasn't viable. Essentially, the amniotic sac and fluid was all there, but there was no fetus to be found. For whatever reason, my body hadn't realized yet that there was something wrong and hadn't miscarried. They couldn't find the source of stomach pains, so the hunch was that it was my body's way of starting to recognize that there was something wrong with the pregnancy. Finding out that I wasn't actually going to be having a baby, alone in the hospital, was incredibly lonely and infuriating. I was angry that my husband couldn't be there with me because of the COVID-19 numbers in Utah. Too many people were (are) too self-absorbed and obsessed with their "freedoms" being encroached upon to bother wearing masks and social distancing. They care more about how things affect themselves rather than how their actions might affect other people. We have no real way of knowing how things might've been, but I couldn't help but feel angry that it was because of people with that mindset that the coronavirus numbers were still so high and that I couldn't have my own spouse with me in the emergency room at the hospital. I know many, many other people have had similar (and far worse) situations than mine and my heart goes out to them. So the next time you consider going to a party or social event, stop and think about how it could affect other people. Stop and think about all of the people in hospitals, both working and sick. Stop and think about those in elderly homes or those who are or who live with someone that is at high risk. Stop and think about those outside of yourself and your own temporary enjoyment.
The next several weeks were really hard. Thankfully, my supervisor at Lambda School was incredibly understanding and empathetic and let me take time to process everything. My loving husband was my rock during this emotional time and I am forever grateful for him. In the midst of all of, we moved into our townhome! I loved staying with my grandma (and Kora adores her great grandma), but there's something about having your own place to call home that helps you feel more settled.
In November, I got a job with an awesome tech company called Apollo GraphQL! You can read more details about how I got the job here. My first month of work has been so great! I've really enjoyed what we've been building and I feel like I'm already learning a lot. The best part has been that my company is remote (and has been since before COVID-19). Since Peter is also working remotely right now, we've been able to trade off every couple of hours throughout the day who is working and who is playing with Kora. It might sound inconvenient and unproductive, but we've found that our work hours are actually more productive. My theory is that it's because we're forcing our brains to take a breather every 2 hours when we trade off to play with Kora. Then when we get back to work, we feel a little bit more mentally energized. Additionally, I think that knowing that we only work a couple of hours at a time helps us to stay more focused because we want to try to get as much done as possible during that time. Peter and I wake up early to get some work time in before Kora wakes up so that we can still both end our work days around 4-5pm. So far it's been a great system for our family! And Kora loves that she gets to play with both her mommy and daddy throughout the day instead of just mommy 😊
For me, it was a great year! This summer was stressful with moving twice and the miscarriage. Trips to visit family were cancelled. But so many wonderful things have happened to our family this year and I've absolutely loved that Peter and I are both working from home. We have more time together as a family and I'm feeling so much more fulfilled with my own personal growth and learning. It has still been difficult as we strive to follow COVID-19 guidelines, but I think that it is more than worth the sacrifice for everyone's health and safety.