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Tears (ranting)

04/01/2013

Belle

This post is going to be rough. Feel free to skip it. Tomorrow I’ll be back with some reflections on the second trimester now that I’m officially (I think) in the final stretch of pregnancy.

This move has me an absolute hormonal disaster. I can’t stop crying. We are having a really hard time finding a place to live that fits our budget in NYC.

Our first solution was to live in Jersey and we both commute to work. However, rents are not much cheaper in Jersey and we would need to keep our car – which is a pretty sizeable expense when you consider the cost of gas, insurance and repairs on an older vehicle. The Professor priced out the toll cost from Jersey to the Bronx where the he will be working and holy hell, it was over $3k a year. For one person. We also looked north of NYC in some communities a reader recommended but they are all priced out of our range, too.

It is actually cheapest for us to live in the Bronx where the Professor is close to work and Riverdale seems to be our best option. I actually really like everything I read about Riverdale and am pleased at what a quick commute it is into Manhattan (should I ever find work). But finding any rental in Riverdale that is $1,500 a month with two bedrooms and enough square footage for all the cats is damn near impossible. And then you have the issue of rent potentially being hiked each year. And broker fees to find the place. And blah blah blah. It starts to look bleak.

Out of desperation, the Professor called his parents and inquired on taking an interest free loan from them to use as a down payment because, hello, I’m a writer and he has been a student forever. We do not have money for a down payment. His parents are unbelievably generous and offered us a sizeable “loan” to be paid back interest free when we resell in four years. Glorious! There are actually a few co-ops in Riverdale in our price range, that allow pets, that offer 900 to 1,000 square feet and are in NICE areas! Are they luxurious  Gosh not at all, but a little paint can go a long way.

So we start to get excited, which is never a good idea when it comes to real estate.

Even with a hefty down payment from the Professor’s parents, we still might not qualify for a mortgage based on his salary alone. We’ll have a one month old at the time of moving – I literally CANNOT look for work right now. Then we started to research the legalities of a co-op and oh my gosh there are a lot of strings and risks involved. And buying into a co-op requires board approval, which requires an in person interview. Guess who will be too pregnant to travel and find a place to live if we were to get approved for a loan? This lady.

Pardon my French, but I’m a fucking wreck. I’m filled to the brim with hormones and my future is totally up in the air. Meanwhile, I’m tasked with selling all our shit so we can fit into a 900 square foot place that currently does not exist. Normally this would be really exciting; I love selling stuff. However, the Professor is a pack rat who feels sentimental attachment to every blue work shirt, every ancient guitar, every dirty tool, etc. that he has ever collected. Getting him to take the time to help me work through his stuff is impossible. This weekend we tackled the downstairs book shelves, which was a big accomplishment, but there are still a lot of books and we didn’t even make it to the upstairs book shelves. And that is just the books.

I’ve spent HOURS each day for the past two weeks photographing, writing descriptions and posting items to eBay and Craigslist. Toasters  crystal glassware, crock pot, kettles, dishes, luggage, etc are all online, waiting for a new home. Hours of time spent and you know what has actually sold? One fondue pot for $15, one coffee carafe for $7 and one piece of luggage for $40. That’s all. My living room, dining room and guest room look like a huge bomb went off in them and only three little things have actually sold. This is not boding well for the rest of the shit that has to go.

This weekend I lost it. We had a huge throw down over finances and horrible words were exchanged.  I actually broke a dish during this fight – something I’ve never done. My poor cat was so stressed that she ran upstairs and vomited her dinner all over the rug. I cried even more when I walked up to see her huddled in the bed. What a bad mommy.

Sunday I broke down again after the cats had been squabbling and I had checked eBay and found that our $40 waffle maker had been bid up to a  pathetic $1.04. How the hell am I supposed to pay for a move to New York when things are selling for a $1? The Professor tried to help but he only made me more angry and I ended up in the bathroom with the shower on while I sobbed.

It’s just too much. Too much change, too much risk, too many uncertain elements. I have a girlfriend who actually said to my face, “Can’t you just be happy that your husband has a job and you are pregnant?” Seriously? Do you think I’m not happy? I’m so thrilled that he found work, especially work at such a great university! I’m over the moon that I’m pregnant! But the fact that in a few short months we will be responsible for a tiny life and, as of now, we don’t even have a roof to put over our heads come August is fucking terrifying. Add in the normal third trimester anxieties of how I will care for this baby and if I’ll be a good mother and you’ve got a 24-7 basket case who can’t sleep and is experiencing heartburn like it is her job (can I claim that as income on a mortgage application?).

I’m trying to take steps to keep my anxiety in check. I’m handling a lot of legalities with the Professor’s mother right now that will help us when it comes time to find a loan. I talked to the Prof about nixing the eBay/Craigslist plan and just having one big ass garage sale the first weekend of May to clear out everything but tools and vehicles (those go in July after repairs are done and baby is here). He agreed, albeit with great hesitation at the prospect of having to include his “treasures” in the sale.

I made him PROMISE to walk with me every night to help with stress management. I’m taking extra steps to help our on-edge cats, who can so sense major change, with extra play sessions, lots of positive talk and rubs, and some doctor checkups to inquire on a mild anti-anxiety for all four a month before and a month after the move. Happier cats can only equal happier humans.

I told the Professor that after the garage sale I NEED to turn my attention to this baby. I have this intense urge to sleep and nest right now and I just don’t have the time to do it. I need my part of this deal to be done by early May so I can focus on baby so he/she can stay inside until full term. I want to spend my last few weeks of pregnancy on the couch making the mobile, I want to dye the cloth diapers I got to use as burp clothes, I want to refinish this dresser. I want a prenatal massage and to be fussed over. I need to read up some on what the hell you do with a newborn. In order to do all this, he needs to step up and HELP with this purge – not just shuffle things around and get distracted. He also needs to take some initiative with getting a mortgage or finding another viable option.

I know we will come through this ok; we always do. We came through infertility and loss.  We made it through the scary-ass uveitis days. We’ve made it through family drama, pet politics and dealing with an OCD wife. I know we’ll eventually find a place and somehow be able to afford it. I know I will find work once we are there that gives me some flexibility with baby. I know I am going to LOVE life in NYC once we get there and find our rhythm  Everything will work out, but right now, in the midst of such a big shit storm, it’s really hard to keep my big girl panties on.

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24 Comments

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  1. Shelley #
    April 1, 2013

    Dude, having a baby after infertility is stressful. Moving to the most expensive city in the country on one income is stressful. Everyone I know who lives in NYC either gets help from their parents or lives in super small, fairly shitty apartments with roommates (or sometimes – both!). People in NYC devote sometimes as much as 80% or more of their salaries to rent alone, and that is a big change coming from the midwest, I’m sure. Or from anywhere, really!

    Bottom line, you have every right to feel stressed beyond belief. The professor absolutely needs to pitch in as much as possible – he can’t leave all of this to you. Walks every night sound great. Giant yard sale vs. individual sales sounds great. Prenatal massage sounds amazing. And don’t worry about the cats. I know they can be a bit nervous but they’re also remarkably adaptable creatures, more so than we give them credit for.

    Come here and vent as much as you need to and don’t listen to anyone who makes you feel like less for feeling whatever you feel. Just because things could be worse doesn’t mean you’re not dealing with a LOT right now. (I need to take this advice myself!)

  2. April 1, 2013

    Oh, goodness, I can’t imagine how stressful moving to New York would be, even WITHOUT a newborn baby in tow. From the very little that I know about renting in the city, have you considered working with a broker? I know they take a fee, but I think it may be the only way to find what you need in the area you need, especially with you not being able to travel there. I know it doesn’t help now, but things WILL work out, because you will make it happen. Sometimes making it happen involves asking the right people to help though.

  3. April 1, 2013

    Ok, first off: do what you need to do to destress. You have a lot on your plate at the moment and none of it is easy.

    I’m going to suggest something that’s probably going to be frowned on, but here goes. Can you/are you willing to move 6 months after the Professor? The thought is that it would 1) give him a chance to adjust to a new position, 2) give you some more time to wrap things up, 3) you could give birth and focus on being a mom, 4) it would give you both a chance to actually scope out areas to live and 5) would help reduce a lot of anxiety.

    The truth is, two of these aspects alone is stressful (new city, new baby vs. new baby, new job vs. new job, new home), but adding in selling everything on top of buying a place?!?! That’s enough to make anyone twitch.

    Take care of yourself, lady. If it means a couple of days of sick leave, do it. Sending love.

  4. jak #
    April 1, 2013

    this never sounds good to hear, but my grandmother says it to me all the time and i think it might be helpful right now for you: “a lot of people have survived a lot worse and with happiness.”

    you will make it. it’s not ideal. but you will make it. and you will be tougher for it, and chicken will respect you for it, and you will have all kinds of stories to tell chicken about this time when he/she is growing up. and chicken will say, “damn. i have pretty cool parents.”

    there are practical things to consider though – like the possibility of renting for a brief period then buying when you have a better idea of the area (sucks, but it’ll put a roof over your head), doing the garage sale and forgetting about ebay if the ebay system starts to drive you nuts, making sure you arent 100% counting on your stuff sale to pay for serious necessities, and not fretting over details.

    women drive themselves crazy with details – some that really do matter, but many that do not. women get so crazy about their wedding details (50% of which will end in divorce) and obsess and fret, etc. to the point of it being ridiculous and preventing themselves from really understanding WHY there is a wedding or a baby and really appreciating what these big steps mean. it’s not about one day, it’s not about a perfect nursery – it’s about the journey you are about to embark on and its about the people that want to support you on your journey. channel your inner minimalist and your bike-riding, picture-taking, weekend hiking, earthy-crunchy side and realize that if you dont get that dresser refinished, you know what, chicken isnt even going to notice. chicken just wants to be safe and spend time with you. chicken wants the wind in his/hair sparse and weirdly silky baby hair (under a helmet of course!) in the babyseat on your bike way more than chicken cares about you refinishing that dresser.

    hang in there. and keep things in perspective. what you are going through is not easy, but you can do it, and you can do it with grace and perspective:)

    ps – how did you NOT break dishes and make it through ivf?

  5. ckatz201 #
    April 1, 2013

    DH and I both lived in NYC for tens years and only recently left. We have a few suggestions:

    1. Find a sublet for the first 6 months. This will give you time to adjust a bit and let you look, in person, for a more long-term place. It will also let you get to know the city better so you can make an informed decision about where you want to live. It is VERY hard to find a place without being physically present in the city, plus rentals for August won’t generally up go up till June or July. Also, many sublets will you go month to month. That would take off a lot of the stress.

    2. You could try Jersey City or Hoboken (both in NJ and connected to NYC via the PATH train). Geographically it’s a long commute (like, an hour for JC but Hoboken less) but the PATH train is convenient, and connects to the subway. You can get more space there. However, I’m gonna be frank, $1500 a month aint gonna do it, even in the cheaper places that are still “nice” and feel safe.

    3.Metronorth!!!! It’s a train full of people commuting to NYC from the ‘burbs of NY and even CT. You dont need a car if you can find a place that you can walk to the train to and that is small-town enough so that you can just walk or bike around. Example: Cold Spring, NY is adorable and full of nature and on the metronorth line. Also, Westchester, Yonkers.

    4. Far out Queens or Brooklyn you might find something in your price range in a residential area that feels nice but is far from cute.

    Long commute but the truth is, that’s life in NYC for lots of people- time on the subway or bus etc. It really isn’t that bad, since you arent driving you can zone out, read, do work, meditate, listen to music etc.

    • jak #
      April 2, 2013

      i second this very, very good advice!! i work in DC (not as bad as NYC situation) and live far out in baltimore. it’s about 1.5h from door to door. but the time on the train is my time – i can even get ~45 minutes of work done each way on the amtrak commuter train. it’s not time spent in traffic. i take the sub from work to the amtrak, then drive home from the amtrak station. its expensive, ~$20/day to commute for about 20 days/month, which seems awful, but considering that i get to have an actual yard and a decent sized house for less than what people pay in DC to rent a studio ($1500 in a decent neighborhood), i’ll take the train commute with the decent house and yard any day!

  6. Sarah #
    April 1, 2013

    Have you tried queens? You might be able to find a half way decent affordable rental in Astoria, and it is super fast to get to manhattan from there. It would take a while to get to the Bronx, but it could be easily done on the train and/or buses, and I can’t believe it would take longer than driving from jersey. I’m sure you have already, but call local small real estate agencies, they might be able to find you close to what you need rather than using Craig’s list, as they’ll know just regular people renting out a floor in their house in the neighborhood. I live there and love it, we pay several hundred less than 1500, although for a smaller space than you’re looking for even though it officially is a small 2 bedroom. I also might not bring the cats up right away, if you can find a family owned building with an apartment you like tell them about the cats after you talk to them and make sure you tell them how well behaved they are and how you will pay for any damage they might cause when you’re living there.

    Good luck, I’ve been lurking on you site for months and have been thinking of you!

  7. April 1, 2013

    I am just delurking to say that I understand how stressed you must be.

    As a former academic I know how hard it is to be tied to wherever you may be lucky enough to get a job… And as a writer I also know how difficult the income stream can be.

    I’m not certain if you tried this resource or not? http://www.unhp.org/.
    Sometimes the neighborhood nonprofits can really be helpful.

    Best of luck to you,

    Pam

  8. Amy #
    April 1, 2013

    Hugs, Belle. Even knowing it will all be okay eventually, in due time, it is okay to freak out – I hope that freaking out and making the plans that you are able to make will release a little tension for you. I’m so sorry it’s so stressful right now. I get where you are coming from on a lot of this – frankly I still resent my husband a lot for not helping me nest almost at all in the last several weeks of my pregnancy. I had hoped to go two weeks past my due date, as we had so much still to do, but I ended up in labor a week and a half early, so we still never got any “spring” cleaning done, and now it feels like I never will…. Erg, sorry. Not hijacking this comment thread! I empathize, is all – please give yourself permission to let what you can slide, and definitely do get that prenatal massage and be fussed over. I really do hope that things start falling into place quickly so you can breathe a little easier ASAP!

  9. April 1, 2013

    I just took my cats to the vet for stress relief and they recommended first trying feliway, and then if that didn’t work to move on to actual meds if they were having behavioral problems. The vet was very hesitant to medicate, so maybe try some feliway first?

  10. April 1, 2013

    What is not helping your apartment search in NYC is the fact that there are lots of people displaced from their homes because of Sandy. NYC Is already a saturated rental market- Sandy made it even MORE difficult to find a place.

    Remember that we have technology such as Facetime and Skype so even if you can’t make it for an in-person interview, I’m sure the co-op board would be willing to do a phone or internet interview! If they are that strict you probably wouldn’t want to live with anyone that is that much of a tight-ass anyway!!

    Save yourself some work and just hold a garage sale. If possible, hold it on a day that the Professor can’t make it so that you can just sell the stuff that he hasn’t used/worn in years. He will never even know that it’s gone….

    • Shinara #
      April 2, 2013

      Garage SALE and just sell the stuff. .. Including his, because your stuff is going, too. Sometimes you just have to be ruthless in order to make things fit. (Although, I know I would have a really hard time selling my books.) I have to get rid of stuff/books, too, but not so drastically. Mainly because I need to make room for baby clothes & supplies, children’s books, etc. Growing up in the military, we had to purge our stuff every time we moved. So, if it wasn’t used in the last two years, get rid of it.

      I think the idea of subleasing is a great idea. Also, asking the professor’s new coworkers for help with regards to finding a place to live would definitely be helpful. And, I bet the university has a department that helps students/teachers find places to stay like any other university. Besides aren’t there other profs there that are going on sabbatical and need to sublease their place?

      Sleep, Belle, sleep. When you are tired sleep. It’ll help. Oh, and drink lots of water (what else is new?). Whenever I forget to drink enough, I get really cranky and tired. Yesterday, I came home from working all day and had forgotten to drink anything but a small cocoa. I literally drank two bottles of water before I even took off my work clothes and sat down. …and I so desperately wanted to lay down and sleep. …and eat.

  11. April 1, 2013

    You ARE in the middle of a major shit storm and it’s got to be so hard. I know how you feel about the cats – human stress causes them stress, and then their return stress causes more human stress. It’s a terrible cycle that just never ends. We are dealing with cat stress (Lily has presumed lymphoma – ugh) and you can totally see the impact it’s having on our two healthy cats and on us. It’s just awful – no one is happy these days and we’re all on edge. Add in your stressful house-hunting, and you’re just not going to be having a good time right now. You are right, the professor needs to help out. He needs to pitch in. We battle the same things – B is the idea guy and then I have to carry things out. Great in theory, horrible in practice.

    Focus on YOUR needs first. No one wants an early baby because of un-do stress.

    Your inlaws sound to be so helpful!

  12. Kathy #
    April 1, 2013

    We hear you ! Of course you are feeling anxious/upset etc. Can the HR department at the University be of any help ? Perhaps they could at least steer you in the right direction. Perhaps finding a temp place while you house hunt would take the edge off. Don’t feel bad about not handling things the way you always have in the past. I’m in favour of the yard sale instead of stressing over each item. Get an agreement up front that everything that doesn’t go in the sale goes immediately to charity. Your family life is about to change big time so get all hands on deck right now ! There are probably lots of people in your family/ friends who are dying to help you, including your #1 side-kick, the Professor Just tell everyone what you need. Rant all you want on here, we’re on your side !

  13. April 1, 2013

    You have every right to be stressed and tearful about this. This is a HUGE move, right after the biggest life change you’ll go through. And you’ll have a tiny new baby along for the ride. I’d probably be completely nonfunctional if I was dealing with everything you’ve got on your plate. I’m already at the freak-out point, and I only have home repairs to worry about.

    Definitely do what you can to get the Professor to take on more of the load. Growing that little chicken should be your main priority right now.

  14. April 1, 2013

    Oh, boy, do I understand this. During my second trimester while pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I moved out of state and then had the *fun* job of trying to buy a house on one income in an area that was WAY more expensive than where we were coming from. It was a nightmare and I passed the time crying day in and day out. I would wish that on no one. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I don’t have much advice since I’m unfamiliar with buying in NYC, but I just wanted to offer my sympathy. I know it’s hard. I do believe things often tend to work out in the end, but I know that’s not much solace until after the fact. Thinking of you, Belle, and hoping you find a place that is perfect for you and your growing family!

  15. charlotte10002 #
    April 1, 2013

    Hi Belle,
    I moved to NYC with my cat 7 years ago to go to grad school, and downsized to a 4th floor walk-up studio, and boy, do I feel your pain! However you are absolutely right about the fact that you will eventually make it and enjoy your time in this incredible city. The transition will be tough, like it is for the majority of New Yorkers (there are very, very few native New Yorkers and just about everyone went through this, so you have company!).
    I still live in NYC, have gone through quite a few moves, and bought an apartment in a coop a couple of years ago, so I thought I would share my perspective.
    First, I would actually recommend against buying an apartment before having lived here for at least 6 months. It seems to me too risky. Not only will you not be able to conduct the coop interview in person with your cute belly, but you will likely not be able to visit the apartment or become familiar with the neighborhood appropriately between now and your move. Understanding if you like the neighborhood and how noisy the place is takes time. Most importantly, buying an apartment here takes a lot of time, energy, and persistence. It can take over 3 months between the time you make an offer and the close. In my personal experience, passing the coop board was the easiest. A friend of mine just had her Brooklyn apartment close fall through because the appraisal ended up lower than the asking price, so the bank would not want to give them a mortgage while the seller did not want to lower his price. She had to work with her attorney to get her downpayment back, which took over a month, and was not a given. Luckily, she lived nearby with her husband and toddler, so she had some housing flexibility when the deal fell through. This appraisal issue has grown here in the past couple of years. Check out the New York Times for articles on this. Also, keep in mind that re-selling costs a lot of money. Many coops charge a “flip tax” of 2% on the selling price, the broker will charge around 6% of selling price, and the state and the city take a good chunk of cash in the transaction as well. It may take years before you can re-coup these costs through property appreciation, so keep that in mind when evaluating the financial aspect of buying. And make sure to factor in maintenance charges which can easily run over $500/month for a one-bedroom apartment!
    I think it is definitely safer to find a rental first, even if not ideal, and upgrade or buy a little later. Of course, renting is difficult, especially when you have pets. The good news is that it’s much easier to find a place that allows cats rather than dogs. Many people have cats “illegally” and I think there is some obscure law that if nobody complains about your pet(s) within 3 months of having them in your apartment, then you can grand-father them in. I would not volunteer the fact that you have 4 cats when speaking to a broker or landlord though. I would just ask if the building is ok with cats 🙂
    Odds are you will never meet your landlord anyway. Good search engines for apartments for sale or rent are streeteasy.com and nytimes.com. Craig’s list has a few gems but also a lot of scams in the real estate section, so beware.
    I’m happy to answer any questions you may have (or at least try) so feel free to ask!
    Best of luck to you all!

  16. April 2, 2013

    Sending you hugs as you work through all of this. It’s a major change for you and no wonder you are stressed out! And of course you are thankful for the job and pregnancy but that doesn’t make the situation less stressful, so sorry you had to deal with that statement on top of everything. I have moved countries for my husband’s job and career and it is not a small thing to do such a change. I hope you will find an affordable place to live soon, to start out with at least.

  17. katekari #
    April 2, 2013

    First time commenter here, and I just wanted to say that your feelings are totally, totally legitimate! Moving suuuuuuucks. It completely effing sucks the soul right out of you, and that is in the best of circumstances. Pregnancy – even a much-wanted pregnancy – means difficulties and limitations and hormones. And a new job – even a much-needed job, heh – can turn a family upside down. You have my sympathies. Ad gosh, you are handling this so well, I have to say. You’re looking after your cats, you’re communicating with The Professor and making your basic needs explicit. A+ for you. Hang in there!!

  18. April 2, 2013

    You are going through so much right now of course you are going to be stressed. Don’t feel bad about that it is an extremely stressful time, but just do what you can one task at a time and try not to spend too much time looking at the big picture. I just moved from the Midwest to CA with a four month old. It’s not going to be easy but you are absolutely right once it’s done and you are there with your little chicken it will be great. Make sure to take time for yourself don’t lose that with all the work. You have to be a priority chicken needs you!!

  19. April 3, 2013

    Oh no sweetie!!!! Omg I have been stressed for you, do NOT feel bad about feeling overwhelmed. I’m so sorry I missed this post and wasn’t there to comfort you. But take comfort now in knowing that I would be a raging B if I were in your shoes and a complete lunatic. Hugs!

    On Mon, Apr 1, 2013 at 8:47 AM, Scrambled Eggs

  20. April 3, 2013

    When we moved to NY we downsized from 900 sq ft to 450 sq ft. We upgraded when we moved to now have 700 sq ft – that’s four humans and two cats living in 700 sq ft. People in NY learn how to cram. I don’t know your cats but mine have gotten used to it. Storage solutions are an art form.

    This doesn’t help the finances but you can make it work because you are smart and capable and motivated. Our babies sleep in two cribs in basically a closet with just enough space for us to turn around in – and other people see this and call it spacious. It’s crazy and ridiculous and why do we live here. But we make it work. We can and we have to and we do. You will too. ❤ ❤ ❤

  21. April 4, 2013

    You’ve probably thought of this but have you tried a short term let on a site like airbnb? It might tide you over until you can find somewhere more permanent? Good luck!

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