And, more news from the Murray family…

So, I’ve mentioned a few times that Pat and I have been in the process of making some pretty big decisions to prepare for our baby. Those decisions are culminating this week and so I wanted to share a little bit about life at the Murray household as we’re getting ready for Baby M.

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The past seven months have been a whirlwind. We moved here from South Carolina in July (we drove in on the 11th to be exact), I started my new job on July 17th after leaving my old one a month earlier, Pat started at his new office in SF in August, we moved into our “final” apartment in SF in August, and then on October 5th (happy early birthday, Pat!) – BOOM! – we found out that we were pregnant. Talk about life changes within a year a few months.

Needless to say, finding out we were pregnant unexpectedly meant an entire string of decisions to make. When we found out we were expecting in early October, we were only about 4 weeks along – too early to make any real judgment calls about what to do next – and decided we would take a few months to ensure the pregnancy continued along healthily before making any major decisions. By the week of Thanksgiving, we’d made it to the end of the first trimester and our baby was growing healthy and strong – and it felt like decision time for us.

[NOTE: Now, to give some context about where we’re currently living:  our current apartment in SF is 455 sq. feet with a rent payment of $2700/month. Yep, it’s okay to let your jaw drop. It’s ridiculously expensive as is everything in this city. Don’t get me wrong, I love our location – our neighborhood, Cole Valley, is perfect for us. It’s quiet with close access to the MUNI to get downtown. There are a few amazing restaurants (Zazie and the Ice Cream Bar) within a couple minutes of walking. It’s only a 5 minute walk to Golden Gate Park. And, our apartment itself, it’s small – but, you get this gloriously open living space with two giant bay windows that sit right on a corner where we look out and see  giant rolling hills by UCSF and Sutro Tower. Great location and great views. All this being said, with a baby on the way, 455 sq. feet didn’t feel like it would quite cut it – and $2700/month + costs for our new baby just didn’t seem like a feasible future for us. Or at least a sustainable and stable one.]

So, we had a decision to make – move or stay? We could stay, we determined, but it would be a month-to-month nail biter of “can we make ends meet this month?” OR we could move back to the east coast – where costs are much more reasonable AND we have family support to help with childcare – and live with a little bit more financial security.

Over the holiday break, when we both had time and mental space away from work, we decided that the best path forward for our family would be to move back to the east coast. At the time, this felt entirely crazy – because we’d only been in SF for about 5 months and we’d spent the 6 months before that preparing for the move. But, we felt like this would set us and baby up for a more stable routine as a new family of three (okay, I know I can’t forget Biscuit and Socrates – so, technically, a family of five). Now, two months after making the decision, it still feels like everything is happening on an unbelievably fast timeline, but I feel so confident about our decision to head back to our home state of North Carolina.

Just like we spent 6 months before we moved to San Francisco prepping for the move, we’ve spent the past few months prepping to move back. Namely, I had to take an early maternity leave from my job (which definitely felt like one of the absolute hardest things I’ve ever had to do because I loved those little ones) as a kindergarten & first grade teacher at a public school in SFUSD. We also needed to ask our landlord – please, oh please! – if she would let us break our lease so we could move back without worrying about paying double rent through the official end of our lease in August. [SHE SAID YES!] And then we had a number of smaller things to tack off the list – finding a new OB/GYN in North Carolina, determining what to do with our car / figuring out if we need a new car, making a moving plan, and – honestly, it feels like there are so many little things I’m forgetting – but you get the idea.

Needless to say, we’re moving – umm, now. I can’t travel after a certain point in pregnancy, and this week, I’m at week 24. So, I fly out this Thursday morning with Socrates in tow. Movers are coming on Wednesday to load up our stuff and begin the big haul east. Pat’s brother, Cameron, is flying in on Wednesday night to make the drive back to NC with Pat and Biscuit and they’ll leave Friday morning. (That’s right, this pregnant lady knew better than to sign up for a cross-country road trip with 14 hour days sitting in a car.)

The one big unknown that continues to linger at this point is exactly where we’re going to end up in North Carolina. My parents have graciously offered for us to stay with them for a month or so until we get something more permanent figured out – so we’ll be landing in Winston-Salem for now. We’re hoping to get a final destination tied down in the next 6 weeks or so – I’ll keep you updated.

So – that’s it. Our giant, big news (I guess the baby is our really giant news – but this feels pretty big, too). I’ve felt nervous about sharing publicly for fear of the reaction from others which probably just means I care way too much about what others think and need to care more about making decisions that are best for me and my family. This decision, or series of decisions, feels right even though it feels a bit completely unexpected from where I thought we’d be at this point in time a year ago today. But, that’s life.

And overall, we just feel so happy for our baby (eeeee!!!) and so grateful that the pieces have come together to allow us to make this move back to our home state.

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And for those of you who want to know more about my decision to take an early maternity leave from my job, here’s a short entry I wrote the day after my last day at school:

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

My last day at work was two days ago (Friday, February 6th) and it was an emotional day – but one that I feel proud of. I know that may sound like a crazy thing to say considering that I’ve been crying on and off for the past three months over the fact that I’d be leaving my job eventually – BUT, I swear, I have good reason for my word choice in saying I feel proud.

I feel proud because for the past 5 years or so, I’ve been trying to aim for stronger alignment between my day-to-day actions and values. This is much harder to do in practice than in word. In going through with the decision to leave my job – which was a necessary step in moving back to NC for our baby, I feel like I’ve done justice by my desire to act on my values and beliefs.

I’ve always named my family as my top priority. (I use the term “family” to encompass my marriage with Pat first and our baby on the way, and then my nuclear family of my parents and siblings.) The decision to move back and, consequently, leave my job was probably the hardest decision that I’ve ever made and gone through with – but it was one that I truly made for my family and for myself. And this makes me feel so proud of myself and the fact that I did something that three months ago made me cry with fear and anxiety about the “what ifs” of leaving – yet, I made the decision that this was best for my little one and our family and then I went through with it. That feels like a huge accomplishment from the Ramsey I was 5 years ago – afraid to voice her own thoughts, opinions, or needs for fearing of rocking the status quo. So, go me!

[And on a side note, I also thought of leaving my job as the first of many tough decisions that I’ll have to make on a regular basis when it comes to taking care of my family. So that felt good, too – to know that I can do this; I can be a parent and do what I think is going to best for my family long-term, even when it feels tough at the time.]