We had life throw us some curveballs but things were turning around again. I finished school and found a new job shortly after. Carol had steady work managing a restaurant. We were living in a two bedroom condo with our son. We had all we needed, we just had to start paying off debts and saving money.
My disease was affecting my lungs mainly and my skin to a lesser extent. The treatment options weren’t great and I didn’t feel like I was in bad enough shape to take some harsh steroids over the course of God knows how long, so I decided I would only use an inhaler as needed.
It was April of the next year when I passed a kidney stone. I casually mentioned this to my respirologist, who became concerned that I had kidney issues as well. I went to a nephrologist and urologist who saw my kidneys were both full of stones. The nephrologist wanted to put me on some of those harsh steroids since my disease was making my calcium levels go through the roof. I asked him to give me a week and test my levels again. I did my research and saw I needed to drastically reduce both my calcium intake and my vitamin D intake/sun exposure. When I came back, he was happy with the readings. I always wondered why I felt so sick when I was camping with the family. It turns out it was renal failure from all the sun exposure. I would no longer be part of the family camping trips.
Carol’s restaurant had a change of ownership and she was not happy with how she was being treated. She applied for a job at the coffee shop right next to our house, looking for a management position. They recommended that she apply to the shop in a small town not far from our end of the city. It was one of two shops owned by a couple who lived in that town. Their son, Rick, helped run the stores. She got the job. Now Rick was in her life.
In the summer, Carol came to me, afraid to tell me some news.
“Honey… I’m pregnant again.”
“Really? That’s great!” I hugged her.
“You’re happy?” she asked.
“Of course I am. We’re already parents. We got this!”
Carol has had issues with her lower back ever since she was a teenager and shortly after this announcement, she had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance because she pulled it really badly. In the hospital, the pregnancy was confirmed. We were happy but it also meant she couldn’t take any of the really effective drugs for her back. Her back would bother her from time to time and rarely, it would get this bad but she still has not required surgery for it since before we were engaged. She got back on her feet after this incident fairly quickly.
Carol was busy working up to her management position. She hadn’t been at her job very long and was not happy to have to tell her bosses that she was pregnant, forcing them to adjust their original plans for her. They liked her though and were happy to work around it. However, their son, Rick was proving to be incompetent at his job and Carol found herself picking up a lot of his slack already, doing her job and his at the same time.
I had my first kidney stone surgery in December that year. It was not a very comfortable Christmas. I believe the ureteric stents were in as long as they were because of Christmas holidays. I never had them in nearly as long after my later surgeries. Carol continued to not handle it well when I was sick or recovering. She would run out of patience with me too quickly and her temper would start to get a little out of hand. She also had difficulty coping with the fact that I had a chronic illness to manage.
Carol did not like being pregnant. It was quite uncomfortable for her last time and it was not any better this time. Rick was making things worse for her as he continued to not do his job. She would come home and just break down and cry. She would do Rick’s job for him in an effort to prove her worth to his parents, the owners. In turn, Rick would see his job getting done for him and take advantage of that. I held her as she cried far too much. I couldn’t believe this idiot would put a pregnant woman through this. We both agreed that he was an awful piece of shit and that she needed to tell his parents what was happening.
In January, I booked a little trip for our son to enjoy some time with us before the new baby came and for Carol to have a break from the hell Rick was putting her through at work. It was a good time. I liked to see Carol with her pregnant belly in a swimsuit. She looked beautiful, again carrying the result of our love for each other. We’ve been put through some heavy shit in the past few years but here we were, a good family, still moving forward and enjoying special times together.
But still, the last year was a lot to deal with and now Carol was miserable in her pregnancy and job. I didn’t think it would continue to be this way though. She would have the baby and we’d get through those early days like we did before. Rick couldn’t continue doing nothing forever, eventually he’d get pulled from his position even if his parents were the owners.
Things got worse for Carol when she got back to work. She started ‘leaking‘ with 1.5 months left to go in her pregnancy. As far as we were concerned and I still am concerned, Rick is the person most directly responsible for putting our baby at risk.