Limbo

You may have already figured out that we didn’t end up going to Nepal. We’ve been living in a quirky, vintage former hotel built in 1910 in exotic-in-its-own-way Portland, Oregon […]

You may have already figured out that we didn’t end up going to Nepal.

We’ve been living in a quirky, vintage former hotel built in 1910 in exotic-in-its-own-way Portland, Oregon for just over a year — and are just as surprised as anyone. How did we get to this point? Well, let’s just say life has quite the sense of humor sometimes.

After four months backpacking up the coast of East Africa (which followed a year of living in Southern Belize) we were looking forward to spending time with family and friends in the U.S. and enjoying the holidays.

We had applied to some job postings in 2014, which were largely unsuccessful, except for one. Lori got through three rounds of interviews for a job with one of her dream employers (Handicap International), with whom she had been actively communicating over the previous year. The job was based in Laos, which was a country we became quite enamored with following our 2012 travels there. So…when Lori’s dream organization posted an opening in Laos for which she was well-suited, we were ecstatic. And when she made her way through to the third and final round of interviews, whittled down to two candidates, we were beside ourselves. If Lori got the job, she would start almost immediately, meaning we’d be cutting our Africa backpacking short and only spending about a week with family around Thanksgiving before making our way to Laos. We both agreed that in a perfect scenario we would have had some time to decompress and spend time with family and friends, but this was not an opportunity we would ever turn down.

In the end, Lori was beat out by a candidate with about a decade of field experience, most of that with Handicap International. Knowing this made the decision easier to swallow, but begged the question: What now?

Consequently, we were able to finish our trip and fly back to Oregon from Kampala as originally planned. We spent the holidays in Southern Oregon with family before deciding to lay low in Portland for a few months until we had something else lined up. Lori secured a three-month traveling PT job in the area and I had a contract lined up to do some remote work for a consultancy firm I’d worked with.

The day that Lori was due to sign and submit her contract, however, she was offered a permanent position at a Portland area clinic specializing in pediatrics (her speciality). We were also due to submit our signed month-to-month lease on an apartment in the next couple of days. Needless to say, our plans changed. Lori took the position at Pediatric Therapy Services and we signed a six-month lease instead.

Ok, six months. We’ll see how this goes.

Six months came and went. By then it was July and the weather was gorgeous. Lori was enjoying her job and staying busy with helping to prepare the clinic to transition to a new building in August. I was busying myself with contract work, but realized that it was winding down. We were also beginning to get itchy feet and found ourselves feeling more and more out of place in Portland–separated from an internationally-focused community and far from work in my industry.

Both of us were ready to be back overseas.

So, in the summer, we intensified our overseas job search. We applied to a lot of jobs (mostly me, but Lori some as well), which proved to be an incredibly challenging and frustrating process. There were surprisingly few to be had, and even with nearly a decade of industry experience and advanced degrees, the vast majority of jobs either required very specific experience (e.g. 7 years working with bovine in famine conditions in Somalia), or simply had an overabundance of qualified applicants.

Amidst all of this, we realized a few things: 1) we didn’t know how long we would actually be in Portland, and 2) we weren’t getting any younger. We knew we both wanted to start a family soon, but hoped we’d be a bit more settled first…well, as settled as nomads can be. We at least wanted to both feel like we were moving forward and no longer in a state of limbo. Yet, we had no idea how long this limbo period would last. So we also made the decision to move forward on trying to start a family. Now, we had all the chips in the air and were just waiting to see which ones landed where.

July, August, September came and went. No overseas job. No baby.

I had received two offers, one in Thailand and one in Uganda, but the support wasn’t going to be there and the pay was a step above volunteering. We could have made it work and it most certainly would have gotten us into the field, but we knew it wouldn’t be a good fit for potentially starting a family.

Then, in late October, Handicap International posted a position in Nepal that was right up Lori’s alley! It was a 12-month contract critical need position in response to the post-earthquake recovery effort, and they needed someone like Lori ASAP. The interview process went smoothly and it was looking like it would actually happen this time.

Then, days before the final interview, we found out Lori was pregnant.

A few days later, she was offered the job.

Just makes things a bit more complicated, but we can do this, right? So, we’re having the baby in Thailand (where many expats living in Nepal go to deliver), we thought. Then, we learned she wouldn’t be covered by health insurance because under French law (Handicap International is based in France and Belgium), the pregnancy was a preexisting condition. Next, we learned that she wouldn’t be covered for emergency medical evacuation to the U.S. or Europe if there were complications. Being also that this was a critical-need 12-month position in a post-crisis situation and that Lori would be leaving her post after only six months to head to Thailand to deliver, we didn’t feel comfortable doing that to the organization. With emotions ranging from excitement about the baby and the Nepal opportunity, to frustration and heavy heartedness over the timing and the decisions forced upon us, we decided in the end that Lori would walk away from the position and we would suspend our search until there were three of us.

So, here we are.

Honestly, that first month was pretty hard. Coming so close to moving forward and no longer being in limbo, to have the goal within sight and then pulled away at the last moment.

But the truth of the matter is a job’s a job, and a child is a child. No comparison.

There will be other opportunities, and we’ll eventually move on from our state of limbo. As November fades away into memory and Lori’s belly grows, we feel increasingly grateful and at peace with all that has happened in the past year. We’re looking forward to sharing what lies ahead with Baby B., and there is  much to look forward to, indeed.

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