I’m really excited to have my husband, Sam, help me write this. We’re going to switch back and forth every paragraph or so. His writing will be in italics. Hang in there to get the full story of “Serin.”
A Missed Opportunity
My freshman year of college (2013), I decided to be a team captain for the Relay for Life event on campus since I had lost my grandfather to cancer earlier that school year. We had team captain meetings leading up to the event, and Sam just happened to be a team captain too. (We didn’t meet at any of the meetings though.) During the actual Relay for Life, our teams got grouped together to play Capture the Flag (definitely not my strength). Oh, and did I mention it was “redneck hour”? We were both dressed in our best cut-offs and bandanas, and our two teams took on three other groups in a Capture the Flag battle.
Sam here. In full disclosure, where things go from here is rather embarrassing to admit in retrospect… I’m so thankful that my elementary pick up tactics were just cheesy enough to work.
I was responsible for set up, clean up, and everything in-between for my team that night. I noticed Erin and wanted to try to talk to her, but like busyness tends to do, it got the best of me that night. The cute team leader escaped. I didn’t think too much about it at the time. I figured that our paths would cross again. When they did, I would be ready!
Turns out, nothing happened for the next couple of months. The case had gone cold… Until one morning I was pulling into a university parking deck and there she was. Standing thirty feet in front of me, dressed in her Avanti (University of Alabama orientation leader) outfit, was Erin taking her morning stroll from her dorm to the student center. So, I did what any guy would do. Sped up to her, jumped out of the car, and said “Hey!” at 6:30AM. Erin didn’t admit this until later, but her first conscious thought as this was happening was that a stalker was going to kidnap her in the parking lot.
So there was this guy jumping out of a truck saying hey to me, but he did NOT get any way to contact me… No phone number, no last name, no nothing. I thought, “Well that was weird,” and went along with my day. This run-in happened some time during the month of July 2013.
“You’ll never believe this.”
Fall semester 2013 came and went, and Sam claims we saw each other on campus a few times and said hello. I only remember one time on a crosswalk though… Then the first day of spring semester 2014 happens. It was a Wednesday, and while I was leaving my college ministry service that night, I look down at my phone to see an e-mail from a “Sam Roberts” with the subject “You’ll never believe this.” I almost deleted it, thinking it was spam. When I opened it, a long e-mail unfolded in which Sam reminds me who he is, tells me that he stalked me from the Avanti website to twitter to my first blog to my crimson e-mail address, and asks me if we can get coffee sometime… I’ll admit, I asked several friends if it was weird and what I should do about it.
Crushed it! Right? Okay, so try to look at the stalker-ish-ness through a Shakespeare prism. Moving on… Erin and I had a few casual dates before realizing that there was something pretty special going on.
The Summer of Big Decisions
An early crucible of our relationship was the summer that we spent apart. After three fragile months of dating, we were about to spend the next twelve weeks apart as I was going to Atlanta for an Internship and Erin was heading to Charlotte to be a camp leader. Those early weeks of being apart started out fun and exciting as we were in new cities and meeting new people. The tell-tale sign that things were more serious than we both originally thought was how difficult it was to be apart at the end of the summer. Things were so casual when we were dating in Tuscaloosa, but over the course of my internship, I was offered a full time position that would require me to move to Atlanta a whole year and a half before Erin was set to graduate. This girl that I was “casually dating” instantly turned into the only person I wanted to consider and talk over the opportunity with.
When I came back from camp, Sam surprised me by being with my parents when they picked me up. We spent time with each other’s families in the month of summer we had remaining before school was set to start back in late August.
All through fall semester, Sam and I dated and had so much fun going to football games, college ministry events, and spending time with each other’s families on weekend trips home. Things were getting serious, and I even coaxed Sam into telling me he loved me.
A Crazy Plan
After realizing how serious this really was, we concocted a plan about getting married the next August so we wouldn’t have to date long-distance for 18 months after Sam moved to Atlanta. It was kinda crazy, but we believed it could work. There would be a small window in August where I would be finished with summer classes, we could get an apartment lease, and my student teaching wouldn’t have started yet. The only thing we had to do was get my parents on board.
Simple right? In my twenty-one year old mind, I had it ALLLL figured out. We’ll just get engaged, plan a wedding, have an apartment together in Tuscaloosa while I’m working in Atlanta, and then Erin would move over once she graduated in May of 2016. The plan sounded crazy to nearly everyone who heard it. My parents, my future bosses, and especially Erin’s parents. After some permission slips being signed by all parties, we worked it all out.
Hey, We’re Getting Married!
For the next eight months I lived in Atlanta with a co-worker, while Erin was in Tuscaloosa taking classes, and Erin’s mom was in Birmingham making anything related to the wedding happen. This was one of the toughest seasons in my life and definitely the toughest season of out relationship. All of the time apart. All of the miles traveled back and forth. All of the communication breakdowns. On top of it all, we were planning a wedding that needed a lot of decisions to be made and we didn’t have the time or experience to enjoy the process instead of stressing over it.
What Sam didn’t mention is that we got engaged December 9, 2014. He graduated from Alabama December 13, 2014. Then he moved to Atlanta January 2, 2015. It was a crazy month to start off a long, miserable 8 month engagement of being apart.
During the engagement, we went to SIX other weddings together waiting for our own to finally roll around. July happened, and things just kept moving at the same rapid pace it had been moving. I turned 21 on July 27, I finished summer classes July 29, we had our rehearsal dinner on July 31.
Mr. and Mrs. Roberts
We FINALLY got married August 1, 2015. We went on a quick honeymoon to the beach, and then real-life set in again.
Fast forward to after the wedding bells. Our wedding was amazing, but in light of the circumstances surrounding our lives, it was a ceremony, quick honeymoon, and then back to work/school for both of us. Being married was exponentially better than being engaged because we had our own apartment. The only problem with the “our apartment” concept was that I was only able to be in Tuscaloosa for Friday afternoon through Monday morning. I would get in around 5PM on Friday and leave very early on Monday morning. Our whole marriage consisted of a three day weekend four times a month for the ten months until Erin graduated and we could both live in Atlanta. Things were extremely tough, but we knew it would all be worth it once we were able to be together full time. Our gameplan was to just hang tight and make sure that Erin finished her degree strong and that I was doing well in my first year of work.
A Big Surprise
That would have been great, but like I talked about in my blog post here, our plan didn’t exactly work out. On December 5, 2015, we found out I was pregnant the day before the SEC Championship game we were going to be attending the next day. After we comprehended and embraced the fact that we would be welcoming a sweet baby into the world, things got better but worse at the same time. Henry was due on July 27, 2016, which is my birthday. Before we got there, I had to finish my last semester student teaching, graduate, and move to Atlanta. Being pregnant while long-distance married was not always fun, but we pushed through until I graduated in May 2016.
Together at Last
Finally! After nineteen months apart, Erin and I were finally together. That should make everything better, right? What we were totally unprepared for was the reality of how difficult it is to move to a new city where you don’t really know anyone. How did we find an apartment? Random chance. Who were our peers? Didn’t have any. Erin was thirty weeks pregnant, we nearly had enough furniture to furnish our small two bedroom apartment, and we were knee deep in this crazy concept called health insurance bills.
We were finally together, but we were far from out of the woods. Slowly, but surely, things began to come together. We found a new doctor that we loved, we found a church we love (and a Costco, praise Jesus), and we started learning how to do this adult thing. How to parent? Not a clue. Erin and I would often look at each other and say “How in the heck are we going to do this?”.
The summer dragged on, unlike any other summer I have ever experienced, as we were waiting on Henry’s arrival. We had baby showers, maternity pictures, and people excited for us, but the day in and day out life at the apartment just waiting on a contraction or something to happen was not fun at all.
Finally my birthday and Henry’s due date approached, and we kept thinking, “It could be tonight!” every. single. night. But Henry didn’t make his way out. Instead on August 1, 2016, our first wedding anniversary, the hospital called us to come in for me to be induced. It was Henry’s eviction notice. I wasn’t thrilled about the timing, but at least he would finally be here. I even told Sam, “I don’t want him to be born on our anniversary because then we will never have an anniversary, but surely he will be here before midnight,” while we were driving to the hospital around 7AM. You know what they say, be careful what you wish for…
Twenty-two hours later, our little 7 pound 10.5 ounces baby boy was here. Such a relief… Seeing his sweet little face and spending those first seventy-two hours together was spiritual healing for Erin and me. Our new and young marriage had been going one hundred miles an hour for the past year. The world finally stood still as we spent three days passing Henry back and forth.
Then there were three. Contrary to popular belief, the nurses do not come home with the baby. We felt confident in handling Henry while we were in the hospital because we were always a button click away from having a trained professional come into the room and bail us out of any situation. As Erin and I were driving home we both couldn’t believe that the hospital had let us leave by ourselves with our son and they were trusting us to go home and take proper care of this newborn. Sleepless night after sleepless night we slowly began to learn how to care for Henry the best that we knew how. He’s still here and doing well, so I consider the operation a success so far!
So, here we are: a family of three! Getting to know Henry and figuring out what works for us has been a lot of trial and error, no matter what the books tell you to do. It has been the sweetest, most tiring time of our lives, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.