After being a truck driver for about 6 months, Jason found a job closer to home, working for a business interiors company as a warehouse manager. It was a good fit for him...he enjoyed the work and people really like him and his work. The company was a great company, and things seemed to be looking up.
At this point, I was pregnant with baby #4...due on December 12th, 1999.
As Thanksgiving drew near, Jason and I talked it over, and decided that it was time to really start working on rebuilding our relationship with my family. I talked to my grandmother, and we decided to head to North Carolina for our family get-together for Thanksgiving. My grandparents had just gotten back from a cruise and spending some time in Italy, and it was good to see them so happy. Grandpa had a little bit of a cold or something, so he wasn't feeling great, but we all got to visit with him, and the kids got to see their great-grandparents, grandparents, great-aunts and -uncles, second cousins, and aunt and uncles. We had a lot of fun.
Two weeks later, Grandpa was in the hospital, dying. It turns out that the cold was too much for his body, and he died in early December. My brother and I drove back to N.C. for his funeral. I was hugely pregnant...due any day, and miserable. Of all my relatives, Grandpa was my favorite.
Based on my history, I was not at all surprised when my due date came and went with no baby. Then Christmas, then New Years...I was getting TIRED of being pregnant...and just ready to have that baby.
January 6th, as we were getting ready for work, my water broke. We piled kids into the car, took them to the grandparents' place, and headed to the hospital, where they confirmed that yes, this baby was going to make an appearance, finally. About lunch time, Jason headed down to the cafeteria to get some lunch while I was busy, waiting my way through contractions. When he got back from the cafeteria, he was all excited...he had run into some friends from growing up...their grandmother was in the hospital, and he got to see the whole family. I vaguely remembered the friend, but was otherwise occupied, and really didn't pay much attention.
At around 1:30 p.m., Justin Thomas made his appearance...he was 25 days late, and weighed in at 10 pounds 3 ounces. We spent the night at the hospital, and headed home the next day.
I didn't know it, but my life was about to make a drastic change.