I’ve officially been back to work for exactly 1 month now. It’s hard to believe that I was out on my medical leave for an even longer amount of time than what I have been back to work. Today is also the 1 year anniversary of our first positive pregnancy test.
Being back to work has been bittersweet for me. I missed my students very much while I was away, and I know how much they missed me, too. They have a way of uplifting me when I am down. They make me forget all of my problems just looking at them because of how care free they are. They make me realize what a gift life is. They have given me the opportunity to better prepare myself for motherhood. They give me a chance to instill a love for learning in them, and make a lasting impression on their lives. They make me want to go to work everyday because I know they are counting on me. They have made me a more responsible person.
Then there’s the bitter part of the sweet. When you are yearning to become a parent, being around children all day can be tough at times. It’s even harder when parents ask you if you have children of your own. Many of them act as if they cannot trust you when you tell them you don’t. Many of them say, “when you have children you will understand what I mean.”
When told this, I have had to bite my tongue. Shane has told me I shouldn’t bite my tongue. That instead, I should tell them what we have been through, and challenge them with “but, what if I don’t ever have children of my own? Will that make me less of a person in your eyes?” I want to tell them how their kids are really my kids, too. Even if its just for that 1 year we spend together.
I want to tell them how I run a classroom of 23 diverse children, that are fully engaged in learning, 7 hours a day, 180 days a year, smoothly. Just because I do not physically have one of our babies here on this Earth with me, doesn’t mean I don’t understand what it is like to teach a child the right way.
There’s the things you see that pull at your heartstrings everyday as a teacher. The things that you see people with children taking for granted. The things that you promise yourself you will do differently if God blesses you with a child.
You promise to make sure your young child goes to bed at a decent time so they don’t fall asleep in class. You swear that you will always find a way to provide them with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You vow to help them with every homework assignment they have. You won’t forget to send in permission slips or other important forms. You won’t forget to pick them up from school on time, or let them sleep in frequently, so they are late. You are already thinking about the books, and school supplies you will get for them. You make an oath to never miss one of their games.
Surviving infertility and being a teacher has not been easy to say the least. For me, missing work during our miscarriages has been the worst part of it all. It’s not like you can just call in, say you will be out for the day when you are sick, and go back to bed. You have 23 little people depending on you. You have to plan for them.
Many mornings, as I was miscarrying, I would get up super early, before any students were at school, go in, and create sub plans. I’d make copies. I’d email parents. I’d write notes to my students to remind them I still cared. I’d put the homework on the board. I did this for 2 weeks straight, every morning, during our last loss.
Looking back, those mornings are truly a blur to me now. I don’t even know how I did it. And thats because I didnt do it. Only God could have done it. He made it easy enough for me to handle just what I had to those early mornings right after our 3rd loss.
Finally, after 2 weeks, I got the same, permanent sub for the remainder of the time I was out. This was much easier than planning for a different sub everyday, especially since I did not have to go in the mornings anymore. I still had a co-worker bring papers home for me to grade from time to time, and the sub would call me when she needed the extra help.
The team of administrators and teachers I work with helped her as much as possible, too. Everyone stepped up in many ways to keep things going. I have been very blessed to work with a group of caring and supportive individuals.
Any good teacher will tell you that good teaching is all about reflecting. Infertility involves quite a bit of reflecting as well. So it’s fair to say that Ive had some time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly for both.
I can confidently say that I have given 100% to my students the past 5 years. Ive also been trying to give 100% to IVF the last year. Trying to give 100% to both is utterly impossible now.
When we started IVF, I knew I was taking a risk. Not just an emotional, financial, & physical risk, but a career risk as well. We hoped we would luck out, get pregnant & stay pregnant after 1 IVF. But we also knew that might not be the case.
If things didnt go as planned, I knew there could be things like unplanned appointments & missed work, boat loads of hormones, possible miscarriages, overwhelming anxiety & stress, unexpected surgeries, failed procedures, referrals to new doctors, and so on that could arise. Unfortunately for us, all of the above plus more happened.
What does this all mean? It means we are at a time in my career where we need to decide which I will continue to give 100% to-pursuing our dream of having a family, or continuing with my demanding career. Trust me, this in no way will be a hasty decision on our part. It has involved much prayer, time, and discussion.
Before we go any further, make sure you understand that I am in NO way implying that a woman cant have her family and a career, and give her all to both. Our situation is NO where near a normal one. In fact, it is entirely a different situation from that of a typical working mom (and kuddos to them by the way), or even a typical IVF patient.
In all honesty, if you still dont understand what I am saying about the balancing act not being possible here any longer, theres a pretty good chance you arent going to anyways.
It all boils down to this. I am at a crossroads, and I don’t know where the path will lead me, but I do know I have learned so very much along the way. I also know that I will forever be grateful for all of the little people who have touched my life in so many ways; I could never repay them.
And I am 100% positive that no matter what the future holds, my love for teaching will never die.