Get on my level, lady

The first place my husband and I attempted for grief counseling after we lost the baby was not a great experience. The woman, the first time we’d ever met her, ever been to therapy, tells us about twenty minutes in that she had her own miscarriage, but went on to say she kind of saw it as a blessing because she was much older than I was (thanks?) and apparently the relationship wasn’t rock solid, and she already had a much older wonderful daughter.

Don’t get me wrong here, because your experience is your experience, and your grief is your grief, and your process is your process. I also am not a therapist/counselor/mental health professional–BUT. I am fairly certain it was not professional at that point in our non-relationship for her to relay that. And I’m definitely sure that given my sobbing and the stunned looks we undoubtedly still carried on our faces two weeks later, that it should have been pretty damn easy to spot that for us this wasn’t anywhere NEAR a “blessing”.

As we stared at her in the brief pause that came after her sharing, we were both wondering if we were supposed to start acting as her counselor…? (Hubs and I confirmed this mind meld later when we were rehashing said session.) Personally, after that, and as the session went on in a very awkward way, I kept thinking, “Get on my level, lady! This is NOT a blessing, we ARE in shock, we have no idea what to do with all this grief, and I can’t figure out how the rest of the world is still spinning when my just stopped. So, get on my fucking level!”

Now, she is probably a very nice person and may be a very good counselor in other situations, but it was clearly not going to work out for us. On the upside, this led to finding a counselor who IS on my (our) level, which I am grateful for, and whom we had a session with today (which prompted the entire thought process for this post…and the next one).

“Kinder Garden” room transformation

I do these “room transformations” about three times a year at this point (one per trimester). The idea is to make our classroom feel different than “normal” and let the kids learn and show their skills in ways that are different from our routine. This year, I did a Super Hero transformation in the fall, a Mt. Learns-a-Lot (camping) transformation in the winter, yesterday did the “Kinder Garden” (haha, get it?) one for spring. I’ve done a construction-themed one before, and have lofty goals for a dinosaur one at some point…But back to the most recent!

The kids usually LOVE these days, especially because in addition to the activities I have some sort of prop for them to wear. Yesterday it was either an insect mask, flower shaped sunglasses, or butterfly or flower headbands. I also changed the groupings of their tables and covered them with bright tablecloths and vases of fake flowers, and hung bird die-cuts and big pom-pom flowers from the ceiling. My piece-de-resistance this time was that I turned the annoying column in the middle of our classroom into a tree! Last year when I did this, my husband build picket fence sections for me, so those get good use as well. I hung fake ivy from the doorways, and decorated into the hall a little bit so my kiddos knew right away something was happening! And of course, I had a bunch of spring/garden-themed literacy stations prepped for them to rotate through.

Not gonna lie, doing these takes a LOT of work and typically I stay super late the night before to get everything set (and it’s a bitch to pack it all back up once it’s over). I know it doesn’t result in a television-worthy set, and doesn’t even come close to what they pull off at RCA, but I’m generally pretty proud of the outcome and what my students demonstrate. It also lets me be creative and keep my kiddos guessing about our days :-).

Dear Period

Dear Period,

Would you come-the-eff on already! It’s been almost five weeks since that awful D&C experience, and you were supposed to show up between 4-6 weeks. Frankly, I was hoping for four since Mother Nature really screwed me on the getting-to-be-a-mother part. I’m having all the signs you’ve given me for the past 20 years, and I’ve got a bajillion tampons and/or pads ready for whenever you decided to grace me with your presence. This is the only time since you started interfering with my life that I have ever actually wanted you to hurry up and get here. Waiting for you feels like being stuck in limbo. I don’t want to be stuck in limbo. I’d really love a good dose of hope. But I can’t get that until you do your effing job. SO LET’S GO.

Unlove,

Me

Get Your Cray On…It’s the End of the Year!

I saw (and subsequently bought) a t-shirt with this tagline for the 100th Day of School, and have seen ones revised to reflect the end of the year. LOVE IT. It’s so accurate. I teach kinder-babies (just stop, this is NOT the easiest job in the world and unless you’re ACTUALLY a teacher you have no idea what it actually entails), so the end of May essentially means that all my kiddos are acting like it’s last August and forgetting what they need to act like at school. Exhausting, folks. But, I love them and learn from them and they help me in ways they will never know.

Anyway, because it’s the end of the year we have so much going on — field trips, field day, spring room transformation, awards, not to mention all the assessing and report card completing (Do I have to have hard-copy evidence for all those grades, boss? I mean, I can tell you exactly who is ready to move on and who needs a little more time to bake…). In my classroom, I don’t do a kindergarten graduation, instead I “transform” the room into a “Kinder Garden” and have tons of themed stations and props so the kids can have fun AND show off their kindergarten skills to the families we invite in to participate. Personally, I feel like this is more meaningful and fun (No disrespect to those who plan and execute the kindergarten graduations! I just go a different route.) I’ll do a more in-depth post about room transformations at some other point.

Because I don’t do a graduation, I don’t give out kindergarten diplomas either (because not all my babies are ready for first grade, and I don’t want to have them feeling left out). Instead, I just do year-completion awards (“Hoot-Hoot-Hooray” for this year’s batch) and other awards for “Super Readers” (if they did their reading logs all year long), “Sight Word Masters” (if they mastered all their sight words), “Mad Math Skills”, “Amazing Artists”, etc. I just give these awards out in class after our room transformation but before the last day so I can be sure all students will get theirs since attendance towards the end of the year can be a little…sketchy, sometimes. As such, I was on Amazon the other day looking for fun awards to order and came across these babies!

awards

*The award cards, not the flowers. Those are for the Kinder Garden.

They are SCRATCH-OFF AWARDS! Clearly, I’m completely enamored with these and though they probably aren’t hot off the presses, I never knew they existed and think they are so awesome! On the back of each card I wrote what the award was for, and then on the caption box on the front you just write what the reward will be (bubbles, sunglasses, splash balls) and put the scratch-off sticker over top of your writing. I’m pretty sure I’m much more excited about these than even my kids will be, but come on. So cool!

If you’re remotely interested, you can find them if you search “Eureka Dr. Seuss Assorted Scratch Off Reward Cards, Package of 24″ on Amazon :).

If you’re a teacher like me, good luck with the end of your year!

Word Collector

When I was in middle school (I think) I stumbled across this scrapbook in my grandparents’ attic. As it turned out, it was pages upon yellowed pages of quotes and poems that my great grandmother had typed out — on a typewriter! — and compiled into this book. My pre-teen heart felt such kinship with this woman that I had never met, because even then I was a wordie. Finding that book started me on compiling word collection books of my own, and now when I look back on the notebooks I’ve filled (always giving credit for the words where credit is due/can be found), it’s amazing to see the words that spoke to me at twelve versus the words that speak to me at thirty-one. Either way, it seems like an affinity for words is in my genes. Possibly along with the inability to tell a short story (thanks, Grandpa). But it’s a trait I’m grateful for, as it often helps me in times where I am alone or feel alone, need to process life, or simply just want to read or write. It’s certainly been helpful the last month, so I’ll leave you with this:

There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors. — Adrienne Rich

Please Don’ts, Please Dos, and Can’t Stands

In this world of “after” (which is how everything seems categorized in my brain now), there are so many things that drive me to distraction. Well-meaning people, people I know love me, can accidentally say the most awful things while their intent is to be helpful. Now, I’m well aware that how I feel about my miscarriage is not universal; everyone deals with grief in their own way. But for me, here’s a list:

Please don’t plaster on a beauty pageant smile, and dole it out while you simultaneously pretend that nothing ever happened. No miscarriage, no baby, no pregnancy.

Please, Dear God, do not tell me it’s somehow part of God’s plan. I have my beliefs, but I can tell you for damn sure I don’t believe in any god that would “plan” to end my baby’s life and bestow such pain on my family.

Please don’t approach me with any variation of the following:

“It wasn’t meant to be.”

“This will make you stronger.”

“There was something wrong with the baby. This is nature’s way of taking care of that.”

“There’s a rainbow after every storm.”

“You can always try again!”

“You’ll get over it one day.”

I know all these are meant to be a comfort, but they aren’t. They’re hurtful. They feel like they minimize what happened.

Please do acknowledge the loss. That the miscarriage was real and so far beyond sad, that before the miscarriage the baby was real, and subsequently the pregnancy. The biggest help for me have been those people who just told us or showed us they were here. Who listened without judgment or disgust when we needed to talk. I have such an important space in my battered heart for those people. And another thing; if you know someone who has been/is going through this, be sure to let them know that even after some time has passed, you still remember the life and the loss. It’s so difficult to feel like everyone has forgotten.

I can’t stand the term “miscarriage”. Makes it seem like NBD. But it’s a BFD to me and my husband.

I can’t stand hearing about how “common” it is. Because you know what’s more common? Not having a miscarriage.

I can’t stand when people ask if I’m okay. I just want to holler at them, “No, fool! I’m not okay! I won’t be for quite awhile!” Though some will be sincere in the asking, most of these people don’t actually want the truth.

 

I’m sure as time goes on other things will be added to this list. But this will be my only list-centered, slightly-ranty post about it. Promise. The thing is, talking about this loss is so taboo; there’s such a stigma. I feel like I have to spend a bunch of my time pretending to be “okay” so that other people don’t feel weird. Here, in this space, I won’t be restricting myself; I’ll be letting it all out.

Maybe Mama

I’m not sure if I’m a mama. I guess it would depend on who you ask. I’m not sure myself, because my body isn’t growing a life anymore. And in the fall I won’t have a baby to hold in my arms.

A month ago I had a miscarriage. I never saw it coming (Though, whoever does?). I had a “missed miscarriage”, which I didn’t even know was possible. Going into my routine 12-week appointment, I still had all the symptoms of being pregnant. No one, including the medical staff, knew anything was wrong until the ultrasound at the end of the appointment. I have never known such devastation, such grief and loss. I don’t even have adequate words to describe it. But for me, I didn’t have a miscarriage, my baby died. My baby died. And there is no undoing that. I read somewhere that there is no getting over it or moving on; just growing your life around the hole and moving forward. Which seems about right.

A month on, I’m finally feeling like my head is above water. I can look at that first sonogram, when our baby was healthy and strong. I can go to work and see the teacher next door, due mere days apart from me, with her new little baby belly, and not need to go hide in the storage closet so I can have a panic attack without my students knowing. I’m not crying daily. I’m going to grief counseling. I’m starting to sing along to the radio a bit again. My husband and I just went out on a date. Smiling and laughing doesn’t feel so foreign. I’m journaling a good deal. I painted the room that was meant for a nursery; I couldn’t stand to have it just waiting for a child who wouldn’t be coming. I’m starting to recover hope.

Naturally, the loss of our little love is never far. Will never be gone. So, I’m a maybe mama. But despite the unfathomable pain of losing my baby, I will always be so grateful that for a little while they existed.