Channeling some Aesop

Recently I’ve been musing over the Aesop’s Fable of City Mouse, Country Mouse. If you’ve never heard it, essentially two mice living in different habitats switch living spaces for a bit so they can experience life a different way than what’s become routine and ordinary for them. In the end, they discover that they’re better off staying in their own homes, and they appreciate it more. Something like that. In my mind, I’ve been applying it to mothering situations. The working mom and the stay-at-home mom, and the idea that we’re all susceptible to the idea of the grass is always greener somewhere else.

Because of teaching, I’ve gotten a taste of both since Birdy has been born. I went back to work, but I’ve gotten the summer to be with her. Today starts my last week of being with her, and it’s bittersweet.

There have absolutely been times this summer when I’ve felt so stir-crazy. When as much as I love Birdy, I’ve been weary of how much she needs me all day long. When I’ve been desperate for some adult interaction. Being a stay-at-home parent is HARD. Anyone who says otherwise is likely sugarcoating the truth and/or has never actually done it. It’s beautiful, but it’s difficult. It can feel isolating and emotionally draining, and just from my brief time in the parenting world, it seems like the stay-at-home parent doesn’t get nearly as much credit as they should. To those of you who do this 24-7/365, I have so much respect for you.

Even before I got pregnant, with Charlie and with Birdy, I knew I would be a working mom. I knew that teaching was a part of me, a calling rather than a job, and I knew I wouldn’t give it up. I also knew that I would be a happier mom, a better mom, if I continued to pursue that passion and show my kids what that looked like. And now, a week away from returning to work, there’s a part of me that’s truly looking forward to it.

But despite that, and despite the moments this summer where I’ve been exhausted by being a stay-at-home mom, there is also a part of me that wishes I could continue to stay at home with her.  Because I wouldn’t trade a moment of the summer we’ve had together. I love that I’ve had this time to get to know her more, to continue to bond, to have her smile and laugh, learn to roll over and blow raspberries, have baby babble conversations with her, see her get adorably messy as we began to try baby food, to find her amazing feet, to feel the sweet weight of her on my chest as she succumbs to sleep. Getting to marvel at her exploring her world has been such a gift.

And so enter the thoughts of the city mouse and the country mouse — the idea of living life from another side. But I come to the same conclusion the fable does (well, ish); that my life is best lived with the way it is — as it pertains to working or staying at home. Best for our family. So while looking forward to rejoining the ranks of the working parents, I’ll always be grateful that my work allows me to be a SAHM for two months a year.

Kids say the darndest

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled into a conversation with a group of my middle school kids. Out of the blue, one of them says: “My mom said I was an accident. Ha!”

I was quietly startled, but asked if he understood what that meant (all the while trying to figure out how to soften the statement). He said no, but that it sounded funny so he just laughed. I asked him if he wanted to understand and he said “yeah”.

I did my best, tried to be school-appropriate but also honest, and just told him that it meant his parents weren’t actively trying to have a baby when they got him. I further said that many babies are often unplanned, but that I was sure his parents were glad he was here.

The first student nodded and then asked another if they were an accident. This student rolled right with it and said, quite clearly, “No. I was a miracle baby.” She further explained, “If my brothers and sisters had lived, I wouldn’t be here.”

I about choked. Because that’s kind of exactly where I am. I still grieve Charlie. But it Charlie had lived, March baby wouldn’t be growing right now. And I caught on the word they had chosen to describe her: miracle. And I was grateful for this set of parents that I’ve never met.

Then a third student chimed in, “Oh, yeah. That happened to my parents, too. Before my sister. He’d be, um, like probably ten by now. If he lived.” So nonchalant. Just stating something that was.

Y’all, it was so surreal. An accident. A miracle. A non-categorical that was familiar with both. It was kind of amazing.

It made me kind of hopeful for this next generation that’s coming. That miscarriages, miracles, accidents; none of it will have to be in the shadows. If at twelve and thirteen, this isn’t a “big deal” for them to talk about, maybe one day it won’t be a big deal for anyone.

Let your heart beat here

[So I haven’t blogged in awhile, and to be quite honest it’s mostly because this new position at work has been completely sapping me. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this unsteady at work, and I keep telling myself that I just have to get through this “first” year in a new position and after that things will calm down. But a school year is a looooooong time — at least it feels that way. Between school and growing March baby, my nights and weekends have been reserved (mostly) for full-on resting! But. I’ve still been saying a lot in my head, and since I get a three day weekend I’ve been wanting to get back on here.]

We had a check-up last Tuesday (Finally — four weeks is a long time to wait!) when I was two days prior to eighteen weeks. I’m not sure if it’s the same for any of you, but I’m always of two minds when we have a doctor’s appointment: I’m so grateful to have one, because it gives me definitive evidence that March baby is continuing to live, but I’m also completely anxious, because that definitive evidence could also tell us that March baby has died. On Tuesday, when it got to the point where they used the fetal doppler to check for a heartbeat, I like to think I was initially calm.

But then it seemed like it was taking so much longer than last time to find the beat, and my calm went away in increasing increments. The doctor kept telling me it was so normal, but at the same time she kept moving the thing to different places because we weren’t hearing a heartbeat yet and all I kept screaming in my head was, “THAT’S WHAT THEY TOLD US LAST TIME!” Right about the time I knew I was going to completely lose it, that I was convinced she would take up the doppler and tell me what I already knew, that “it happened again, it happened again, it happened again” was on a constant loop in my head — the sound changed. And I felt like I barely gasped out, “Is that it?!”

And it was. And it was okay. And the heartbeat was strong and normal. And I was amazingly relieved but I also full on started crying because holy shit I had been in such a state of panic that we had lost another child. The doctor was kind, and was again trying to assure us that it was normal for it to take awhile to find a heartbeat at this stage, and attempting to respectfully figure out why our emotions had shot sky high, and all I could get out as I attempted to get myself under control was, “We thought it happened again.” And then hubs took over and explained the backstory.

The doctor was kind, and almost immediately went into this mode of how the practice could help make the process better for me (which still surprises me, no matter how many of the staff make up for my awful first visit there). She offered then and there to schedule more frequent heartbeat checks if we wanted. I had been trying to just have faith over this last month waiting for the check up, and we go in for the gender ultrasound in a little under two weeks, and I feel like I can last until then.

But if I could go back and start this pregnancy over again, I would schedule more frequent heartbeat checks from the start. I wanted to fight for March baby but also be brave and have faith. People — you can do those things and still get more regular piece of mind. That’s my advice to anyone out there like me. Honestly, if we manage to get March baby here safe and sound, and we are lucky enough to get pregnant again later on, I will for sure be scheduling those right away.

According to my pregnancy app, March baby can hear some things now, so I talk to him/her at night. I tell the baby how we were given quite a fright at the appointment, and how we are so relieved they are still here with us. And I press my hand against my stomach and will the baby to move enough so that I can finally feel it. Just something else to reassure that things are still on-going, still hopeful, still growing.


Change is good, and often for the better, but I don’t always like it. I knew moving into a new position would be different. I knew there would be some growing pains. To be honest, I’ve had some moments where I’ve briefly wondered if perhaps I made a mistake.

I’m looking at a caseload that has doubled since last year, and that will mean the students I’m trying to support won’t get as much time as they need, which gnaws at me. I’m going into the fourth week of school and I’m still not done testing yet. And the testing window closes this Friday, so I’m begging the universe not to have any more students enroll.

I’m at the mercy of a whole bunch of factors that are completely out of my control. I have to assess the students using a specific, web-based program — but the tech keeps going down, and our IT person isn’t full time, and I keep losing time. The other day, I called up the program people myself and when they asked for the IT person I told them I had no idea when I’d be seeing him, so I really needed them to walk me through whatever they’d tell the tech person to do because I didn’t have time to waste. Which went okay, until something required an admin password which I do not have.

One of the students I had to assess the other day started crying because she was so frustrated. I’m not allowed to help them, because the assessment has to show what they can do on their own. But my heart broke for her, and I don’t think she understood that I wasn’t allowed to help — but that I so badly wanted to help her.

I know it seems like I’m whining. I know I should have expected all of this, to a certain extent, and logically, I did. But living in it for weeks feels different. I just want to get through this part so I can get to the point where I actually am spending my time helping these students as best as I can. That’s teaching in general though, right? We just want to help the students learn, but it often feels like so many other things get in the way.

Next week, I’m hoping, will feel more purpose-driven.

Strange new land

The first “official” week back at school (mean the students were in attendance), was so strange for me. It was quiet. I didn’t have 25 small humans around me constantly needing something every moment of every day. I did a bunch of paperwork and made a bunch of phone calls and took a bunch webinars for test administrations. It was so odd. And though I’m grateful, because less hectic = less stress at the moment and less stress = better for the baby I’m trying to successfully grow, part of me was sad. I felt misplaced. I felt like I was supposed to be doing something, being somewhere, but I wasn’t.

Having lunch duty with the seventh graders was the most difficult part of my day. I only have them for half an hour, but they’re just so self-centered. Entitled. I know that partly that’s their age. But I feel like, for better or worse, we need to teach them not only academics but how to be good human beings. Because, at least for my school, most of them don’t really get that character education at home. And I feel like if we send them out into the world knowing Pythagorean Theorem, but being awful people, we’ve failed them in a way. I’m trying to figure out, in my small slice of time with them, how to get through to them (while also making sure they know damn well I will not be taking their shit — they don’t like this about me already, haha).

I’m looking forward to tomorrow, because I get to start pulling the kindergarten students to screen them for ESL services if need be. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been excited to test anyone before. I’m just very excited to when I’ll finally be able to pull small groups and work directly with the students again, and the screenings are the first step towards that.

Also, I’m finding that most people don’t actually understand how much work goes into being an ESL instructor. When I was describing to a coworker everything I had to do before I could even think about beginning the screenings, and then what would need to take place after, etc. she got this astonished look on her face and said, “Oh. So, you’re actually, like, really busy?” Which makes me chuckle, because it’s the same as how most people don’t actually understand what hard work goes into teaching Pre-K or Kindergarten. It’s amazing, really.


In the After

Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but After started four months ago.

School started back up for me this past Monday. Just professional development this week, the kids come tomorrow. This week I did test runs with what to pack so I can have quick, small, protein-packed edibles throughout the day to keep the almost-nausea and lightheadedness at bay. Tried to figure out at what points throughout the day I need to make sure I’m ingesting something.

I’m feeling very out of place, lacking a group. As the school’s ESL instructor I’m an island unto myself. Which generally I’m completely fine with, but during PD week it’s like being the new kid in a high school cafeteria. Even though I’m not actually new. And I’m grappling a bit with the differences in this position versus my usual general education classroom role. I’m used to have 25 littles constantly surrounding me all day. Though I still believe this teaching move will be a good one, it’s difficult adapting.

And being back at school, I find I feel a bit like a leper again. Like I’ve got a scarlet M on my chest for miscarriage. The teacher whose pregnancy matched my own is of course in her third trimester. Seeing her is still difficult, but not paralyzing. I even made myself ask if they’d chosen a name and said how lovely the name was. But I got the vibe she didn’t really want to talk to me. Now, of course, there’s my second baby, but no one there (except one) knows about that yet.

We had an appointment for March baby on Monday. Thankfully, the midwife we met with this time was so much better than the nurse practitioner I had at six weeks. More compassionate, less put-out by my mere presence. She swung us an ultrasound, which we were grateful for. We were able to see March baby, watch it wiggle around and wave its tiny appendages. We were told the heartbeat and growth were where they should be.

We were relieved, and a bit elated. But for me, the twelve week scan is the Big One. The first major hurdle we need to get through. We need March baby to still be alive at twelve weeks. But to be honest, with each week that passes I’m letting myself hope a little more and fear a little less. Which is good, that’s what I want. Hubs has started asking more about telling people, which is also positive.

I’m struggling with telling my dad. It’s beginning to feel wrong that other people know now when he still doesn’t, but it’s difficult for me. I know he didn’t mean to cause me more hurt, but when I told him about losing Charlie he first said he was sorry, then said “these things happen”, then asked if it was something I had done. Later, when I was trying to share with him how we were really doing, how talking about it was helping me cope, he seemed more concerned with how I might be making other people uncomfortable. After that, I didn’t try to talk to him about it anymore. I felt very strongly that he was one of those people who would prefer I pretend Charlie never existed. And until recently, I didn’t realize that not only was I hurt, but I was also angry with him. I want to tell him about March baby, but I don’t want to do it until I’ve made perfectly clear that Charlie existed and mattered and I won’t ever pretend otherwise. So I’m feeling pretty stuck by that. I don’t really want to tell him over the phone, because I’m pretty sure I’ll cry. I don’t want to email it, because that’s impersonal. I’m in a quandary.

I’m also trying to figure out what to get my mom for her birthday, and how to go about celebrating hub’s birthday in September since he might be out at a job site.

After is a collective oddity of consciousness sometimes.


Gray in the gray matter

I always tell the kids they have beautiful brains in their heads. I like to think that if they don’t remember anything else about kindergarten when they grow up, they’ll remember that — that they have a beautiful brain. That they have a beautiful brain they can use to be a beautiful person; for who they are, not what they look like. I like to think that one day, if I get the chance to have a child of my own, I’ll be able to give that to them as well. If.

I have a beautiful brain, and I use it for good things, at least I try. But sometimes I feel like it’s not operating on all cylinders since the miscarriage. Like it’s been altered, changed. I guess it has. I like information, I like to understand, I like to know the why of things, and I haven’t gotten that in quite some time. I get that the world is full of gray areas, I even respect that. We’d lose an awful lot of life if everything was always black and white. But all the gray in my gray matter right now is kind of difficult. I can feel myself moving through, going forward, and I know objectively that that’s good. That’s coping, and coping is positive. And a big part of me wants to go and do and be, but another big part of me just wants to stay and rest. I’m scared a lot; a quiet scared, but it’s still there. The what-ifs for the potential future plague me, because right now most of them are in the negative arena.

This new position I got, it should excite me, energize me. And before, the idea of it did. But now it’s after, and though I still think it’s a good move, I’m not looking forward to it like I want to be.

I’ve done a grand total of one thing on my summer list in the past two and a half weeks. One. I haven’t been a shut in, but I haven’t really “seized the day” either.

I kind of feel like every day I’m fighting something I can’t see. Do you know what I mean? Do you ever feel like that?

I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul.

For the full poem: Invictus by William Ernest Henley

I’ll be honest; I used to go hook, line, and sinker for the idea of fate. Or meant-to-be. Or God’s plan. There are days when it’s kind of comforting to think that your life is already set on a very particular course, and that all you have to do is show up and everything will work itself out “as it should be”.

But then I thought, what the hell? What about all the crap — I mean really, truly, horrible and heinous things — that people all over this earth are subjected to every day? That was planned for them before they even drew their first breath? And I kind of fell out of being enamored with the whole idea.

I much prefer to believe that I am in charge of my life. I make my own choices. I handle things the way I decide to handle them. I steer myself in the direction I want to go. Now, does this always work out the way I’d want it to? Nope, definitely not. Does it mean the choices I make are always the correct ones? No. Does it mean I actually get complete control over what happens? Abso-flippin-lutely not. Take, for example, the fact that I lost my baby for no discernible reason. Didn’t get any say in that at all. But it does mean that I can try. It means that life doesn’t happen to me, I happen to my life.

Even so, I will admit that sometimes a part of me does hold on to the meant-to-be a little bit. Case in point, I very much feel I was meant to be a teacher. Could I be or do something else? Sure. But I don’t feel like it would align my heart and soul and mind the way teaching does. I also feel like I was meant to be a mother. Could I live a good life without being a mother? Of course. But there would always be a piece missing for me.

But even with the part of me that holds out on my fate-schmate stance, I still truly feel that I am in charge of my life (as much as I possibly can be), and that my own free will is a legit thing. I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.



Change of [summer] plans


Though I am a teacher, my summers have never been full of a “break”. Most years I always lined up a summer job, and if not that than I was taking grad classes full time. This summer, I had planned on actually taking a break due to my pregnancy. I was planning on spending the summer relaxing and daydreaming and getting ready for my baby to come. I envisioned creating the calmest nursery space that would eventually be able to be easily transitioned to a child’s bedroom. Purchasing baby clothes and washing them with Dreft. Finding out whether it was a baby boy or a baby girl. Settling on a name. Feeling the baby move. Slowly planning the baby shower with one of my cousins for Labor Day weekend. But when the baby died, I was staring at a summer that suddenly seemed really bleak. Now, I would be taking the break to work on healing my heart somehow.

Like libraries and bookstores, being in the woods, out in nature, has always felt like a type of church. Being there calms me, brings me some peace. I decided I would spend my summer exploring places within a certain radius of where I live that would feed my soul, so to speak. So I did some research, and pulled up Google maps, and made a list of places where I could day-trip. Several nature preserves, hiking trails, wildflower preserves, lakes and rivers, state parks, arboretums, botanical gardens. I added a few small museums for good measure as well. I’m glad to have some sort of direction for my summer, especially since I’m anticipating I’ll have lots of time to think and dwell.

In between these mini-trips, I’ll be preparing for the next school year; because teachers never actually take the whole summer off, even if they decided to take the summer off.