As school gets underway it is with an excited heart that I get to see my amazing son enter into his first-ever classroom as a 4K student. If you would have asked me about this moment six years ago I would have laughed at you and probably gone home and cried. On September 12th of 2014 a miracle occurred and we finally, FINALLY had a positive pregnancy test. This was after three years of trying and going through infertility. 12 months before that positive test I was sitting in a doctor’s office hearing how we would go about seeing whether or not we were even capable of having children. As the doctor and nurse listed off all the tests that would take place I was overwhelmed and frightened but excited to get answers. What I didn’t think would happen was a long list of negatives. We took every test and went through every scan possible and everything looked normal. This process took the entire school year and I can tell you that it was the toughest year of my life. It was tough on my marriage, my career, and my health physically and mentally. To anyone that has issues with fertility or has gone through this process, you know how it is a roller coaster of emotions. I have always had a positive personality and every month I tried to be positive thinking to myself this is the month, this is the month that it happens. And every month my heart would be broken.
With another school year upon us again I am going through infertility but with a different outlook. It has taken a long time for me to work through the emotions of what it has been like to try to have a child for many years without any rhyme or reason and then one day finally waking up pregnant! My son is truly a miracle in my eyes and because of that experience I have a very different perspective as a parent. Granted I still have the same emotions as any parent but not every parent went through month after month of heartbreaking news and tests that led to negative results.
My husband and I want nothing more than to be able to provide a sibling for our son so he will at least have one other human in the universe that understands how weird his parents are. We have tried every possible tactic to have a child that you can think of from reiki, therapy, nutritionists, to chiropractors that specialize in infertility. We have read all the books and have tried every suggestion. But again after three years of trying we have not had any luck. My heart has felt more positive and hopeful this time around because we have one beautiful child; how hard should it be to have another one, right? As hard as it was I finally made the call to schedule another consultation about infertility. This time with a new doctor and a different clinic, hoping this place will see me as a human rather than just another patient. I can tell you this may be my second go-around but it has not been any easier.
But some of you may be wondering what at all does this have to do with teaching? After listening to our speaker at our first day of in-services I got to thinking about my current state of being and this may be how many of our students feel when they are at school. School was never easy for me and it is not for many of our students. I constantly felt frustrated and disappointed in my inability to understand things like other students did. I had to work twice as hard as most and even with working twice as hard often times I still wouldn't get it. My feeling of frustration and failure not being able to get pregnant can be very similar to our students that are just not getting it. We can try every teaching strategy and put together the most complicated algorithms as to why our students are struggling but sometimes the results are just negative.
So what can we do for our students that are going through this? What do I wish people would have done when I was going through this? To be honest, very few people even knew what I was going through. Anyone that is going through infertility knows that when you are going through it, it seems like everyday someone would ask you, “When are you going to have kids?” “Do you want to have kids?” “Why don’t you have any kids?” “When is Oliver going to have a brother or sister?” So, first of all, let's stop asking so many questions about why students can't do something and begin to ask, “What can I do to help you?”, or “It’s okay, let's talk about it.”
What I wish more than anything is that someone would have told me that I am not alone, other people don’t always “get it” either, and sometimes there are no answers, and that's okay. The following statement always hit it home for me: “Don’t worry. It will happen when it's supposed to happen.” If a child is struggling with reading or math or a specific art material let’s not tell them, “You will get it when you get it.” Instead, as teachers and humans we should not assume we have the answers and it’s okay to tell our students, “I understand you are going through a hard time and I am sorry I don’t have the answer for you but I will tell you I will be here for you no matter what and I know for sure that the answer is to not give up”. But most importantly let's ask what we can do to help and support our students that are struggling. More than anything I wanted to reduce stress in my life so my body could relax and be able to do what I needed it to do. But as many of you know with infertility comes many additional stress everyday.
As someone that is constantly seeing negative results that is often times all that we think about. It is in every aspect of everyday. I understand it is important to give those students that are struggling extra time but can we also give them extra time to do the things that they are successful at so they are not in their heads constantly feeling like failures?
I have learned a lot from this experience. It has been hard and humbling, but it has allowed me to develop empathy for our students that are just not getting it and have constant negative results.