Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For Love of Teachers

I passed through four elementary, three middle and three high schools growing up as an army brat.  By the time I was a junior in high school and on to my third high school and tenth school overall, being the "new kid" in class was no longer new to me.  By the time I was in high school, being the new kid wasn't easy but I understood how it would work.  In elementary school, being the "new kid" was tough.  I had just left behind my most recent home, my friends and my place of safety and security: my school.  Even though it was tough, when I walked into school on those first days in elementary school, I knew that I would have an ally: my teacher. 

I can name every teacher that I had from kindergarten through high school.  I can tell you about the aide in my first grade class.  My mom was working nights and would pick my sister and I up from our nanny in the morning.  My mom would drop my sister off at her school and then drive to my school's parking lot.  As we waited for school to start, I would sit on my mom's lap in the car.  We would talk and many days, I would lay my head on my mom's shoulder and enjoy having my mom close.  Many mornings, my mom and I would drift off to sleep for a few minutes.  The aide would come out to the parking lot, gently knock on the window and carry me into my class, with me still groggy and missing my mom.  She would hold me for a few minutes, letting me slowly emerge into the world of first grade.  I can tell you about my first grade teacher and when I ran into her on a Satuday afternoon, I was so excited to tell her that I read a story to my mom all by myself!  She gave me a high-five and said that if I wanted, I could read it to the class on Monday morning.  I can tell you about my second grade teacher, a new teacher, who always encouraged me to do more, reach farther, play harder and laugh more.  I can tell you about my fourth grade teacher, who pulled me close after I returned to her class after three weeks away because I had been threatened to be kidnapped and then promptly pulled me back into the routine of our class.  I can tell you about my "tough" fifth grade teacher who had an infectous laugh.  I can tell you about my really tough sixth grade teacher, my first year in an accelerated program, who was kind but demanded excellence from us and opened my eyes to so many, many things (that was the year I read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry).

Every teacher I had through my initial twelve years of schooling touched my life in some way.  At the time, I hope I said thank you.  It is only now with many years hindsight that I can truly appreciate all that each of them gave: their laughter, their wisdom, their patience and their love.  I was blessed with amazing teachers, and yet for as special as they each were and are to me, I do not believe them to be unique. 

You see, I married a teacher.  I watched him go through his years of teacher preparation and only then gained an understanding of the complexity of their training.  I can write a masterfull legal brief but I would be lost to write a lesson plan, let alone understand all of the components that go into one.  I watched him become a teacher and saw through his eyes his first year of teaching.  I heard the stories of his students.  I listened as he relayed their triumphs and their setbacks.  But what I noticed most of all that year was that he did not sit on the sidelines of his students' lives.  Their challenges became his challenges.  He took on their heartaches and theirs plights (sharing his lunches, his supplies, his time, and his life with them).  Years later, we still talk about some of his first students.  He has been to their football games on cold fall nights all these years later.  I know that he still cares about them.  He would give one of his students the shirt off his back, or more.

Since my husband has become a teacher, I have come to know many of his colleagues.  Some are young, others older.  One is an absolute spit-fire who keeps my husband in line, and I love her for it.  One of his former colleagues made our son a beautiful blanket before he was born.  I have sat in the room with teachers on the last day before Christmas break.  There is no doubt that each of them is looking forward to the days away from the school, but what struck me more is that every time the conversation veers back to their charges.  They ask for advice on how to handle an issue one child is having; they lean on the others through tough years; they tear up at the plight of one child's life. 

It is because I have known so many wonderful teachers, as a student, a wife to a teacher and as a parent, that I will gladly send my son into their care when the time comes.  I will send him knowing that they will take him in as one of their own: teach him, laugh with him and wrap their arms around him.  I will send my very own heart into their care because I know that if the moment required it, a teacher would give him the shirt off of their back, or more.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding Light

I wish I had something elegant and poignant to say.  Something that could create logic out of madness, but I know that there is no logic in evil and no sense in the senselessness. 

I struggle to turn away from the constant barrage of media.  I struggle with so very much information because it threatens to take me to a place that is so dark that when I turn around, I will not see any light.  I will only see the darkness of their pain and it will remind me of the blackness of my own pain that I have struggled for so long to bring into the light. 

Information flows from every corner.  Perhaps in some article I will find a detail that helps me to understand.  But details do not help to heal.  It takes every ounce of my strength to turn away from the pictures, from the articles, from the updates.  I struggle to close the window on my desktop and then to close my eyes for a brief moment.  I remember those who were lost and say a prayer for them.  I plead silently that comfort is brought to those that are left behind.  I ask those who have gone before, to find and comfort those who are with them in heaven.  I beg silently to never know the pain of those who are grieving.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Round 1: No Luck

Well, round 1 has come to an end with no luck. I am not pregnant. I knew that it was unlikely to happen the first month (statistically, it is unlikely to happen any month with a woman my age having less than 20% chance a given cycle), but I was hoping. Not just hoping, but longing for it to happen. I wanted to be one of those stories: well, we struggled with infertility with our first, but with our second, it happened on the first try! I guess not. Secretly, I was hoping it would happen this past summer when we were not as careful with our birth control as we could have been.

When I became pregnant with my son, I was giving acupuncture a try and also listening to guided meditation. I have read a lot this time about the mind-body connection. I get it, but here is my question: how do you stay positive and tell yourself that your body can do this when it failed you for so so many months before? I am so scared of getting my hopes up only to be dashed on the floor like last time. I want to believe but I feel guarded, like my infertility past is a haunting ghost preventing me from having full faith this time around.

So, I will try to keep my head up, try to believe and have faith in my body. I know that I can get pregnant. It will happen, I hope.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A son is a son until...

My head was groggy from multiple cries in the night of "momma, up pease."  The sun was just beginning to shine over the frost covered pasture and leaving my warm bed with a toddler, bottom up and hands tucked under him for warmth, was the last thing I wanted to do.  After 31 years, I know that the relentless march of the morning will not be stopped by hiding under my covers.  I throw back the white comforter (white because it can be cleaned, bleached if necessary) and reluctantly begin my day.  As I throw my legs over the edge of the bed, ready to begin the morning, I hear a soft voice from the center of the bed.  He has rolled onto his back, and looks up at me with a shy smile and says, "momma, cold."  I agree that it is cold and I take his commentary as an invitation to linger for just a moment longer.  I climb back into bed and wrap my arms around the little boy as he snuggles into my chest and sighs.  I sigh too, loving these moments where his happiness is my hug, my warmth and where I am the center of his world.

I have heard it said that "a daughter is a daughter forever, and a son is a son until he is married."  Perhaps that saying is why I push my husband to call his mother more.  "Call her, just tell her about your day," I prod.  "She doesn't want to hear about my boring day," he responds.  I stand there looking at my husband, and in his eyes, I see my own little boy and the toddler that my husband once was.  "I promise you, she would love to hear about your day." 

My little boy is going to grow up.  His world will slowly expand beyond our little family to embrace his schools, the state and then the world beyond.  I can't wait to watch him discover all that life has to offer.  I will watch from the center of the field and then from the sidelines as he learns the wonderful joy and sorrow that are present in our world.  I will slowly step back.  Today, I hold his hand and direct his life.  Tomorrow, I will let him walk on his own but still close by.  Someday, he will run far away from me and I will sit down, weary from years of chasing, directing and hand-holding.  I will await his return, *hopefully* content knowing that I did what I could.  I know that someday he will walk back towards me, holding the hand of someone who has stolen his heart.  I know that he cannot stay my little boy forever, but for today, I will wrap my arms around my ferocious and shy toddler, love and tickle him.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What You Need Now

My computer has this annoying habit where if I am on another website (for work or otherwise) and I receive an email, my email either pops open or the little internet explore icon in the bottom corner of my screen starts to flash.  Conditioned like one of Pavlov's dogs, I immediately click over to see what earth-shattering communication awaits in my email.  Nine times out of ten, I immediately delete the email.  It is an ad from a clothing store that I used to frequent when in private practice or an email about a symposium on some esoteric principle of law that I just! have! to! attend!  How about no.
Today, I was in the middle of reading a blog about how to simplify the holiday season and enjoy the true beauty of Christmas when the icon in the corner started to flash.  I raced over and opened my email.  The new email was from a shoe store claiming:  "What You Need Now..." followed by their cleverly named new collection of overpriced shoes.  While I normally delete these emails without a second thought, the title caught me off-guard today.  "What I Need Now:" More Shoes. 
I can think of a hundred and fifty things that I want right now:  prints from etsy, a new dining room table (reclaimed barnwood, please, sigh), barstools for our renovated kitchen, a new floor to replace the electric blue carpet from the 80s in our dining room, collared shirts that are not stained and, of course, shoes.  I want all those things, oh yes.  I long to hang new prints on the wall, to decorate and have a "perfect" house.  But "need," what do I truly need?  None of that.  I need food to eat, clothes to wear to work and air to breathe.  In honesty, I probably "need" far less of those first two things than I have or consume. 
Beyond the basics, I need to smell my little boy's hair as he slowly falls asleep on my chest at night.  I need time to connect with my husband, time to remember the man I fell in love with almost thirteen years ago.  I need to step outside these walls that contain me during the day and run so that I connect with the outside world and myself.  I need to linger over a cup of coffee with my mom, fostering my realization that she knows exactly what it is like to be a working mom and that she will always give me a hug and tell me that it is going to be ok.  I desperately need to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.  I need to show my son that he can believe in people and that there is goodness, hope and love, if you just look for it.  For none of those things are new shiny shoes required. 
Truthfully, it is so hard to break the old habit of see what I want and reflexively enter the credit card number that I still keep stored in my head.  For years, I told myself that I worked hard and so deserved that new pair of jeans or that piece of art or toy for my son.  It is tough and with a bit of ache that I struggle to remind myself that I do not need, I want.  And by saying no to the wants, I make it easier to address my true needs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Here We Go Again (Part 3)

Cycle 3 of Infertility Treatments.  The cyst had resolved.  It was go time.  It was springtime in Boston.  I would go for my daily monitoring and enjoying walking the beautiful streets on my way to work.  The day of our procedure happened to be a Sunday.  Early in the morning, my husband went with me to the clinic.  We spent our waiting time in the English Garden.  We went home, crashed, napped and saw Iron Man.  In the midst of that cycle, I decided it was time to tell my family.  I needed the support.  I told my mom and my sister, in person.  I tried to tell them how hard the last many months had been.  They cried for me, but they had had no idea.  They both eagerly assured me that it was bound to happen soon.  My mother, a nurse, tried to comfort me and ask questions about the procedures.  I finally felt like I had a cushion of support.  I no longer had to make up reasons that we couldn't visit on the chance that a particular Saturday would be a procedure day. 
Cycle 3 also brought me to acupuncture.  I would have tried anything.  As one of my friends said to me,"if they told you to eat an orange Popsicle, upside down on Tuesdays and you would get pregnant, you would have a stash of orange Popsicles in your fridge within an hour."  She was so very right.  So I tried acupuncture.  The first guy I saw was horrid.  He told me that I hadn't tried long enough, that the procedure wouldn't work and that I was "too young" to go this route.  (The "too young" or "you have so much time" is one of my biggest pet peeves.)  I dropped him that afternoon.  Then, I found Josh.  He was wonderful.  Compassionate, caring and encouraging.  He let me talk or just stay quiet depending on what I needed that day.  He was wonderful.
Less than two weeks after the IUI, I peed on a stick first thing in the morning.  The faintest of two pink lines showed up.  The next morning, the line was stronger.  My husband sent me flowers at work.  I went for a blood test and ultrasound at the fertility clinic.  I had two primary doctors at the clinic.  Doctor 1 was a head RE at the clinic.  Doctor 2 was an RE earning her credentials.  Doctor 2 was young and did much of my monitoring, including the failed cycle, and the day before the IUI on cycle 3.  Doctor 2 did the ultrasound to check for a pregnancy.  We saw a heartbeat.  She hugged me, tears in her eyes.  She asked that we send a baby announcement after my due date, February 6.    
Three years ago, my husband and I were so desperately trying to get pregnant with our first child.  That period of my life -- where we were trying and unable to get pregnant -- was one of the toughest of my life.  Every month was filled with excitement, hope and devastation.  And it is with excitement, hope and trepidation that we start walking down that path again.  Only this time, I hope and pray that the path is so very much shorter.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Here We Go Again (Part 2)

My husband and I undertook our first cycle with trepidation and excitement.  This was it.  We were sure this would work.  I stopped running.  I started doing yoga.  I endured my first cycle, complete with shots and early morning appointments for the monitoring.  No one knew.  I was careful to ensure that the daily appointments did not interfere with my work.  I wore long sleeves so that people could not see evidence of the every-other day blood draws.  Even though I could have done the injections myself, I asked my husband to.  He was gentle and compassionate (from a guy who is a type 1 diabetic) about sticking me with a needle (sometimes two) every day.  The month went by, and ... nothing. 

The day that my second cycle was to begin, the doctor came in whom I learned to loathe.  She had a med-student with her.  When they began the monitoring, she turned to the med-student and said, "see, this right here is why we cancel some cycles.  She has a cyst that hasn't resolved.  It will in a month or two."  And then she looked at me and said, so call us next month.  I was dumbfounded.  I cried on my way to work.  A month may not seem like that long, but when you have watched so many tick by with nothing, each month becomes an opportunity.  Each month hat goes by with nothing is a loss.  After a rough day, I decided to say screw it for a month. 

Our second bedroom had remained unfinished and unloved for years, in hopes that a baby would some day give us reason to decorate.  The day my second cycle was cancelled, I decided that I would no longer let that room taunt me.  That weekend, we ran off to IKEA and bought a room's worth of furniture.  We stopped at home depot and bought paint (but mind you, paint that would also go with a nursery, just in case).  We turned our blah office into a gorgeous guest room, with yellow walls, white furniture with black and gray accents and our charcoal paintings of New Orleans on the wall.  We lounged in the room and I loved that it became a place of happiness instead of a place that taunted me.  That month, I didn't want to think about or care about getting pregnant.  I didn't pay attention to anything that was going on with my body.  It was a huge relief.