Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Being a reflective teacher.

Surprise - not a baby/pregnant-or-not related blog! I am, of course, still pregnant, and anxiously awaiting a 6 week ultrasound on Friday… My nerves are indescribable and my fear is great. I feel like a zombie most days, and tragically, my major food aversions have to do with anything pumpkin smelling, and it’s full on pumpkin spice season.
I’m in the middle of midterms for grade school and going nuts. I had to complete a self-assessment on my professional dispositions, and I got to reflecting and realized some things have changed in my 6 years as a teacher.

Five Things I Stopped Fighting as a Teacher
1. Bathroom Policies
I used to have an intense system for bathroom trips. I offered 3 emergency passes per semester. If a student didn’t have a pass left, he or she did not go. I mean, it was “I guess you’ll wet your pants or get a doctor’s note” serious. Then, I ran into the students losing passes or having them stolen, so I tried marking the three semesterly trips in their planners, and then I had those getting lost or stolen, so I kept the trips recorded on my behavior clip board. In schools where I used to work, the kids were rough. Some on probation themselves, many with incarcerated parents, the vast majority lived in poverty - the white students in the trailer park where doors were left open leading into abysmally dark single-wides on cinderblocks - and the black students lived in the apartment complex littered with trash, bustling with people outside in lawn chairs, where drug busts and police tape were commonplace. Those students, all of them, needed, or more so, craved, structure and stability, so it was the right thing to do. But sometimes I wonder if I just stressed myself out more in an already tense situation. Now I let students go when they need to, but one at a time, and I have build a class culture where you don’t want to miss what we are doing - leaving the room eats up time you need. Could I have created that culture in my previous environment?
2. Pencils and Materials
I can’t believe people actually punish students for not having their materials. I can’t believe I used to do this. If a student needs a pencil, give him one and expect him to take care of it and use it up until it’s a nub, and then give him another. And if he doesn’t take care of it and takes advantage of you, meet with the parents or take away a recess or fun time until he starts taking care of it. But give the child what he needs.
3. Off-Topic Conversations
I have stopped being the dictator. If we get off topic, I use it as a teachable moment and then redirect us back. I don’t yell. Kids tell me I’m different like that. Why do we yell at kids when they are not doing what we want? Shouldn’t we master our craft enough to have engagement so high they want to talk about what we want them to talk about? We should facilitate and guide, not lord over them. I am tired of teachers with Short White Man syndrome.
4. Enforcing Late Work Policies
I credit my husband for this change in me. I used to adhere strictly to a late work policy outlined in a boring looking syllabus students would immediately lose. Three days after the due date? The zero stands. I find myself much more of the ‘hunt-you-down-and-make-you-do-it-now’ variety of teachers. And I always accept work now, even if it is laughably, atrociously late. Because I don’t like failure! I want to see mastery! Isn’t that what we’re about!?
5. Cell Phones Policies
I get fired up about this one. I work at a school where cell phones are off and in the lockers, not on the student. Yet teachers complain that they don’t have access to laptops or ipads or computer labs for certain types of learning projects, etc, ignoring the fact that the majority of students have an internet-ready device that can log on to our school wifi and access the same resources and sites you could do in the lab. I have gone rogue and I allow students to bring phones to class, with the expectation that they are off and/or away until I explicitly say it is okay to use them. So for the kid without internet at home? He snaps a picture of the board or assignment and saves it on his phone. I airdrop scanned pdfs of assignments to iPhone users. We use apps like Quizlet for homework. Cell phones are learning tools, and if you haven’t figured that out yet, it’s time for some professional development to get you out of the dinosaur age. Textbooks are dead. Cell phones are 21st century skills - they are relevant and engaging- and they are practical. 
I am told I am a hippie. I hear I am “different.” I don’t think my teaching is that weird, unless you consider rigor, relationships, and relevance weird. The more work I do for grad school, the more I learn about myself as a teacher and while I am not yet a master-teacher, I do hope that one day when my years of experience affords me that title, that I will actually live up to it by adapting and growing, and not sticking with what I have always done because I have always done it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fill the gaps, God.

I feel like a failure.

No, I'm still pregnant for now. I haven't failed at that, yet...

I feel like a failure as a mother. Lately, dealing with Makinzy has been so overwhelmingly awful.
I don't like being around her. I don't even want to be in the same room. You may ask how this is possible, especially if you know her personally. She seems like the bubbliest, most goofy, most caring little girl, and you'd be right in thinking that. Everyone describes her as Suh-weet. That's sweet with two syllables the way southern women say it. And yeah, she is. TO EVERYONE ELSE. But to me? She's hateful. Smart mouthed. Rude. And it is exacerbated every time I get pregnant. I even asked her about that and what she was feeling, and she said didn't like when I was pregnant because my medicines make me mean so she wants to be mean to me... They do make me moodier, I'll admit, but she never could get to the heart of what's really going on. And frankly, I am tired of hormones as an excuse. While they do play a role in this, it's not a cop-out. I might have a shorter temper or less patience, but I am not purposefully hateful. I don't have a clue as to how to help her, and I don't know how I can keep this up.

Some days, I just want to say I'm done - that this was a mistake. That I got in over my head. Seriously. I think to myself get. her. out. of. my. house.  This isn't working.

My mind blames her and the stress she causes on the miscarriages (I quickly push that away - I know better.)
My mind tells me that nothing I can ever do will prevent her from turning into her biological mother. That she will pick the wrong path regardless.
My mind excuses me from any and all responsibility for her future, because there's nothing I can do.

I am not one to blame Satan for everything, but I do believe he has tried to take root in the fractures in our relationship in my mind and he spreads doubt and anger like kudzu. Those thoughts are his doing, I know.  It's his way of pushing me to give up, give in, and admit failure.

But I know better.
She's mean and hateful with me because I am her mama.
Because I expect more from her than other people do.
Because I don't just dote on her sweetness, but push her to be more and do more.
Because I don't make excuses for her.
And because she's worried, too. She doesn't really know what she's doing either.

Over and over again, I have to remind myself of something I know so clearly. We were called to adopt Makinzy. We were called to be her mother and father. I felt the very thumb of God on my heart when I first heard mention of her, and He nearly knocked the wind out of me. Never, in all of my life, have I been more convinced of God's will for my life, than when I was asked if I would be willing to become her mother.

So, if this is God-ordained, why is it so HARD?! Why is it so painful? And why am I letting Satan plant all these seeds of evil in my mind?

Sometimes I think I am failing her. That I love her too much to be a good mother - that wanting her to be her best actually damages her and our relationship and all I am doing is messing up an already messed up child. People tell us we are doing an amazing job with her, but it feels so hollow - and I think, sure, but you don't see behind closed doors. You don't see how much she and I live in this cycle of hurting one another to see if we will still love each other anyways.

I hope she grows up and comes back and reads my thoughts someday. I hope that she will be able to see how much she is loved, and just how much I believe in her. I get so angry when she doesn't live up to her potential because I know who she is able to be. I hope she sees that I set rules, consequences, and expectations not in meanness to her but out of love. I hope she forgives me for being a flawed individual myself - one who has been though a whole lot of hurt myself, one with my own struggles with my temper, sass, and quick tongue. And I hope she realizes I am doing the best I can at a job I could not have prepared myself for. I pray for God to fill in the gaps where I fail and to mend and clean the messes I make. I pray for Him to soften her heart towards me, and for her to see me for who I am. A mom who loves her.

Friday, September 18, 2015

4 weeks, 2 days.

One of the weirdest experiences of having an IUI (besides the awkward go-in-a-cup and that long catheter contraption... and we made a lot of horrible jokes about the process, which kind of helped) was the fact that the procedure added yet another layer of fear for us. For the last two weeks, worry and fear that it didn't work plagued us. I kept hopeful and optimistic, reminding myself that getting pregnant is not an issue - so it had to work - just staying pregnant was the issue. Nonetheless, that waiting, unsure, for two weeks was agony.

Then Wednesday, test day, came. When the alarm went off that morning, my eyes popped open and my heart immediately started thumping. Like, pounding nearly audibly. My normally groggy self rolled out of bed, to the bathroom, and I grabbed the test. And waited.  More waiting.

Then it appeared.

It worked.

One less fear down, one worry conquered.

Now for the hardest part. Staying this way.

I am still on my cocktail of pills, with progesterone suppositories (a disaster, they are - we refer to them as the little pink devil balls... lol) and of course, the prednisone (which makes me a lunatic - certifiably crazy) and the thyroid medication. I went Thursday for blood work and my HCG levels were 213, and the nurse said they wanted at least 60. So that's good news!

They also called in my lovenox prescription, which was an ordeal in itself. Walgreens doesn't carry it in town, so they sent me to CVS (which as a side note,  for some reason, someone has decorated for Halloween like it's a slaughterhouse - you walk by a wall of nail polish or tampons, and BAM, a knife-wielding clown is lurking! Seriously, I think the manager or someone there is toooooo into Halloween!). As if the decor hadn't scared me enough, the price of the medication was even more frightening. It said on the prescription "qty=9" and "price=$838.39" and I almost fainted. 9 shots for that much? Like 100 bucks a shot for a shot I take once a day for the duration of this pregnancy?
I was freaking out. As it turns out, 9 was total in the ml of medication, and after insurance, it ended up being 100 buck for a thirty day supply. That's $900 over the course of 9 months, rather than $27,000 over the course of 9 months... whew.

So there you a have it.

The fear now is less worry and more dread. It's ever-present in my mind, and I throw scriptures at it constantly.

I have been pregnant six times now. Six times I have had my heart ripped out of my chest by the apologize of some ultrasound technician or an ER doctor. To fall in love only to have your hopes dashed, your heart broken, your worse fears realized.

I read this post just the other day. I struggle to claim infertility. Even though I belong to a few groups, am a patient at an infertility clinic, and have yet to birth a child, the fact that I can get pregnant keeps me from wanting to call it what it is. And yet, in reality, everything in that post describes me. The pain at announcements (because I know their announcements aren't just hopeful... it will happen for them in a few months) and seeing a newborn and the countless dollars and the inability to contribute to pregnancy-birth-babies conversations and just standing there awkwardly. It all describes me.  I am so appreciative of the author for sharing those words. They are so true.

But, recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) adds yet another dimension to infertility, something the author didn't describe.  The fear. Especially to love.

When an infertile couple finally gets pregnant, there is rejoicing. It finally worked. They have defeated the foe. I've seen girls "graduate" from infertility groups, or "graduate" from the infertility clinic, and take that positive pregnancy test as a victory. When you add in RPL, you can never be sure you defeated it. You never get to graduate, not until there is a child laying safely in your arms.

When someone with RPL gets pregnant, it's like you can't breathe. You are so simultaneously happy (because maybe, just maybe, this is the one that will stick...) and also full of dread and sadness. You know when you are at the doctor's and about the get a shot? And you have those seconds of anticipation right before the stick, not sure of how hard or painful it's going to be? Or like the moments when you slam on brakes and you're confidant that you won't get stopped in time, and you tense up in anticipation of an impending car crash? Or when you're heaving over a toilet, and the moment the vomit is about to come, but hasn't yet, and you break out in a cold sweat?

That's what RPL adds to infertility.

It makes you scared to love. I want to love this baby. Name him or her. Take bump pictures. Make a cutesy announcement. Dream of him or her, imagining that face, the personality. But I must stop here. I am not allowed to go down that road. Why allow yourself to fall head over heals for a little life who, experience teaches you, will never exist, at least statistically speaking? It's tragic.

That's what RPL adds to infertility.

So, pray for me. Pray for my head and my heart to cope and my body to work.
Pray for my baby.

I sit with bated breath. 

Monday, September 07, 2015


We're not a week into the TWW and I'm dying. Every feeling I have has been over-analyzed and scrutinized. I have tried distracting myself with a great labor day/birthday celebratory camping trip (it worked until I got still for five minutes..) and with grad school (until I start procrastinating, like now.) and still.. mind-torture.

I read THIS blog today. And let me tell you, this chick is 100% honest. I nearly died laughing at the accuracy of this.

And to prove I'm in the same boat, let me share a pictorial explanation.

This is the last Sun Drop I consumed. A sweet kid at school brought me one knowing my vice. Three days prior to our IUI. My last glass of wine (or anything else) was a week before. I had half a glass of cheap white wine and a few cubes of Laura Lynn sharp cheese to make myself feel fancy when we were broke as a joke from our air conditioner and truck needing costly repair at the same time.

This is the tea I now consume instead of my typical single-origin locally roasted, fair trade coffee (please, make fun of me for that if you must, but you Crapwell House drinkers don't even know... Anyways, If it has roobios, raspberry, pomegranate, and lacks caffeine, well. It's for me. Supposedly roobios and raspberry leaf are good for the endometrial lining.

Old wives tale says cold feet = a cold uterus. I stole these from my daughter's closet. 

Another "homeopathic" suggestion involves pineapple cores. They contain some kind of magic that supposedly helps implantation, so I cut up a core into 5 chunks and eat my daily wedge. I also had  fresh pineapple for breakfast on 1dpo and 2dpo. 

This is one side of my duffle bag from this weekend's camping trip. It is stuffed with my medication. I dare not show you the number of pills I take per day. I dare not show you my arm from bloodwork. 
I haven't counted shots to ovulate and shots I will take once we get the BFP on the HPT. 

As a side note, do you know what dpo means? BFP, BFN, HPT? What it means to be on CD#1, to BD, AF, or test your CM? Can you tell me about your luteal phase or follicular phase?

If you don't, please consider yourself completely and totally blessed. I can't believe so many people have no clue about what it takes, or how insensitive people can be. 

Continue to pray for us on this journey. Makinzy has already let this PUPO thing get to her head. (Don't know PUPO? It's "pregnant until proven otherwise" - or the time period before the test to see if the procedure did, in fact, work when you treat your body as if you are pregnant for both health and positivity.) She's talking to my prednisone-bloated belly in baby talk and I die inside when she does. She has gotten her heart broken to pieces FOUR times already. When we started this cycle, she would pitch a fit at the words baby or pregnancy and huff and puff and declare she didn't want anything to do with it because she didn't want one to die again. Now, she's letting hope in, letting her heart wonder, her mind off guard from impending pain and sorrow... I don't want her to go through it again. I saw this taped to my bedroom door this morning... 

It says "baby boy" (which she taped a plastic lizard to) or "baby girl" or "both?" and ends with "love, Mak."  

I'm praying for her heart (and mine) that if this flops, she (and I) will make it through in tact. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


So I have like a 100 drafts on Blogger never published. I ranted about current events. I wrote about faith. Most were incomplete because life has been busy like whoa. (but let's be honest, that's always the case...) I keep saying I'm going to sit down and blog, but I am just pooped. Summer ended way too abruptly. No matter how much I tried to ween myself out of summertime and back into school mode, I still feel like a fish out of water at first. Even almost two weeks in. While Mak went to summer camp and Jake worked, I took one last fling to Whitney's and spent some beach time. Y'all know what Pawley's Island does to my soul.

We also spent that last weekend of summer fishing at Crowders. And we got our hair cut! I had a few weeks off from grad school, so we relaxed and just enjoyed each other, working a few days here and there. My classroom was ready way ahead of time and I really felt like I was ready. I was not. I don't know if it's just my hormones or if it's just how the first week is, but whoa... I was moody on the first day, emotional and we wayyy overslept on the second. Day three was better. I'm getting my bearings, and I do think it's going to be a good year. I greatly miss my now ninth graders. My new seventh graders are so sweet, and in astounded by how much my eighth graders have matured and grown.

Makinzy's fifth grade year is off to a good start, too. She's loving school most of the time, and I really feel like she's got some great teachers. She gets a little whiny about the amount of homework she has now and I can't help but laugh knowing how much worse it's going to get. Though she has been INSANELY moody and mean lately. Just snotty at home. I try to blame it on her little hormones, but sometimes I wonder... will this last forever? I hope she grows out of this phase fast, because I miss my sweet baby girl.  How is it possible she's almost 11?

In the Maybe-A-Baby Saga...
Today, I had an IUI. Our practice round of treatment went well. Follicles obeyed and I ovulated. Cycle day 1 came without medical help, and we have geared up for the real deal this time. I took Letrazole on days 3-7, and I had 13 lovely follicles on each ovary ready to grow. My RE was right and my blood work levels continued to improve. So we went back a few days later another ultrasound to watch my follicles. It was Sunday morning, of all times, and I had a bit of a scare when Dr. T was like, you're ovulating! It's go time! Blood work showed I needed just bit longer, so it wasn't too soon to do a booster (or trigger) shot of Ovidrel. We did the shot Monday night, and then today, Wednesday we did the IUI procedure. In four days, I'll begin progesterone and prednisone, and then Lovenox after the TWW. Then, hopefully, I'll be pregnant, and I'll stay pregnant. I'm hesitantly hopeful and optimistic. I'm realistic though. But, I am also persuaded to faith. I have no idea what awaits us, but I know He is faithful to give us the strength to face whatever lies ahead. I am eating pineapple cores and drinking raspberry tea, and Jake and I keep making jokes and keeping each other lighthearted. And I just keep trying to trust Him. He knows my heart's desires, and I know He has me in His hands.

On a last side note - my sweet husband continuously makes me proud. I can't get over him. He, at 29 years old, has been recently elected a deacon at our church, and he's already doing amazing things as an Assistant Principal. I can't tell you how many people come tell me what a great job he's doing or how much they respect him. He's humble. He's kind. He's passionate and hardworking. And through all these crazy adventures of ours - adopting and raising our sassy Junie B. Jones-meets-Ramona-meets-Orphan Annie and this miscarriage and infertility journey - well, there is just no one else who I'd rather be in this with than him. It is an absolute honor to be his wife, and next to my own adoption as God's child, he is, and will always remain, my greatest blessing.