An Untold Story

I saw the inspiration quote about writing about the things that hurt you.

write about them

There is a part of my journey in parenthood that I am ready to share.  I do not always feel like writing about it. But since this challenge began, it is always trying to sabotage all my topics for the day.  I do not know when I will write about this again.  I know that this is the platform where I want to record my thoughts, reflection and feelings about the experience.  I did not do it when I was in the midst of the storm, but I can reflect back on it now.    That reflection lets me know that I am in a moment of healing from the grief and the pain.

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This is the beginning of my story with my eldest Joshua.  His existence has made me experience some of my darkest days, but in that darkness I know that I became a better person, it made me mature in such a way that allowed me to appreciate every aspect of my life and to be grateful.

And there it was, as I stared in awe at the ultrasound showing a tiny blob swimming.  Then it was real, the doctor found your heartbeat, it was so fast.  That is when I knew it was real.  You were real, there is no real description for the feeling of knowing that a life was growing inside of me.  The anger I felt towards your father’s audacity to miss our first appointment quickly dissipated.  My excitement and brightness of that day were met by dark clouds and grayness after the doctor kept measuring and re-measuring you and my belly. The room fell into a silence that could be pierced by the slightest sound.  The alarms in my head and my heart went off, and my mind screamed: There is something wrong. My hands got cold as I bit my lower lip as I fought back tears.  I had no control about what was happening. I had no idea of what was going on and the doctor’s silence hurt more than anything he could say.  She finally broke the silence by asking me every date I could remember, last period, and date of the pregnancy test, was I sure, and was there any doubt in my mind.  No, I timidly answered, I was sure of the dates, my body kept screaming that something was going on, that there was something wrong even if I could not name it.  There was no doubt in my mind there were big changes coming.

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Nothing else was said, besides a referral to a Perinatologist. A specialist, there was something terribly wrong.  As I drove back to the apartment, there were many thoughts in my mind. Did I do something wrong? What was the problem? What could I do to solve it? Did I not find out early enough? I had a confirmation at 6 weeks.  There was no doubt that my morning sickness sent your dad into an almost panic attack.  As I walked up the stairs to our apartment, the mixed emotions were indescribably I proudly showed off the sonogram with your first “pictures,” the undeniable fact that you had your daddy’s nose.  As I shared the news, I saw the excitement in Joshua’s eyes and I had to tell him: I think there is something wrong…

There was an unbroken agreement between Josh and I from that point on, he did not miss any doctor’s appointments.  We were unsure of the outcome and the future. From that point forward, we were to embark on an unexpected journey, a journey that shook me to my core.  The perinatologist visit was the most difficult visit of all.  The U4b3ae8141ffddd9d173c8fae979e31a3ultrasound tech measured and re-measured the baby’s growth, the endless questions about dates and periods, and everything else just reminded me that something in my body was completely out of my control and it was not good.  After that visit I had many terms to google.  Yes, google because it was exactly what I needed right then. Information, odds for survival, experience of others, information, I wanted to arm myself with information because that was the only control I could have at that moment.  The doctor gave me the news, there was reverse diastolic flow on the umbilical cord which meant that whatever the baby needed to receive, returned to my body for a few seconds.  It had caused IUGR (Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction). It had sent my body into a state of shock: High blood pressure, fatigue, every morning when I woke up, my body immediately swelled up as if I was soon to go into labor.  The prognosis was bleak.  The doctor’s recommendations were: bed rest, Amniocentesis test, worst case scenario termination of the pregnancy.  You know what I remember? They called my baby a fetus…and whatever they said about my health and the grave danger I was in was lost to my ears (not lost to Joshua’s ears, who now tells me how worried he was).  From then on, I went to the doctor more than I wanted to, I googled everything there was to know about the dangers of an early delivery and the best chance for my baby’s survival.

 

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Books and Memories

I love books. Being an early elementary educator for 6 years gave me an opportunity to collect many picture books that I used for mini lessons, put in my student library, or (let’s face it) were sitting in my garage for too long because I could not let my husband know I had gotten them off EBay (for a really good deal, promise.). I completely embraced that philosophy of allowing kids to be surrounded by books. Sure, guided reading works, but I also believed in kids finding books they fell in love with just because.

So, when I moved up to fourth grade this year, I was so grateful to find myself with colleagues that love books, that are avid readers, that share books and the stories every day. I love that, seriously they are brilliant! I could not tell them that I probably only read picture books for the past couple of years, sure there were some professional books scattered here and there but nothing like seeing and hearing of the many books they read. I have to say that in my younger years the library was my safe haven. I can recall going through phases checking out twenty picture books each weekend, or
finding the ghost stories, or finally realizing I loved to read R.L. Stine books even if I thought the stories were so good for such lousy endings. I wondered which book would be the first one I read.

One morning, Sofia (one of my students) walked in the classroom hugging a book and asking me if I had read it. Esperanza Rising. I told her no, but she began telling me the story of a young girl who has to leave her hometown in Mexico, where she lived in her father’s Ranch, and had to migrate to be a farmworker in California. The story line had already intrigued me. I asked her to tell me what chapter she was on, and to not tell me more of the story because we would read it together. My job was to find the book and begin reading. I was immediately drawn to the story. Pam Munoz Ryan’s description of the life of a thirteen year old girl’s world turned upside down from
riches and privilege to her transformation and return to being in tune with the earth tells a tale of resilience, growth, and the importance of community. Suffices to say that I could not put the book down, I was stealing minutes any chance I got. We would talk about it in class, and other kids were now curious about it. This is the first
book I read in fourth grade (as a teacher).

I have now looked for books, book recommendations, stories that draw me in and would draw my kids in. I get to fall in love with books all over again. Looking for books that engage my kiddos, seeing them excited as I hand them a new book for their book club is one of my favorite things about fourth grade. I love being surrounded by the
new buzz of a book, a Skype interview with an author, a list of book recommendations. I have been so lucky to work alongside teachers that have allowed me to learn and grow so much because of the type of teachers that they are, the type of colleagues that have made a transition in grade level seamless, and whose conversations I look forward to because of their dedication to what really matters.

keep-calm-and-love-books-82Esperanza Rising

Perfection or Courage

Each day the topic of my blog just shows up. I tried to make a list of what I would write about each day, but that just doesn’t work for me.  I have to think about the day, I have to feel the mood, I have to reflect on the many thoughts going through my mind.  Let’s face it, I still procrastinate before I write.  Facebook? Pinterest? Articles? Whatever it is, my boys are in bed and I have now adopted a habit of typing away as I await Joshua’s arrival from school or work.

The question that percolates in my mind after a Ted Talk by Reshma Saujani on the importance of raising a generation of girls who are taught to be courageous, rather than being perfect.   Reshma recounts how it was not until she was 33 years old that she took the risk, raised her hand (didn’t I write about this last night?) and ran for Congress.  She did not win, but her experience changed the direction of her career and allowed her to help young girls to embrace imperfection.

What do you value in yourself? What do you value from those around you? Which one of the two do you value more in your classroom?

There is a tendency to admire courage in others, observe in awe as their brave actions seem effortless yet we do not see the inner struggle with imperfection. Reshman states, “We have been socialized to be perfect,” and each day perfection is what we measure against in ALL aspects of our lives.  We ignore those moments of bravery that occur in our minds, hearts, and actions each and every day.  Because we EXPECT perfection from ourselves.  Anything less than perfect makes us feel like we have not done enough, we did not try enough, or we can never achieve excellence.

May you realize today that you are brave.

You are courageous.

You are enough.

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Perfect Saturday

It was a lovely Saturday that revolved on attending two birthday parties of my littlest Samuel’s friends.  They are turning five.  Samuel is turning 5 NEXT MONTH.  It was a joy to see him play and interact with his little friends from pre-k.  Unlike me, Joshua and Samuel are social butterflies.  They say hello to people as we walk past them, they inform our neighbors from across the street where we are going and make new friends instantaneously.   It was an awesome day for the boys.  Too much cake, pizza, games, jumping, and singing had them in the best mood ever. I would glance over at Samuel playing with his friends, his best friend Maddie was holding his little hand deciding on what to play next.  Chuck E. Cheese was first, and because two parties were happening on the same day it was very early.

Later, we headed to the second party.  At an inside trampoline park.  It was the first time ever going to one.  The boys were immediately attracted to the bounce house, trampolines, and slides in the park.  I could only hear the little squeals, screams, and laughter of little kids.  There were also loud whistles that the kids were immediately drawn to in their treat bags.  I was sure the little rascals were going to be exhausted but as soon as we got in the car to return home, Little Josh asked where we were headed to next.

There were no set plans, I called my little sister to get together for dinner. I love that I can do that.  It was not until three years ago that she moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth Area 3 years ago.  I adore seeing my boys with their cousins.  They are strong, smart, intelligent little girls and just watching them grow is such a privilege.  While the kids played, I sat with my sister to enjoy one of our conversations.  We can talk about anything, and since we are both in education and we share many of the same preoccupations, thoughts, and experiences, it always ends up being some of my favorite conversations.

As we chatted about our jobs, future, and parenthood, the boys ate their ice cream, and my nieces quickly proceeded to do as many cartwheels as they could. It was the perfect night to sit outside, eating ice cream and talking about whatever thought about.  I can honestly say that spending time with family is one of my favorite ways to spend my weekend.

Our topics of conversation weaved in and out as we can talk about a myriad of topics.  This is what we talked about last night that was a highlight for me. The theme that kept arising and we keep gravitating towards is change, the only constant in education.  It made me reflect about my experiences as a teacher, my next step in my career, my desire to have a greater impact in this field.  Since she attended a lecture by a superintendent, she shared some of the takeaways from it. There are several thoughts that resonated with me, for example, the fact that embracing change will broaden your perspective.  I am a firm believer that when a person embraces change, they are placed exactly where they need to be.  The people surrounding them will be exactly what we need to grow personally and professionally.  Although I have embraced change as a teacher, it becomes difficult to embrace change in a bigger scale.  How often do we put our hand down, or do not raise our hand at all to embark on new professional journeys because we question if we can do it at all, or again, the question of balance arise again.

I love how a light-hearted fun filled day is turned into a reflective evening with deep and meaningful conversations that makes us reflect.

 

I want a puppy.

Slice of Life #5

It was October 31st 2015, like any Saturday, we enjoy family breakfasts without rushing to work or school.  Our weekend breakfast consists of pancakes topped with over-easy eggs, it has become a staple in my house and my boys love them.  The thought of adopting a puppy had been invading my mind.  As a family, we had already visited the Animal Shelter “just to see” if there were any puppies that we could adopt.  Also, I wanted to persuade Josh that having a pet was the best idea I ever had.

Convincing the boys that they really wanted a puppy was not difficult.  We had looked at pictures online of all the cute puppies.  They were my secret weapon to convince their daddy, they would deliver the strongest reason of why we need a puppy with their big brown eyes that would blink a little faster because they know that their charming looks are impossible to ignore.

The reasons that I had were endless: the boys are a perfect age to have a puppy and they can grow together. The boys would learn responsibility (ok, I understand the fallacy in this argument. Parents end up taking care of puppies) but Josh did not know that, right?  How awesome would it be for the boys to play fetch with a puppy in the backyard on sunny Texas days?  (I did not give any consideration to snowy days, rainy days, windy days, and lazy days).  Even though their arguments were perfect, Joshua knew the truth.  This puppy had nothing to do with the boys.  Mommy wanted a puppy.

Even though we looked at the dogs that were available, none met our criteria.  There was no luck again. Mysteriously we always ended up on the cat’s side of the shelter.  We played with puppies but I have never been a cat person.  As we were playing with a small white and grey kitten, we realized that it was just too playful and young.  At the last minute, the volunteer at the shelter that day said that there was another cat.  A black cat that was calm.  She asked if she could bring it to the room and there was no harm.  I definitely was not going to walk out of the shelter with a cat.  A CAT.  I have never even had a cat.  It was a bigger cat, and at the time we thought an older cat.  He was gentle and calm.  No little kitten nonsense.  The boys were trying to play with him, but he did not want to play.  The difference between this cat and others is that it did not seem to bother him that the boys were curious, inquisitive, touching his fur and holding him.

It was a black cat. On Halloween.  Of course we were not going to take it.  Josh, who was holding the cat, said it.  “I am the new owner of this cat.”  We decided to act like we did not hear what he said, but as we were walking, we automatically stopped and looked at each other.  You can imagine the dialogue: “Joshua really liked the cat,” “Cats take less maintenance,” “a cat would be easier to take care of,” etc. then the decision was made.  My idea of a puppy had turned into a cat.  A black cat.  Shadow.

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I.did.not.write.

Slice of Life #4

Ok. It happened. I was not naïve thinking that I would come to this Challenge and just be able to be successful. No, it was Friday and I did.not.blog.  It was Friday, I came home actually looking forward to writing about my day and it did not happen. Every day I had felt a sense of accomplishment for being brave each night and blogging about things that I usually do not say.  But this morning, even my husband asked what I blogged about and I had to say it. I did not blog. I did not write about anything. HE even seemed disappointed, “so you broke the trend you had going already,” Yes. I know the how a habit is formed, you make whatever it is a ritual, rain or shine, day, or night, you just have to write.  But I did not.  It reminded me of how disappointed I feel when I do not follow through, and instead of coming back more determined to continue, it does completely the opposite. It makes me feel like there is no way I can keep going.  What is different about the SOL challenge, is that it has become my little corner in the blogosphere.  I really appreciate those of you that read my words.  It has given me the liberty to play with words, to turn small moments in my life and turn it into a story.  I read a quote recently that stated that we are made up of stories. we look for those around us that share similar experiences that are brave enough to share.  I will keep writing.

Don’t Cry Over Lost Glasses

As tears began streaming down your cheek, I finally realized that I had pushed too hard.  It is another late day at school, when I tell you we have to rush to pick up your little brother from pre-k.  We pick him up and I decide we are just going home to prepare something quick for dinner.  Your tia (aunt) calls and invites us to go to an event that begins in 30 minutes.  I agree to go, and walk out of the room to find you in full Darth Vader costume (yes, you are obsessed and I blame your daddy for this).  You look up at me excited to finally be at home, be free, outside the school walls that you know ohh so well because mommy just spends way too much time there (the joys of being the child of a teacher).  I tell you to change, and to my surprise you immediately follow directions not because I tell you but because tia is just the person you cannot miss the opportunity to see.  I help you put your shirt on, quickly point out where your shoes are and now I ask for your glasses.

Oh your glasses, who are nowhere to be found. They have disappeared and of course you notice my level of frustration.  You feel it to your core, you begin crying and demanding your little brother to help you (in a i-am-going-to-push-you-until-you-find-my-glasses).  I hear the argument and rush to see that even though your little brother often has the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes at finding things in this house, there is no success.

I do not know why but I am still positive that we are going to be able to drive across town in less than 15 minutes.  I try to rush you and your little brother until finally I stop and look at you. My little boy, emotionally you are drained from your day at school, you have been patient with me waiting until I leave yet another staff meeting, and talk about my other kids to colleagues.   I push you. I push you so much you are in tears. You keep saying you need your glasses and guilt overrides all emotions.

I am sorry.  You are happy to be home because you can actually play. I ruined a peaceful day for you after all that you are asked to do at school.  I am sorry because I allowed myself to fall prey to what I am trying to avoid: being on the ‘go’ day after day, rushing from one place to another, rushing you to the car and rushing you to get off the car time and time again.  I am sorry because I know that sometimes there are triggers that upset you and this time that trigger was me.

You are now crying so hard and I know that it will be hard to calm you down, so I silently cry with you. I hug you and tell you mommy is sorry for rushing you. We will find your glasses, eventually, I promise you. I sit you on my lap and once again I realize how fast you are growing, how far you have come. I need to enjoy the perfectly ordinary days because they will be over too soon.

We compromise. You quickly decide to play Ninja Turtles with your brother, and I find your glasses exactly where you said they were not…my room.

 

You will never have this dayDarth Vader and Superman

Slice of Life #3