Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The end of the school year... a tale of survival

Since my last post life has just gotten more complicated. I am so thankful for a supportive husband, time with my therapist, and family that "gets it". Without them I am not sure I would have survived to the end of this school year. It was definitely a bloody crawl to the finish line.

Shortly after my last post my husband was informed that he was being considered for a transfer to a new position in the company. This position was out of state and the decision making process was long and drawn out. We spent about a month and a half not sure what state we would be calling home come summer time and whether or not we would need to put our house on the market and whether or not I needed to pursue teaching certification in another state.

Then state testing happened and I had two very nervous and stressed out children to comfort. Both kids were convinced they would fail the test and, as a result, fail their respective grades and be retained. The law in Georgia states that children not passing the Milestones assessment must pass a retake after summer school or be automatically be retained regardless of having an IEP or ESL accomodations... so their fears were warranted. Especially given our struggles with our daughter's IEP and being in the RTI process with our son. It was difficult to reassure them when they had valid fears, but I did my best.

Not to mention the change in schedule being hard on all of us. The kids having testing all day and my kindergarteners having to be quiet and in our classroom with a completely different schedule for two weeks. Not fun.

In late April Steve and I got the shock of our lives when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. After being told pregnancy is not a possibility for us without medical intervention, it was a happy but overwhelming surprise to conceive on our own.

Unfortunately, when we went to the doctor for an ultrasound to check on the baby after I had some abnormal spotting, we were told our baby was behind in development. We should have been able to see a heartbeat and there was nothing. The doctors thought maybe my dates were off since this was an unplanned pregnancy, so they had me come in for repeat beta draws. Those numbers quickly showed that the baby was no longer growing. Follow up ultrasounds showed that our baby stopped developing at 5 weeks and 5 days and I was officially diagnosed as having a missed miscarriage.

What made the whole situation worse was that my body seemed to not know what to do and was unable to miscarry on it's own. I waited almost two full weeks after our official diagnosis before my doctor confirmed the diagnosis once again and brought up the need for a D&C. So, the last friday of the school year (what would have been 8 weeks 4 days) I was at the surgical center having the procedure. Apparently waiting any longer put me at risk for complications.

The Thursday before my procedure I got the call that yet another dear relative had passed away suddenly. He went to the doctor because something didn't feel right, was diagnosed with stage 4 leukemia on Wednesday and did not live to see Thursday night.

When I arrived back at school on Monday my Assistant Principal called me into her office to tell me that both of my children failed the Reading portion of the state assessment and are required to attend summer school and retake the test. My daughter failed all sections of the test, my son failed just the reading portion. If they do not pass the retake they will be automatically retained. We also received my son's Access scores (language proficiency test) and he scored very very low in all areas. For comparison's sake, I have students in my class who moved here in December from another non-English speaking country who scored better on the language proficiency test than my son. My son who speaks no other language than English.

We are having him evaluated for a speech-language or processing disorder over the summer.

I haven't told the kids about summer school yet.

Our family vacation to Disney World is next week and, maybe I'm being selfish, but I refuse to tell them this news until we get back from Disney. I don't want our trip spoiled by this dark cloud hanging over us. Steve and I can shoulder that for now. Unfortunately, Summer school starts the week we get back.

The one piece of good news we received in the last few months is that Steve's job is not moving out of state. He is staying put. We do not have to sell our house. I do not have to get out of state certification and job hunt. We do not have to move. Thank God and Hallelujah!

We were also fortunate enough to attend the wedding of a very dear friend and mother to our godson in Tampa on Friday. It was a beautiful small and intimate ceremony on the beach at sunset with an equally intimate reception afterward. My son got to meet my godson and they were instant friends. The bride and I both got emotional seeing our boys playing together as it has been a dream of ours since our wine and Heroes nights back in 2006.

Proof that life goes on and there is always something to be grateful for if you keep looking.

One thought has helped me a lot these last few months...
"God is doing something amazing in you or the Devil wouldn't be fighting you so hard."

Living a life of love is hard. Meeting people (students, too) where they are and loving them unconditionally is hard. Accepting your broken and ugly pieces and loving yourself unconditionally is hard. Trusting that your trials and suffering have some sort of purpose is hard.

But in the end I find those hard things much more easy to bear than the alternative.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Love isn't easy

So far 2017 has been rather intense for our family. We had the most amazing Christmas, but then the new year hit and it has just been one hit after another.

A very dear relative passed away suddenly just after the year began and Steve's grandfather discovered that he is no longer in remission. In fact, his stage 4 throat cancer is now stage 4 metastatic throat cancer with growths in his lungs and liver. He is currently going through chemotherapy to fight this awful disease for the fourth time.

As if those things weren't hard enough on their own, we have had some struggles with our daughter's IEP. I have been fighting to get some form of assistive technology for her to help with reading since she has working memory problems as well as a significant reading deficiency. To me this seems logical that, unless she is being assessed on her reading ability, she should receive help with the content so she can truly show what she knows. The county agrees with me to an extent, but assistive technology is not cheap so it's been a long and hard fought battle with mixed results. The hardest part is knowing Yasmin is aware of everything going on despite our efforts to shield her from a lot of it and knowing that she is so nervous about passing this year so she can go to middle school.

My teaching job brought me a lot of stress in late January/early February as well. I got some difficult to accept performance reviews in addition to some frustrating data and, with the other stresses in my life, took them much more personally than I should have. For about a month I was convinced that I needed to leave teaching.

Add in Steve traveling for work a few weeks in there with me left to hold down the fort and the kids refusing to sleep and I was miserable.

Thankfully there is this amazing thing called "individual talk therapy" covered by my health insurance. I started meeting with a therapist once a week (now down to every other week) and she has helped me recognize that "toughing it out" for the sake of my pride is not doing anyone any favors. Self-care is your friend. All things I would have readily said to a friend in my same situation were apparently things I wouldn't say to myself.

I've spent more time with God as well. I've made it a priority to be at Mass every Sunday and observe holy days of obligation. Not only does it make me feel at peace, it gives me that spiritual nourishment I need to be able to extend kindness to those around me.

I'm happy to say that I'm feeling more like myself. The initial spark that ignited my passion for teaching is burning brightly again and I am better at recognizing when I need some time to recharge.

Loving people unconditionally, with your whole heart is hard. It's harder when you don't love yourself unconditionally as well.