Lending Myself Grace

I imagined by this time, late October, I’d have written several entries on the atmosphere my classroom was cultivating, and the growth of teacher leadership I had so eagerly desired to continue would have been further propelled for my PLN at large. Evermore, I had truly looked forward to this year in increasing my ability to share STEM literacy with other educators at the handful of conferences I was to present at (both State and National).

But God had different plans, and for that I am (attempting to be) thankful.

I am writing this post less for an audience, and more for myself. If you happen to stop reading, I won’t be offended. This post is not full of the cutting-edge pedagogical techniques I so often researched and wrote about in months prior. More so, this post is for when I look back on this year; so I may look back and see such as a blessing, of which I already know it is.

There have been many people recently who have asked me what it is exactly that I have. For that, all I can say is “thank you” for asking about such. When I first became ill during this pregnancy, I knew right away it wasn’t the traditional “morning sickness.” I had heard morning sickness described by many before, and this didn’t seem to match up. In the end I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, as the condition is named, and it is no less than this: a continuation of the worst stomach flu (or food poisoning) imaginable while riding a roller coaster for months on end (this article gives highlight to a few factors effecting HG mammas-to-be). Quite frankly, that is the best way to put such (and no, that is no exaggeration), for it can last the entire pregnancy. HG is unrelenting and often violent, leaving one unable to move or perform daily life tasks. A task as simple as a shower or getting dressed in the morning is more-or-less a marathon (and something to be celebrated if completed). Extreme malnutrition, dehydration, severe weight loss and impact on vital organs are all results of this rare condition. In severe cases, it can not only dangerously impact the mother, but the infant as well. I won’t go into all the experiences I’ve had with such thus far, but I will say as only .5%-2% of women may be diagnosed with such during pregnancy, I often wondered, “God, why me?”

The fact that I’m trying to work through all of this is nothing short of a miracle, as well (or insanity? I haven’t decided which one). I try very hard to make it to work, and make it through a day – attempting (key word) to do such without complaint on how I feel. Some days are better than others, but HG is a day-by-day condition. I had two very wonderful days this week in which I felt myself returning; my energy and enthusiasm. My joy! Yet, today was a different day and was a true struggle. There is no rhyme or reason to the condition (although I wish I knew the perfect equation to make it all disappear).

Unfortunately, as I step outside of the situation, and observe through the lens of an onlooker, I myself would assume the condition isn’t difficult to deal with. I see myself still driving to school, arriving slightly early (albeit, not what I used to do) to prep. I see myself still developing lessons, and doing all the tasks that are required of me. But what I don’t see is what the condition truly takes away from me. As an onlooker, I’d be blind to the truth behind HG. And maybe that is why I am putting this down, so that I may look back and remember this year was a victory despite the set back I am facing in the classroom (temporarily). Therefore, instead of writing this post to inform on the set backs or realities of the condition, I am writing it as one of gratitude. Because so far it hasn’t taken much away from me, but rather has given me so much more.

In no particular order…

  1. I am thankful for living in the location that I do. I truly believe it was a “God thing” that my husband and I (and our Little Man!) are in Raleigh. I have a wonderful team of doctors from Duke who are truly bending over backwards to help me right now, and for that I am undoubtedly thankful!
  2. I am thankful for modern medicine. I am not quite sure what I would have done if this occurred many, many years ago. Currently, I take 13 pills a day to stand up-right and to function at 50% (at best mind you). I can’t begin to fathom what life would be like for myself or Little Man if the miracle of modern medicine weren’t present. (Praises it is 2015!)
  3. I am thankful for a husband who has truly supported our growing family. I haven’t the ability to clean, cook, do laundry, etc. in months. At one point, I couldn’t even look at a computer or screen because it made me severely ill (hence my hiatus form Twitter. Sorry PLN!), which meant he handled all our finances. For his continuous support when I was at my worst, I can’t thank him enough!
  4. I am thankful for a network of educators who are like family! I could shout this out from the roof tops if I was able, but I am oh’ so thankful for them more than words will ever express (ever!) Due to my condition, I’ve been in and out of the ER multiple times, and was also admitted to the hospital for several days. In turn, I exhausted what was to be my planned paid maternity leave since I didn’t qualify for FMLA as my family relocated (fortunately, I didn’t get too ill my first several years teaching, so I had quite a bit banked). By a huge blessing and answered prayer, colleagues from throughout the years donated leave, and shared words of encouragement that will forever mean so much to my husband and I! I truly do wish there were words for the outpour of gratitude I have for such – to now have time off again with our Little Man in those first few weeks of life – that means so much to him and I more than words (again) can express (…cue the tears!)
  5. I am thankful for my PLN at CCMMS who gathered last minute plans when I was admitted multiple times, and even planned months in advance – all with a positive attitude! How blessed am I?
  6. I am thankful for the encouragement, support, and love that so many have poured out to myself and my husband. For this I feel undeservedly blessed, humbled, and awed. How incredible that so many have called, sent messages and cards of well wishes! (You all really know how to make a person feel loved when at their lowest!)
  7. I am thankful that the Lord has allowed our Little Man to not be touched or harmed by HG thus far. While this mamma may be a skeleton by the end of this journey, he sure is healthy and strong – and no medication has harmed him! How remarkable is that?
  8. I am thankful for the bad days for I appreciate the good ones so much more. Today was a day in which I wasn’t able to keep food down or many liquids. This used to be a daily issue, but now it is less frequent. I can’t predict what the next day will hold, but I do know if it happens to be a great day – I will make sure to seize that opportunity (and to maybe not go to bed so early?)
  9. I am thankful for my students and colleagues who have lent me much grace right now. It has been so hard for me to accept that I can’t do all the activities I had hoped, or bounce around the room with enthusiasm/energy (let alone be the teacher leader I planned to be!) I know my classroom could be so much more for it was so much more in prior years. I know I could be so much more of a colleague as I had in the past (I haven’t even baked once for the staff! What is that?) I’ve stepped away from so much at school, and at the State/National level. But for now, I am thankful for grace in this difficult period, for I know such is not always easy to come by. I hope that one day, if need be, I may extend such to a colleague who may be suffering unexpectedly, as well.
  10. I am thankful for the HG Support Group that has listened to my concerns, fears, and tears far too many times in the past few weeks. What a remarkable group of ladies is present, and with many fighting much tougher battles than I. All I can say is thank you to this group who brings so much peace (and laughter) to a tough situation.

For now, this is all I can muster. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it is hard to practice an attitude of gratitude at this moment with HG. It is hard not to go off on rants about the debilitating condition, and what life is truly like with such. I often wonder if holding such back means I am not bringing proper awareness to the condition. But I know that what is best for me at this time is not bringing awareness to this condition (maybe one day I will), but rather reminding myself of all that I am to be thankful for.

So forgive me avid blog readers within my PLN. If I don’t get writing until April, it is not because I am not making time. It is because I’m trying to lend myself grace and gratitude through a difficult year. I am learning to prioritize, and making sure I and the Little Man survive these months ahead, while also ensuring my students learn what they need to. In the end, I know this will only make me better for the following year – when I’ll look back and be thankful for all that my PLN gave me, and all that I hope to return one day!



One thought on “Lending Myself Grace

  1. Rachel, I can’t even find the words to say to you at this moment. I am so very proud of you! That is all that will come out. I am speaking to you like a daughter because that is what you are to me. I AM SO VERY PROUD OF YOU! I LOVE YOU, SWEET GIRL!

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