TpT’er and kindergarten teacher Michelle Griffo talks morning sickness, bed rest, and knowing when it’s OK to give less than 110%.
A New School Year
You know you were meant to be a teacher when August rolls around and you’re ecstatic to shop for your new school year and meet your students. As much as you’re sad to see the summer end, the freshness of a new school year fills you with energy and excitement! Last year, I moved to a new school district, and it was really important for me to be an involved member of my kindergarten team and to catch on quickly to the routine and rhythms that had already been established. Being a planner and a perfectionist, I wanted my first year at a new school to be seamless.
Joy, Fear, Surprise, Relief, and Every Other Emotion
Having eight years of teaching experience didn’t change the fact that moving schools and grades is like starting from scratch, yet I had extremely high expectations of not letting the new working environment or grade level affect me. I wanted to maintain the balance I’d established in my personal and professional life and not be overwhelmed by new school routines and procedures. Was this possible? Absolutely not. Just as I was getting into the routine of my new role, my husband and I found out that we were expecting a bundle of joy! Upon learning this news, we had every emotion and thought rushing through us: joy, fear, confusion, thankfulness, surprise, relief, SHOCK! Overall, we were extremely thankful. I have many friends and family who have struggled with infertility, and to get pregnant with ease was nothing short of a blessing.
Hello, Morning Sickness
Quickly after discovering I was going to be a mom (as I am writing this I am nine months pregnant, and I still can’t believe it!!) the morning sickness hit. It lasted for about three months, and it was the most challenging time of teaching I’d experienced. The most difficult part was going to work every day and feeling completely nauseous and sick, counting down the hours until I could make it to my couch. As a teacher, I’ve always taken pride in putting in the extra work to make as many assignments as I can be engaging, creative, hands-on, and cute! But do you know what it takes to do all these things? Energy and NOT being nauseous. One of my best friends, who is also a teacher, encouraged me that it’s OK to not be a super teacher giving 150% during seasons of life when you literally can’t.
I was reminded that it’s OK to not border each writing assignment with construction paper because it makes your bulletin board pop, and it doesn’t make me a bad teacher if the Valentine’s craft I chose for the parents was less involved and took half the time to prepare. I had to give myself grace and focus on the task at hand: growing a human.
Morning sickness also cut into my blogging and TpT time. It just wasn’t possible when I was struggling to sit up. One thing I did take advantage of was social media. I utilized Facebook to host giveaways and to showcase old products, and I found ways to promote myself on Instagram. Before I found out I was pregnant, I’d been given the opportunity to present about Instagram at the Teachers Pay Teachers 2015 Conference in Vegas. Instagram has become a huge passion of mine over the years and (even without the struggles of pregnancy) has taken more of the front seat as a marketing strategy of mine! Being able to take three minutes to post a photo was doable when I was feeling so sick. I could connect with other bloggers and teachers, and showcase my ideas, all in my pajamas. Not a bad silver lining.
Then Things Got Scary
From month three to month five, it was pretty smooth sailing. I had my energy back, I was feeling great, and I could give 150% to teaching and TpT. I was feeling myself again and was on top of the world… until the sixth month of pregnancy when I had to be put on strict bed rest. Literally, the day after I announced on my blog that we were having a boy, I had to go to the hospital due to placenta previa. Essentially my placenta was extremely low, causing contractions and bleeding. The doctor ordered me to be lying down for at least the next six weeks because I was at risk of going into labor. When I went to the hospital, I was 24 weeks along; the doctor explained that it was extremely important that our little boy stay inside my belly as long as possible so that he had the best chance of surviving an early delivery.
When my husband and I found this out, we had a rush of emotions again. But this time, we just felt scared and were in shock. To know that there was literally nothing I could do besides lie down to help protect my baby was the most helpless feeling. There were no guarantees on which way my pregnancy would go, and the only thing we could do was pray and cross off each day as it passed on the calendar, with the goal of being 30 weeks pregnant and less high-risk.
A Lot of Time to Think
After the fear of my baby’s health came into my mind, I started processing other things that were happening in my near future that had to be changed, canceled, or rescheduled. Granted, all these things were superficial compared to the life of my son, but my perfectly organized life was disrupted too, and I had to mourn that. The most significant, non-baby things I missed were the last five weeks of school, the two baby showers, decorating the nursery, our anniversary getaway, and the TpT Instagram presentation. Pregnancy is difficult, and the things I just listed were huge incentives for getting through the morning sickness and working while pregnant. All of a sudden my son’s health was at risk, and all the personal exciting things I was looking forward to were taken away.
Needless to say, for the first week I was just sitting in fear and mourning. Not being able to attend the TpT Conference was definitely the biggest, non-child disappointment I was experiencing. My good friend Hadar and I had put so many hours into creating our PowerPoint and providing the best information we could for our attendees, and I had to completely let go of the dream of presenting. Besides processing that loss, being on the couch all day long was just as disappointing. I am such an extrovert, so the idea of lying in my house for the remainder of my pregnancy was daunting. I am so blessed that I have my husband, friends, and family that were able to care for me daily. Their constant support and encouragement made that season of bed rest bearable.
Our Prayers Were Answered
After four weeks of being on strict bed rest, I went into the doctor’s office for a checkup and found out my placenta had magically moved! All those hours I spent holding the little sonogram picture, praying that our baby would be safe and keep growing inside of me were finally met with an answered prayer that this season of life had passed. I was cleared to sit up, drive, and be pushed in a wheelchair for outings that involved walking. The relief and excitement over this news was so freeing and was too good to be true. God’s grace in keeping my son healthy and me released from bed rest was something to be celebrated!
Through this process, I’ve learned several things. One being that the most important thing is caring for your family even if that means doing something as simple as lying down and letting your baby grow. I learned that my school year could continue without me. The report cards got completed, my room was packed up (thanks to my amazing coworkers who were so selfless through all of this), and my students graduated from kindergarten. Yes, I might not have any clue where all my adorable crayon containers are packed, and I have no idea how the substitute teacher left all my organized files, but having control over my classroom didn’t need to happen to ensure success of a school year. I still have my blog, my TpT store, my husband and growing baby boy, and a community of wonderful people to live this life with. I say that’s a lot to be thankful for.
Michelle is a kindergarten teacher from Southern California. She received her BA and Masters in Education from Vanguard University and has been teaching for nine years. Michelle opened her TpT store (Michelle Griffo) in May 2012, and it has provided her with new opportunities, friendships, and her own Professional Learning Network that has transformed her as an educator and a person. She blogs at Apples and ABC’s where her passion for making learning fun is constantly growing.