Dear Infertile Teacher

Dear Infertile Teacher,

I-N-F-E-R-T-I-L-E adjective
1.   not fertile; unproductive; sterile; barren:

Maybe you felt like your doctor needed to spell it out to you, much like you spell out tricky words for your students. You couldn’t be infertile. That’s not you. You’re meant to be a mom. But, yes. Our doctors told us that we have PCOS or Endometriosis or “Unexplained Infertility” or any other name for it. But those names don’t matter… what we heard was “broken.”

a is for alligator
b is for ball
i is for infertile

Maybe you had plans, too. College, career, marriage and then maybe children. But the years passed and the more time that went on, the more we yearned for children of our own. We’ve got kids, sure. We’ve got 26 first graders who accidentally call us mom on the daily and if we’re really lucky they might even call us grandma. We’ve got students who ask us how many kids we have and without hesitation we say “I’ve got all of you, and right now that feels perfect”. What we really want to say is, “We want kids of our own, but we’re broken.” It seems like our students’ parents are so much younger than we are. They have 4 children. We should have at least 2.  We’ll be the parents that teachers think are the grandparents. Time is not our friend.

Maybe you find it painful when the innocent substitute teacher down the hall asks you how long you’ve been married and you cringe because you know what question is coming next. It’s even more painful when they ask us WHEN we plan on having kids. “One day,” we say, or maybe we make up something like, “We just aren’t ready to have kids yet.” Because lying is easier. It saves our pain from flowing out.  What we really want to say, “Well, I’m broken and there’s a lot of money we need to come up with for us to have children…care to pitch in?”

Maybe you find it difficult being on timed medications as a teacher. Oh, inject this shot into my stomach at 9:05am? Sure! That’s right during small group reading instruction so I’ll just leave those 6 year olds to themselves for 10 minutes (it takes us 9 minutes to muster up the courage, 1 minute to actually administer the shot) and they can teach themselves to read. Remember when we thought we had the flu, but it was really the Clomid?  Oh yeah, it was sure a blast to teach double-digit addition while periodically heaving into the garbage can in the hallway. "Keep your lunch down! Keep your lunch down! Keep your lunch down!..." was our new call to attention in room 104. We are hot, then cold, then hot again. Hot flashes in our 30's? Thanks a lot, Clomid... you a**hole.

Maybe you had a hard time managing all of your appointments to get your blood drawn, temperature taken, uterus scanned. The last appointment of the day…3:30pm?!? Really? Guess we’ll be finding someone to take our class for the last 30 minutes, or the first 30 minutes, or maybe we could make my appointment during my lunch break? No? Well, I guess we could get a half-day substitute. We love writing sub plans! Sometimes we wonder why we don’t just have a desk job that allows us to leave for 2 hours during the day without batting an eye.

Maybe you wonder where the money will come from, but you haven’t let that stop you. We as teachers make SOOOO much money and IVF is so affordable (BTW insurance gets a giant middle finger right here). Our sarcasm is at an all-time high on this topic.

Maybe you are still happy for your friends and family having babies, but you can also be completely devastated and confused at the same time.  These happen for us simultaneously, don’t they? Oh, you didn’t have to track you periods and ovulation for 2 years and you just had a baby…by just…wait for it…. "doing it?” It stings a little to think this happens for other people and not us, but you go Glen Cocoa! No period trackers, ovulation trackers, and temperature taking at all? We want to give you an award and snuggle your baby and cry - all at the same time! Let's not even talk about baby showers for our friends and family.

Maybe we've planned out how we will tell our students when we get pregnant. Of course we've planned out how we'll announce it to our spouse and family. our students...that is something very special to teachers. There will be voting on boy or girl and confetti and glitter and balloons. Oh yes- the bar graph...because #standards. We'll make a bar graph of whether they think it's a boy or a girl. We'll look at the data we collected. We'll celebrate. But instead we won't. Because their teacher is broken. 

Maybe we haven’t told anyone about our infertility struggle over these painful years because we don’t want pity or awkwardness or worry. Maybe we are scared to talk about it because we don't want to share bad news, only the good. Maybe 2019 is about telling our truth. What do we want from this? We just want a listening ear and a high-five or a hug.

We are the 1 in 8. When we teach fractions we see the odds of 1/8, but we do not understand it in this capacity. Guess it’s that dang Common Core.

I see you. I am you. Continue to fight, teacher warrior.  


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