Guest Post: Lynn Polin from Kindred Beginnings
This Guest Post comes from Lynn Polin, the Creator of Kindred Beginnings, a family-building support community.
It’s 7:47 AM and I’m in a sweat as I sit in traffic, my heart beating out of my chest because I have exactly 8 minutes to fight the car drop-off line, park and sign into the main office before I’m considered tardy.
This is exactly why I leave my house at 6:30 AM on a regular morning. But these days my mornings are far from regular.
I left my house early this morning. 6:15 AM to be exact. I drove in the pitch black, parked in the same spot I always do and walked into the doctor’s office for my 7:00 AM morning monitoring appointment.
“Hi. I know I’m early but was hoping if I came early I can get out earlier and make it to work on time.”
No such luck today. I didn’t get the 6:30 or even the 6:45 appointment. It was the 7. I had been up all night dreading the 7 because I knew my morning would be anything but zen.
At 7:01 I’m still in the waiting room tapping my foot and starting to panic. I’ve done this morning monitoring trifecta too many times and know that there is absolutely no way I’m making it to school on time.
My name is finally called and I head back to the ultrasound room where I’m half-dressed, cold and watching the second hand on the clock on the wall to my right mock me. The tech comes in and I slide down, anchor my feet in the stirrups and wait to get wanded. Then it’s off to consult with a nurse who has a lot to say this morning before waiting my turn to get my blood drawn - again, the third time this week.
Now I’m in traffic and I know I need to call the front office and my principal and explain, again, that I am doing my best to get to work on time but I may need coverage for the first few minutes of homeroom.
At 8:04 I’m fumbling with my keys in front of my classroom door as students are entering the building making their way to their homerooms. I smile through my tears of panic, frustration and guilt for not being a more prepared teacher as I sing-song, “Good morning!” to dozens of 7, 8 and 9 year olds as they walk by.
It’s 8:06 AM. I’ve been up virtually all night, was out of bed over three hours ago, and have lived a lifetime before my day has even really gotten started.
I had to get special permission to leave my phone on my desk because you can’t miss “the call.” “The call” is the one you get after each monitoring appointment where you receive instructions for your next two days of injectable medications. “The call” always - ALWAYS - comes at one of those times when there is either direct instruction, an administrator is doing a walk-through or a child is having a difficult time.
I answer exasperatedly and feverishly write down exactly what is being said without actually listening to a word because I’m using my teacher eyes to get one kid back to her seat and nodding my head to another who has a bathroom emergency.
I have to take “the call” because if I miss it it will take a 2 hour game of phone tag to get another nurse on the phone and I just don’t have that in me today.
This call is one of the good ones though. It’s just straightforward instructions. The hard ones are when you receive that one where a nurse says, “I’m sorry. You’re not pregnant,” and you have twenty-five plus sets of eyes staring at you as you hold “Mean Jean the Recess Queen” in your hand for anti-bullying week. It takes every fiber of your being to choke back the tears, smile, and say, “Oh! Why thank you so much for the call! Have a great day!” before going back to reading page 9 as if your whole world hasn’t just fallen apart. And you hold it all in until lunch and then spend 42 minutes sobbing in the dark at your desk with your door closed praying that no one forgot their jacket so you can have just a hot moment to process what the hell just happened and what you are going to do now.
The Staff Refrigerator (and Restroom).
I have two lunch boxes - one actually contains food. And not good food. Food that the fertility nutritionist has deemed appropriate for me to eat. The other contains syringes full of hormones and fertility drugs. The irony of these two lunch boxes juxtapositioned to one another is not lost on me. Nor is working at warp speed to give myself multiple injections balanced on the small pedestal sink in the faculty restroom because there’s a line outside waiting to use the single stall.
At some point I had to go public about what was going on. There were too many rumors, speculations and questions as to why I was a raging lunatic, always late, disheveled, moody and, well, fat (the meds tend to do that to ya). I sat with my union representative and explained I had been going through round after round of IVF and that I needed some flexibility for appointments which are frequent and sometimes urgent. I became really good at using half personal and sick days to buy me more time and stress a wee bit less. But then it came time to talk to my building principal, a man with seven children, about what was going on in my personal family-building struggle because I felt like I owed him, my co-workers, the parents and my kiddos some kind of explanation. It’s a hard, uncomfortable conversation to have sitting across from your administrator in his office with the door closed.
The Domino Effect.
Once I came clean I became very open about my 6 year, 10 rounds of IVF family-building journey. I answered questions, took opportunities to educate my co-workers and became the go-to person with anyone who was struggling (mostly in silence). The truth is that 1 in 8 struggle to build their family and 1 in 4 experience pregnancy or infant loss. There’s a lot of us out there and there’s something amazing about coming together in community to support one another through it all.
The Truth of It All.
It’s incredibly hard to be an elementary educator or staff member of a school community while struggling to family-build. You hear about the kids’ special birthday parties, holidays, learn the name of their Elves, put their lost teeth in baggies, write encouraging notes and get lots and lots of hugs and love. And, you see the hurt in their eyes as Mom goes back to rehab, Dad didn’t show up for the weekend playdate, see the dirty, unwashed clothes, sniff the smelly bookbags, gawk at the long fingernails and hear their hungry bellies growl. Immediately you are jealous and mad all at once. And you put a smile on your face and do the very best you can to not just be a teacher but a parental figure, nurse, friend, tailor, confidant and safe person all at once - all while your world is seemingly in shambles. There’s nothing harder.