Balancing Family and Teaching

Avatar for veesmimi
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Registered: 04-27-2003
Balancing Family and Teaching
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Wed, 05-28-2003 - 9:29pm
Do teacher's have to design their family's growth around the school year? We're ready to add to our family of three, but I feel a lot of (self-inflicted) pressure to postpone ttc until the summer baby window gets here. But the pressure of ttc within such a shallow window will most likely render me infertile! What are your thoughts on being an expectant teacher?

I'm a neophyte 4th grade teacher, beginning at a new school in the Fall. Thanks for your input!

Jennifer

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 10:23pm
I had my second child during my first year of teaching (December) and it was very difficult on both sides- school and home. For me, first year of teaching was difficult in and of itself, and then having to plan for my maternity was hard- (and then to find out the sub didn't follow most of it) If we plan to have another child, I'd definately try to conceive Aug., Sept, or Oct. And see in Nov. how I'd feel about waiting until next year or not.(I have 2 winter babies, and dream of pool birthday parties...) As far as waiting like a poster above stated for the sake of the students- I guess it all depends on your priorities- career or family? You need to decide how much you can handle at once. Good luck,

Mary
Avatar for luvmyevan
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Registered: 03-29-2003
Tue, 06-03-2003 - 6:33am
I agree totally -- it depends on whether your priority is your career or your family. I've seen too many people who put career above family and they lose their family. It's a very selfish way to live, I personally feel, and is not a lifestyle that easily encompasses having children. It short-changes the children, the spouse, etc. I've lived that lifestyle with my father & my ex, and got out of each situation never to go back. Today I have no connection with my father, and neither do my 3 siblings -- because we never got to knew him, his work was too important. He had no business having children so that he could bury himself in work. Same as my ex, work was far too important, much more so than a wife, so I left. There was no way in the world I'd put children through what I'd gone through. My current hubby is wonderful, and we have two beautiful children together -- none of us could be happier.

Another thing to consider, if I'd married someone who put career first, when we did have our first child (he just turned 3), he was born with a very serious, life-threatening condition. He was on life support for his first few weeks of life and we nearly lost him a # of times. He had his first heart surgery at 4 days old, 2nd at 3 months, and the 3rd (which was open-heart) at 4 1/2 months. We spent about 6 months at hospitals/home with him, learning to take care of a child that we expected to be fully healthy. This (being born with heart defects) happens to 35,000 babies born in the U.S. every year for no known reasons -- just a fluke.

Imagine that you plan to have a family and you are the person who put your career first and this happens to you. How will you handle not being able to work for 6 months, having to learn what we call 'do it yourself nursing', changing feeding tubes, stethoscopes, a quick lesson in cardiology, $250,000 in medical bills just for the first two weeks! If my husband or I had put careers first, my son may not be alive today, and he definitely wouldn't have had the same care he does now.

I know this may not be a popular opinion here because many teachers have the type of attitude that they feel they are irreplaceable, but it's just not true -- so I feel that if you plan to put career first, please, for the sake of the children, don't have kids. It's not fair to them. That's why we have subs, and almost all districts have subs that they use for long-term situations that will help leave your room the way you wish it had been left. Ask about retired teachers who sub, people who don't want to return to full-time teaching but want to sub, and ask other teachers who you know have had kids who did their maternity leave and if it went well. It can be done, and done well, even without you there. Don't make decisions that will affect the rest of your life based on when you teach.

One more thing to think about, everyone likes to 'time' their pregnancies, but what if you end up with infertility issues? There were none in the history of mine or my husband's families, yet we dealt with that after my 3 year old was here. We were told that if we wanted more to have them before his next open-heart surgery, and we had a very difficult time conceiving the 2nd time, including a later-term miscarriage. So keep in mind that things don't always go as planned, and put yourself and your family first.

Katie

Avatar for veesmimi
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Registered: 04-27-2003
Mon, 06-09-2003 - 10:46pm
Wow! What a unique profession we are in... where we devote ourselves to other people's children for 10 months before coming up from the deep waters for a few weeks of freedom. Such an irony! And true, summer babies would be most convenient for our students and their families. But to sacrifice the freedom of choice in family building is a LOT to ask of anyone, especially when the unforeseen has darkened my doorstep in the childbearing category more than once. And I'll be honest, with my first (now three) I hated leaving her and worked part-time before finally becoming a SAHM. Those days of infancy are irreplacable.

I just had my first substitute two weeks ago. My lesson plans were a bit overdone and I may have given the sub too much information, but she gave glowing reviews and the kids survived (and appreciated me more when I came back ;) My lessons were given and the basic goals of instruction met. I truly appreciate the various experiences and points of view you have shared with me. As for my plans, before I started teaching, we decided to start trying this July... perhaps I will not derail those plans after all.

I'll keep you posted!

Jennifer

Avatar for luvmyevan
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Registered: 03-29-2003
Tue, 06-10-2003 - 8:43am
Good luck, Jennifer! You're right, it is an irony that we place ourselves last so many times. The most experienced teachers (the good ones anyway) have always told me not to do that, and to be sure that I put myself first. If you aren't happy, you may come to resent the fact that you put your career first, and then your career will suffer. I've seen too many teachers who have been in for far too long because they put their careers first. On the other hand, I know some who've been in for 30+ (some even 40+) who put themselves first, and are STILL wonderful in the classroom, always trying new techniques/ideas, etc.

You're also all too correct in the statement about the unforeseen. It has come my way, as well. I, too, have a 3 year old, and expected a healthy baby (especially after 5 ultrasounds by my high-risk OB, whom I went to only because I'd heard he was good, NOT because I was high-risk). Imagine my surprise when, at 3 days old, he was diagnosed with heart defects. They affect 1 in every 100 babies, making them the most common birth defects, but it was still a shock as I'd done everything according to the books. We nearly lost my baby boy that day, and he had to be revived. It wasn't the only time either -- we came close to losing him numerous times after that first morning, and he is always going to be considered "medically fragile", with surgeries always looming around the corner, every few years. With that in mind, we were told to have our next one either BEFORE, or AFTER his next surgery, but to try not to be pregnant DURING his next one because that kind of stress can cause cardiac AND neurological defects.

We had been told, when trying to conceive my 3 year old, that it would take 6-18 months because I had *JUST* gotten off NOrplant. According to the first ultrasound (since it measures and gives approx. dates), it took 12 days to conceive him. We thought it would be just as easy the next time. Sure enough, I conceived right away, and things were going along great at my 9 week ultrasound. In fact, because the chance of miscarriage had lessened so much at that point, we'd already told everyone and began picking out names. I lost that baby a week later for no known reason (at the time, we now think my progesterone was too low, and I also came into contact with Fifth Disease at school). We then went through a period of infertility for about 7 months, had my progesterone levels checked, found that they were 1/10 of what they should be, and were ready to start infertility treatments when somehow we conceived again. That baby is now almost 9 months old.

The point to all this -- you never know how things will turn out, so just be sure you've put your priorities in the proper order. Don't end up resenting anything/anyone later because you waited on something that you wanted. If I had waited, expecting to conceive at will, who knows when it would have happened. I do know that it didn't happen until I'd given up on trying.... that December when I had the bloodwork and they said it was infertility I gave up. I said "we'll just have to wait for the treatments to begin".... and that was when it happened. So good luck conceiving when you are ready, and best wishes to you for a healthy baby and uneventful pregnancy! :)

Katie

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