By Jess Roberts-McGee
Collectively between my wife Jen and I, we have tried to start a family for almost four years with 9 intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycles between us and each trying a round of in vitro fertilization (IVF). It had been a dream of ours since we met, and knew some day we wanted to be moms. Last May 11, our dreams came true when I had a positive BETA blood test after my IVF cycle. It was pretty hard to keep it quiet, especially around close friends and family (even more so when my mood swings were out of control, and I was standing in the front of a classroom of teenagers).
Now fast forward to this fall and a new school year. I started the year knowing I was going to have to inform my students of my “pregnant status” sooner than later as it was becoming obvious, quickly. Now, telling high school students you are pregnant should be straightforward and standard. Telling high school special education students you are pregnant, well, that’s a little different. I run a vocational program for mostly learning disabled students to give them a leg up on a career post high school. I was ready for the typical questions like, “When are you going to be out?” or “Do you know what you are having?” But these guys and gals caught me off guard.
One student came out with,“So is that why you were normal one second and a crazy bi%$# the next at the end of the year?”
My reply: “Watch your mouth! But, yep. The meds made me crazy.”
Another student: “You have a wife. How did you get pregnant?”
Me: Uh, crap. I wasn’t ready for this one! “Well, science is a pretty awesome thing.”
Another student (who is also new to our district), stated in a relatively rude fashion, “You don’t look pregnant.” Another student jumped out of his seat, looking like he was going to deck the kid who said it, and yelled at him. “Dude, she was way skinnier last year! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Then the student turned and looked at me, horrified I might flip out. “Uh, what I meant was, was, was…” I cut the poor kid off to spare him, thanked him for having my back and told him it was all good (and wanted nothing more than to facepalm myself).
The same student who defended my ever growing mid-section lingered after class that day. He was standing next to my desk, looking totally upset about something. “Hey bud, what’s up? If you think I’m upset with you I’m not, it’s alright.” He looked at me, with a serious and terrified expression and said “I have a question. Are you coming back after you have the baby?” I answered with “Of course I’ll be back!” He asked again “Are you sure? Like you’re coming back this year and then again next fall? You’re not leaving us forever?” That statement hit me like a ton of bricks, and so did the realization that I already had “kids.” My students really are my kids. They make me crazy most days, have given me more gray hair than any 33 year old should have, but I love them all and would do anything for them. And this student standing in front of me made me realize that as much as they push back and argue over EVERYTHING, they love me too.
When I leave in January I’m not just leaving to go have my own baby, but I am leaving my 9 kids in the hands of someone else for 8 weeks. And that person better take good care of them, because I’m coming back, and you don’t mess with my kids.