Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Dreaded Back to School Slideshow

The beginning of the school year is creeping up on me. I had my first back-to-school nightmare just a few nights ago (I thought it was the first day for teachers, it was the first day for students and my schedule had changed, I didn't know where to go, I was unprepared, and it was an alternate schedule so the periods were all mixed up and the principal was on the prowl for teachers caught in the hallways during class time...) followed up by a less involved and wackadoodle-y one last night (trying to complete F&P assessments while technology failed my lessons for the whole group and it turned out my fly was down all day). I actually feel pretty prepared for this school year, all things considered. My summer was full of planning and trainings and trying to get organized. I started setting my resource room up yesterday. It feels real. So back-to-school shouldn't be that scary.

Except for one thing: I was supposed to come back in September pregnant.

And, a tradition that I haven't seen since I worked at the high school has resurfaced at my new middle school home: the Opening Day Slideshow.

This is actually a great idea: your administrator asks for photos of you from the summer, and as you come in to sit in the first faculty meeting of the year, you see what everyone's been up to over the summer. It is particularly fabulous if, you know, YOU DID SOMETHING over the summer.

The first and only year I participated in this previously, at the high school, I actually had a good shot. It was my husband and me on top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine. We had hiked up it and were lying on the granite top, with all the Porcupine Islands and the ocean behind us. Pretty cool shot. It almost made up for the fact that SO MANY PICTURES were people with new babies. People with their families. Lots of kids. Some hospital shots. So, since I did not have those, it helped that I had a really cool adventure picture of our fabulous vacation Down East. (Yeah, I don't get either... Bar Harbor is WAY NORTH, but I guess because it's south of the tip of Maine up near Canada and near the easternmost point of the US, Down East it is.) It also helped that I was in my two week wait from my first IVF, and I was full of hope. Those pictures will be ME pretty soon here! I thought to myself.

This was September of 2010. I still don't have those pictures.

So when I got the email today from my assistant principal, looking to bring this tradition to the middle school, I had a little bit of a panic attack. And then I thought, I have to have SOME picture that will represent summer fun with Bryce, even if there's no tiny babyling anywhere to be seen. I went through my camera roll on my phone. Panic crept up again. I didn't have a single picture. Not one. I have the photos from our failed cycle in June. I have more than a couple pictures of me with margaritas and glasses of wine (I don't think when he specified, "Feel free to include friends and family in your photo" he also meant, "and proof of your alcohol consumption habits"). I have a zillion garden photos without any people in them, a lot of tasty dinners, and some videos of my cat being crazy. None of these are particularly exciting, when you consider that there will be family trips galore, new babies, vacations to exotic locales, weddings, etc. running on the slide show. It made me sad, because the photos show that we DIDN'T REALLY DO ANYTHING this summer.

And the sad thing is, in theory, we could have. I had notice of my failed cycle before July even started. Our new cycle isn't until the fall, during the school year. So, why didn't we do anything? Why didn't we throw caution to the wind and book a fun vacation somewhere? (You already know why I didn't go to the Adirondacks with my extended family...)

Because infertility managed to seep into my summer and steal it away, even though I wasn't really in a cycle during any point of it.

Because I was hoping to do my FET in August, so that I had a shot of surviving the pregnancy announcements that inevitably come in the first faculty meeting intact, because I carried a wonderful secret inside me.

Because FETS and cryopreservation cost money, and we had to be ready to drop that money at a moment's notice, right after dropping an obscene amount on the DE IVF cycle. So booking a vacation seemed a little unwise, financially.

Because even though we probably could have swung a vacation, we would kick ourselves if we then didn't have the money to do a cycle immediately, or swing another FET if the first one doesn't work out (which we desperately hope is NOT the case). Plus we are also saving for maternity leave, because while my district has an awesome policy that allows you to keep your job for a year and a job for two, ONLY SIX WEEKS OF THAT TIME IS PAID. Maternity leave in the United States is ridiculous. (If you want to get really angry, look up maternity leave benefits in other developed countries...) I hear babies are expensive, even after you spend a small fortune trying to make one possible.

Because we had follow-up appointments in July, and now I have surgery tomorrow. Granted, not one with a ridiculous recovery time or anything, but it still puts a bit of a cramp in your style.

So, while in retrospect we might have swung a vacation sometime in early July, we had no way to plan for it with everything else going on.

Since I doubt very much "pictures with family and friends" would include a transfer-day shot with our medical team and Mr. Wand to my right, it means that I have to figure something out in the next two weeks. I have to go on a trip with Bryce, even a day trip, where we can produce a fun-loving picture of the two of us, enjoying life without children (heavy sarcasm), making people jealous who have sticky ice-cream-coated toddler photos up on the screen. Ok, maybe not making other people jealous, but at least making me feel like my photo isn't so sad and lonely. "Look! We ate dinner in our backyard! And no one was with us to take our picture, so that's Bryce's arm blocking out half my face! What an exciting summer we have had!"

I wish this summer was different. I wish we had either managed to get pregnant, or had the opportunity to go away and climb a mountain or hike a rocky beach. Instead, we spent the summer reeling from an incredibly disappointing loss (the loss of the hope for positive, not a loss of a baby...but a loss nonetheless). We spent it researching what to do next and how to move towards our next steps. We spent it trying to do our best to set us up for a positive result next time. It was three parts grieving/recovery and two parts preparing for next time. It was no parts pure R&R. We snuck some in here and there, in our Secret Garden, but it was no week-long vacation in Acadia National Park. Summer is not over yet--there is still time to do something interesting, to have some proof that the summer wasn't all sucked up by infertility and school trainings/activity. Having a fun, fabulous photo in that sea of life moving forward up on the screen will go a long way towards me not losing it on the first day of school. (Did I mention I will be on Lupron during this time? Yeah, this is going to be tough.)

Some photos I will not be sending in:

A very silly photo of me all "glammed up"
with a glass of nice white wine, trying to
reenact a truly glamorous shot of a friend.
She was not wearing sweatpants.

A decidedly less glamorous but much more "me" photo
at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
I am demonstrating how my margarita matches my shirt,
and how my face can rearrange itself in new and interesting ways.


  1. First, that last picture cracks me up!

    I've been working on a post that covers this same topic. I hate the first back to school workshop day where everyone gives you the once over stopping an extra few seconds on your abdomen. As if we need another reminder what didn't happen over the summer.

    I'll be sending you strong thoughts for the ability to make it through the slideshow. Do you know anyone good at photoshop? ;) you could have a spectacular contribution then!

    1. Thanks, lady. I'm hoping I had enough contact with people over the summer through trainings and whatnot that everybody who would be looking for some change over the summer already knows it's a moot point. I HATE the belly gaze. Hate it. Plus so many people come back pregnant and the announcements can be so painful. I'm sure I can scare up a good photo for the slideshow and decide to do the visual equivalent of putting my fingers in my ears and yelling "nyah nyah nyah" to get through it. :) Good luck to you, too--who knew faculty meetings were such minefields?

  2. Alright, not to sound creepy, but you look hot in your glamour shot! :) Maybe not entirely appropriate for the slideshow, but I vote it to be your next profile pic! Thinking of you!

    1. Ha! My fancy sunglasses and red lips must distract from the hideous sweatpants... :) Yeah, probably not slideshow appropriate but it gives me a chuckle. Thanks!