Baby Clothes

Here I sit surrounded by piles of baby clothes that you’ve already outgrown. For only ten months of life you already have enough clothes to fill two tubs ready to be stored in our basement. When I look at the tags of your clothes now, I am reminded of the days where I thought these 12 month onesies would swallow you alive and now they stretch taut over your growing frame. As the seasons change and summer fades into autumn, memories descend into my mind like falling leaves and I’m consumed by the fact that it was this time last year we were in the final stages of preparing for your arrival.

I think one of the things that packing up your baby clothes reiterates the most is that we are rounding the bend of the last of the firsts. There are not many moments of the calendar year that you have yet to experience for the first time. As I fold miniature pjs, I see the outfit you wore just days after your birth for your first Thanksgiving. I stack the onesie you wore to church for the first time with the piles of newborn zip ups that fill my memories of maternity leave with you. I sniff the red striped jumpsuit that you had a blowout in just before the Christmas Eve service at church. I wrap up the arms on the set of PJs you wore on your first Christmas morning and the one that took you late into the night on your first New Year’s Eve. I fold the outfits that I once stuffed into ziplock baggies to send to your first days of daycare and others that I dressed you in on treasured mornings when I had delayed openings at school in those beginning days away from you. I crease the “Cuter than Cupid” outfit and pile it with the collared Easter button down. I see the pajamas that filled our challenging bedtimes and the sleepless nights that I thought would never end. I spy the clothes you wore when your baby fresh skin felt the first warm sun rays of spring and I tuck away your first swim suit.

The weird thing about baby clothes is that you won’t open up this box in the winter the way I cycle through my seasonal wardrobe change. This realization shouts the finality of your infancy and exclaims that you will never be as little as you once were.

While I will miss your teeny tiny-ness, know that I also love the little boy you are becoming. Yesterday, we laughed for fifteen minutes straight as you knocked over the ten month sign that I kept trying to prop up for your monthly picture. You do silly things like squint your eyes when you laugh and I gain a sense of your ever growing personality. Now you daily crawl over to me and pull up on my legs. You say, “ma ma ma ma ma,” over and over again and I know the days are just around the corner when you will start to associate those words with me. Your crawl will soon turn to a walk and you know what, as much as I’m sad to be packing baby clothes I’m loving every minute of having more and more of a relationship with you. I just can’t get enough of you.

To my last class at NW…

Tomorrow I begin my first day at my new school! In honor of new beginnings and recognizing where you come from, here is the letter I wrote on my last day of second grade at Northwest.

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The fingerprint tree, complete with 4 years of student fingerprints from Northwest.

____________________________________________________________________________________________                                          June 7, 2018

My Dear Second Grade Class,

Congratulations second graders, YOU DID IT! I cannot believe we are here at the end of the year, 180 school days since we sat here in our classroom reading a letter at the start of our journey together. As I think about our school year, I think of three very important lessons you taught me. It all happened one day when we were going over a bunch of your work as we often do. I asked the question, “Why did I pass back your work?” and you responded with three amazing answers that blew me away! Since then we wrote them on our whiteboard and we have said them often. I will probably continue to say them as long as I am a teacher.

Number 1: Learn from mistakes. We have all made mistakes this year, each and every one of us. When you had a difficult time with a friend out on the playground you learned from those mistakes. When you got a problem wrong on a test, you worked hard and then you learned from those mistakes. Some of you even gave up your own recess or special time to learn from mistakes! You probably had to erase, change, fix or even start a paper over. Even I made many mistakes but you were kind and forgave me and I learned from those mistakes. While all of our mistakes may have felt frustrating, the important thing is that we learned from them!

Number 2: Learn from others. This year each one of you shared your ideas, your knowledge, your answers and your stories. You taught each other so much and you taught me so much. Never forget that for the rest of your life you are a learner and a teacher!

Finally, Number 3: Be proud of hard work. From reading Frog and Toad, to counting the seeds in a pumpkin. From putting on the “We Need Trees” play to practicing Rocket Math facts and passing levels.  From learning about mixtures and solutions to describing our favorite type of communities. From working hard to reach reading goals to writing fractured fairytales. From trying to design a boat for the Tortoise and the Hare to building a new mattress for the Princess and the Pea. From adding and subtracting three-digit numbers to creating your own graphs.  From speaking kindly to classmates to learning to include others in your games at recess. Second graders, you have so much to be proud of this year!

Next year we all will go different ways. Some of you will go to the new Northwest and have different third grade teachers. Some of you might move to a new school, be in a new class and make new friends. Even I will be in a different school next year. Just as we talked about all year, we can be both sad and nervous as well as happy and excited all at that same time. But remember, no matter where we all go, learn from your mistakes, learn from others and be proud of your hard work! (Guess what, I even plan to make a poster of these for my new classroom next year!)  In your last moments as second graders, I want you to know that you will always have these three things you learned in this classroom and you will always have my love and support!

                                          With love, your teacher,

Mrs. Meassick

 

Thank You Northwest Elementary

In a few short weeks families and teachers will begin back to school preparations. Stores have already begun displaying school supplies that boast of a fresh start. This year, I will not be returning to the elementary school where I began my journey as a teacher and I feel both the newness and hope of a fresh start and the pangs of grief and nostalgia as I leave something dear behind. I have already begun setting up my classroom and this new start is bringing up all of those feelings and memories of being new in my first teaching days.

The summer after I graduated from Messiah College, I had already felt the sting of rejection from a few school districts. I had no idea if or when I would land my first job. Somehow I trusted enough to spend an entire month of that summer working at the beach while still planning to move to PA permanently with friends at summer’s end. I guess I thought if all else failed I would substitute and make ends meet on my own.

In the middle of July, during one of the weeks serving in the dining hall at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference on Long Beach Island, I got a call requesting that I interview with the Lebanon School District. The principal made sure I knew it was the Lebanon in PA and not the Lebanon in NJ (as it conflicted with my current home address) and I assured him that I was planning to move to PA in August. I drove home from the beach soon after the call and made the trip to the school for my interview. I shook the principal’s hand in the office too vigorously, rattling his coffee mug and splattering the hot liquid all over him. Great first impression. I was corralled into the office with the two principals at the time and another second grade teacher. I was asked a plethora of questions and guided to a written portion of the interview on resilience. As I left the writing, I was called back into the office and asked if I was serious about this job because they were impressed. The principal intensely asked if I would rather teach in the city than at a suburban school before the teacher in the room scolded him for his unfair question. He meant it though, and in my 4 years of working there I have come to understand the weight of his question. At the time, I thought about how I had dropped the urban education minor in college thinking I wasn’t cut out for it and how just a few weeks prior I had driven through Lebanon with my then boyfriend, Cody, thinking it was too sketchy for a lunch date. But, I looked at them and honestly said that because of my faith, I trusted wherever God would place me and I would give 110% of my effort. Little did I know I would give 110% of my heart as well.

This past May and June, during my last few weeks at Northwest as I made the familiar commute across town and spent last moments in my classroom and now, this summer, as I set up my new room, my mind does mental gymnastics through my memories, performing backwards flips into of my first moments in Lebanon and through my time at Northwest. As I think of those first days, I can still feel the anxious lump that took up permanent residency in my stomach during that first year teaching just as palpable now as I consider my new journey ahead as it was then. I picture myself in the August summer heat at my new home amidst the corn fields, cutting out burlap banners and making signs for my new classroom. As I drive past Joann Fabric on Route 72  and as I pick out new fabric for the bulletin boards in my new classroom, I think of my quest for blue and green fabric to line my partition “walls” at Northwest. As I pass Staples, I think of my trip there to get writing notebooks for my Superkids. As I cut open the boxes filled with supplies in my new classroom and watch Broden scurry down hallways as I unpack, I remember the pile of furniture and materials in the center of my room then and the process of organizing and the hours mom spent helping to sort while I was at induction. As I erase my final words from the whiteboard, I remember when our thoughtful custodian willingly moved its location and then re-installed it without asking when it began to come out. As I wrap up my posters and alphabet chart and rehang them in my new space,  I remember having my lanyard sucked into the laminator during inservice that first year. As I take down the signs for my tables, I remember slicing my finger on the first day of school when I went in early to put them up. As I meet new coworkers, I remember the ESL teacher bringing me a candy necklace on my first day and wishing me good luck. As I allow the tears to fall for all the students I will miss at Northwest, I remember the tears of being so overwhelmed that first year, 50% of them spent on how to manage pencils of all things, as well as from behavior and academic concerns and the general intensity of my students’ needs. As I drop off Broden to daycare so I can get my classroom ready, I remember when my mom came that first year to help me change the system for managing pencils (of which I had abut 5 different systems) and we spent the night dumping my students supplies into temporary ziplock bags until their more permanent boxes came. I purchased a dress from Walmart and stayed with her in a hotel instead of going home that night.

I entered Northwest Elementary School in the fall of 2014, Sarah Goetz, a single woman just beginning her teaching career and adulthood. I left Northwest, Sarah Meassick, a wife and mother, and a confident and capable teacher because of all of the challenges and triumphs I had at Northwest. Today, as my mind somersaults into these memories I don’t want to forget to say thank you. Thank you Northwest for taking an inexperienced me and turning me into the educator I am today. I’m so glad I got my start in your walls (I would say doors but we didn’t have those!). When I first came, I had passion and a vague understanding of what it meant to be a teacher dancing in my head but I knew so very little. Because of you, I now know how to assess students’ phonics levels to get them from Point A to Point B on the continuum. I know how to teach adding and subtracting three digit numbers with regrouping. I know how to calm a child, take attendance and deal with a cat-pee stained backpack all in the first ten minutes of my day. I’ve created a successful behavior system and kept up a grade book. I’ve done conferences through a translator. I can look at the standards and design rigorous curriculum. Thank you Northwest for giving me the chance, for taking a wide-eyed girl with big dreams and allowing her to become what she’s always wanted to be: A Teacher!

A Raw Mama Moment

Today is the first day I send Broden to daycare without a bottle of mama’s milk. I don’t know entirely why this happened but my milk supply is waning and there is little left. I’ve felt inadequate and angry and disappointed as I’ve watch my production slip from 3 bottles a day to 2 to 1 and now to none. Broden’s seems to hate breastfeeding and today I relinquish that expectation.

Going into motherhood I thought breastfeeding was just easy. How could mothers not do it? I silently judged. It seems to be another area (like C-sections and inductions) I’m humbled by. It was so much harder than I could’ve imagined. Fighting to get Broden to latch, watching little or no milk fill/not fill bottles after pumping sessions at work, feeling both fruitless and failure while “wasting” precious planning time at school.

Tomorrow I grieve the fact that I no longer send a piece of mama with Broden, a piece of my provision, a piece of me caring for my baby from afar, being his mama while I care for other people’s babies, a piece of me as I work and he goes to daycare (another thing I silently judged) and I learn again that motherhood is more, less, harder, better, different than expected.

Highlights of my Return

**just found this post from January and never published!**

While being back to school this week brought pangs of homesickness and longing for the days of my maternity leave with my sweet babe, I resolved to just allow those feelings to remind me to be thankful for that time. This week I began the process of merging the existence of my new little one with my “old life,” the one where I am a teacher, amongst other things. I was given many gifts and reminders throughout the week that helped me in the transition.

-Upon seeing me open the 9th street doors to welcome my students for the new school day after my absence one of my girls happy clapped while kangaroo hopping into line.

-Being greeted by 20+ smiles when they saw me at the door to our classroom.

-Our sweet librarian telling me she missed hearing my footsteps climbing the stairs and rounding the hall the same time every morning.

-The calm breaks throughout the day to pump 😉

– Broden spending the day with his loving grandparents, and a Nana who made meals, did laundry and cleaned my house and did paperwork!

-Playing Uno with students during indoor recess.

-Two delayed openings, allowing me to spend more time listening to the coos of my baby boy and getting him dressed for the day (one of my fav parts of his morning routine!) as well as lots of sleep.

-hitting a groove with my class during reading and feeling in the flow

-One of my boys approaching me during indoor recess (thank you sub zero wind chill!) asking to use the clear tape on my desk. After a few tries to use the scotch tape to attach his flashlight to his beanie he tried his flat brimmed baseball cap. After watching a few attempts with the flimsy tape, I signaled to him and we attached it with duck tape and he used his new “head lamp” to play the rest of recess.

-Feeling good at this profession!

-and finally, Friday snuggles with my baby boy 🙂

Full.

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Today is the first day of the new year and the last day of my maternity leave.  My heart has been all kinds of anxious and fluttery today. I spent the day picking outfits for the week, making lunches, writing lesson plans, cleaning up the house, and removing Christmas decor clearing a way for the new normal thats about to start tomorrow, sprinkled with playing Mario Kart on our new Game Cube and of course being a mommy.

The precious time spent in the hospital room as we began our first days together as a family of three feels like a lifetime ago. Those were some of my favorite days of my life; Cody, myself and our adorable new little nestled away from the outside world, only visited by family and friends, 100% taken care of and loved.

I am a different person than I was seven or so weeks ago.  I left school, all those days ago my figure round and full with the new life about to be born and work bag empty of responsibility (even of my laptop and emails!) I have spent the last weeks completely unburdened by anything other than learning to be a mother and I have cherished this time.  The days were spent learning to breastfeed, snuggling, calming my crying babe, playing games, deepening old friendships and starting new ones, hanging out with family (especially with my own mother during weekly visits to help me transition into my new role), enjoying the holidays, and staring memorized into the face of my child; taking first steps into this new role called motherhood.

Now, tomorrow, I head back into school, another step in developing my new normal. This time my belly is no longer round and full of the life that was once there and instead my school bag is loaded with fresh lessons and materials for the days of teaching ahead. My little one won’t be coming tomorrow with me and my heart weeps every-time at the thought. However, as I enter school, though my body is no longer physically full with my child, my heart certainly is.

Full of memories of his first days spent together.

Full of his expressions and the way his arms and legs never stop moving.

Full of baby snuggles in lazy afternoons by the Christmas tree.

Full of his big blue eyes and the o shape he makes with his mouth.

Full of adorable baby clothes, soft skin and his rich, sweet scent.

Full of sleep deprivation, baby cries and diapers.

Full of tiny toes and long fingers.

Full with the way he attacks my breast like a shark and clenches tiny fists while he nurses.

Full of his recent coos and smiles.

Full with watching my husband become a dad.

Full of the excitement and joy of a life together with my baby boy.

I am totally different than who I was seven weeks ago and my life is totally different.  Tomorrow will be hard in ways I can’t even fathom today. Tomorrow will be difficult and sad and new, but it will also be wonderful and joyous and new, my heart more full of love as we discover normal life with this little guy a part of it!

Welcome to the World!

Welcome to the world Broden Andrew Meassick!

 

Here I sit on the couch in our little place on Gettysburg Pike one month after your birth. You are snuggled up under my chin after feeding, staring up at me with your wide eyes.  You’re laying snug against my chest, arms relaxed and body flat against mine. I imagine you laying just so (except inverted 🙂 in my womb just a few short weeks ago.  I love cuddling with you this way, your quiet breath and relaxed arms bringing me contentment, wanting to stay here with you in this moment forever. I am so in love with you and with who you will be and I’m so excited to keep discovering that with each new day of your life.

You were born November 18, 2017 at 7:03 am (the time the same as our wedding anniversary date)! You were 7 lbs and 6 oz and 20.5 inches long, though Daddy said you may have lost a whole pound from the first poop. You didn’t come the way I wanted or planned but despite it all I’m just so glad you came.

On Thursday night, November 16th, after a long week of waiting and waiting, going on walks, doing squats, eating pineapple and just about anything I could think of to get you here, it came to the point where I had to give up my dreams and hopes of having you come on your own. I was sad. I had to grieve not getting to have the surprise I wanted, having my water burst in the middle of the night or in my classroom, and making frantic phone calls to family as we sped to the hospital. It wasn’t going to happen that way.

Instead, I sat grouchily on the couch and your dad convinced me to go on a date that night before we began the process of bringing you into the world. We drove to a hipster little cinema in Harrisburg, purchased tickets to the movie “Marshall” and had dinner at our little crepe place where we sat in the window and drew pictures on the chalkboard tables, as we had done for my first birthday together a few years before, doodling bears and dreaming of you. We got a parking ticket and laughed it off as we ventured back to the theatre. As we sat in our seats watching the movie and I could still feel you bumping around my belly knowing these would be some of the last times I felt you inside of me. On our drive home, I began to panic and second-guess our decision to induce. I got into a long-winded “discussion” with your grandma but your dad came to the rescue with a whiteboard marker listing the pros and cons of inducing on my bedroom mirror. I’m so thankful he is level-headed and decisive, and one of the best pros he listed was getting to play with you sooner.

The night ended with a phone call to my parents reconciling from our “discussion” and a short night of sleep. We woke up and got ready and began the drive to the hospital. Your dad listened to pump up rap music in his Friday Hawaiian shirt, the same shirt he wore when he got punched in the face by a student not too many weeks ago, hoping to make new, good memories to redeem the shirt. I texted friends and family and cried some silent tears as I grieved not sending the messages in the way I had wanted.

We parked our car at Hershey Medical Center and wandered hospital halls looking for the lion that would signal we were in the right spot. Finally, we were directed to the elevators and rode the three stories up to check in at labor and delivery. We got settled in the room and met our nurse Sarah Elizabeth. Cody made jokes about the heating light in the room and about wanting to get out of here in 12 hours, both of us thinking that would be the longest it would take. To my horror the nurse said it would take 1-3 days for the average induction and I panicked. This is not what I planned and I wanted to get out!!

After seeing my tears, the nurse softened and encouraged me that I was making the right decision. We told our families it could be awhile but they were so excited to meet you they came to wait anyway! I was only dilated a little bit and after coloring with your grandma and rocking in a rocking chair between painful contractions, and after 10 hours of labor I got to the point where they gave me a little medicine to get things going. I was glad that it was working naturally given the little push.   

My nurses and doctors were sweet and I loved telling them how much I respected them because my best friend Taylor was a nurse. The second one gave me a big hug and she ended up getting to see you later that weekend. That night at 7 pm my third nurse Kaitlin came. She was very calm and helpful, especially cleaning up “aisle 7” as I like to call it.  Giving birth is messy business.

As the night pressed on, I got pain medicine and I got an hour of rest through the contractions as I lay on my side holding hands with your dad, I would sleep for about a minute and a half and then wake to endure the 30 second contraction that came like clock-work. The second painful hour came from 2-3 am as I bounced on an exercise ball and talked to your grandma. At 3 I decided it was time for an epidural. I folded my body over, my hair in a mess underneath the hair net. The resident doctor “missed the spot” and the attending physician had to fix the mistake, telling me he was just rubbing my back as he inserted another needle. I got about an hour relief after that, but soon I was in a lot of pain again.  It would be time to push very soon.  I squeezed your dad’s hand through the pressure of each contraction and an oxygen mask was placed over my face.

About 22 hours after being in the hospital, there was a flurry of doctors in my room. They could not get a read on your heart rate and it seemed to be dropping with every contraction.  My parents were shuffled out and doctors began talking about a C-section, something I knew was a faint possibility but never expecting it to happen to me. I frantically agreed, wanting to do whatever we needed to do to get you out safely. They began prepping me for surgery and gave your daddy a hospital gown.  Somehow he remained calm and made jokes with the nurses about how to put it on. I remember feeling terrified as they disconnected the belly monitor where I could hear your heartbeat, my lifeline to knowing you were all right. They bumped me down the hall on the bed to the surgery room.

The anesthesiologist put medicine in my epidural but it only began to work after two more doses. The tent was put up and your dad was ushered back in the room and he sat next to me. I asked him if everything was going to be okay and he said he didn’t know. We looked at one another trying to assure each other and ourselves that no matter what everything would be okay, but we couldn’t stand the thought of going home without you. I thought I heard a noise like a flat-lined heart rate monitor so I didn’t understand why the doctors worked so calmly. I lay there paralyzed, unmoving, like a deer-in-headlights, not sure how to feel as I hoped and prayed to hear your cry. It felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life but eventually I could feel the resident doctor attempting to pull you out. I could feel the pressure of your head trying to break the suction. One, two, three! You were out! We heard the sound we were waiting for, longing for: your cry, and I breathed a sigh of relief. They cleaned you off a little. took your height and weight and your dad brought you over for me to see. The first baby he ever held was you! He took our first family photo, a selfie of me on the operating table and you in his arms.

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Eventually he was brought to the recovery room and I drifted in and out of sleep, listening to the doctors talk about Thanksgiving plans as I was stitched back up. When they were finished, a kind nurse ran my hand gently over my flat tummy, a feeling I hadn’t felt in many months. You actually were no longer inside of me.  I was wheeled to the recovery room where your dad waited with you. They asked if I wanted to hold you but after 22 hours of labor and a C-section I was trembling so severely that I said no for fear of shaking so bad I might drop you. 

My dearest Broden, I held the evidence of your unexepected life on a small plastic stick on March 6, 2016. I held you inside my body for 9 months (plus 10 unexpected extra days), and on November 18th, after a unexpected induction and unexpected C-section, my trembling stopped I held you in my arms. I held you then for the first time and I will continue to hold you in my arms until you get so big that I’m not strong enough to carry you any longer.  Even then I will continue to hold you, through the expected and unexpected, in my heart for the rest of my life, my son.  I love you more than I understand right now. Even now I still can’t believe you are my baby and that we are a family of three. It is my prayer that you grow knowing my unconditional love and the unconditional love of the One who knit you together in my womb.

It is Advent now, the time leading up to Christmas and we celebrate the unexpected way a baby, the Messiah entered our world. This season I am constantly thinking of Luke 2:19, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” That’s how I feel about you Broden, and this last month, I have treasured up all these things: all the moments, memories, visits from friends, facial expressions, cries, features, the way you squirm around, them too joyfully unexpected and ponder them, and store them forever in my heart and I thank God once again for the unexpected because it is the way you too have come into the world.

I love you my Broden Bear!

Unexpected Adventure Awaits!

Mommy