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Surviving Three Trimesters of Third Grade

By Alycia Zimmerman on April 21, 2015
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

This post is more personal than usual, and I’m writing it before Baby Z graduates from fetus to infant status since blogging probably won’t be at the top of my priority list soon. But at 38 weeks pregnant today, I’m ready to give myself an early pat on the back as I reflect on the past nine months. I don’t have many pearls of wisdom, just memories of sharing (and sometimes barely surviving) this exciting journey with my third graders. I’d LOVE your advice, tips and suggestions in the comments section below — especially for what comes next, please!

 

The First Trimester: Exhaustion and Secrets Revealed

Believe it or not, my husband and I discovered that I was pregnant the morning of the very first day of school for the year. I was a distracted, ecstatic mess during that back-to-school week, barely able to keep the news to myself.

As you all know, back-to-school is tough under any circumstances; building up teaching stamina after a summer off is never easy. I was so insanely exhausted that I secretly took a few catnaps in my classroom while the students were off at special classes or before heading home at the end of the school day. Who knew the classroom library rug could be so enticing?

I chose one very close colleague-friend to share the news with — both to help me keep my sanity when I needed a confidant, and to cover me for frequent bathroom breaks, bring me ginger candies, and generally provide covert moral support. By our Halloween Vocabulary Parade, my vocabulary costume (verdant) was just a bit too snug, which started speculation among my students’ families and some of my colleagues.

When I reached three months and had my doc’s go-ahead, I couldn’t wait to share the news with my students. The kids were proud that they got to inform their families and schoolmates about my big “secret.” Of course, I had already told my colleagues and administrators, but my students had the privilege of making the news common knowledge — and boy did the news spread fast! Here’s some video footage from when I told my class the news:

 

The Second Trimester: “Normal Life” With a Helping of Zen Bliss

Ahh, the second trimester smooth-sailing I had read about on the Internet message boards and in pregnancy books was real. School and home life took on a semblance of normalcy. I even forgot that I was pregnant a lot of the time while I was teaching. Except when I bumped into objects or, more often, children with my burgeoning belly.

 

My Gender Reveal ceremony at school was a highlight for the kids and me. All of my students were certain the baby would be a boy. They were totally shocked to see the pink frosting!

My students took a charming, and often chivalrous, interest in Baby Z’s growth. We tracked her progress from plum to pineapple as a class, and many of the kids would come over from time to time to whisper a secret to Baby Z. In fact, my belly has become something of a confessor. Baby Z hears about all sorts of squabbles, frustrations, and juicy tidbits. Of course, I pretend I can’t hear what’s mumbled down by my navel, and I guess spilling their hearts out to Baby Z keeps some of their drama from becoming my drama.

Nurturing baby chicks and tadpoles provided a scientific context for class investigations into life cycles, without getting into the specifics of human reproduction.

 

By January, Baby Z was making her presence felt with pugilistic jabs and wiggles. Sometimes I’d lose my train of thought mid-lesson when assaulted with a sudden kick in my ribs. I also began thinking about what Baby Z might be hearing in my classroom. Will she be afraid if her mommy yells when I lose my patience with a constantly slow-to-pack-up student? I consciously decided to stop stressing about the small stuff — a pile of ungraded quizzes, a less than perfect bulletin board display, a chatty student line-up — to spare both baby and me unnecessary stress.

 

The Third Trimester: Whoa, It’s Getting SO Real!

Every school year, I have such grand plans about what I want to accomplish, and by the last six weeks of school, I’m scratching my head and wondering where all of the time went. Being pregnant feels very similar, especially since my pregnancy is aligned so closely with the academic calendar. Back in September, my due date felt SO far off. Now, I’m once again wondering how the time could fly by so quickly!

By the eighth month, certain things began to get tougher, particularly the four flights of stairs I walk with my class several times a day. I take frequent stops on the landings to “check” the lineup. I think a few of my students have figured out that our slower ascents are really so I can catch my breath!

Teaching on the floor is not a problem, but getting up is definitely more of an effort! I’ve adopted a “come to me” approach to student questions and one-on-one conferences.

  

This is probably a no-brainer that every pregnant woman other than me already knows, but just in case, here’s my most important lesson: stay hydrated‼ After a dehydration scare at the hospital, I’ve shelved my former camel-like tendencies and simply deal with the frequent trips to the bathroom during the school day. I'm never without a water bottle now!

 

Directing the school play during my last trimester was an exhausting, ambitious choice. I wouldn’t have made it if not for my amazing teaching partner Lindsay and a very supportive group of parent volunteers!

In fact, my relationships with my students’ parents are richer than ever as they offer practical been-there/done-that encouragement and advice. We feel more like a class family than ever. Between my colleagues’ cheerleading and seemingly authentic compliments about my dwindling wardrobe options, my students’ cheery “hugs for the baby,” and their families’ constant upbeat support, I honestly can’t imagine being pregnant without an entire school to back me up! It might take a village to raise a child, but in my experience, it takes a school to brew one.

While pregnancy has had its challenges, I look at you teacher-moms and simply marvel about how you do it! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. Stay tuned for news about my new littlest student’s arrival (you can follow me on Facebook for an update), and pretty please share your pregnancy and parenting advice!

One year ago: "Host a Solar Cookout for Earth Day!"

Two years ago: "Mother’s Day Gifts for the Artistically Challenged"

Three years ago: "Virtual Spring-Cleaning"

Comments (7)

Great post! I love the idea of comparing the pregnancy timeline with the school year timeline (obviously, it was an easy comparison for you to do based on the timing of your pregnancy). Our adoption memories are also closely tied to my classroom and my students that year. These students will always hold a very special part of your memories.

Brian, thanks so much! It's definitely been interesting going through this experience with my junior support-group. Some of the kids' observations have been so funny! It particularly like it when they talk to Baby Z or greet her in the morning like she's part of our class.

This happened to me this year too! I told my third graders by playing hangman on the whiteboard. They squealed and clapped and jumped up and down like it was their own baby. :) It was a special experience to share with them!

It really is so fun to go through the 9 months together with your class. The kids are totally understanding of you leaving for dr appointments and when you start slowing down, their energy changes for you. You'll never ever forget this class bc it will be the group that welcomed your baby first. There are really cute activities that they can do before the baby comes... guessing the weight and the time and they can write you instructions on how to take care of a baby. I teach 3rd too and it was such a joy "growing" with them all year!

I really enjoyed your post because I am also due the beginning of May! I teach 6th and 7th grade and could relate to a lot of what you said. Good luck to you in your final weeks! :)

Hi Ashley - thanks so much and good luck to you too! It's so exciting and scary waiting for her to arrive. :)

What a great post Alycia. So fun to follow you through your school year of pregnancy! Everyone at Scholastic is so excited about the arrival of baby Z!!
You are such a great teacher and a soon-to-be great mom!!

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