I just got back from TMC16. It was amazing, but I couldn't bring myself to write a recap without writing this post first. This year has been hard, and my personal story was so intense that it changed the lens through which I see all other things…
Disclaimer: This post is long and it's not about math. I'd love for you to read but it's okay if you don't. I wrote it for me.
Last fall I posted about the birth of our son and his unexpected diagnosis of cleft lip and palate, but the challenges didn't stop there.
When Silas was five days old, a routine eye exam showed that there was a structural problem on the inside of his eyes called a coloboma. Doctors told us it was too soon to know how severely it would affect his vision, but they made sure we understood that there was no surgery to correct it. My husband and I were heartbroken as we thought about what his future would be like without sight.
There were other challenges, too. Silas cried. A lot. He struggled with eating and was eventually hospitalized with severe reflux. He needed a feeding tube to help him eat without pain. He had two surgeries to repair his cleft lip, get ear tubes, and repair a hernia. He had countless doctor appointments and tests, four ER visits, and another hospitalization. I spent every day terrified of what the future held for him.
When he was two months old I went back to my classroom, but I went through so many days on autopilot. I was numb. And weary. And I wasn't sure that I should even be there at all.
It has been the hardest year of my life. And it has changed me.
This year I learned to wake up every day knowing that, even when the unknown is way more than I can handle, I always have what I need to get through this day.
I learned that fears and worries are only good for one thing … robbing us of the beautiful thing that is happening at the same time.
I learned to rejoice, not because of our circumstances, but in spite of them. There is always something to be thankful for.
One day this song came on the radio: Tell your heart to beat again . . . every word applies to me, but I'll just share the chorus here:
Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
And so I made an effort to jump start the pieces of my heart that had stopped beating. I reconnected with friends . . . I put on my running shoes and trained up for a half marathon . . . I even wrote a blog post about something that was happening in my classroom. It felt foreign, but good.
Along the way I also made peace with Silas's differences. I realized that I spent so much time worrying if he was going to be okay, when there was never any question that he was going to be okay. Silas is okay because his life is a gift from God and because he will always, ALWAYS, be deeply loved. No diagnosis will ever change that.
Meanwhile, my husband landed his dream job as a building principal in our home town. His new schedule would allow him to be home with our kids during twitter math camp. Could I go this year? SHOULD I go this year? He said that I should. I think he knew that reconnecting with my teacher self would be another small step towards my healing.
I'm so glad I did.
This week my teacher heart started to beat again.
P.S. I can't close without letting you know that there is so much good news for this happy boy! He is almost 11 months old and he amazes us every day! We conquered reflux and he now eats entirely on his own. He healed beautifully from lip repair surgery. We have learned that he does have low vision in his left eye, but with both eyes together his visual acuity is in the typical range for his age. His ophthalmologist says he will definitely be a visual learner! We are so thankful for the good news and for how far he has come.