I’m a teacher and I’m dreading this question when school starts

Guest post by Kae Pat
Revealing miscarriages: I'm a teacher and I'm dreading this question when school starts
Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash

Colleagues will ask it, parents will ask it, students will ask it. Some will ask it because it’s the thing to do, some to fill dead air, some because they saw my (not to brag or anything) AMAZING vacation photos on social media, and some because they genuinely want to know.

“How was your summer?”

Most questions beginning with “how” elicit the one word response of “good.”

“How are you?” “How is your mom?” “How was your weekend?”

You want to know how my summer really was? It was awful. I was an emotional, hormonal mess who was pregnant, but won’t be having a baby anytime soon. I had two miscarriages, my second and third. After my first loss, I believed so hard that I was still statistically very likely to have no trouble conceiving and carrying a baby in the future. After three losses, uterine surgery, and countless medical tests and interventions, I’m finding it harder to believe. And that is awful.

After three losses, uterine surgery, and countless medical tests and interventions, I’m finding it harder to believe.

Of course, I also have an arsenal of stories to back up the generic response of “good.” I spent a total of 28 days camping, summited some fantastic mountains, paddled some pristine lakes, and even, on some of those days, got paid to take other people’s kids along with me. I laughed so hard water shot out my nose, I hiked so hard my calves burned, I stank so hard I had to wash my laundry twice. (And it still stinks). Those photos I took, I’m telling you, they are AMAZING. Sunsets and sunrises and mist rising from a glassy smooth lake, happy campers, and piles of warm, buttery, food cooked on a campfire.

Can we clear something up here real fast before you even go there? Backpacking doesn’t cause miscarriage or infertility. Humans (and really all animals) evolved to be active. Our species would be dead by now if we couldn’t reproduce while being physically active. My midwife even told me that it’s urban legend that you shouldn’t lift anything heavy (within reason) while pregnant. (Obviously, listen to your body and take your own healthcare provider’s advice!)

So how am I going to answer this question?

Sometimes I’ll just say “good” and change the subject to their summer. Sometimes I’ll tell them about my best hiking trip, maybe shamelessly show a few pics. And sometimes…sometimes, when the audience is right, I hope I get the courage to respond “Awful. I had two miscarriages. I’m glad school is starting so I can focus on something else now. How was yours?”

And I hope you’ll be honest when I ask you, too. After three miscarriages, I can handle it.

Comments on I’m a teacher and I’m dreading this question when school starts

  1. I’m so sorry for your losses. While I don’t know the pain of having a miscarriage, I do know the pain of struggling to conceive and it absolutely sucks. In the meantime, I am focusing on cleaning up/organizing/repainting the house and my job. I also just got put on a waiting list for a potential modeling gig, so maybe I can see some worth in my so-far-barren body this way?

    I really hope you get your miracle baby soon and that your struggling-to-conceive journey doesn’t last much longer.

    ((Sending air hugs your way.))

  2. Wait, do people really “go there”? WTF? As I was reading I was thinking, “Wow, this sounds like a really healthy person and a great place for a person to grow in, as well as a cool life to become a part of.”

    Warm thoughts your way.

  3. Oh, Kae, my heart breaks for you. I was asked that many times just after my husband’s death from cancer. Kind of a conversation stopper when one reports really sad and tragic news. Pretending it didn’t happen when asked by those who’s question is truly rhetorical can leaving you feeling so empty. And while is feels like such a relief to share with kindred souls, revealing the truth of painful, life changing experiences can make you feel so vulnerable–what if I can’t contain my grief? Am I asking too much for someone when I share my story? I admire your strength and your resiliency. Life can be so good and so hard at the same time! Your story reminds us all of how, despite our pain, life can be so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I’m with you <3 1) I'm also struggling with fertility and 2) I want people to be honest with me, I want to know how your summer REALLY was.

  5. Oh my lovely I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I think this also speaks to the weird emotional binary we have socially where things have to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or fit into a neat, easy box. Life is so often wonderful and terrible simultaneously- I have amazing memories of how my friends looked after me and took me out on trips when I was depressed after my marriage self imploded but it was also one of the worst seasons of my life.

Join the Conversation