being a teacher, being me

Someone’s Beginning

You wouldn’t know by looking at me that my body is broken.  That for years we tried to have a child, only to fail.  That it was not until the doctors intervened that my body finally worked for a little bit, enough to have Theadora.  Enough to give us the biggest gift one can get. We thought I was fixed, but I wasn’t.  We lost one in between Theadora and the twins; a dream disappeared followed by so many unanswerable questions.  For years we hoped, and for every pregnancy I had, sadness, fear, and the unknown seemed to come along.

You wouldn’t know that my youngest daughter, Augustine, really should not be alive.  That her conception should not have been possible.  That my body did everything it could to get rid of her.  That she was born almost 10 weeks early, 2 years ago today.  That she was born so fast that the nurse caught her and rushed her away from us.  You wouldn’t know that for 6 weeks our breaths were held as she fought to grow in the NICU.  That the beeps and the alarms followed us home and I would wake in the middle of the night, wondering if she was breathing.  That when we left the NICU with her, she weighed 5 pounds and I thought the doctors had made a mistake; surely something this fragile could not be ok.

But she is.  She is strong.  She is bright.  She is stubborn.  She is ok.

When she goes to school, no one will know how fragile her beginning was.  When she goes to learn, no one will know that we were told that she may have learning disabilities because my body forced her into this world too early.  Nobody will know how many brain scans she had to have to make sure that there had been no damage.

Every child that comes to us has a beginning.  A story we do not know.  A story that may still shape them to this day.  A story that is hidden and yet still plays a part in their life.

Don’t forget the story.  You never know how much someone’s beginning plays a part in their now.  We do not just teach children for one year, but we teach them for all of their years.  Even the years, we did not know them.

Happy birthday, Augustine.  May you continue to astonish us with your strength, your spirit.  May you continue to be perfectly average, because we never wanted anything more.



If you are looking for a great book club to join to re-energize you in January, consider the Passionate Learners book club on Facebook.  We kick off January 10th.  

14 thoughts on “Someone’s Beginning”

  1. Such a wonderful reminder, yes, we never know of the consequences that the beginning of one person can have in one’s life.
    Like the beginning of your child.
    Congratulations for your children, I can imagine how difficult it must have been to finally have them.

    And thank you for sharing such a personal part of your family’s story.

  2. Perfectly worded, Pernille. Every child is a miracle and you truly showcase how we might not know what miracles we have in our presence every day as we educate dozens of students daily. Thank you for your honest and touching account. Augustine is a miracle and she will accomplish amazing things. She is definitely blessed with an amazing mom and an extraordinary family.

  3. This is soulful and left me with tears. Remarkable, simple, profound importance for all of us and especially teachers. You are brave and strong and it comes through in all you write, but especially this. It is even more impressive that you have the energy to be the kind of teacher and professional you are. Teachers affect the child long after, too. It should always be for good. When it is is makes such a difference. As do you. Thank you for this personal, hopeful, beautiful post.

  4. Breathtaking. I read every single one of your posts and notice when I’m done, I’ve been holding my breath. Your writing moves me in ways you’ll never know. Thank you for sharing your beautiful daughter’s story.

  5. I love the way you get right down to the nitty gritty without excessive hype or purple prose. You just put it all out there beautifully. What a blessing you have in that sweet strong little girl. And I will remember the lesson that every child had a beginning; every child has a back story. I wrote this post about a student I had for a short while.
    This is the kind of writing that is hard to do, but it is necessary and true.

  6. This is very true. As a teacher who is also a lactation consultant, I see babies who have had rough starts– and often wonder what will be the outcomes down the road. Luckily, humans, and especially babies, can be amazingly resilient and what could be possible future issues often aren’t– but sometimes are. Sometimes hearing that birth story can be a little window into some of the behaviors we see in our kids. Won’t ever presuppose that if ‘a’ then ‘b’, but the remembering that those early days, whatever had happened, can have future effects can help us patiently deal with the now.

  7. What a moving post! I’m trying to get pregnant again after losing a baby last August, and my mother. It’s been such a sad year. After reading this post, I feel stronger that I must carry on and keep trying, that though we may fail,it’s worth fighting for what we truly wish.
    Thank you!

  8. Pernille, I couldn´t help the tears in my eyes. Now I understand where the richness of your being comes from apart from you having a sensitive and insightful personality. You are teaching me a lesson for life: it´s only when we overcome the hurdles in life and carry on no matter what we really grow as beings. There´s a saying in Spanish that goes “Lo que el árbol tiene de florido vive de lo que tiene sepultado”
    Transcribing this into English would be too hard. So then, once again, thank you for sharing with us this page in your book of life.

  9. Happy Birthday to her. What a gorgeous post. This is the hardest part of teaching for me. I KNOW my average and less than average kids have a huge amount of experience that I haven’t tapped into. And I must be able to tap into it to be able to teach them anything worth their while.

  10. Alina: I would translate it as “the flowering from the tree is sustained by what is buried around its roots” and thank you for reminding me of such an amazing piece of wisdom.

    “Lo que el árbol tiene florido vive de lo que tiene sepultado”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s