Janet Udomratsak‘s school year will be a little bit different this year as she is teaching students from her hospital bed.
Udomratsak lives in Lancaster, California, and is in her 11th year of teaching — and is very, very pregnant.
At 33 weeks pregnant, Udomratsak is close to the home stretch.
That being said, her pregnancy has not been easy. On July 4, Udomratsak was admitted to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills at just 24 weeks over doctors’ concerns she would deliver her baby early.
“With [my pregnancy] being so high-risk at that point, going home is not a possibility because I need to be constantly monitored just in case I do go into pre-term labor,” Udomratsak told Yahoo!.
She has since remained on bed rest since — hoping to make it to 37 weeks. And on August 16, Udomratsak posted a photo of her hospital bed which had been decked out for remote teaching.
“I’m ready for teaching this year,” she wrote. “Had a rough start but I’m ready to go back! This is what teaching from the hospital looks like … Not as cute as my classroom would have been but this will do for now.” The very next day, Udomratsak began her first day of virtual teaching and let’s just say her face said what words could not.
“My face says it all,” she wrote at the end of the day. “Just finished my first full day doing distance learning and I have no words. I have shut off my computer and I’m just going to lay here in bed for the next two hours before dinner and then maybe plan again. Virtual teaching is hard stuff!”
And while Udomratsak could have requested leave time but being as that virtual teaching is possible for most schools, she decided to stick with it for as long as she could.
“I chose to start the school year with the students because the beginning of the year is a crucial time to make connections and build strong relationships with your students,” she said.
“When you have that connection, the students feel safe and comfortable with you and that helps with their motivation to do well in class. I didn’t want to miss that opportunity with my class because I was only going to be with them for a short while before I did have to take my maternity leave.”
And while virtual teaching can have its challenges, it has been something to keep Udomratsak motivated.
“When I am teaching and with the students, they motivate me to keep going on because I see them as my family and it brings me a little joy to have that interaction with them even though I don’t have that with my own right now,” she shared with Yahoo!. “Teaching has always been my passion and when I am with them I am excited to hear their stories and see their passion for learning.”
She feels an immense amount of appreciation to the doctors and nurses at Providence Holy Cross who have supported her in multiple ways throughout her stay.
“When I asked them if it was even possible [to go back to teaching] because at the time I was still bedridden and wouldn’t have been able to get up, they said it was a good idea because it would get me up out of bed and give me something to do during the day,” she said.
“The nurses are so wonderful and supportive of my teaching. They put up signs on the door to let everyone know that I am in session with the students, and have worked out a schedule of bringing me my medications and doing testing during my breaks so that they do not disturb my teaching.”
But with Udomratsak feeling much more upbeat about her pregnancy is powering through.
“I feel very excited to have gotten this far in my pregnancy but it hasn’t been an easy journey,” she admitted. “I try to stay positive as much as possible even though the situation I am in is not the best.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.