With a newborn, 5-year old and new diploma, I am juggling it all amid the pandemic.

Because is there even a choice?

First-person essay by Ra’naa Billingsley

It’s Feb. 28, the Friday before my due date and the last day with the students I have been learning along as a student-teacher. I have grown so attached to the students since I started two and a half months earlier.

Even though it has been a process acclimating and learning the gears and grooves of everyday teaching at a charter school, I am thoroughly enjoying the uphill process. My timing is improving, lessons becoming smooth like jazz, and I even have some inside jokes with the students. It is bittersweet leaving this crew, but now I have to prepare to welcome my baby boy. The time arrived so fast.

I give birth to my sweet baby boy on March 1, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. Even though I have been in the hospital since 7 a.m., when the time comes to push, I break into tears.

“What’s wrong?” everyone frantically asks me, while simultaneously reassuring me that everything is going to be OK.

“I’m nervous!” The admission makes me feel juvenile. If a woman is ever nervous about anything, the response is, “But you’ve already had a baby, you can’t be nervous!” For me, though, the unknown is the most nerve-wracking. What if I can’t do this? Then comes the chuckle, because, of course, it has to be done.

A few days later, I send pictures of my newborn son to the teacher I was shadowing, so she can share with the students. I cannot wait to return to teaching. I only plan to be out of school for two weeks following his birth, and I ask that she pass along the message that I will see them soon.

On March 12, my phone alerts me to a new message.

Ding! 

Ra’naa Billingsley’s 5-year-old son and infant who was born March 1. (Courtesy photo)

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With a newborn, 5-year old and new diploma, I am juggling it all amid the pandemic. Because is there even a choice?

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