A Labor of Love
When Janet Udomratsak was admitted to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center with pregnancy complications on the Fourth of July, she had no idea the hospital would soon become her classroom as well.
Not only was Janet’s pregnancy at risk, but so was the beginning of the school year for the Sylmar resident who had been teaching school for 11 years. Janet’s baby wasn’t due until October, and she would need to stay on hospital bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy. Her employer, Lancaster’s Eastside Union School District, offered her the option to take medical leave or to go on disability.
But despite her colleagues’ concern for her health, the doctors gave Janet clearance to teach her first-grade class remotely from her maternity room at Holy Cross.
“I wanted to set the tone with my class at the beginning of the year,” explains Janet. “I wanted the chance to make that connection. That’s your shot to get to know them.”
The distance learning models implemented throughout the state of California because of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed Janet to continue doing the job she loves. “It’s one of those odd situations where it benefited me in a way,” she says.
With support from her husband Chris and five-year-old son Henry, Janet set up her “classroom” right in her hospital room, with a bulletin board in the background and a white board next to her. She purchased classroom supplies from Amazon. Her rolling food tray table served as a makeshift desk.
For the first several weeks of school, Janet’s students had no idea their teacher was in a hospital room in Mission Hills. “We’re already dealing with a lot with distance learning and having to not be in the classroom,” Janet says. “The norm of everything has changed so drastically that I didn’t want to add another distraction to them.” It wasn’t long, though, before an astute student noticed Janet’s hospital bracelets — and they learned of her unique situation through news reports.
When she wasn’t teaching or planning the next day’s coursework, Janet enjoyed regular Zoom meetings with her family, since hospital policy during the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented patients from having visitors. But Janet insists that she doesn’t feel isolated; in fact, she enjoyed building friendships with the nurses at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.
“The nurses here are wonderful,” says Janet.
In fact, the nurses were able to pull some strings, and got Janet’s husband Chris and son Henry into her her room for a one-hour in-person visit. “It had been six weeks since I had seen them,” she said. “My son looked at me and was like, ‘Mommy, are you real?’ He was touching my face, he was touching my clothes. He was hugging me. He didn’t want to leave.”
Thanks to the vigilant care from Holy Cross Medical Center clinical staff, Janet was able to continue teaching right up until she delivered her beautiful baby James on September 9th. After a few weeks in the NICU, little James is now thriving at home — and so is Janet.
On the day she was released from Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Janet shared an emotional Facebook post with family, friends and hospital staff: “After 71 days of being apart I am finally home! It was quite the journey I had to take on my own but every step of the way God showed his faithfulness and helped me through it. I met so many wonderful people along the way and am going to miss them all! Everyone at Providence was just the best and I was in tears as I left.”
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