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Meet the newborns who link West Hall Middle teachers for life
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West Hall Middle School teachers show off their new babies born last spring; from left, Jillayne Peck and Hattie Grace; Abby Bagwell and Scout; Jennifer Elrod and Eli; Jessica Catrett and Hunter; Bailey Taylor and Lola. Catrett now teaches at new Cherokee Bluff Middle. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Catrett)

Misery may love company — but so, too, does joy.

For a few teachers at West Hall Middle, the ups and downs of pregnancy were cushioned by the journey they shared together last school year — whether in commiseration or happiness.  

“It was nice having people to talk to that were in the same season of life as me,” said Jillayne Peck, a sixth-grade teacher. “It definitely created a bond between all of us.”

Between March and May, Peck, Abby Bagwell, Bailey Taylor, Jessica Catrett and Jennifer Elrod all gave birth. Their newborns’ names sound familiar yet distinctive: Hattie Grace, Scout, Lola, Hunter and Eli.

“As a first-time mom, the thought of going through pregnancy without my sisters close by was a bit overwhelming,” said Bagwell, the school’s secretary.

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New babies born last spring to West Hall Middle School teachers are, from left, Scout Bagwell, Hattie Grace Peck, Eli Elrod, Hunter Catrett and Lola Taylor.

And on those days when it was difficult to even drag herself out of bed, Bagwell said she found comfort and solidarity with her other pregnant friends.

Having open, honest conversations allowed the women to learn from one another, vent when necessary and find some laughs along the way.

“We created a group text and would ask each other questions or sometimes just whine about the not-so-glorious parts of being pregnant,” said Taylor, who teaches eighth grade.

The teachers said they would compare their thoughts on each other’s doctors, discuss long-term care plans and talk about the hard work of balancing a career and pregnancy.  

This is something Taylor said was a “blessing” because it was also her first pregnancy and she was unsure what to expect.

Catrett, who now teaches eighth grade at Cherokee Bluff Middle, said the shared experience among already-close friends made for an exciting time in their lives.

Now that a new school year has started and the babies have arrived, Catrett reflects on it all with gratitude and a hope for the future.

“We were able to relate to and encourage one another,” she said. “Our babies now have best friends they can grow up with. We can’t wait to see these cuties grow up together.”

Bagwell said the camaraderie among the women remains.

“We still have our group text ... and we all send funny pictures and stories to lighten each other’s day, like our rough first day back at work and leaving our babies,” she added.