Ever since Olivia was born I've lived my life in a safety bubble that I could mostly control and decide who gets in, for how long and with what purpose. Well, with my return to work on the 9th of January that bubble and its safety stopped existing and instead I, like any other human, am at the world's mercy.
I've started writing this post at least once a week since I started work and every time I have to stop because I simply can't focus, so apologies if it still feels all over the place! It's very interesting reading all my attempts and seeing the range of emotions that I have gone through in the last 4 weeks. I am lucky enough to work at a place that takes great care of its employees and to be part of a team who have been incredible and who loved Olivia from day one. Also, I have incredible friends at work so when I need some real life support, I just have to walk to a desk.
Week 1 --> Two amazing friends got me yellow and rainbow flowers on my first day back, I had food with some of the people I love most in my office and the weather wasn't too bad, so I felt that I started with the best possible foot. Then that same week I had the worst day recorded in January, I woke up very sad and when a therapy session had to be rescheduled I just exploded crying and even had to stay in a bathroom for 20 minutes until I could breathe properly again and walk to my office to meet with Pierre... That day was hard and I had to go home early, put on my pj's and go back to square one of my bubble: cross stitching and TV. First week back and I could only do 2.5 days.
Week 2 --> Most of the people in my team were away so the week was going to be a long and lonely one but my main objective was to be physically there for the whole week. The week started fine and then it took a massive detour: someone saw me in the kitchen and asked me extremely excited: where is your baby? When am I meeting her!!!??? I wanted to disappear... Pierre, thankfully, was there and pulled me to the side asking me to show him something. That day I was able to stay out of the dark hole and my week kept going. Then, two days after, someone was shouting on the phone YOU ARE HAVING A GIRL! repeatedly, and whilst I know nobody's out to get me, sometimes they do. So I went to the bathroom and cried for a while and then walked home for 2 hours. It wasn't a great week, but I went to the office for 5 days and had manageable bad days. Also, we got to Olivia's 7 month mark and shared the perfect quote for her flowers from a kind colleague who reached out.
Week 3 --> Pierre's birthday is on Thursday so I focused on preparing surprises that will celebrate how amazing he is and how lucky the world is to have him. He's never been big on birthdays and this year life has given him something to be even more disengaged as Olivia should be here to marvel with his candles. So, I will focus on making sure we enjoy life throughout the month, because we deserve it, Olivia wants us to and life is simply too precious not to be enjoyed when possible. I also sent my first external e-mail and it felt as exhausting and rewarding as crossing the finish line of a marathon. Again, I had some bad moments where I had to either go to the bathroom and cry a bit or leave the office and go for a walk because reality got too much to bare.
I am now on day two of my 4th week back at work and my predominant feelings/learnings are:
I don't feel safe, but I'm gaining territory --> Whenever I go to a common space in the office (and there are many) I feel like a walking target. I feel that any second someone will jump and ask where is Olivia and I'm never ready for that question or its answer... I have seen people looking at me and staring at my babyless belly and as they start walking towards me I run away. I am a friendly person and I like talking to people, I just can't bring myself to be kicked by that question. But, it's not all bad! I have now gained confidence in one space besides my immediate team and I see that as a massive win.
People surprise me every day --> I don't want to dwell on this, but I am still in shock with how many people know about Olivia and have said nothing except the most uncomfortable hello when they have no option because the lifts open and I was there. Yes, I know nobody knows what to say and nobody wants to hurt me, but let me say something world: Saying nothing about Olivia and acting as if everything is normal for me and I came back from holiday hurts INFINITELY more. And then there is everyone else that has been magnificent, they are the reason why I still want to come to work every day and will battle to make this place feel like home again. My friends and immediate team have always been amazing and I never doubted they would be, but having so much support out of my bubble is priceless. Then there has been this group of people that I barely know that have reached out to say: I read your e-mail (I sent one before I came back to make sure everyone understood where my head was at) and I just wanted to say I'm sorry. They have cried or almost cried with me, they have asked questions and given support, but most importantly, they have given me Olivia time and the thought that she is present and she existed even for those people that didn't know her when she was in my belly - THANK YOU!
Grief evolves but not in a linear way --> Imagine the craziest ride you ever heard of, with crazy loop, ups and downs and even surprise curves. Well, grief is very much like that and being out of the safety bubble only makes me be more apprehensive about what's to come. I can feel things evolving to a place where sadness doesn't control me but I always have it with me in an uncomfortably comfortable way. I have days when I feel that I'm on top of things and that I am ok and even in a good place; and then my brain let's me in on the reality that it tries to mask: I was 9 months pregnant and my daughter died... And for a while I can't breathe and then I cry just like I did in those early days. But then I get back up and I wasn't able to do that for a long long time after Olivia was born. So I think, that I will never have a linear happy life, but I will be able to get back up when reality tries to throw me back to that deep black hole.
My days are better when Olivia is around me --> Week 3 was a success on my book and the one different thing was that I talked about Olivia with many people that wanted to know about her and show support. I was even happy at times because I got to work but also be a mum; almost like my two worlds could co-exist. I'm not expecting the world to always talk about Olivia, but I am glad to know that some people always will and that my secret weapon is being close to her out loud. She's like my secret weapon!
I have been awful at posting here and I don't want to neglect this space, so I'm committing myself to at least one post a month (hoping to make it 2), because I simply feel better when I stop and have some Olivia time with the world, even if the world doesn't read this (Hello! to those who do).