I feel deflated, Pierre is away for a week working for the first time since Olivia was born. Last time he went away, he came back early as a surprise and I remember getting so scared when I heard someone opening the door that I thought I was going to go into labour. Last time he went away I was with Olivia and I was washing and ironing all her clothes and the whole flat smelled of excitement and delicious baby friendly detergent. Now I am completely alone and her room as boxes with her stuff but she's not here. Once Pierre landed and I was no longer scared about his journey, I have kept myself busy with exercise (I ran outside for real for the first time since I got pregnant with Olivia and it was quite emotional), work and seeing friends. I am definitely in better shape than I expected (YAY), but I find myself missing Olivia in a very different way this week; one that is just between us.
So, today I will focus about work again because I simply can't deal with everything I'm feeling this week. Apologies for the cop out on this post, I still hope it does help another parent in my situation.
Work is better in the sense that I am actually able to work for real now and I don't go to the bathroom and cry very often, I think I've only broken down in the office four times in Feb so big milestone. I had three more people ask me about Olivia and I think that I mastered my responses in all those scenarios. It helps that the people were lovely once they learned where is Olivia, so if you ever read this THANK YOU!
My awesome colleague Nicola suggested I share the e-mail I sent to people at work when I went back and after much consideration, I though it would be a good idea to do so as it could potentially help others set the right expectations. I was terrified of coming back to work and even today walking through the doors is daunting; but I know everyone was also scared and I like to think I helped break the ice and the fear of the unknown by reaching out. E-mail below:
"Hello work family!
I hope you had a great time off with your families over Christmas and that you're welcoming 2017 with open arms for the awesomeness that we all hope it to be.
So, after 207 days of being away I'll be coming back to work on Monday (the 9th) and unfortunately with very mixed feelings. Yes, I am happy to be back with all of you and let's face it, I can't wait to be fed again! But as you know, my maternity leave hasn't been what it should have and instead I've been trying to find a new normal whilst trying to maintain my spark. Needless to say, it's not easy and I haven't found a new normal yet (or maybe I have but I refuse to accept it).
But, in the spirit of transparency and hoping to set myself up for some sort of success going back to work, I just thought I'd share a few thoughts with you and make sure you all know where I'm at:
- I'm still me but very much changed. Yes, I still talk too much and hope at some point to be loud again and celebrate all the small things that nobody tends to care about. But I am also irrevocably changed and not always for the better. I'm very uneasy around new people that don't know about Olivia's existence (which is why I want them all to know) and even though I might not show it I now believe that if I put water in the freezer, it won't turn into ice. Still, I'm trying my best to stay an optimist even if I'm faking it sometimes.
- Please don't feel like you can't talk about Olivia. If you have anything you'd like to say at any point, next week or in seven years! This crap storm is very straight forward, I was perfectly pregnant for nine months and that was all Olivia physically got to live. I am still a mother and I will always think about her every day. Yes, I am very emotional at times and if you mention her I might break a bit BUT it is a good break, the kind that I want to get used to because I'm the happiest when I know she wasn't forgotten, and her name is my favourite word to hear. My worst fear is that you, my family and friends, act like she didn't exist because she didn't get to stay - PLEASE don't do that! If you feel something, say something (if you want, not because you want me to feel you do... Forced feelings are never nice). Definitely be ready to hear me mentioning her and my pregnancy at times, because she and that period are happy times in my life.
- I loved being pregnant and I was great at it. So if anyone wants to bitch about pregnancy things, or wants to use my master excel doc on the baby things you need, or has questions about labour, please just ask. Soldiers still went to war, even if they came back with chopped legs and arms.
- I will never have moved on from losing Olivia. I ask you to please never make a statement that has the following: "at least", "silver lining" or "positives" about this. I know you will all mean well, but there is truly nothing positive or "at least" from losing Olivia and that will never change, even if I'm lucky enough to go on and have more kids that hopefully get to stay with us. I have no doubt I will live a very happy life and go on to do many things I've wanted to do and more. But, there will always be an Olivia-shaped hole in my life and that is ok (not really, but you know what I mean), as I don't want to ever pretend that she wasn't here. She was very much part of the world and through me, Pierre and everyone that is willing to carry her - she still is.
I know this e-mail feels long and intense, but I have loved coming to work every day before this happened and I believe that by sharing this with you, my people, I am giving us a better chance to succeed in our new relationship.
Last but not least, please read the attached story, which I have typed up. It's from the book Three Minus One and was written by Corrine Heyeck, a mum just like me, after losing her daughter Brenna. I feel that she truly explains life after baby loss (or any major loss really) and she even includes food! It would really mean a lot to me if you read it.
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing and feeding you all again.
Cheerios and see you on Monday,
I'm not sharing "Onion Bread" in this post as this is already a very long post and Corrine and Breanna's story is too perfect and I feel it too strongly for it to be buried under my words. I promise I'll post it soon.
I have to say that the response to that e-mail I received from everyone at work were amazing and they truly give me the strength to go back every day and show up. It sounds simple enough, but having a life when I still have days when I don't want to open my eyes and face reality, is hard and going to work seems impossible and pointless. It has been thanks for my friends, colleague, new found friends that I am able to show up and be any version of me I can be on the day.
PS: Pierre's birthday celebrations went great, but it was all way more emotional than any of us had anticipated. I've always LOVED birthdays, but I'm terrified for mine to arrive this year.