Today I experienced another first in life without Owen… I went back to work. Technically it wasn’t a first since I have worked since as far back as I can remember. –I know I am only 31 years old but when you start babysitting when you are like 10 years old and have had what feels like 4 careers since then it feels like a lifetime – On April 4, 2013 I was taken out of work and put on disability/bed rest. I had to drop everything, hand over all of my transactions, and walk out the door. It was sudden and unexpected. I freaked out and felt like everything I knew was being taken from me and all I could do was just go home and sit and grow a baby!
Since then I spent 5 weeks awaiting the arrival of Owen, experienced his amazing and terrifying birth, fought relentlessly all 112 days of his amazing little life, survived sitting in the waiting room through 2 open heart surgeries and multiple procedures and tests, held him as he took his last breath, said “goodbye” and “see you soon” at his celebration of life, and have had several weeks to settle into or at least adjust to life without Owen. You’d think I would be a pro at this stressful situation thing by now?!?! But, for some reason going back to work feels like one of the hardest things I have had to do. I have been down all weekend and have dreaded walking into the doors of my work. I feared the “I feel sorry for you” expressions that I have received from people that just don’t know what to say but their hearts are broken for us and Owen. What I have feared most of all is getting back into a routine and diving back into my career. Because while I always pictured myself as a working Mom, now being back at work fulltime means that Owen is not here. There is no dropping Owen off at Nana’s or daycare as I race to work. No rushing to get home because I missed him so bad during the hours at work. No phone calls throughout the day to see how the little man is doing. No sleepless nights because our little one has kept us up and not enough coffee in the world can keep us sitting up in your chair and focused for a full workday. None of any of it!
When you’re a Mom of a baby that lives in Heaven, there is no physical responsibility of having a baby here on earth. No runny nose that you need to stay home for and take care of, no daycare to rush to and the only sleepless nights you have are from heartache that your baby is not here. There also isn’t a phone number you can call to check on your little one. (God really should do something about that one! FaceTime to Heaven!) There is no Nan, Nana or Grammy loving your cutie up while you are slaving away. There are also no precious smiles and giggles to come home to and make it all worth it. (Unless of course you have a Golden Retriever at home and then there is one big smile with a lot of sloppy wet kisses awaiting you as you walk in the door!)
But what there is and always will be is my amazing husband reminding me that this is not it for us. There is God’s promise that he has plans for us to have hope and future (Jeremiah 29:11). There are gracious clients, employers, and friends standing by us each step of the way. There are the incredible stories of lives changed and hearts touched by our precious little boy. There are the experiences that we are now a part of because of our little boy. There were so many people cheering me on today through phone calls, texts and emails. Our incredible social worker from Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles emailed me as I was nearing a Stage 5 meltdown this morning. She simply said, ”Anticipation is sometimes worse than the actual experience”. Ahh, no truer words have been spoken. How many times in the last 6 months or the last 31 years has the anticipation been so much worse than the actual experience? And how true those words were today, when I showed up at my office and fell into the arms of my Fidelity family, wonderful women and one amazing token man that walked every step of my pregnancy with me and cheered me on daily from back home (physically and through an outpour of welcome back emails). No judging, no sad faces, just smiles and genuine joy that I was back. I am blessed! I am thankful that today when I ripped off the little bit of “going back to work” band-aid, it stung but I recovered. I am happy to be back.
On a final note… This blog post was supposed to be about another phase of grief and finding our new normal in our life without Owen. But, as I started to type it took on a life of its own. I call this phase of grief ripping of the band-aid. Each first is like yanking a band-aid just a little bit off of a really hairy arm. It stings like hell but you have to keep ripping it if you want it gone. This year is going to be full of a lot of firsts; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day, his Birthday, etc. Each one of these is going to be another rip of the band-aid. Until one day we look up and all of the firsts have happened and the band-aid is off. We will be left with no more firsts, no more yanks and no more new. There will just one big deep scar showing what we have been through. It may hurt when second milestones come around, or painful memories, or what life may have been like if he was still here with us. Some may notice the scar and ask about it while others may look away as they see it as just a part of us. But eventually, the band-aid will be off. Thanks for being with us as we rip off the band-aid. Sometimes it hurts worse than others but the pain is a little easier because we have each one of you holding our hand as we rip the band-aid. (Click here to see another blogger write about ripping the band-aid. She says everything I wanted to say).