One of things I had planned in my mind was that I would be returning to work by March. Although it would have only been 4 months on I was determined I would be going back and leading a life of ‘new normal’ not only for me but to prove to myself and make my daughter proud that I could carry on with my new ‘normal life’ I knew deep down I would drive myself insane staring at the same four walls on my own in the house the home where I SHOULD be spending my time off with Violet. A lot of people had said don’t push yourself to go back take the time off, I did NEED the time off and I did NEED time to come to terms with what had happened. But I also NEED time to get back into a routine something I was really lacking.
Returning to work was not something on my mind at all I can honestly say I was dreading it, I didn’t know how I would feel especially if I was asked the dreaded words of
‘your back, hows the baby?’
I had visited my place of work to see my colleagues just before Christmas, not long after I had given birth. I had decided I needed to conquer a fear of seeing everyone, it had only been a month or so since i had seen a few of my work colleagues as Violets funeral I didn’t like the fact they saw me in that situation, shock and upset and I’m sure those images will never leave there mind because they will never leave mine.
I had planned to pop in and say hello, it took me a good few days to get ready and to prepare myself for what was about to happen and the fear of what I was about to conquer. It seems really petty to others I suppose in a way that they don’t understand to why it would bother me going into work and seeing everyone but whilst grieving its a massive thing!
I got in my car and set off shaking as I pulled up outside I knew I was only visiting and I could leave at any point. Walking into that building made my stomach fill with sickness, I should of been walking in there showing my new born baby to my work friends and being congratulated, hugged with happiness and cuddling little Violet instead I got asked a million questions on what happened, why I had couldn’t have a c-section, how I got so poorly, why Violet had died. I know people only asked because they care but for me to walk in was a massive achievement even if it was just visiting. My eyes filled up with tears as I hid away in my friends office as people came to say hello. It was nice to see everyone and everyone was very caring about what had happened but it still broke my heart with so much pain. It felt like I was walking on air and as I left i cried all the way home, it brought back so many memories, memories of when I worked there. I hadn’t even gone back to work and all I kept thinking was this is too soon.
The weeks were passing by and I felt more and more like I was going know where that time was standing still but everything else and the world was moving forward. Once we had got into February I was waiting for my review to be complete and find out some reasons why Violet had died. After this was complete I would be returning to work.
The day had arrived my first day back at work, I had prepared myself all week for this day and I knew it would be SO difficult, my god it really was! I pulled up in the car for 9am after everyone had started, i just sat there and cried I was shaking, I felt sick, I was hot and wanted to turn the car right around again and drive home. I kept reminding myself ‘Grace its only been 4 months and you’ve got in the car that’s an achievement in its self’ I messaged my friend at work saying I was here, she came out to get me and sat in the car with me and reassured me that I didn’t have to come in. After having a good cry to let it all out I left the car and walked into work, I said hello to the people I saw, although I felt like no one knew what to say. In ways it was good to feel that I hadn’t left as nothing had changed my job was the same so it was easy to fall back into it. I stayed with the lady who covered my job whilst I was off staying a few hours I decided to leave. I had spoke to my manager and discussed my options of when and how many days I wanted to work deciding I would return back on 4 days a week.
My first full day back at work I felt like I had a label stuck to my forehead reading ‘avoid me’ I do understand and do see things from other peoples point of view not just mine. I know people don’t know what to say but to avoid me completely is just as heartbreaking. When they saw me sat back on reception it was like Id always been there. I know I’m not the same person I used to be, I May not laugh at your jokes, I wont smile as often but I will put a face to cover my grief whilst in work. It’s so difficult to enter that building every single day I honestly cant tell you the anxiety it causes, I put myself through this pain and I do it for a reason. I know full well if I had the full 12 months off like I’m entitled to it would of been more of a struggle, i also didn’t want any longer off as I knew at some point I was hoping to be off again with a second pregnancy which was something Id already made my manager aware of, he was very heartfelt about my decision and said he would be very pleased if it was to happen again. Everyone at work was very caring and kind I could tell what had happened had really touched peoples hearts.
As the weeks passed by at work it was very tiring and very draining trying to return to daily life. Id spent the first few weeks of being off after giving birth in bed half crying for hours on end, I was totally drained. I suffered with headaches, dizziness and just felt awful it was like when you start a new job and your taking in all the new information there giving you!
Work was going well, I turned up every day (even though I do get high anxiety which is going to take a long time to go away) went my usual routine and completed my work and came home. Somethings were really difficult I knew full well what would happen, I sort of prepared myself for it but wasn’t sure how I was going to feel. The dreaded words had been said
“Aww your back already, hows the baby?”
I had said to my bereavement midwife not long before what will I say when someone asks me? how will I feel? what will I do? will I cry? will i feel nothing?
That time had arrived one of our couriers didn’t know I was back, they asked me that dreaded question. I filled up with anxiety, my chest went red, my eyes filled with tears. I decided the words I was going to say if anyone asked was “I had a little girl who was stillborn” after a few stares around the room the words came out of my mouth. The response I got was “I’m sorry”. They usually just stared at me blankly, which was fine I knew they wouldn’t know what to say because neither did I.
I sit at my desk at the front of the building, I am the first face everyone sees, I must be happy and smiley because that’s who I am (here’s where being able to put on a brave face comes in handy!) my desk is the same, everything’s the same apart from me I’m not the same, no bump, no baby just a grieving mother with a label stuck to her forehead. I sit there looking around and down to my stomach, last time I sat in this chair I was 9 months pregnant I certainly didn’t see myself sat back in this chair after 4 months the memories flood back, how exciting it was it wasn’t long until I’d be leaving and not coming back for at least a year! I’m honestly not sure how I will cope with another pregnancy and being at work it will certainly bring back memories of my pregnancy with Violet this will be another fear to conquer. I sometimes sit there and want to bang my head against the wall, why me? This pops into my head every day every time I see the new mummy’s with there newborns.
The days at work are passing by but theirs always one thing that comes up to push me over the edge. The sound, conversations and photos of other colleagues children and babies, honestly it’s heartbreaking for me. I can’t avoid it and I’m very happy for everyone around me who has a family but it causes so much pain something I knew was going to happen but I never thought how I was going to feel. I’ve rarely heard a baby cry and I’ve never heard my own daughters so to hear someone else’s when I’m sat in work brings back a thousand memories, I wish I could switch off completely. I have learnt to be kind to myself and when these situations arise to take myself away from the moment.
It was so strange because it’s only now I feel like I’ve been accepted back into my place of work, at first no one said anything only one person who stood next to me and said “I’ve not seen you yet and I wanted to tell you how nice it to have you back and to see you, and I hope you are ok” These words mean ALOT when you literally feel like shit most of the time. Maybe it’s partly my fault but I will never apologise for not smiling and for grieving. It’s difficult for me to start a conversation because I’m petrified, I’m petrified someone is going to mention something which will send me over the edge, I have no interests, I don’t know what to talk about anymore. Being a very chatty person then turning into someone quite is tough I’m trying to be two different people, which is constantly draining.
Tank you to my work colleagues for being kind and understanding following my path of grief xox
Work has become a usual routine now, get up, work, come home. Now moving forward to the day I walk in that building again with a baby in my arms.