I went back to work last week. I truly thought it would be an easy transition. I’d been on leave for 7 weeks, and I was getting kind of bored. People kept asking me how I felt about going back, and while I definitely wouldn’t have been okay 4 weeks after our loss, I thought 7 weeks was good. It certainly seemed like I should be fine enough to get through a work day by then.
My first day back was fine. My coworkers were all very welcoming and happy to see me, which was nice. It was good to know that I can’t just drop out of life without affecting other people. The week went really well, and it seemed like things were going to be okay. I had worried that it would be hard to make it through a day living my life as normal without Owen, but it seemed to be working out. I left work on Friday feeling pretty optimistic…and then Saturday hit. I don’t know what happened, but I was irritable or sleeping all day. I fought with Zach about stupid things, and five minutes after getting annoyed about something, I couldn’t even remember what was bothering me. I was just mad without reason a lot of the day. Zach asked if I thought work had been harder than I thought it would be. I said no, but then I just started crying and didn’t stop for an hour. Clearly, the transition had not been as smooth as I thought.
When Zach went back to work, he told me in the first few weeks that it was hard to grieve and work at the same time. Pretty much, either one of those things takes up the majority of your emotional energy, so he could only do one. I thought I would be able to handle both because I had spent more time out of work, but I was quite wrong. Zach’s experience was true for me as well. Without any emotional energy to invest in remembering and loving Owen, I just bottled it all up and then exploded on the first day I didn’t have to devote to work. I was a wreck for the most of Saturday and the majority of Sunday morning. I was able to get myself together for socializing on Sunday and Monday (I was off for Memorial day), but it was hard because this new grief experience was so fresh. I’m back at work again this week, and I’m much more aware of how difficult it is. I spend my drive in the morning remembering Owen and storing up as much love as I can for the day, and then I spend my drive home grieving. It sounds awful, I’m sure, but it’s really not all that bad. It’s natural and right to miss Owen so much. I think a lot of my outburst on the weekend was related to not feeling any of those things, so I’m trying to find small moments in my work day where I can devote my energy to my son and my sadness.
One of my biggest concerns was seeing patients again. To give some ambiguous background (since this is the internet, and I’d like to keep my job), I do a lot of work with teenagers now, and I see the same kids on a fairly regular basis. A bunch of my patients had seen me when I was pregnant, and of course I didn’t tell them what was going on, so if we discussed my pregnancy at all, it was limited to questions about when I was due, what I was having, and if I was coming back after the baby was born. So, I was worried what I would say when I saw some of my more regular patients who had shown an interest in my pregnancy. I’ve been back a week, and I still haven’t seen anyone who remembers that I was pregnant. I imagine that as the summer progresses, I’m bound to see more kids who do remember and will be curious. When they ask about Owen, I still don’t know what I’ll say. Fortunately, they’re teenagers, and by nature they don’t really attend to the needs of anyone else. I imagine that if I do tell them that I had my baby and he died, they’ll feel bad for me for a moment and then we’ll move on. I don’t really know if I want to be that vulnerable with my patients, but I don’t know what else to say. I don’t want to lie about Owen. I’ll have to think about this, and maybe I’ll come up with something or maybe I’ll just say whatever feels right in the moment.