I had another blog post all ready to go today about 'guilt' but something happened earlier while I was working my part-time job at the rehab hospital. You see I work mainly in a pediatric setting but will pick up shifts in adult rehab facility. I like the change and lately the anonymity that comes along with working on a unit that I barely know anyone. A sweet nurse, kindly asked me as I was leaving for the day, "So, how old is that baby now?" I paused to make sure I hadn't in fact died. I've been told congratulations from some poor, unknowing strangers or Beau has been asked how she's doing but I hadn't had anyone ask after her in that way. I thought 4 months, she should be 4 months. But should I count from the day she died or her due date? Then she'd be 3 months, cooing and smiling. That always messes me up. Like when I've been asked her birthday and her death day on forms. Should I draw a little arrow to reverse them because Piper died before she was born? I mumbled something how she had passed in July, I'm doing as well as expected then high tailed it to my car where I sobbed for 15 minutes before I could navigate home. Sometimes an encounter like that will leave me breathless and out of sorts for the rest of the day.
I've been back at work for over a month. All that know me or have read about how devastated I was to have to go back, I thought I'd grace ya with a little update. Now I had planned on transitioning to part time after Pipes but came back with some more hours. My job has been gracious in letting me have some flexibility. The first few days were horrible, awful, terrible. You get the idea. I cried on the way to work, at work and all the way home. Gone was the safety of my home and the freedom to participate in my organized grieving. I could no longer at any given moment dissolve.
The very first day back I awoke with the thought: I should be readying Piper for a drop off at a grandparents'. Open the flood gates and just rip my heart out because I'm certain it's not beating anyhow. I faced some rough moments of being congratulated on the baby and more chit-chat then I had heard in over three months. I was anxious, overwhelmed and sad. I felt foggy and inefficient. I continue to struggle when I work with babies born in to not ideal situations. I question the universe and it's fairness. As the weeks tick by, I still have tough days. Sometimes the act of normalcy for a ten hour shift, leaves me emotionally exhausted.
Slowly, I've began to stabilize. I want people to know that it does get easier. I believed no one when they said this and you won't believe me either so here it is in writing. When you are on the roller coaster from hell, can't get off, but it does go up.
I forced myself, little by little, to list why I am thankful for being at work. Try it, it's hard. I was and continue to be grumpy about it. Here are a few things:
I get to be around bright women who lift me up. They know what happened and can respect my distance and need for professionalism. Getting up and going to work, gives me a sense of routine. A sense of purpose. I cannot care for Piper earth side so helping other families is fulfilling. I get to play with adorable children and provide interventions to hopefully make their future's brighter. I'm making money that will allow me to travel, eat, live and ok, buy cute hats. I went to school for a looong time and should put all that education to good use. Having something outside of the home, gives me unique experiences to bring back to the table. It distracts my mind so that I am not constantly crying or binge watching Parks and Rec. It allows for some compartmentalization. Here is my pain and it can coexist with a functional life. It's putting one foot in front of the other, although heavy, it's in the right general direction.
Sometimes the the hard thing is the right thing or some grown up thing like that. Being a working Mom of none is hard stuff.
I miss you so much and everything that was to come after you. Rest easy, my sweet baby girl.
Piper Kai Bennett
I will scream, sing and share her story may it be short. Our only child was born still at 36 weeks secondary to an umbilical cord accident. This is our journey about choosing life rather than existence.