Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Slow return to work

I returned to work on Monday. I wasn't too thrilled about it, but knew it had to be done. Monday was a pretty hard day overall, but I must say that my colleagues were amazing. Most people gave me space, but still managed to let me know they were glad I was back. As I suspected, the toughest moment was when I saw my clinical supervisor. He is the kindest man. He gave me a hug and I sobbed. He just knew how hard we worked for this pregnancy and how devastating this is for me. Another colleague who I had just told I was pregnant a few days before the m/c, came by my office and looked at me in askance. She gave me a hug when I told her, which is always a bit surprising when someone's role in your life has been 'colleague'. Her care was so genuine, though, and I welcomed it. At lunch time, she came by my office and asked if I wanted to go for a walk in the park. I appreciated the gesture so much.

People at work are incredible all around. Staff on the my residential unit expressed concern about my health and all said they were happy I was back. None of them pried to know what had happened. My manager continues to be incredibly supportive. I talked to her on Tuesday afternoon, and she reminded me that my job was to take care of myself right now, and that her job was to support me in doing that. This whole situation would be made so much more stressful if my boss was a jerk. Instead, I have one of the most supportive person advocating for me.

I am "working" from home today. I've put the word working in brackets because it's nearing 1 pm and I haven't actually worked. I got back to work tomorrow for 2 days and then will be home for the weekend.  I'll work again on Monday, and then it's convocation on Tuesday. Again, I am glad that my work week will be broken up. My first full 5-day week will be the week of June 20. I am thankful for the gradual return to work.

Mr. A and I are planning a tree planting ceremony to say goodbye to our owlet. Friends of ours gave us a hazelnut seedling and we will burry other little mementos with it as we plant it. We're going to plant it where Mr. A proposed to me. He farms land owned by Jesuits in North Pleasantville. Back in 2009, he planted oat seeds in one of his fields to form the letters "Will you marry me?"4-5 weeks later, he took me on a walk around his fields and asked me to look at what was growing there. It was a great proposal and the start of a great adventure together. The spot is at the back of the property. We will plant the hazelnut at the edge of the forest and hope that unlike owlet, it grows up to be tall. We're planning to do that on the weekend.

Otherwise, I am one bitter and angry woman. Hopefully, this state is temporary, but I am struggling with those ugly feelings right now. It's hard to tolerate those feelings in myself, but I am reminding myself frequently that those feelings are normal. Bitter and angry is not who I want to be. It is not where I want to spend my precious energy. But I know that trying to "control" my feelings is a moot exercise. They are what they are. All I have to do is just acknowledge them and let them be, and take care of myself in the midst of these strong feelings. On my long drive home last night, I was listening to a story on the CBC (radio station comparable to NPR for my American readers). There is this big awful story that's been in the news for a few years now about a disgraced pediatric pathologist who got dozens of people locked up for killing their children. He testified against all these poor parents, saying that their child had died of suffocation or being shaken, when in fact, most children had not died at the hands of their parents. This poor mom got her murder conviction dropped yesterday after spending 14 years in jail for the murder of her son. He died of an epileptic seizure, but this doctor said she had suffocated him and she got put away. Her other children were removed from her care and adopted into other families. I was listening to this mom talking to reporters and wondered how the injustice of it all was not crushing her completely. Her entire life was destroyed by a quack. The way she spoke though, I could tell that rage over the injustice was not consuming her. She sounded grateful that the murder charge had been dropped and looked forward to living her life out of jail, hoping that her other children would some day want to make contact with her.

It made me look at myself and my own feelings of rage over the injustice. I guess I can stay stuck in decrying the fact that it's not fair that nothing I've done so far has permitted me to have a child, or I can acknowledge that and find out what's going to help me have a child. Because I was driving when I was thinking of this, I came up with a driving metaphor. The injustice is like cars in the oncoming traffic having their high beams on. You can't look at them directly or you'll be blinded and won't see well enough to drive straight. You have to focus on something else ahead of you and let their blinding light fall into your peripheral vision, where the rods in your cornea can absorb it (they're all about contrast), while you save your cones (responsible for visual acuity) for the important work. I need to keep my anger over the injustice of what's happening fall to my peripheral vision, because I need to look out for more important things. Like, what our next steps will be. Like finding a job for when my contract ends.

Ok, that was a cheesy metaphor, but thanks for bearing with me.

Thanks for your very kind comments on my last post. I get so much from your care and kindness.  


  1. I think that is a great metaphor (not cheesy!). I am so glad you have a good boss, mine was really wonderful to me both before and after my m/c and it made a huge difference (and also made me cry). Sending you lots of positive thoughts.

  2. First, I am so, so glad that you get a gentle reintroduction into the work week, although it's annoying that you have to go back at all. But I guess that's how we make our livings and stuff. What a blessing that you have kind people in your midst who are treating you with care and love. It's just what you need.

    As far as bitterness and anger go, how could you feel otherwise? This was a painful, shitty, unfair blow you were dealt. To not feel and acknowledge that would do you far more harm than good. I know you know your Kubler-Ross; you're on the path.

    And the driving metaphor is genius. Don't underestimate the power of your imagery. Did you really know all that about rods and cones off the top of your head? Impressive, woman.

    I love you. And hope to see you soon. xoxo

  3. That metaphor is pure genius! You are so right. Thinking of you Augusta. You won't feel this angry no matter what outcome you decide upon. That I promise you.

  4. You are such a wise woman dear Augusta, I think it was an excellent metaphor and so very true! Its understandable you're feeling angry and bitter right now, trust me I've been there more times than I'd like myself over the last couple of years but as you hinted at this too shall pass. You absolutely should allow yourself to feel what you need to in these moments and with that in time healing with continue and bring way to new feelings. I'm so glad your co-workers have been supportive and kind. It is a brave step going back to work and takes a great deal of courage to go back being in that vulnerable place emotionally. Give yourself credit for you are a far stronger woman than I think you realize. I love that you and Mr. A will have a tree planting ceremony together. Nick and I did the same after losing Lily and it was a very special moment for us. Continuing to think of you often and sending so much love your way my dear wonderful Augusta.

  5. Augusta,

    I am glad your work colleagues were supportive and gentle with you. I so vividly remember the ugly and angry feelings that come with IF, and you are right to allow yourself to feel them, but to also try to not lose sight of the big picture which is so easy to do. As you said, it is always humbling to see how others in other terrible situations rise above the anger and injustice of life's situations.

    Your idea of planting a hazelnut tree for your little owlet sounds lovely. I too hope it will grow tall and strong and will become a healing and comforting place to be.

    Thinking of you.

  6. I'm so glad you two are planting a tree. What a beautiful and appropriate way to honor your owlet, especially since your husband is an agriculturalist (is that the right word?). I pray that your feelings of anger and bitterness will gradually dissolve into peace--and you're right, this will happen in its own time.

  7. This is such a wise post, dear Augusta. As others have said, your metaphor regarding anger was remarkably well put, spot-on, and has tremendous potential for re-framing things. I already plan to incorporate it into my own way of looking at things (as I have so much of your wisdom, friend).

    You know I love you, and that is ultimately what I came here to say. Holding you in my heart as always, and ready to be present for all that is and all that comes.

    XOXOXO, H.

  8. I'm so glad you're surrounded by loving support at work, and while I wish so much you had no cause for anger and bitterness, I'm glad you're letting yourself feel it and finding ways to make sense of it.

    I think that's pretty much the sweetest and most wonderful marriage proposal I've ever heard of. A man who would do that is clearly a worthy partner for you. We'll be with you in spirit--hovering at a discrete distance, since this must be a very private and personal event--at the planting. Much love.

  9. I always found it amazing how certain people you might have written off come through when you need them. Loss is a brutally difficult time, even for those around you that want to speak but dont know what to say. I am so grateful they are brave and let the quiet speak for them.

    I hate the bitterness phase. It was a long one for me. I hope yours passes. I think your memorial plans are a beautiful step to help the phase do it's bit and then move on. My Mannie's tree flowers every spring and makes me smile.

  10. Augusta, I have to echo the others--- you are a very wise person and I'm happy I have your blog to come read.

    I am glad you are surrounded by kind people, though, ironically, in the aftermath of something like this, the one thing that can storm your defenses effectively is kindness. The day of my second miscarriage, I had a doctor that who reprimanded me about swearing after I said the F word after seeing my baby had no heartbeat. Later in the evening I had a couple of friends forcibly come over to 'comfort' me, but they ended up telling me I'd be mad to try again. Such behavior actually put my back up and helped me hold things together, but the minute anybody was kind, the floodgates opened.

    The idea of planting a tree to remember your owlet is a lovely one.

    The aftermath of pregnancy loss is such a bewildering time..I hope the bitterness passes quickly and you find peace.

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