Monday was my first day back to work and the waiting is the hardest part. I wake up when Jordan leaves which is too early to start getting ready so I toss and turn, falling in and out of sleep until I’m jolted awake to remember what my life is. After doing this so many times I get tired of fighting sleep and just get up. I’m ready way too early and then comes the waiting. The anxiety. The fear. I’m okay once I’m there but for that half hour I spend at home waiting to leave for work, I’m full of angst about the day.
I think back to right after Avery died and how things were so dark but I still managed to be grateful for the paid time off to recover both mentally and physically. I remember thinking there’s no way I can just go back to work after this. But here I am and I’m proud of myself.
All I have been able to think about in the mornings is how I should be getting a three month old ready for daycare, how I thought I’d be crying dropping him off instead of crying over never holding him again.
Regardless the change in reason for my tears, they came during my short commute. My best friend and office mate was waiting in the parking lot to tell me “you can do this”. I love her so much and am so glad this job brought us together.
This year is my third year working at my job and I have met and seen many friends and acquaintances come and go. There are only two employees in my department who have been here longer than I have now. I like my job and after working service jobs for years, I’m blessed to have a desk job I can wear leggings to and not interact with many people. It has made coming back easier on me to know that everyone is supportive and easing me back into my tasks as opposed to just throwing me back into everything I had been doing. Everyone was excited to see me, maybe if only to know I’m alive. And I didn’t feel like anyone pitied me which is what I had asked for upon returning. I know it’s sad but I don’t want people to feel bad for me. I want to be Avery’s Mom, Elizabeth, not just the mother who lost her baby.
One of the relationships I’ve formed over my few years here is with the custodian whom I have never met. We have written hundreds of notes back and forth that range from the weather to weekend plans to family and so on. He is a sweet and hardworking man. When I first started he used to leave candy with his notes until another employee complained (every office has one or more of those people that are determined to ruin a good work environment). Anyway, my friend wrote to him when I went on leave to tell him what had happened (side note: do other loss parents appreciate the kindness of close friends sharing the tragic news for you as much as I do? Because there have been times when it has been a blessing for people simply already know about Avery as opposed to me telling the story over and over). So I came back to a note from him on Monday and both yesterday and today he has left me letters that have brought tears of pain, joy, pride and grief all mixed together to my eyes. It goes to show that you can be so kind that people who have never met you in person know how kind you really are.
That first morning I would have said getting ready was the worst part but by the end of the day it was a tie between that and the drive home. I unraveled as soon as I turned out of the parking lot. I fell deep into flashbacks of having the placental abruption in the car and driving home that day. I felt worthless for not going to the day care to pick Avery up. After the first 8 hours away from him, I imagined myself smothering him with love after missing him all day while I worked. Instead I miss him all day every day and all night through my sleep.
I was glad to see the truck in the driveway when I got home. I collapsed into Jord and sobbed those hard, heavy, reviving tears. There are so many moments Avery should be in and it threatens to break me when I fall too far into how I would be mothering him right now, where I’d be taking him, how much I’d be feeding him, how big he’d have gotten in these three months, the list goes on. Everything I do I picture him doing too in some parallel universe where he lived to be a healthy, normal baby. It’s suffocating, this grief, knowing that the more I experience, the more moments that he’s not in add up. I miss him so much I can’t breathe sometimes. But then it’s softens until the next wave hits.
“God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This used to be one of my favorite comforting lines. However did you know it’s found no where in the Bible? Probably because it’s not true. God will give you more than you can handle. Telling yourself He won’t sets yourself up for devestation. Instead of saying He won’t give me more than I can handle I have altered it to a truer, even more comforting statement. God will give me more than I can handle and then He will give me the grace to come through it.
Today is my third day back to work and I never thought I could handle coming back after Avery died but I have and God willing, I’ll get up and do it again tomorrow. Not because I’m strong or brave but because it’s my only option and when I don’t think I can handle something, I can rest assured that God can.