Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Going Back to Work

Work is the one place I feel like I can't talk about Liam. Not that I want to do it all the time, but with the exception of a few private conversations with my one close girlfriend and one short conversation on my first day back with a friend who had also recently had a baby, I haven't mentioned him at all. And it makes it really hard to be there.

I'm not usually shy about Liam (obviously), but there's a big difference between making people feel uncomfortable on the internet and in person. I often comfort myself knowing people can unfriend me or ignore my blog links whenever they like. And besides, how do you bring a conversation like that up at work at all? I remember being the one on the other side of grief in the past, and I had no idea what to do or say. So I know how uncomfortable I would make people. And it's not like it's just friends I'm making uncomfortable. My living depends--to some degree--on my relationships at work.

But I spend 8-9 hours there every weekday. I'm lucky to have Kam working there, too, so we can sometimes go out to lunch, especially when I need a break. But that's still a long time to spend pretending not to be thinking about something else.

And then there are the emailed birth announcements... I was really looking forward to the day that would be my baby. And now I have a baby, and instead of getting to broadcast it to the whole company, many of the people in my office don't even know I was ever pregnant. It wasn't a secret, but I had only just started showing when Liam died. The news had only just started to spread. So now when I run into people in the hallway and they ask how I'm doing I always have to wonder to myself whether they know or if it's just a polite gesture. When I'm unsure I give vague answers. When I'm sure they don't know I either say I'm doing good and leave quickly or I ignore the question and say hello instead. And then I sit down at my desk and a picture of someone else's baby pops into my inbox.

I don't know what I'm going to do when I get invited to the next office baby shower...

Sometimes I just want to send out an email of my own with my own pictures. But I am too afraid of the consequences. What if I do, and still no one says anything? What if I just get flooded with condolences? Will that really make me feel better? What if this affects my relationships at work? Will people stop trusting me to get my work done because they assume I'm grieving? Will they avoid me and giving me work because they assume I need space? What if they just don't get it at all, because he wasn't what other people think a baby should be? Will I have to confront that? Will I lash out? Will that affect my credibility?

And then there's the matter of importance. Everything seems so backwards. Yesterday I had to determine why a client had one more survey than they were expecting. One. Out of thousands. And since it was a big client, it was important. I can't see how that was ever important anymore, but I do it because I need to keep my job. But a lot of my work feels empty now in comparison to everything I just went through. All I want to do is go home and find some way to still mother Liam. Whether that's writing or knitting baby blankets for the hospital or looking for local volunteer opportunities. But I have to be at work, listening to people talk about all of these stupid things they think are important, and it makes me want to scream because no one is talking about the most important thing: my baby.

I know I'm not the only one to have to go through this. I know there are probably plenty of people in similar situations including women who have suffered miscarriages almost entirely in silence. My heart breaks for you. But how do you manage it? I'm honestly asking. I feel like I'm at the end of my rope, so any ideas are welcome.


  1. I've gone through my miscarriages mostly in silence. I acknowledge them but I have never talked about them in depth or super publicly. I never wanted to risk someone saying the countless stupid things people say (it wasn't a baby yet, at least you know you can get pregnant, what did you do wrong) and have the sacred experience of giving birth to my 5 angels (all on my own at home between 8-10 weeks) ruined by people who were trying to be kind and failing. I keep the quote from Luke "And Mary kept all these things in her heart" on my mirror as a daily reminder of the babies I keep in my heart. I don't know how to advise you, I've been so amazed by your bravery and willingness to share. It's a courage I have never had. Bless you! Like I said I have no advice just sharing what has helped me get through our losses.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Leslie. I worry about those same things, especially that someone will taint that sacred experience of birth by challenging my beliefs. I'm so sorry for your losses.

  2. One of my colleagues who works in a different part of our office went through a similar experience to you, and we were able to have a private staff meeting to acknowledge what had happened. What was helpful for us was to understand why others in the office were upset (who knew) and what we could do to help (send cards and letters, since she works in a different country). If you can, it might be helpful to tell your direct supervisor what is going on and about your loss. Perhaps then they could pass along the information to others without you reliving the pain of the moment each time the story is retold. My great-grandmother died the first day of a huge worldwide meeting I was planning for work, and it was very tough for me to grieve and pay attention to work at the same time. As you had mentioned, little things at work that I had to take care of suddenly seemed meaningless. What was helpful for me is that my supervisor knew about what had happened and could express it to other people for me. I am truly sorry for your loss and hope that things do get better soon.

    1. Thanks for the advice, Amanda. I'm sorry you had to go through that with your great-grandmother. Kam told both of our supervisors for us, so I've been fortunate to have my boss take some of the load off me lately. My boss also discreetly told everyone who sits nearby me. So I do know everyone there knows, and I don't have to explain what happened to anyone. But no one has said anything to me about it. I don't know the people I sit by all that well, though, because I just moved desks a few months ago, so I'm not that surprised. The people I know better all sit upstairs with my husband (so they all know as well). So if I wanted to talk to them I would have to walk up there and initiate it, which I feel a little awkward about especially since it's obviously not work related.

  3. I just want to say even if the individual tasks are/seem unimportant, having your job is helpful for planning for yourself and future kids, and that IS something Liam would want.
    Also, I agree with the idea that it is a good idea to make everyone around you aware of what you have experienced/are experiencing. Maybe just a brief email to everyone explaining and then you could give people the option of following up if they want to. Say you'd like to have lunch with anyone who has questions or would like to know more about how to help, and maybe give a specific date for that so people don't have to worry about feeling awkward trying to plan that with you. A lot of people probably assume you don't want to talk about it out of the blue and have that throw off your whole day. But if you can somehow make them aware that you are prepared to (and happy to) talk about it they may feel less imposing.