I suppose I have known that this day would come for quite some time now but that doesn’t make it any less difficult/weird/exciting/nerve-wracking/weird. Yeah, I said weird twice… because above all other emotions I’ve had this last week the best description of how I feel about being back at work is that it is just WEIRD.
If we rewind two years I was one day shy of my due date, getting ready for a day at the beach (Manitou) with my parents while we waited on our new little addition to the family. I had been off work since school let out at the end of June and I was excited to spend a WHOLE YEAR at home with the baby.
Pregnancy is odd because the last days feel like an eternity. Now, 8 days seems to go by in a heartbeat but when you’re sitting at 8 days past your due date you feel like you’ll be pregnant for the rest of your life. Looking back on those days I wish that I had enjoyed them more – not to say that I was the most impatient expectant mother I’ve ever met but I certainly was ready to be done with pregnancy. Those last days, though, were the last days that I had with my healthy, normal baby – or the idea of one anyway.
On September 11th, 2016 my world changed. Suddenly, I was a mother to a beautiful little girl who I was supposed to care for. For the first hours I thought about the year that lay ahead and all of the fun things she would learn to do and the independence that she would gain. After a year, I would return to work full time and my mother and mother in law would take turns watching her because I never liked the thought of sending her to day care.
Then, as if in the blink of an eye, my world changed yet again. Laura was whisked away and soon after we were thrust into a world that we had only a vague idea existed – the world of pediatric medicine. Laura was placed on an IV of a very strong hormone treatment to keep her alive and she was being fed through a tube. Suddenly, everything that I thought I knew was different.
Over the course of the next months (read Laura’s Story to get the whole picture) we learned to stop thinking about the future and learned to live in the present. We spent every day finding the small victories and playing with Laura and getting to know this special little girl as we watched her fight for her life. The outside world was no longer important and all of those silly things that used to feel stressful (think: report cards, concert prep, etc) seemed ridiculously insignificant.
The thought of returning to work rarely crossed my mind until we were discharged from the hospital and things calmed down at home a bit. It was clear that returning to work in the fall of 2017/18 was not going to happen – I had only been home with Laura for 6 months and she was still having struggles with feeding and development and she was still on a number of medications. We decided then that I would return to work part time in the fall of 2018/19.
That brings us to now. On Monday, August 27th, I woke up, got mine and Laura’s things ready for the day and headed into the city as I had done countless times for early morning blood work. This day, however, we drove right past the hospital to my mom’s house in the North end of the city.
We saw my dad on his way to work and said a quick hello before walking into the house. We visit my parents all the time so it wasn’t that weird with the exception of one little detail – I wasn’t staying. I made sure my mom knew where Laura’s medication, first aid supplies and cup for her fluids was and said my goodbyes (which was fine with Laura, by the way).
I then proceeded to spend my first day of work in 2 years sitting through school opening procedures and meetings – not exactly a great way to start but at least it was easy.
On Tuesday, the students start back to school for the year and on Wednesday of next week I will be back at work teaching band. As much as I have loved spending time with Laura every day, I am excited to be back to what I have wanted to do ever since I was a teenager- teach music. I absolutely LOVE my job and I love the kids that I have the privilege of working with.
I have been blessed with an amazing teaching assignment in a great school (that I actually worked at in it’s inaugural year about 4 years ago) and I am beyond excited to start back. Being back to work after maternity leave is strange because you are just not the same person you were before having kids. Returning to work after having a critically ill child is even more bizarre – I find myself amazed at the things that people worry about in schools as if it is a matter of life and death – I assure you, most of the time it’s not. As far as I’m concerned, as long as the students I teach have fun, learn some music and enjoy their time in my classroom – that’s good enough for me 🙂
This last week has shown me that Laura is okay to be without me and that it’s okay for me to let go of control (a bit). She is a normal, healthy little girl with the exception of a few little quirks here and there which my mom is MORE than capable of handling without me.
Having my mom around to look after Laura is a bigger blessing that I can ever express in words and Laura just loves her to pieces (and her dog, Molly too). I know that they have fun together and frankly, my mom is way more fun that I am – so Laura is very lucky. I have never been the type to enjoy playing pretend or feigning interest in playing with dolls but my mom is great at that so I think Laura will get a great balance between the two of us.
I am working 2.5 days a week and what I have found so far is that I have way more energy and desire to do things with Laura on the days that I am home than I did when I was home with her every day. We go to the park, paint, play in the backyard, and bake together and it is a blast. I can’t imagine going to work full time but for now, I think working half time will work out just fine for our little family 🙂