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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Back to work

Hi all, im due back to work soon and feeling more and more anxious about it and facing my old colleagues again. Im half thinking now of looking for a new job and starting fresh but I dont think I can handle interviews right now. I would be interested in your thoughts on this, did it help to go back to familar setting or somewhere new?
May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterF
F, If you are going back to work, I am assuming your loss if very recent, within the last few months. If that is so, then neither choice is likely to make your grief easier, though one or the other could make it harder. Neither is going to ease the grief, but some jobs do make it harder. What are worrying about? Is it facing all the people who know you, watched your pregnancy and joy and will now see the loss? Or is it that you want to disappear from the grief at times, disappear to a place where you are not a babyloss mother? Try to pin point, if possible, what you are looking for and let's go from there.

In the mean time, try to be gentle and understanding of yourself and your pain. Think about going back to your old job. What would make it easier on you? Stopping in ahead of time, before you take up the daily grind? Emailing coworkers, and saying what? Planning a half day at first or a short week? Compare this to what would make it easier to job hunt. Do you want to practice? Get dressed up and go out and talk to strangers over the next few days? Speak with some employees of places you might think about applying? Update your resume? Practice talking about yourself in the mirror?

You are in a new world and it is so hard. You are learning to navigate life again, as a different person. With different triggers and hurts and priorities. Be good to yourself and take care of yourself. Wishing you some peace as you try to find your way through this decision, F.
May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
F, I am so very sorry you are in this spot. I lost my son Brandon 5 months ago, and I had a 3 month maternity leave. Brandon was 40 days old when he passed. I was in the exact same spot as you are, I could not fathom going back - and several people at my job knew my fertility history because I took a few days off suddenly 2 years prior due to a threatened miscarriage, that ended up being an actual miscarriage, so they were so happy for me when my son was born, which made it that much harder - I had clients who I spoken to over the phone and email as well as in person and they all knew I was going on maternity leave. I could not fathom getting asked about my baby upon my return. I could not imagine going on interviews either, so I quit my job and took me months to go on an interview, I actually just got a new job and start on Jun 6th. I also moved countries in order to be close to family as we were all alone before, so it is of course a radical change, but IF you have anxiety about going back and IF you can, I would advise you not to go if you might not be ready; you certainly do not need the extra stress right now, although of course that is not always an option. Sending you hugs.
May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCristiane
F, I am so sorry for your loss. It's such a difficult path we are faced with.

I am in a similar position as you. I returned to work last Thursday after 3 months. Our son, Carter, died in February. Leading up to the return I was extremely anxious. I could not imagine returning and resuming my job requirements as if nothing had changed. I work as a RN in a private medical office and see quite a lot of patients.

I had seen most of my co-workers prior to my return. One by one they stopped by our home to visit. I will say that helped. But, it was incrediably difficult to walk into the building again. The last time I was there I was pregnant and happy; blissfully unaware of what was coming. I had a co-worker meet me downstairs because I couldn't walk in alone. And I'm glad I did that, it didn't stop me from having a huge breakdown in the hallway, but I wasn't alone.

It's also just all the interaction with people. I see quite a lot of patients in a day. Each one of them has the potential to cause me to spiral. People who will not acknowledge the loss of Carter, people who will say insensitive comments, people who offer unwanted platitudes. I try not to let it affect me too much but sometimes I just can't. In just those two mornings I got:
"You are young. You will get pregnant again"
"Welcome back" (no mention of our loss)
I also had a patient (she's been to the office before but I've never seen her. She didn't know I was pregnant) proceed to tell me before starting her treatment that if she seems out of it it's because she isn't getting a lot of sleep - her 2 year old and 8 month old are keeping her up. And talked about her pregnancy and kids for the whole treatment. She didn't know my story. It's not her fault. I didn't feel like I could drop a bomb on her and ask her to please stop talking because my son died 3 months ago and I would love to be sleep deprived right now. I guess I could have but again it's not her fault. I don't think she would have said all that if she knew. So, I had to fake it and try and steer the conversation away from kids. And then I broke down at home.

It all just feels a little meaningless too. And I love what I do. Or I did love it... it just feels so small compared to what I've been through. My priorities have shifted in a way. I can't stand to hear someone complain about something so small and insignificant. I just want to yell at them.... stop complaining, you don't know what real pain is.

I don't know if I really have any sound advice to offer. I'm right where you are. I'm going to give it some time. See if, as the days goes on, it gets easier. The idea of searching for another job is stress that I don't think I'm up for. I will say, if you can start slowly that's best. Start at the end of the week, maybe just a half a day. Then the next week maybe just part time (3 days a week - that's what I'm doing for the forseable future) and then increase as you are comfortable. Don't jump back in full time. Grief along is hard but grief along side work is brutal. I was exhausted in every way possible after that first morning. Also, if you can set the narrative for your return. I had my office manager email a letter I wrote to all patients. It very briefly explain what had happened. And I also said that people can talk to me about it because even though I may breakdown and cry, I love to talk about my son. Just like any other Mom.

I'm not sure I helped in anyway. It was therapeutic to vent about my experience. It's not easy. Even though I've been back now, I'm still anxious about returning again tomorrow. I imagine it will be like that for a while.

Wishing you peace on this journey. Sending lots of hugs.
May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJenna
Oh F, this situation sucks. I have had a similar experience with not wanting to go back to the same job and trying to find something new. Before starting interviewing, I found it helpful to start practicing all the little elements of a job search. It sounds silly, but I needed to first get used to meeting new people, so I went to some random events (including a group co-working day). Then, I had a couple of coffee dates with people in my network. Then I went to networking events and practiced telling my work story and pitching myself. During this process, I had people telling me about how tired they are because of their newborn, had to talk with pregnant women, worked out how to answer questions about where I work, and made up more acceptable answers to questions like "what is a really difficult decision you've had to make". I spent a lot of time excusing myself to go to the bathroom. I also gave myself full permission to leave an event early. Good luck with whichever option you choose to pursue. As with so many parts of this process, I wish we weren't all here but it's kind of comforting to know that we're all working on some of the same challenges (and surviving!).
May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterK West
Thank you ladies for your replies. I think ive mixed feelings about it all, its only been 3 months and im still in disbelief at how I got here. Just the thought of going back to my old job knowing its under different circumstances brings me to tears I cant help but think I should be showing off my baby to everyone not listening to im sorrys, just even sitting back at my desk again where I left off and when everything was ok, and then having the spotlight on me will be difficult too. Yes there is some part of me that doesnt want to deal with it and start fresh with strangers who dont know (I feel guilty for even thinking that but sometimes its so hard). Then I come to the conclusion that maybe it will be better to try return to my old workplace than putting added stress of selling myself in a new job and having to pretend im ok with strangers and their random questions.
Truth is I just dont want to have to do any of this, I want my baby and the life we planned together.
May 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterF
F - I'm in a pretty similar situation. I lost my baby at 40+5 in the early stages of labor four weeks ago and I am heading back to work next week (doing a short week). I had an opportunity to return to work in a different group with different work and new people - but I ultimately decided that, even though all the I'm sorrys would be difficult as would being in the office where I last was pregnant, it would be better for me to be around people who know me well and know what I've been through and who will be understanding if my work isn't up to its usual caliber or if I seem distracted at times. I've started getting on a few calls this week to ease the transition and so that some people have talked to me and I experienced some of the awkward "I'm sorrys" already, and I talked to my supervisor about my preferences regarding interactions (do i want people to acknowlege it or not talk about it, etc), flexibility on working from home, and types of assignments. Doing these things have helped me feel less apprehensive about going back but I'm sure it's still going to be really tough - not sure if they would help you. Like you, I keep thinking that I shouldn't be doing any of these things - I should still be on leave, showing off my baby, etc. The whole thing just sucks. I'll be thinking of you.
May 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterS
My baby died on May 1st 3 days after birth due to a birth injury and I am struggling with this also. I am a labor and delivery nurse and I worked at the hospital where I delivered my daughter. I am panicked by the idea of returning to work. Not only will I have to go back to the place where I lost my baby, I will have to go back to being happy for other mothers as they deliver their healthy babies. I truly don't know what I am going to do. I need to work, but I can't do what I've been trained to do and maternal-child nursing is all that I've done for my entire nursing career.
May 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Nicole, I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. You are still in those initial weeks of rawness and shock. I'm also a RN, however in a private practice dermatology setting. It was and still is difficult to see patients and have to 'fake' it in a way. The saying, 'patients come first.' Being a RN in OB after the loss of your daughter likely compounds everything for you. I know how difficult and anxiety ridden my return was and I didn't have to face your scenario.

I don't know when you are planning to return (if you plan to) but try to communicate what you will need from your nursing manager and co-workers. I sent out a letter to all my patients informing them what happened with my son, Carter. You likely can't do that in a L&D floor (to patients) but maybe you can with your co-workers and physicians. Just set the stage with them to explain your return and what kind of support you will need - if a case is too much and you need to switch with another RN, extra breaks, certain triggers that you need to avoid.

Above all else be gentle with yourself. I don't concern myself with the expectations of others (I try not to at least). If I break down and cry at work it's okay. If need to step away from a patient because their callousness is upsetting me, then it's okay. I don't apologize for my emotions. I'm handling everything the best way I can. If you return and it proves to be too difficult and you have to walk away that's okay. If you chose not to return at all, that's okay too. Your well being is most important.

I wish I could reach out and give you a hug. Having to return to work in the medical environment and take care of people and keep up some resemblance of professionalism and composure is hard. Sending so much love your way.
May 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJenna
Just an update - I went back to work this week and have now made it through two full days. I had been really anxious about seeing coworkers and that them being overly sympathetic might make it impossible for me to function or that someone wouldn't know and would ask me about the baby. My supervisor sent out an email to the whole group explaining what I thought would make it easiest for me and they are respecting that, but also making an effort to let me know they're all there for me. What surprised me - and I guess shouldn't have - was how hard it is to just resume daily activities from before just because it means that life is going to move on - and yet, nothing changed as it was supposed to - there will be no baby, there will be no parental leave. It is also hard to just be in my office - where I was last pregnant - and look at all the stuff I'd been working on and prepared for my return from leave. It's just really tough - but there are good parts during the day (mostly from coworkers stopping by to chat) and I can tell it will get easier to be there each day. Good luck to you, F.
June 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterS