I have to go back to work tomorrow and I am scared. The last time I was there, I was 9 months pregnant and so excited and happy. I had spent the whole school year talking about my baby’s progress with my coworkers. When the time of maternity leave came, I wrapped things up and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I started leave 3 weeks before my due date because I had plenty of sick time saved up and I wanted those last few weeks to finish preparations and to rest. I only got 2 weeks before we lost him. But they were a great 2 weeks. Before I left my classroom, I packed my personal belongings because I was planning on probably not returning. I had been working on the requirements for a Speech Language Pathology Assistant license (60 credit hours and 100 practicum hours) for the last year and a half and I completed it the Friday before Luke was born. My hope was to not take accept my teaching contract this year and to start doing speech therapy with kids at their homes instead, through the department of disabilities. I had an interview in April with a company in Phoenix and was in talks with them about pay rates. This would allow me work less hours and make my own schedule so that I could be home with Luke more. I did not want to have him and go back to work full time, but we need my income. Then the whole world turned upside down. I eventually decided to return to my same job because I read not to make big life changes during the first year of grieving and also because we would need the health insurance so we could try again. I also thought it would be comforting to be around people who saw me go through this whole thing.
So, here I am, about to start year 12 of teaching special education. It is a hard job with lots of demands and often high stress. I have had kids overturn their desks, throw chairs, throw scissors at me, and much more. I have had parents yell at me and administrators who don’t understand a lot of things about special education or what it’s like to actually be in the classroom daily. I used to love teaching, but it has been getting harder for me. I was feeling ready for a change. I was so excited to be a mom and to have new purpose in life. Instead, I am going to back to the same old, same old, except nothing feels the same anymore.
Josh and I went to the school yesterday to pick up my keys and drop off some of the boxes of things I had moved out. I was apprehensive about facing the school secretaries (as I can be with anyone I haven’t seen since this happened), but figured I could just be quickly in and out. But of course lots of other people were there too, setting up their classrooms, and I had to have several of those hard conversations just between the office and my classroom. I also had to meet 3 new people and had a parent of a new student already ask me in the hallway about having a meeting before school starts.
It is hard to face being there and remembering how I was last time I was there. I miss my big belly and my kicking baby. I miss everyone being excited for me. Now when someone sees me, their face falls and they look at me sadly. This is appropriate, but it is hard too. I feel like I have a big black mark on me—the bearer of sadness. I feel awkward and scared of what people might say or what they might be thinking. I worry that people may wonder what is wrong with me that my baby did not live. I so wish that I was returning with a new joy, funny stories of getting peed on, and cute pictures of my Luke to share instead.
I am also scared about just being able to do a good job, about even being able to care about all the nitty gritty that I have to handle. It seems insignificant and tedious. I am worried about being able to be patient and kind and about being able to manage four classroom aides (two of the new to me) and their many questions and concerns. It is a place of constant interruptions, intense conversations and issues to address. I hope I can do it. I don’t feel like I want to do it. Please pray for me on this. I will try to remember to do the job as if I am doing it for God and not the people around me who can be unappreciative. I will have to repeat in my head to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” The pastor told us on Sunday that 90% of what you worry about will not come true. I need to work on that.
Just wanted to share this verse I like from my devotional book.
Psalm 84:6 “When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!” The author adds, “May there be so much blessing poured out that it pools in the places that were the driest, that’s our prayer in Jesus’ name”.
I love that image. The place where my life is the driest is in this lack of a baby here with me on Earth. I hope that God will pour out so much blessing that it pools in that place in the near future. Lord, I pray that for anyone else feeling a loss like this too. Get us through this valley of weeping, then cover our desert with a pool of blessing.
Getting away to Sacramento was a nice break. It was good to get away and be out of reality for awhile. The usual vacation benefits like not having to do dishes or clean were nice, plus just being in different surroundings. Also, being with my extended family was so soothing and helpful. My two favorite cousins and my two closest aunts each made a point to individually talk with me about Luke and cry with me. They looked at Luke’s pictures and the nursery. They let me know that they love me, they love Luke and they have been praying for us. They took time to grieve with us and pray with us. While we were in California, my uncle who is my mom’s oldest brother and the strong hub of the family, found out he has cancer—multiple myelomas. Another hard time begins. I suggested a family prayer for him while we were all together. We made a big circle and sat or knelt, held hands and took turns praying for him. They included prayers for Josh and I too. I could feel it wash over us. They also cooked for us, bought us meals out, bought me Starbucks, baked brownies, paid for us to get into the California state fair and made me laugh. During all of our time with them, I felt surrounded with love and caring. I have such a wonderful family.
One of the best parts of the trip for me was watching Josh with my cousins’ kids. Several times I looked over at him to see him smiling widely as he watched them. We really aren’t around kids much in our daily lives, so I got to see how good he is with them. He really paid attention to them and was so good with them. I see how he is going to be loving and disciplined. When he lifted her daughter up to look for a ball her brother lost in the hedge, my cousin said “Oh, he has to have a little girl too”. I hope he does, as well as another baby boy. I’ll let God pick which comes first, although I made room in my heart for a baby boy that feels like a hole I’d like to fill.
The love from my family soothed the hurt I felt over Josh’s family not wanting to see the pictures. I thought about asking his dad about it myself and even considering confronting him with an angry statement like “How can you not want to see your only grandson?!”, but when I woke up the next day, the anger had dissipated and I just let it go. They showed us love in their own way. Josh’s dad paid for our airplane tickets to come out there. Josh knew I was upset, so he talked to his grandma separately about the pictures and she said she would like to see them, so he told her we would show her later that night when we got back. But then we didn’t because it was late when we returned. His grandma is 87 and has lost most of her short-term memory so she probably doesn’t remember the conversation. And that is okay. I am thinking I will send an email with a link to the pictures and those who wish to go and look at them can do so. I just have to decide who all I should offer that to. It hurts me to think of anyone thinking anything bad about his pictures because he was already gone when they were taken and he does have some bruising and such, so I would rather it be a choice people make to see them. Josh didn’t look at them until my aunts were looking at them. When I asked him later what he thought, he said he doesn’t like looking at them. I asked if it was because he didn’t like how they looked or because they made him sad. He said “both”.
I think he is beautiful and I like looking at his sweet face. I think he looks like Josh. He looks a little different in the pictures than he did when I saw him because more time had passed. I feel like it didn’t quite capture the baby that I knew. I think his hair looks funny because it had been wet and is kind of fuzzy-looking and sticking out. I wish they had combed it. I wish his hands didn’t look wrinkly and that his little cleft chin showed up better. I wish I knew what his eyes looked like. I wish his outfit didn’t look quite so big on him and that I’d had a chance to put more thought into what he wore. I had started to pack a hospital bag and had laid out a “going home” outfit, not realizing it would be a “this-is-the-only-thing-he’ll-ever-wear” outfit. Since we went to the hospital suddenly a week before he was due, Josh had to rush home and just grab things for both of us. It bothers me that this outfit was just a Wal-mart brand onesie. I picked it because it was light blue with cute stars on it and it was cool for summertime, but I had so many nicer outfits with hats and pants and cute embroidery on the chest and butt.
But I am so thankful to have pictures of him and I love them. I like to imagine kissing his sweet cheeks when I look at them. I know when I meet him in heaven, he will be so handsome and perfect.