Well, I went back to work this week after 2 1/2 months of maternity leave and 2 weeks vacation. As I suspected and had been warned of by other women who have been in my shoes, it has been a difficult week. Luckily, I went back during a quiet time in the semester. I've had several tearful visits from colleagues and students who have warmly welcomed me back. I've also had the unfortunate experience of having to tell people who didn't know what happened.
The other morning on my way to work, I stopped off at the drug store near my office and the cashier asked about the baby. I broke down, causing a minor scene. I nearly turned around and went back home, but bravely went into the office and managed to get through the day. The work itself hasn't been difficult or overwhelming, but being in a position of having to interact with a lot of people is hard right now.
Most people have been very supportive, but the most disappointing response to my return has been from people who have actually avoided or ignored me. I am so personally hurt and angered by that type of behavior that it makes it hard for me to be diplomatic and collegial.
My son, Julian, was such a tough little guy, and I learned so much from him in the short time he was here--to take each day at a time, to take nothing for granted, to choose my battles wisely, and to stick up for myself and honor his memory when I need to. I refuse to manage other people's discomfort or to pretend that I'm fine to make other people feel better. If they think they're uncomfortable, awkward, or anxious, how do they think I feel?
Julian's fight during the short time he was with us inspires me not only to go on, but to live my life unapologetically and with courage. I honor him by being the type of mother he would have been proud of, as I am of him.