Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to Work & Losing my Shit...Twice.

Warning: I consider this a sacred space where the four of us are together as a family, and so I normally try to steer clear of any offensive language. However, this post, as indicated by its title, has broken this "rule", I hope justifiably so. Profane language ahead.

Tomorrow, I return to work full time after having the entire summer off. And I honestly don’t know how I feel about that. Most of my anxiety stems from thinking time is really going to start flying, and then suddenly the one year birthday of our twins will be upon us, and nothing will have been planned or organized because I find it all to be extremely overwhelming for a number of reasons. Let’s face it; it’s only a little over three months away.

I still cannot believe this.

I cannot believe that in a little over three months, I will be a mother to a one-year-old daughter.

I can not believe that in a little over three months, it will mark one year since saying goodbye to Elias and all our dreams of raising twins, one boy one girl, same-aged siblings with names specifically chosen to go perfectly together.

I don’t know what’s more difficult to believe, honestly. I can’t decide which part of my reality is more difficult to process, as I still to this day find it hard to believe I have a living child. Is that messed up?

The mind, it performs some very mysterious tricks to protect itself, doesn’t it? I think mine is still recovering from my traumatic miscarriage in 2009. Some days I wonder if I have PTSD from my miscarriage, and if that’s why Elias died. Because I never got help when I needed it, and then I got pregnant again eight months later. I just pushed on with life after hearing, “Oh, miscarriages are SO common!” Why was that relevant? It wasn’t. I don’t care how common something is, if I’m fucked up from the experience, I deserve some fucking help. I will always feel partly to blame and wonder if my stress during my subsequent pregnancy caused something to go wrong, even though I have heard that women who lost their husband on the WTC attacks on 9/11 went on to all have healthy living babies despite their overwhelming anxiety, stress, and grief.

So tomorrow is my first full day of work. And just to clarify – no, this is not my return from maternity leave. I already did that, back in February, and yes it was brutal but also a blessing for me at that time. However, I welcomed summer when it came, and literally left work at work for over two months. Never even checked my email all summer long.

I figured I had a lot of other things to focus on, like my grief.
And spending quality time with my daughter.
And not being pregnant, which for me at the moment is a very good thing.

The past two summers have been horrible. Last summer I was pregnant and felt very isolated, depressed, anxious, and lost. The summer before that, I was pregnant, then I miscarried, and my world was literally painted black for a few good months before I even saw a sliver of light.
So this summer, while there is darkness in that I miss my son, I wanted more than anything to just revel in the normal pleasures of life. And I chose to do that as much as possible, I believe. I grieved, I blogged (though not nearly enough), I cried, I sobbed, I screamed, I went to therapy, and I even went to a pregnancy and infant loss support group that I had previously written off.
But more often, I went for walks with my daughter, I went shopping with friends, I laid out in the sun while she was napping (ohhhh, how I missed doing that the past two summers), I met people for lunches, I chugged iced coffees all day and sipped wine at night when I felt like it, I planned and coordinated get-togethers and parties at our house. I LIVED.

And what an odd feeling, to be missing someone so terribly, more than I ever have before, and to have a greater pain than I ever imagined myself knowing…and yet feel more alive than I have in years.

At any rate, inevitably, summer has come to a close, and I've had to get some work done in preparation for the upcoming school year. Leaving my daughter with my dad while I went up to school to prepare my classroom was brutal, for a number of reasons. First of all, I realize that this is going to be far more difficult than returning from my maternity leave. When I returned to work back then, the opposite would have about killed me. NOT getting back to some type of “routine” or new normal would have literally landed me in the loony bin or worse. I had to get back to work, I was desperate to keep busy and distract myself, not only my well-being but my very life depended on it.

Now? Not so much.
My therapist says that work will be good for me, as it will keep me from “ruminating” too much, and I think she does kinda have a point. But. What she’s not understanding is it’s different now. My daughter is a little PERSON now. She’s a child. She interacts with me, she lights up when she sees me, I can read her like nobody else can.
This wasn’t so back in February, when she was only two months old and I was in a complete daze most of the time.
I also worry more now than I did back in February. So much more. I know the SIDS risk goes down after six months, but Evelyn has been crawling since July. She wasn’t even seven months old yet and started crawling, which brings about a whole new set of fears. Just today she demonstrated her ability to crawl up two steps to get into the kitchen level of our home. Thanks, babe, just what I needed before returning to work, another “milestone” for you to hit and for me to worry will get you into something you shouldn’t be into.

This is just so hard.

Driving to work last week in order to prepare my classroom, my mind drifts to our loss and more sick ironies. The irony of my having “the perfect body to carry twins – nice and tall, thin but not too skinny”. No one was worried; my long torso meant I would not likely have them too early. We made it so damn far. DAMN IT. We overcame prematurity, damn it, that should have been the only thing we needed to worry about!!!
But no. So terribly naïve.

A green light becomes yellow, then red, so I stop and decide to stop obsessing and focus on the day ahead of me. A bright flash of color catches my eye, and I immediately notice that the car in front of me has a yellow sign hanging in the back window, “Twins on Board!!!” FUCK! FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!! Are you fucking serious?!?!?! I pull closer, peer in the back seat, and see two car seats…The same ones we have. Er, HAD. I literally start yelling at this woman, “FUCK YOU!!! YAY YOU HAVE TWINS, YOU WANT A FUCKING COOKIE? DOES THAT MAKE YOU SPECIAL SOMEHOW?!?! FUCK!”

Not a proud moment.

(I had the windows up, and there’s no way she heard me or even noticed, so relax.) Yeah the sign she had was tacky, and I never would have flaunted my mother of twins "status" so blatantly as to hang a sign in my vehicle, but she didn’t deserve my anger directed at her.
But then again, it wasn’t at her.
It was at the universe.
The universe that handed us this hand, one that I didn’t deserve, my husband didn’t deserve, my daughter didn’t deserve, our parents and sisters didn’t deserve, and my son certainly didn’t deserve. The universe that decided that all of this loss wasn’t enough and decided to place a car with that stupid freaking hangtag right in front of my van.
A tiny compact car full of twins, while I drive my empty minivan to work with one car seat in the back.

At work, more triggers. I go to sign out a video from the library and notice I signed out the exact same video on the exact same day one year ago, to the day. I remember last summer and all the anxiety of having to set up my room (I had moved classrooms) while five months pregnant with twins. I was TERRIFIED that something I would do would trigger preterm labor and I’d lose them. Or I’d have incompetent cervix and randomly lose them like some women do, no warning.

Sure, a year ago, when I moved classrooms, I had people helping me move things around and lift heavy books, but it wasn’t enough. Nothing was ever enough to keep me calm and feeling like I was doing everything to protect my babies. I was fiercely protective. Overprotective. And then one died, and maybe, just maybe, if I hadn't worried so much about the logistics of moving classrooms, Elias would be here. ((See the shit that runs through my head? Why do I do that to myself? It doesn't even make sense!))

Needless to say, my classroom was not properly organized during its move last year. I had been SO excited about finally getting a new classroom and being forced to actually go through all my stuff and make it clean and nice and neat (I had signed up for the task well before knowing I was pregnant with twins, btw), but that wasn’t going to happen with other people moving all my stuff. And it wasn’t going to happen when all I wanted was to go home and lay down on my left side and keep my babies safely inside where they could grow, grow, grow, and I could just be left alone from a world that didn’t understand what I was going through psychologically, being pregnant after a loss. They say with twins you worry times two; I say you worry times twenty. Factor in a previous loss, and, well, you get my point.

After signing out the video, I went to my room and saw how messy everything was. Materials strewn around haphazardly, no rhyme, no reason, no organization, period. And I just got pissed. I got so freaking angry. Resentful, even. I should have been able to get all of this organized before, but I couldn’t, because I was stupid and thought I could control things and chose to stay home and be a hermit to keep my twins safe. Then, when I came back from maternity leave, I should have been able to get all of this organized, with all my happy new mommy vibes and renewed zest for life, but I couldn’t, because my son died, and I was a freaking mess myself. I could barely remember to shower or brush my teeth much less go through file folders at work and alphabetize my materials.

A few days later, my husband had a day off and came up to work with me to try and help me get organized, and I just lost it. Hot tears rolled down my cheeks, and he just stood there looking very confused and frustrated. I said, “I shouldn’t have to DO this!!! All of this stuff should be organized already, but it isn’t, and I don’t know why this is such a trigger for me, but it is. I feel like I’m repeatedly being slapped in the fucking face, and I just really need to get out of here and go home!"


My classroom is still not the way I would like it, although I made progress on my subsequent visits there after those two extremely difficult days. Please wish me luck tomorrow as I venture back there. And please, please, please universe, if you’re listening, don’t let any students ask me about my “twins”. I realize there are some students who probably don’t know what happened, who only knew I was having twins but didn't hear about our outcome, and I have no faith in prayer, but I PRAY that none of those students end up with me as their teacher this year.

And please, just this once...No twins in any of my classes. I've had about enough of your cruel jokes, Universe. You owe me a break after that whole hangtag thing. Capiche?


  1. Good luck! Not that anything I say will really help... No prayers or bargaining has helped me but I hope that you get lucky with a good set of students, no twins etc... It's a little strange to read about a dead Elias. It is a very uncommon name and happens to be my older brothers name. Oh and the cussing??? I don't usually swear that much in real life but I'm a sailor on my blog... It's just how I feel. I'm not offended. I know it comes from a place of anger, frustration, sadness, disillusionment etc. Xxoo

  2. I'm praying that you are having a great day back at school!


  3. <3 you, Lindsay. Wish we weren't prodded, goaded, poked and just generally harassed when we are so vulnerable. At some point, just laugh at the overwhelming stupidity of it all. I'm in your corner. I don't know if prayer works, but friendship does. Let me know if you need Ellie and I to help you out. (((HUGS)))

  4. I'm sorry - it all sounds so rough. And it does seem to be the way of it - it's never just one slap in the face. when those triggers happen, they seem to just ... keep ... happening. I hope your return to work is gentle on you with no twins or difficult questions.

  5. Oh Lindsay. It is so difficult, I only started back at work at all over a year after the twins were born and I don't think I ever really got it back together before I was off on maternity leave with R. And it was SO hard to leave J, as you say, your daughter is a little person now and you have a special relationship.

    I also found it quite difficult to adjust to having a living child. Whilst I did not have the awful and sad experience of a miscarriage prior to the twins, I think that J's long hospital stay did something horrible to me. And I still question lots of little things, if only I'd done this or hadn't done that, but less frequently these days. I hope that eases up for you as it can be so tormenting.

    I know I've said this before but I am just so sorry and so sad that you carried your beautiful twins so far in your pregnancy only to lose your Elias. That is so crushingly unfair. I know that I was told the same thing, that I would be good for a twin pregnancy as I am tall. Sometimes I wish I hadn't let all those things reassure me, at others, I'm glad I enjoyed every minute I had.

    And those 'twin' hangtags stalk me I swear! My SIL has TWO of the darn things and I can't very well avoid her car. I'm so sorry, I've had a little internal rant to myself when I see one too.

    Wishing you the very, very best of luck for your return to work. And no questions and no twins in your class. xo

  6. Hi Lindsay, I swear I could have written some of these sentences... I am wondering this evening if this is just one more thing we have lost " the excitement and joy of a new school year", I used to love this time of the year, I set goals or myself and students, I was full of hope. Now I start the year thinking how naive, how stupid, I want to go back in time and shake that stupid girl. Now I cringe at the pregnant teachers, resent the people who stare at me with pity and hate people who just expect me to march on... There is really no " safe" way to treat me. I feel like you about jumping back into work after maternity leave now it seems impossible, I want to scream, my baby died and want want me to give a F about ayp really... Really!

  7. Amber...LMFAO!!! I was literally sitting through an entire meeting on AYP yesterday thinking the exact same thing. The principal kept making eye contact with me, and I kept having these cartoonish thoughts in my mind about her saying, "Wait, none of this matters, two of our faculty lost their children only months ago!" which is so irrational...But really, couldn't we just be excused from those types of meetings?!?! UGH.

  8. And thanks, everyone, for reading and commenting. I'm not always great at commenting after your comments, but I hope you know I ALWAYS read and appreciate them. Every single one of them. xoxo

  9. I read this post and remembered feeling so much what you described! I wanted to let you know that I am (and will be) thinking of you as you start this school year. When I went back after losing my son and introduced myself saying, "I have a husband, a son *at home* and two dogs..." A boy raised his hand and said, "And you had a son that died." It caught be a bit off guard to say the least but I nodded and said, "Yes, I did." Another... "What was his name?" "Andrew?" And another..."Did it make you sad?" "Yes. Very." and then they were off asking me questions about my dog. It took my breath but at the same time I loved that they asked about him... remembered! Now I am a little sad that little people remember (it's been almost 8 years for me).
    I also hope you don't have twins. This is my first year having BOTH (of a set) twins. Of course the mom has contacted me via email to let me know about allergies and such and mentions that she has TWO sets of twins... of course she does... sigh.
    (sorry for the novella)- but I am with you on all of this- the miscarriage too. When I had my miscarriage I was devastated and HATED when it was downplayed...
    Hope it goes well!