Packing up and leaving the hospital was very emotional. Not only was I leaving empty handed, but the coming weeks were going to be much, much different than I had been envisioning in my mind, and planning for over the past 9 months. The end of the year was supposed to be filled with sleepless nights, adjusting to life with a newborn again, and the total joy that a new baby brings into your home. I couldn’t wait to show Emma how to take care of her sister and take pride in the love between my 2 daughters. Just about as much as it hurts me that Isla is not going to be a physical part of our family, it hurts that Emma won’t be growing up with her. My heart hurts for Emma’s loss too, whether she fully understands it all or not.
The first thing I requested when we arrived home was the removal of the bassinet from next to my bed. I had lovingly gotten it ready only about a week before. I couldn’t bear to go to bed and wake up seeing it empty. I also needed Todd to put away the bouncy seat that Emma had spent a ton of time in when she first came home…I had planned to use it just as much for Isla and it was waiting for her up on the dining room table. I left her room alone, though. I had hung letters up over her crib and her clothes were all washed and put away in her drawers. I plan to put some select items away in a special keepsake box when I have some time over my Christmas break. I haven’t been able to bear to do it yet.
So…thus began my “maternity leave”. I was still granted 6 weeks off because a maternity leave is intended to be used for the physical recovery after delivering a baby. The first few days were spent mostly on the couch….replaying the what –if’s, should-be’s and general sadness and bouts of tears. Todd was home for 2 weeks and his Mom and Dad stayed to help us out….by lending a general hand around the house and with Emma…and a lot of moral support. We were really very grateful to have them with us. The day they left, I went inside and cried b/c the house felt so quiet and I hated that. But my Dad and Joye came to visit and it was nice to spend some time with them. The week Todd went back to work, my friend Kristin from High School came to spend some time with me, which was a great distraction and much appreciated company.
The rest of my leave I spent time just trying to take care of me and being good to myself. I took the time to enjoy my morning coffee while watching my favorite talk shows and enjoyed living life a bit more leisurely during this time and feeling more relaxed than I typically am as a working Mom! Laundry….dinner prep…showers….could all be done at a much more leisure pace, and for this I was relieved. It gave me time to begin processing the reality of what happened and begin to come to terms with it.