The busy life that many of us knew is slowing to a crawl. I had just returned to work three weeks ago after maternity leave.
This was my third time going back to work after the birth of a rainbow baby, and it had been a “typical” transition for me, meaning that my emotions were all over the place. One minute grateful to keep my career going, the next minute missing my baby so much. One minute feeling lighter without three children under the age of five on or near me, the next minute packing a diaper bag in my car even though I didn’t need to – I was just used to having it with me. One minute so happy to see my students and colleagues, the next minute feeling bittersweet when I would see a picture of my baby pop up on my phone.
While on my maternity leave, my world was small.
I had mostly stayed inside, with my December baby, C-section recovery and round the clock nursing. I had learned how to (try to) balance the needs of my newborn with the needs of my toddler and pre-schooler. I had soaked up as much of that precious time as I could.
By the time I was returning to work, I knew that my schedule would shift dramatically, that I would need to start pumping, that I would need to actively try to clear out my foggy ‘mommy-brain’ so I could clearly and concisely do my job well. And that it would take a little time to fully get there.
The world that I intentionally kept small during my leave, to enjoy those fleeting moments with my last little rainbow, got bigger with each commute. I started to gain a sense of my pre-baby self again, and trust that my daughter would be okay without me for a few hours while I was at my part-time job. I had just started to get back into the swing of things.
And then the school where I work closed for the near future. Our original anticipated date of return has just been extended by our governor. I find myself transitioning back into my little cocoon of home life.
Based on the recommendations of experts, I am keeping my world small again.
I feel fortunate that, so far, my family is healthy, and that my husband is able to work from home. Stories of the immeasurable tolls such as this one by Scott Simon have stayed with me. I’m hoping that the closings and cancellations are as effective as possible at stopping the spread of the virus and that those affected recover as soon as possible. My respect and support are with all of the hardworking healthcare professionals and essential personnel.
Aside from playing in our backyard with my husband and taking family walks, our little ones have no pressing reason to leave home. We FaceTime with my parents and my in-laws. My three-month-old newest rainbow takes whole naps from start to finish on my chest. Panic seems to surround us but in this home, it just feels surreal. Like a strange snow day, for a longer period of time and with very different circumstances for safety outside of our home.
Much will change, as rapidly or more than it already has. I’m remaining connected and aware, while also tuning in to the needs of my family, and maybe more than I normally would, myself as well as the wellbeing of strangers. I’ll keep my world small for as long as is necessary, and hug these babies tight.