The noise of the clock radio wakes me. Despite fourteen years of use, the ugly, boxy alarm clock still doesn’t fail me. I am not in a deep slumber; the light from the early morning had already awoken me once. I am surprised how light it is at 5:45am. So different from the dark mornings of winter that last had me up for this routine. I gather all my preparations from the night before- bag with a change of clothes, work backpack, lunch, tea, smoothie and head to the door. I pause, remembering one of the Mother’s Day gifts Chris got me and I am momentarily distracted, getting it so I can take it with me.
Bootcamp is a welcome distraction. I’m trying to make things normal, to feel like any other day. But I soon learn this pattern of bootcamp, shower at my cousins and off to work is nothing but reminiscent of my last days of pregnancy. I go through the workout, wishing jam ball slams were part of the circuit. I take deep breaths through the cool down, trying not to vomit from the exertion. Up, down, jump forward, back, push up, band pull, climbers. Maybe it’s the new tea I’m drinking. Maybe it’s nerves. Whatever it is, it passes. I say a quick goodbye to my two work out partners, happy I was able to start the day with friendly faces.
After a shower and a good sit in my cousin’s kitchen to kill time, I get in the car. In the days before, I had been sad thinking about giving up my alone, contemplation time, but now a new feeling sets in. I’m nervous. I don’t want to do this. In the past three months I haven’t done anything I didn’t want to do. If it’s too hard emotionally or I just don’t feel up to it, I pull the grief card. But now this get-out-of jail-free ticket is worthless. I have to go to work. I drive the ten minutes to the office and sit in the parking lot for a few minutes, psyching myself up to start this day.
I was starting in one of my offices that has a back office- a whole separate work space, with it’s own entrance. I could be apart, avoid the waiting room if I wanted. But that’s silly, I would tell people, no big deal, of course I’ll go in the main entrance. I’ll march right through the waiting room, saying hellos to the office staff with a timid smile. Just like old times- just a softer, quieter entrance.
As I grab my bundles and head to the door, the main waiting room seems like too big a chasm to cross. I can’t do it. I turn the corner and enter the back office. I see my nurse there and one of the doctors enters the room at the same time. I’m welcomed with a hug and next thing I know, I’m more or less speechless. I am here. I don’t remember what they said, but I know there were kind words. Maybe it was their compassion, maybe it was the onslaught of memories from a place I haven’t been since pregnancy, but I find my eyes welling up. I’m crying. I was supposed to be here while my baby was in day care. I was supposed to taking breaks to pump milk. I was supposed to be living a different life.
As the day wears on, I make myself useful- transferring paper charts into electronic medical records, scanning files and even calling one patient. In the middle of the day I’m talking to my nurse and lift up my pant leg just a little. I show her the Mother’s Day gift that Chris had given me, almost forgotten as I walked out the door. I show her the little secret I have on my ankle. “It’s take your daughter to work day,” I tell her.