Being back at work this week I was incredibly struck by the difference between almost-40-week-pregnant me and mother of an almost-12-week-old me.
It was like time stood still, even as it clearly moved forward.
I was struck by the e-mails I received both in the week before I had the baby and in the week that followed. The week before, I am a part of those e-mails, making plans and scheduling meetings like I’m not about to have a baby (the magic of not knowing when the baby will come). I am full steam ahead because there was no way to plan to NOT be full steam ahead. I remember the last midwife appointment, the Thursday before I gave birth. Life was the same as it was the day before and as it would be the day after, moving along toward birth. The week after K was born, work life chugged along without me and I am absent from the conversations and decisions. It is strange to me to think about life just continuing along while I was getting to know an entire new person who had just arrived in the world. Not that it shouldn’t have, but finding a pile of unread interdepartmental mail in my mailbox that was important but is no longer relevant was slightly jarring.
I was struck by the changes that have not been made, some of which are pretty major, and the changes which have been made, many of which are pretty minor. There are different paint colors. A new cafe for employees. Changes in decor. I left and it was the middle of summer and there was summer decor. Now it is fall and there are gourds and pumpkins and fall colors. Experiencing the change without seeing the transition is strange.
I was struck by the changes in my body. My building has tons of windows and I spent my entire pregnancy watching my reflection as I grew from I-have-a-secret-that-no-one-knows to wow-you-are-so-big-shouldn’t-you-have-had-the-baby-by-now. And to see myself first last week, with the baby in the carrier strapped to my chest, and then this week, with my stomach way down, was not surprising but was interesting.
I feel like an entirely different person since K was born. And yet, at work, I’m expected to be very much the same person, at least professionally. I am pleased that I still feel interest in my job, that I feel incredibly competent and ready to take on big challenges. But I also feel separate, different, as I have this connection to this little person that no one else at my job has (with my little person, anyway). I am not constantly thinking / worrying about K, thankfully, but I am constantly and forever attached to her and I feel that attachment throughout the day, pulling at my heart. And getting these glimpses of who I was, even twelve weeks ago as I sat watching the Olympics and feeling K move around like it was her job, is so mind-bending. I knew I had no idea how I would feel or who I would be and really, I had no idea.
The concept of a world without K is hard for me to fathom, despite all the evidence that it did actually exist. Not so much imagining a time before she existed outside of me – that’s easy to remember when I’m woken up in the middle of the night or I’m driving across town to daycare, extending my drive home by an hour – but imagining a me before I fully knew all the wonder that is her.