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  • Writer's pictureJodi Laughlin

My first day back to work

Today was my first day back to work. I am a nurse in the Neuro ICU. I had so much anxiety about this day. I was nervous about seeing my co-works, nervous about what people would say or wouldn't say. I was nervous about being able to put aside my own thoughts and focus on the patients and the job.

The charge nurse made me "float" which was good and bad. Good because I didn't have to really focus on any one patient and bad for that same reason. I almost wish I had a patient assignment that I could loose myself in. But maybe for my first day it was a good thing. I haven't worked a shift in almost 3 months so easing back into it is probably for the best.

Seeing people was harder than expected. When someone did acknowledge Noelle I really didn't know what to say... I just started talking and trying to make the conversation okay, trying to make it manageable and normal when all I really want to do when I talk about Noelle is scream or cry. But I need to keep it together, I can't fall apart at work and I don't know how people will react if I cry.

Then there are people who just don't say anything. This hurts. I would rather it be acknowledged, no matter how uncomfortable. Because it happened and this is real, this is life. Even just a hug to let me know you have been thinking of me. SOMETHING. To not say anything makes me feel like I need to forget about it, like I am expected to move on. It makes me feel like those around me don't realize how significant this loss was. MY DAUGHTER DIED and it hurts that not everyone cares.

It's not just work. I went "out" for the first time yesterday. I went to a basketball game with my husband and we saw friends and acquaintances. Not everyone acknowledges our loss. And I ended up drinking probably more than I should have to ease my spirit, numb my pain. I guess I just have to accept that not everyone is going to react as tenderly as I wish they would and ultimately there is no reaction that will free me of this anxiety and pain. There is no amount of alcohol that will make anything better. The only thing to heal me is Noelle. The only thing to comfort me is my daughter. And I won't see her again... not here, not now.

Here and now... that's what I need to somehow come to grips with, somehow learn to live in. Can I continue to work with the same people who saw me break? Do I need to keep pretending to be put back together? I don't want to pretend. If I pretend to be OK then I dishonor my daughter. I want to honor her. I want to let the work I do be a reflection of the baby girl that blessed my life. That will be my goal- to make the work I do as a nurse a reflection of how my sweet Noelle made me realize how precious life is. When I was in the hospital the nurses and doctors who cared for Noelle and I were incredible and I hope I can make the same impact on the patients and families I care for.

I need to accept that no one will really ever understand me fully (except maybe my husband). I have to accept that this is my journey, this is my story to tell. I can't let people minimize my feelings, including myself. I need to feel my pain, allow conversations to be uncomfortable and talk about Noelle even if people try to ignore it. She is my daughter, she is my pain, she is my joy, she is the song I sing and the story I tell. She is the reason I am here, she is my purpose.

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