This week has been hard. There was no way around it but through. I returned to work this week, a month earlier than my original planned maternity leave.

As I drove to work, I remembered the last time I was there. I remembered the excitement and anticipation of heading out on maternity leave, so close to meeting my daughter that I had been waiting for. I remembered the struggle of the stairs every day at 36 weeks pregnant. I remembered leaving my desk with photos of Greyson displayed and imagining coming back to work and putting a picture of my new baby up for all to see. I remembered parking in the Expectant Mom spot.

These memories left me feeling hopelessly empty upon my return to work. I was returning to work without leaving my baby with a caregiver, because my baby is not here. I was returning to work without signing up to use the Mother’s Rooms, because I am no longer nursing my baby. I was returning to work, knowing that coworkers that didn’t know might ask about how my baby is doing. I felt broken and anxious beyond words.

I repeated over and over to myself: I can do hard things.

I pushed through.

I waited for the dreaded conversation for the first few days, and it finally came. I had to tell a colleague that my baby had died, and held back tears as best I could. I ripped off the bandaid, and got through the first few of these conversations, stronger and more prepared each time. By the end of the week, I set up a picture of Maddie on my desk next to Greyson. She is still my daughter, and I still get to show off her beauty to my coworkers, and have her picture on my desk to look at daily.

Photograph courtesy of the McDaniel family

I was vulnerable.

I was able to openly talk about Maddie this week, even though a few tears were shed. I said her name out loud. I was welcomed back to work with grace, kindness and empathy by my friends and coworkers. I connected with people I work with on a deeper, human level.

I was brave.

I went to yoga, and dedicated my practice to Maddie. I wore her ashes in my necklace and felt her with me in my heart all week. I watched the butterflies outside my window at my desk and knew she was watching over me.

This week was harder than I expected in so many ways; yet so freeing at the same time. It was a step forward. It was a reminder that I can do this.

These days are hard. This period of life is hard. But I can do hard thingsWe can all do hard things.

Due to COVID-19 we are seeing an 80% decline in weekly donations. Your fundraising efforts will directly support our mission to serve bereaved families who at this moment, likely do not know they will need NILMDTS, but when they sadly do, you will help us be available to them no matter what the current conditions are in the world.

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