I was due to work a night shift on the day that we found out there was something wrong with Holly's heart. I made my husband phone into work as I didn't want to acknowledge that there was something wrong but I knew I wouldn't, couldn't, possibly go in that evening and care for other babies when I didn't know what was wrong with my own.
I didn't imagine that I wouldn't ever be going be back.
I can only explain it like imagining there is someone who is terrified of heights but working as a pilot. Or someone who is terrified of dogs, becoming a dog walker. I was a midwife who became terrified of looking after pregnant women. My baby died but yet my whole job centered around caring for other women and their babies.
I was lucky (bittersweet at it's best) to be entitled to maternity leave with Holly as she was born at 25 weeks and so I gladly took it all. Finding out I was then pregnant 3 months after her death lead to the maternity leave being run back to back.
So I created a bubble. My safe place. Other than my children, no one else relied on me. If I wanted to stay in all week, then I did. I saw who I wanted, I wasn't forced to do anything or be anywhere that I didn't want to be. My filter for 'giving a shit' had been broken and quite frankly I listened to my grief and did what the hell I wanted. But always, in the back of my head was the nagging thought that 'this couldn't go on forever.' Some day soon I was going to have to make a decision regarding work and I knew it wouldn't be easy.
I had worked bloody hard to get my midwifery degree. I had cleaned up blood, mopped up the sweat and shed my own fair share of tears but with a heavy heart (and a sigh of relief) I decided to not put myself through anymore. Losing Holly was and is bad enough without having to experience a daily reminder of what could and should have been. I have so much admiration for those midwives who have lost but yet go on to still work and I am by no means saying that my grief is any 'worse' than theirs, just an acknowledgment that everyone is different and I had acknowledged my own limit.
So little by little my bubble was beginning to soften. I began thinking about new opportunities and slowly the thought of work became exciting. Supporting bereavement care within midwifery will always be of a top priority to me but I don't need to be a midwife to make this happen. In fact, I have realised that the way I can do this is best is to not be at war with the work itself and instead listen to my grieving heart.
I took the next step, applied for a job and suddenly, (and just how my daughter was born) silently, the bubble popped. The protective world that I had built around myself popped gently and kindly as I realised that I can do this. There doesn't have to be a battle and it doesn't have to be scary. I had already experienced the worst, I could absolutely, 100% do this.
I have been invited for an interview. Nothing may come of it or everything may come of it but what I have realised is that it is okay to start something new. It is exciting, it is fresh and it is what Holly would have wanted. A mummy who took her time, looked after herself and is now ready to face to world with a stronger head and a kinder heart.
We've got this my little heart, we've got this.
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born, still after a battle with complete heart block.