As soon as we found out we were having twins, I decided to save as much PTO time for work as possible so I can stick around when and after the babies were born. This became even more important after Nolan’s HLHS diagnosis. Of course, things don’t always go according to plan, do they? After two attempted chest closures, I realized that Nolan’s recovery was going to take longer than expected and that I was quickly running out of PTO days and I would need PTO time for Nolan’s eventual discharge. Not only that, I’d need to build up MORE PTO time over the next 6 months in preparation for Nolan’s 2nd open-heart surgery. So…the dreadful time had come: I HAD TO GO BACK TO WORK.
I don’t really remember what day it was…I think it might’ve been a Wednesday or Thursday or something…but I didn’t tell anyone, I just showed up. People were surprised and asked me all the expected questions about the boys, and I repeated the same stuff about a thousand times. They even gave me baby gifts, which was REALLY nice. The problem? I wasn’t with any of my boys, especially Nolan. Why? I WAS STUCK AT WORK. And I was pissed. Unfortunately that made me really irritable. I tried really hard not to let that show, so I buried myself in catch-up work. And man, it took me so long to acclimate to being back to work. The hardest part was the new routine: go to work, come home and have a quick dinner, spend a short time with Hudson, Grant, and Bekah, then drive to the hospital to spend a few hours with Nolan, come home, be up at night with Grant, get up go to work, repeat.
Eventually I couldn’t stay cooped up in my office forever, so I tried my best to re-integrate myself into workplace society. That is, until I heard the first person say, “Oh man I’m so tired.” And I almost (ALMOST) went off like, “YOU DON”T KNOW WHAT TIRED IS!!!!! BLAAAAARRRGHHHH!!!!” But I didn’t….I promise, I didn’t.
It was really hard to sympathize for or empathize with people because in my mind, things for me were the worst they could possibly be. If someone was having a hard time with something, it felt so petty to me, and my mind would be like “Pfft…what a wimp…you don’t know what hard is.” And yes, that’s a wrong way to think. But I had to work those things out, big time. No, I didn’t want to be at work, but I had to be at work, so I needed to make the best of it. I remember I would sit in my car in the parking lot and pray “God let me be kind and bearable today and not an angry ogre. Amen.” Over time it got better and I fell back into the work routine. The good thing was that I had the CVICU phone number programmed in my phone and I could always call and immediately speak with Nolan’s nurse for an update (did I mention CVICU nurses are awesome?).
Have any of you fellow heart dads or moms experienced this before? This difficulty with seeing past your situation and treating people nicely at first? I really struggled with it, but it only seemed to happen at work. What got you through?