When work and life collide…

… reverse and restart.

This was an important week at work for me. It is business plan week. Despite market turmoil, we pushed hard to get through today and we were virtually ready to go. We worked on our metrics, our strategic initiatives, our past data and our forward-looking vision.

But as ever, it did not quite go as planned. Even though it has been planned for months!

Friday night, what we thought was a gone virus (that had actually been passed to me) started showing damage as Baby S started to have a fever and respiratory difficulties. We have seen it before so we are quick to act. 7 times, more precisely, between January and July. So we assume this is just going to be another 2 day round of Ventolin and some screaming on his part and we can get him back on track. By Saturday night our expectation was failing to materialize and by Sunday morning for the first time ever, I carried him into an ambulance after the nurse staff confirmed we had to take him in (amazing service by calling the 111 number in advance by the way!). I have not left the hospital since, except for a quick shower and a short nap this afternoon.

I adjusted the plan – and planned I could still get to most of the plan

On Sunday night I emailed the team the 3 main focus areas for Monday and let them do what they do best – be a great team. I fought a long way to get to where we are today but I am proud that I had no anxiety about whether they would do their part. All feeling of uncertainty of self-worth when you delegate quickly become feelings of relief when something like this happens. And that is why we work in teams. Because life happens to all of us. And after all, I would come in by the afternoon, or so I thought. In the past 7 instances, we never had to stay in the hospital, most times we did not even get him to the hospital to start with. With a paediatrician grandmother, we are bound to manage most illnesses at home.

I still had a plan in mind, for him and for work

When he got admitted, I thought we might spend the day and then get him back home that same day. On Monday, the plan was to check on him, get in to work late and use the flexibility that the Firm is indeed giving so many working parents (or non-working normal people for that matter). At 10 o’clock in the evening, I realized how much I was not going to leave his bedside until I would take him home. And I had no plan for that, and no control. His breathing worsened, his oxygen levels went down and in tears, I begged him to keep the oxygen mask and begged the doctor to up the medication. I did not want to leave until he was home playing with big sister. The most important thing this week was not business planning, was just to get him breathing normally, there was no other plan. It was not until the late hours of the night that I saw some light to only see it fading again quickly as he struggled through a cough till the early morning. By 8 he started to play and putting his dummy on me. There was hope of a turnaround.

It was a rough night. Right then and there I knew I was going to need space. I needed to re-start.

I have been through many physically challenging nights, multiple allnighters in investment banking, late nights at work or for the charity. It gets tougher with the age but it can be done here and there. The short spells of sleep I got were nothing compared to the mental pain I endured. And that I knew needed mending. Time in a hospital seeing your little one (or anyone you love, of any size) suffer, is challenging. The feeling of helplessness is extraordinarily tough on one’s resilience. Especially, if you are a planner and you like control.

I knew I needed time and space to mend my mind

So today, I took the first step and I made myself go home while Hubby B took him to X-Ray. I took time to myself, sat at the table for a proper meal and as my bag was ready by the door I dropped my keys and decided it was best to go for a nap. A nap that would partly replenish some sleep but would also allow my brain to not worry for 2 hours. It was hard to wake up to the feeling of not knowing but it did feel right. And when I got to the hospital and they told me that despite his good lucks he had a bacterial chest infection – I took it as a warrior. No flinch, no tears. Thank you space.

I am not done, I know there is more I will need to do over the next few days for a full recovery and fit mind

  • I will need to allow a transition back to work, as it is easy to try and go back quickly given backlog. However, going back too quickly may mean you don’t feel connected when you are there, and you only wish you were home;
  • I will need to allow time for Big Sister C to express her feelings and needs so she does not cram all the space in a time where we will all be obviously tired;
  • I will need to talk about it as many times as I feel like telling the story, without dwelling on it but just letting it out of my body to create distance between us
  • I will continue my gratitude practice, celebrate his recovery and be thankful for the amazing support network around us
  • I will take care of myself, go to the gym or indulge in a massage, to recover from time shut in a cubicle

No, I don’t need only sleep. I also need some Mind recovery time.

And I am starting even before he is done, so I can be stronger next to him.

2 comments

  1. So how is Baby S doing??
    Glad team is stepping up, and very happy to see you invest in your own resilience. Your strength is critical to family (and work).

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